My friend Bill recently picked up a new BMW M3: sedan, competition package, DCT, and just about everything else. He even opted the famous European Delivery program and, as per my suggestion, drove it at the Nurburgring. Lucky SOB. Luckily for me, Bill isn’t your stereotypical BMW owner. Since he picked up the car he has done a number of track events and autocrosses with it. He also took the M3 badge off it and usually keeps it dirty. Last week Bill asked if I was interested in doing an autocross in his car. Uhmm, sure…
I did my first autocross over ten years ago in my then new 2001 330i. And then I stopped, for like ten years. I did not like it; too violent, too quick. I stuck to HPDE events. Earlier this year another friend asked me if I was interested in autocross-ing his 330i ZHP as he was going to be away that weekend for work. I did, and I managed one clean lap. Out of eight. Complete failure. I did not want to do another autocross ever again.
This time, in Bill’s M3, I challenged myself. If all these middle-aged guys could do it and be good at it, I could too! Autocrosses are not as much about the car as they are about the driver, that’s why I left the stability control on and the transmission in automatic. Out of the ten laps I did, one was clean. Fucking one. To add insult to injury, when the instructor took the car for a lap he managed a time that was thirteen seconds better than mine. Complete failure.
After all this I still don’t know if I should have my hands at 10-and-2 or 9-and-3? Thumbs in or out? I have heard many conflicting theories to all of those. In the end the instructor told to keep looking further ahead (I do it on the road, just kept forgetting at the autox) and to be smoother with gas/brake inputs. Having established that I
suck need more practice, I will spend my winter months gokarting and playing GT5. It’s a safe bet that neither will help me with autocrossing.
While at the autocross I saw some interesting cars:
- Cobra replica which almost fooled me.
- A Mustang on ridiculously wide slicks.
- A hoontastic Audi.
- A Miata with a small block.
- Sweet sweet Alfa, doing what its creators intended it to, and it didn’t crap out!