Or maybe it’s just not fun when you get obliterated.
My first Pro Solo was as painful of an event as I’ve ever experienced. It was in part yellow jerry cans being fed to cars, partly stop clocks spitting out the same times again and again, and part ass kicking. If you don’t know what Pro Solo is, think drag racing meets autocross. There are two mirror image courses and a tree. I’m not sure what the appeal really is, because besides the start and opening straight, competing cars are so far apart from each other, the drivers or spectators really can’t effectively judge who is in front. More than that, how does one create two mirror image courses on a lot surface that is not symmetrical and often wildly different side to side? How does one create a fun course that includes a variety of elements in only half of the typical area?
The whole thing seems about as good for judging performance, as the guy at the local dealership who brags about how fast his favourite model of car can take a highway off-ramp.
Now maybe I’m getting a bit carried away here, as the SCCA does take some measures to try and make up for these inadequacies… but four days later I’m still pissed about my weekend.
The worst part was the ass kicking.
I had higher expectations for myself. The prior weekend I had a result I was happy with, and thought I was within striking distance for top spot. As for all my humble talk, “the other guys are fast, I’m just a first timer, what can I really expect?” It was just that: talk. I thought I could win and I wanted it… bad.
It started to show. First we got totally flustered with the FR-S’s inability to get off the line quick. Highlighting this, was how stupidly fast the class winner and his co-driver were getting off the line. With turbo torque and engine behind the driver, they were beating us to the 60ft mark by around four tenths of a second. Four tenths there… and the straight continued for at least 100ft past that mark. By the end of it I was staring at the back of his car with something closer to anger than envy, and reading his number plate “MINTIME” rather than focusing on the corners ahead where I was supposed to be able to make up time.
Instead I turned up the rage, got sloppy as hell, probably made up no ground until we both came to a single cone turn around at the half way point of the course. Then there was another horrendous drag race where I decided I was getting left behind again, and another short series of corners before the finish that I imagined I must be able to drive flat out because… hell… an FRS can win here, and since it certainly can’t do it on the straightaways, it must be able to do miraculous things in the corners.
I still believe it can win, and relative to a tall squishy 20 year old car it probably can do miraculous things in the turns, but I obviously wasn’t the guy to do either. Run after run, what I was doing only got worse. Eventually I decided the only chance I had was to crank up the music, risk jumping the light, hold my foot on the floor everywhere and either win or spin. I did neither… but I did run red lights. Andrew fell into basically the same boat. Wrong answer.
This is how you throw in the towel. There are no action shots, and I’m too annoyed to look at the video. However, since I’m a geek, and since practically every car that wasn’t an FRS had a better 60FT time than we did, I came home and scrounged up some numbers.
What you are looking at are the average 60FT times of the fastest example of car in class, for the 2015 Pro Solo season. There are seven events included (Official Packwood and … results are not out yet), but I’m disappointed, and yet somewhat relieved to conclude that the FRS is the slowest launching car in Pro Solo. Yes it’s slower than a 10 year old Miata. It’s much much much slower than any MR2. It’s even slower than the car that wins the slowest of all Solo classes (the front wheel drive Fiesta ST). I was somewhat surprised to see the RX8 only slightly in front of the FR-S. It benefits from wider tires, and a little more power and rearward weight bias, but I guess really falls victim to a torqueless naturally aspirated rotary engine.
The whole way home, I fantasized about all the different cars I wanted to race that wouldn’t trip on themselves right out of the start gate: MR2’s, Corvette’s, Lotus’… and then I realized what the greatest part of my weekend had been…
…Chris Dorsey’s honest to god AE86 featuring naturally aspirated 4AG, live axle rear end, T50 transmission and enough magic and heart to win R2 over 600hp FD’s, 400hp Lotus complete with carbon fiber, obnoxious aero, lexan, Avons and national champion pilots.
So I guess I’m going to keep my car, and put a poster of Mr. Dorsey’s simple monster up on my wall.