Friday, June 26, 2009

Middle Finger Lakes National Tour

By: Jake

With Finger Lakes National Tour over every attendee is now mentally reconciling their driving, setup, and performance from the past weekend. Many wonder where they left time on the course (Saturday or Sunday). Some wonder why they were not looking ahead on one particular run at one particular moment, knowing full well that was exactly where they lost the time. Others just wish they hadn’t gotten that cone penalty on their fastest run of the day. Only a select few are content with way the events unfolded. I, personally, have mixed feelings about how the event unfolded...
Friday began with an early morning road trip. The Hamfist Racing caravan was only 2 cars deep but we made it to Seneca Army Depot without incident. On the way we passed one hitchhiking redneck, five state troopers pulling speeds with lasers, and many tractor crossing warning signs. We dropped off the camping gear across the street at Sampson State Park and shot over to the event just in time to squeeze in one test and tune run. The surface felt loose and slippery. After tech and car prep Hamfist Racing headed back to the campsite.
Grid Presence
That night we did our best to cook a decent meal in order to be properly nourished for Saturday’s race. That proved to be quite difficult given the extremely humid conditions and wet firewood. It took all the “cowboy juice” I had to get the fire going and after that I needed to get creative to maintain the flame long enough for the chili to cook fully. Anybody with a turbocharged car knows the benefits of forcing additional oxygen into combustion. After nearly passing out from orally blowing (insert perverted comment here) on the fire, I broke out the air mattress pump and invented the world first campfire turbocharger. See tutorial video.
Campfire Turbo Video
Saturday morning, 5:00am; cue the crows. I think that was the earliest I ever showed up for an autocross in my life. The weather report looked questionable and run groups can consider themselves lucky if they had consistent conditions for all drivers on all runs. Dave ran first thing in the morning in his A-Stock Honda S2000 CR Edition. The weather held dry for his Saturday and Sunday runs. Despite being on R888 Toyo tires, Dave managed to consistently run times within a second or so of the A-Stock top drivers on Hoosier A6’s. A cone penalty on Dave’s fast run Sunday would later come as a surprise and drop him down to 13th in class of 18 drivers.
The La Rosa’s were not the only ASP RX7 in the running at Finger Lakes. In ASP there was a bumped Super Stock Z06 corvette and another 1993 Mazda RX-7, both with two drivers per car. Elena laid down the fastest RX-7 times on Saturday and Sunday and finished 3rd overall. Despite having coned away her fast time Saturday she was determined to beat the Corvette drivers, which she did on Sunday, but not by a big enough margin to cover the cone on Saturday. Regardless, her performance was stellar and I hope she enjoys that Mazda contingency prize money.

La Rosa - Concrete Sunday
Meanwhile, STU ran the same heat as ASP. The class was nearly two times the size of ASP but not quite as large as A-Stock. My mentality beginning the race on Saturday was to secure a clean run no matter what. As a result, my first run was a remarkable slow 60.XX second run. I was driving completely contrary to the Hamfist Racing mantra: “Balls to the Wall.” I managed to pick up some decent time on run #2 Saturday and 58.602 would stand as my fast time of day. Note, I only have videos of my 2 slower Saturday runs due to technical issues associated with running video for the first time.
Saturday seemed to drag on forever with rain sweeping in later just in time for our work assignment. I was sitting in a neutral 6th position of 11 in class so I had a lot of ground to cover Sunday. Not more than 5 minutes after we all got back to the campsite and I was out… cold.
After an 8 hour power nap I woke up and realized there was nothing to lose, being that I was sitting in 6th place. It was either spin or win. My first run Sunday was a real eye opener with regard to traction. I realized was simply over braking in the offset gates Saturday. Enter each offset with more speed than the previous and realized all I hard to do was turn harder and earlier. No brakes! Run #2 was more of the same with a slight improvement in time. Over the speakers, I could hear the announcer call me in second place with a time of 55.422 seconds.
Jake - Concrete Sunday
Waiting eagerly in the grid I hear more over the sound waves. Adam Fuhs knocks me out and then Josh Luster squeezes into the number two spot. Too much pressure… Breathe… I crank up some Bob Marley to drown out the announcing regarding STU pole positions as I worked my way up to the start line. None of what the announcer was saying mattered. I just needed to relax and prepare my nerves for the most hamfisted run of my life. I tell myself, “just look ahead and keep the go peddle to the floor”.
Letting Bob Marley Soothe My Nerves
The last run started out great! I didn’t lift through the fast section heading out and I managed to get the downshift just right entering the slalom before the turnaround. However, in all my downshifting glory, I managed to overlook the last slalom cone and turn-in a moment too early. The loud, familiar, sound of a pylon hitting my fender well resonated through the driver’s cabin. The only thing I could do now was make up for the 2 second cone penalty. The rest of the run was even more hamfisted than the beginning. My tires were hating me as I came screaming out of the concrete pad in 3rd gear. At the finish everyone was clapping and the announcer called the run clean. I looked at the time slip confused and I was only looking at the decimal places. I ran a XX.625. Slower than my XX.422, I thought, and dirty, I insisted. As everyone was complimenting my time I made a quick double take at the slip. The time was a 54.625 and was 2 tenths faster than Corey Ridgick fast time of the day Sunday and 8 tenths faster than my second run.
1st Place STU - Ridgick
However, for 10 minutes I insisted to all who commented that the penalty audit would reveal a cone. When the paper came in I was astonished. No Cones! Later I found out that the cone I hit, cone #309, was completely flattened by my inside tire and miraculously popped up right inside the box. Thanks to John, the corner worker, for being on top of checking the cone. My final position was 2nd place in STU, 7 tenths from Corey Ridgick’s top spot and 6 tenths ahead of Luster. My pax position was 35th of 232 drivers.
Lucky Cone #309
Later that day I bought I Pick 3 lotto ticket with the numbers 309. It didn’t win. Cone 309 wasn’t good for a 1st place win at Finger Lakes and #309 wasn’t good for a lotto jackpot. Go figure.
Not-So-Lucky Lotto Ticket #309

