Friday, 7 March 2014

I made it to the khanacross! And home again too...

I love khanacrosses, but I also have a healthy respect for what can wrong (more on that later). So I often find it hard to sleep the night before and get a bit excited. This was the same last night, but I woke up in plenty of time and headed off to Cataract Pk, about an hour's drive away. My son who usually comes didn't want to, so it was nice a day out.

Truth be told, the weather was pretty much ideal for such an event.

The drive down was great with not a lot of traffic and cool temps. The car was running really nicely and had plenty of poke consider it's tired and pretty gutless.

I arrived in plenty of time and had the car scrutineered. I was rightly told the front end of the car is pretty flogged out. I knew that [grr]. It will get some attention real soon.

Thankfully I was placed in Class A (0-1200) and the supercharger was ignored (usually a treated as power adder; engine capacity x 1.7). Just was well, coz the car had the smallest, most anemic engine there.

I was clearly at the bottom end of the field with old Mazda 121s, an Excel, etc. The top end of the field was made up of two Lancers with FTO 2.0l V6s and a 2.0l powered datto 510. The lancers sounded like porsche 911s at full revs. Awesome stuff.

The first few runs of the day saw me getting used to the car. The tracks were not too rough and I was starting to get the hang of things. The grounds were still a bit wet from a week of rain. So it was a little slippery to begin with. RWD cars were all very sideways.

If anything, this was advantage in the beetle. With the weight over the back wheels, I had great traction with rally tyres. By the third run, I was starting to post reasonable times.

By lunch time I had the feel of the car. I was having to be very careful because there were some big ruts caused by the recent rain, but things were going well enough. I had a cursory glance under the back of the car and all seemed good.

The grounds were set up with two sections. The top was more open and faster, but also more rutted. The bottom tracks were tighter, but also a little smoother and softer. I was particularly enjoying them and to my surprise, I was finding the car was easy to throw.

It's downside, no surprise, was a lack of power.

I'd have to throw it in and then pedal the clutch a little to get it spinning some. This gave me some great, progressive turns. Not much sideways action, but enough to turn the car on hairpins. Besides which, the trick was keeping it smooth (and avoiding the roughest parts of the trails).

After lunch, the two sections of track were set up joined together. This is fun, but it can be treacherous. Halfway through there is a jump and you have to be very careful. I took my run being very careful not to get the car airborne. I made that mistake in my last car and cracked a very strong sheetmetal sump. The other problem being that just after the jump is a big rut.

The fastest driver on the day was a mate who also was helping run the event today. His afore mentioned datsun 510 was leading and he's a great driver.

However, he came over the jump airborne, hit the rut, had the car bounce up again and then... hit the closest tree. Ouch. I saw the accident happen.

Unfortunately, it hit the chassis rail head on and the shell is toast. It also ruined his chances of winning the event outright. Interestingly, his son hit the same tree last year in pretty much the same way. He could have driven to the right of the tree, but the brakes were already locked up. Ces la vie.

After the car was put on the trailer, we had one more run and I packed up to head home. I had to top up the engine and supercharger oil before I left. Truth be told, it probably used it all up on the freeway on the way down. It eats oil on the freeway.

The drive home was pretty nice too. Gorgeous weather and great tunes. The car was a little warm and pinging slightly on the freeway, but no surprise really consider the state of the motor and the big hill I was on at the time.

In the wash up?

Today was a success. The car used about 32 litres of petrol. Got there, got home and we had fun. We really blew me away was how drivable the car was. You could chuck it into a corner with the handbrake and drive it out. I was also getting some nice off-throttle sliding too.

Keep in mind, the car currently has some very worn out 135's on the front. Total cheese cutters.

I'd thought it would understeer, but I only noticed understeer once! Also, the pressures were as follows. 34psi front/40psi rear. It should have been awful and undrivable, but it was great and quite grippy. It even pulled up really well in the dirt stop garages. I have no idea how that works but how cool!

I came home with two realizations about the car;
1. I spent 6 months and lots of time trying to get my dunebuggy to handle this well. Even with all the work, it didn't drive as well as the beetle did today I reckon. The thing is well balanced. The only addition to the car is the camber compensator. I'm genuinely concerned that the disc brakes I'm about to put on might actually ruin that. How funny!

2. One of the guys in the club said, "oh, you're not driving that thing out here are you?". Basically, he thought it was too nice. My response was, "it's a car. If it can drive I can race it". Khanacrosses are usually the domain of 20 year old beater cars. As I was driving home today it hit me, 'in the 1970's, this would have been a beater'.

So, I might not have the fastest car there. Yes, it's old and has some limitations, but not only do I get to enjoy driving around, I also get to enjoy oldschool club motorsport.

The future;
1. New front end. Probably a stock beam without adjusters. With bumpstops!
2. It needs more power. Standard 1600 would transform the car, a new blower and EFI even better.
3. The gearstick rattles. Dunno why. Have to fix that.
4. Seat is crap.

But before I do any of that, I better fix the indicators. Again.

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