Hialeah February 27, 2005

On track at "We love cones" autocross.

We love Cones Autocross

After a long hard look at the SCCA Solo handbook, The Electric Imp has been classified as D Modified. D Mod is for Production based vehicles with engine displacements of under two liter with any modifications allowed except as noted in the rule book. This is a good class for us. Cars in this class tend to be heavily modified all-out race cars like the Imp. And certainly pulling the ICE components and replacing them with electric motors and batteries qualify as major mods.

The other plus is this is a more active group than B Mod. We will have ICE cars to race against!

Today's course is by Hialeah Park horse track. The course is long and skinny. You race down the course through a variety of slaloms and gates. Make a 180 degree turn. Then race back through more slaloms and gates.

Even with pre walking the track three times, I am having a hard time placing the turns. There is a slalom and then three chicane sections that look a lot a like. Based on cone position, the first chicane looks like it should be full throttle. The second chicane should require major brake. The third chicane should require light brake.

The 180 degree turn looks like hard early brake, slight rotate, then lots of throttle and drift out to the exit cones.

On the way back, the cones form two chicanes. Then there is a box with a cone in the middle and you decide what side to take it. Lastly there is a tight 'L' gate and a last run to the finish.

Run 1

I wait at the starting gate and get the "GO!". The car pulls hard from the start. Little throttle lifts through the slalom and lots of throttle through the first chicane. Regen brake for the second chicane but that does not slow the car enough. The rear end gets loose as I exit the second chicane. I need to turn the car back to the left but there is no grip. The Imp spins counter clockwise taking a cone amidships.

I get the car stopped and headed the right direction. I work back trying to put some heat in the tires and brakes. Time 54.240 seconds and off track.

View Run #1 Video (9.60 MB)

Run 2

The second run is 15 minutes after the first, so there is a little more heat in the tires and brakes. I remind myself to use both regen brakes (left foot) and mechanical brakes (right foot). I am quicker through the slalom and cleaner for the first chicane. Solid brake for chicane 2 and a medium brake for chicane 3. I brake late and hard for the 180 turn. The front tires lock up and I go deeper into the corner than I planned. This means I get on the throttle later and am slower out of the corner.

The front wheels lock again going into the 'L' gate. For an instant, it looks like I am going to take a bunch of cones on the nose. I let off the brakes and the front of the car jumps to the right, just clearing the last cone.

Despite a sloppy drive, my 42.642 puts me at the head of the class.

View Run #2 Video (7.89 MB)

Run 3

It is three hours after our last run. What heat we had in the tires and brakes is gone. On the other hand, I know the course better (or think I do).

The slalom gets better and better. Full throttle through the first chicane and only regen brake through chicane 2. I am hard on the throttle exit chicane 2 when I notice the entrance to chicane 3 passing to my left. Oops. Never mind.

The front wheels lock again going into the 180 turn but I catch it quickly and power through the turn. I am slightly smoother through the remaining gates. My 41.753 doesn't count though. You must stay between all the cones.

View Run #3 Video (7.64 MB)

Run 4

The tires are warmer but I am still having problems getting the chicanes right. I brake for the first one. This is totally unnecessary. I over-slow for the second chicane but, at least I make the third chicane. I know I am behind on time but I get the 180 turn braking right. No lock up and pivot the car under braking.

end of run

The speed I carry through this turn and the final 'L' turn are enough to erase the deficiency. A 42.126 is my best time for the day and takes the D Modified trophy.

View Run #4 Video (7.81 MB)

Sum up

autocross 1st place trophy

A win is always a good thing.

The EV part of the car performed flawlessly including the BMS.

Under full 600 amp load, we saw some 3.0 volt cell readings which is expected.


Possible improvements:

Mechanically, using autocross tires which are designed to build heat quickly would be a big advantage over our current race tires.

Technique wise, time spent reviewing in-car video after each run seems like a good way to learn the course.

I look forward to the next autocross March 13, 2005.



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