'09 DC ProSolo: Hamfist Racing Honorable Mention on

DC ProSolo Coverage

"WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2009) – The 2009 edition of the Tire Rack® SCCA Washington D.C. ProSolo presented numerous challenges for competitors and workers alike, as mother nature threw everything she had at FedEx Field. At the end of two long days of competition, Sam Strano, of Knoxdale, Pa., was the last man standing.

FedEx Field is always a challenging venue, even without rain. The unconventional parking lot alongside the home of the Washington Redskins is dotted with light posts and has some dramatic elevation changes. Lee Piccone (who will be the course designer for the 2009 ProSolo Finale), was up to the challenge of fitting two courses into the unusual space, but upon set up, a new dip was discovered in the pavement that required the left course to be adjusted. Without the time to completely redesign both courses, the left course was kept approximately two seconds longer than the right course.

After overcoming that obstacle, officials were faced with rain Saturday morning, which, along with the wind, grew increasingly stronger, creating rivers along the courses and knocking over cones. When the lightning started just before the lunch hour, all activities were put on hold. Competition resumed once the weather had settled down and the timing cables had dried out, but it would make for a long day, with the final runs made at dusk.

Just when it appeared Sunday would offer no relief, mother nature took pity, and the rain cleared after the opening heats of day two.

Driving his trusty Ford Shelby Mustang, Strano’s final Super Challenge face off against Patrick Salerno, of New Milford, Conn., was the perfect climax to a dramatic weekend. Driving a Lotus Elise, Salerno coned away his shot at the win on his final run. It was the first Super Challenge win of 2009 for Strano, who also took home the F Stock win in DC.

The final run of the ChaseCam Bonus Challenge pitted A Stock competitor Brendon Bengerm, of Lutherville Timonium, Md., against Andrew Baker, of Columbia, Md., from the F Street Prepared class. Bengerm took the win in his Chevrolet Corvette over Baker’s Autocrossers Inc., Volkswagen Scirroco.

The Ladies Challenge saw Ladies Class 1 winner Carrier Snyder, of Elizabethtown, Pa., face off against Ladies Challenge 2 winner Karen Kraus, of Harmans, Md. Kraus caught a break on the first run when Snyder picked up a cone in her Toyota MR2. The deal was sealed for Kraus and her IAG Performance/Vorshlag Motorsport Subaru Impreza, when Snyder, pushing to make up for the cone, red-lighted on her right-side run. It was Kraus’ first Challenge win since 2007.

The Honda Tuner Challenge went to Ian Baker, of Herndon, Va., and his Street Touring® S-winning StranoParts/SSC/Koni Honda CRX. Baker beat out FSP winner Jinx Jordan, of Terrell, N.C., who was piloting a SoloPro Driving School/Hoosier Honda Civic.

The curious weather and course layouts produced some of the closest class competition of the season. B Stock was decided by a mere 0.081-second, as Jason Ruggles, of Margate, Fla., took the win in a Mazda RX-8 over Joseph Barbato, of Plainville, Conn., driving a Barbato Twins Experiment Ltd. Nissan 350Z. Street Touring was closer still, as Tim Smith, of Tucker, Ga., and co-driver Bill Bounds, of Atlanta, Ga., went back-and-forth in their shared RPG/Toyo Honda Civic Si, until Smith finally eeked out a 0.079-second win. The Formula 125 class wasn’t about to be outdone, turning in a 0.046-second margin of victory, which Alan Sheidler, of Rochester Hills, Mich., collected in a Renspeed Honda.

Street Touring Ultra had everyone covered on epic finishes, however. Corey Ridgick, of Allentown, Pa., Jake ..., of New York, N.Y., and Michael Neary, of Eldersburg, Md., pushed each other the entire event. It wasn’t until his final run, that Ridgick secured the win in a Bridgestone Mitsubishi Evo, by an incredible 0.001-second over (Jake's) Subaru Impreza. Neary wasn’t far behind in a Mitsubishi Evo, just 0.026-second back from (Jake).

The Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo series is hoping for a dryer event when it moves on to Hampton Mills for the Packwood Washington ProSolo on July 18 – 19. For full results from DC and more information on upcoming events, click the orange Solo tab at the top of the page."

By: SCCA Staff

Check back for HamfistRacing's side of the story.


Monday, June 8, 2009


By: Jake

SCCA DC ProSolo is in less than two weeks and Finger Lakes National Tour is this week. For many, Team Hamfist included, preparation is in full swing – preparation of equipment and preparation of drivers. Aside from making sure we get seat time every chance we get, including this weekend's NNJR SCCA autocross on the Raceway Park road course and last weekends 2-day Holbert Memorial, we have all begun working on some minor tweaks to get the cars closer to the maximum performance potential of each of our classes.

I am not about to let those STU boys get the best of me. For me personally, that meant spending a little time wrenching and a little time running erands. Neither of which was uneventful.
The STU Competition
A week or so ago myself and a couple other Hamfists decided to pull the trigger on new rubber. Between all of us we ended up buying twelve new tires; including, 4 Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs, 4 Toyo R888s, and 4 Hoosier A6s… drool. The Hoosier A6’s are 275/35/15 and are set to be run on the La Rosa’s 1993 Mazda RX7 R1 – an ex-Super-Stock car now nicely prepared for ASP competition.
Awaiting fresh stickies (Top Right: La Rosa Rx-7; Top Left: Jake Rx-7; Bottom: Jake STi)
The R888 rubber, while sticky and technically and R compound tire, is more of a compromise between street and race. This rubber has been mounted to an A-Stock 2008 Honda S2000 Club Racing Edition owned by Hamfist co-founder, Dave Corsaro. (There will be much more on both of these autox beasts-drivers and cars-in future posts here so be sure to check back.)
Holbert Memorial Autox (Top Left: Jake STi; Top Right: Corsaro S2000)
Co-founder Dave performing the official Hamfist salute
The Dunlop’s are for the Subaru STi. Dunlop Direzzas are one of the fastest tires available for ST* competition in SCCA solo racing. Despite the Bridgestone RE11R being the tire of choice for most of my divisional and regional competition I decided to stick with a tried and true tire. This decision unfortunately eliminates me from contingency sponsor prize eligibility with Bridgestone, obviously. However, the upfront cost was a couple hundred dollars less buying the Dunlops than buying the Bridgestones.
Our Hamfist fieldtrip to Wal-Mart for a low buck race tire mount ($3.50/tire) yielded some funny pictures. One of which is the Bronco full of wheels and tires, sixteen to be exact.
And a business was born... Acme Tire Transport Co.
I guess that old hunk of steel serves a purpose after all. The other interesting thing to note was the car-nage that occurred right before our eyes upon pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot. A Honda Accord came barreling out if its parking spot over a mulch median and plowed into the side of a shiny Civic parked 30 feet away. I thought that the throttle might have gotten stuck on the Accord, that was until the Accord backed up 10 feet and threw the car back in drive for another crunch session. Repeat. This guy was obviously nuts!
Wal-Mart carnage aftermath
We hamfisted the Bronco out of there in fear of being the next target on this guy’s rampage. Once the heat died down we check back with the scene of the crime and snapped pictures of some of the aftermath. Apparently the driver had a stroke and was clueless as to the carnage he was causing. He ended up in a telephone poll separating the parking lot from the major road. Lucky he didn’t cross over.

Back at Wal-Mart the tire mounting grease monkey decided to hook me up with a custom "polished lip" on one of my Rota DPT bronze wheels. What do you expect for $3.50 per tire? Team Hamfist is sitting on fresh rubber, now.
(Picture soon to come)
After the Holbert weekend and NNJR autox passed I started looking around at some parts I have accumulated over many months that I have yet to install due to a severe case of procrastination.
More Holbert Memorial Photo's by Perry @ (2nd Place in class trophy: Bottom; Running: Top)

These parts include NGK iridium spark plugs, COBB shifter bushing, and a COBB post-MAF intake hose, and a custom Meineke axle-back-delete dump pipe.
Custom Meineke Dump Pipe
Additionally I have been piecing together some stock parts that have broken or fallen off, possibly as a result of rallyx, including a turbo heat shield bracket and a front passenger side fender liner. Most of this gear went in without a problem. However, while swapping the spark plugs I needed to remove the airbox; at which time I discovered that my K&N panel air filter was 95% caked in rally mud. When I say caked I mean CAKED. It looked like I baked a cake out of mud on the dirty side of the filter.
Source of the mud pie - Poughkeepsie Sports Car Club Rallycross '08 (Photo By: Robert Plafta)
They only part of the filter that looked to be allowing air to pass through must have been no bigger than a Ritz cracker. I have been autoxing like this all season! I proceeded to wack the panel against the ground ten or so times and it was all clean... relatively speaking. In my last effort to shave every tenth off my time and every ounce off my car I removed my rally armor mudflaps and rear aero-skirts. Not only does all this cosmetic hardware weight critical ounces but I imagine that they protruded off the car sufficient enough to clip unnecessary cones.

Next on the agenda is a stop at Sunoco for 5 gallons of my favorite automotive beverage, GT100 octane, and then I am off to Finger Lakes. Team Hamfist, I'll see you there. In the meantime don't forgot the secret Hamfist mantra... "Balls To The Wall."