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CDC Autocross 03/21/15

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So this was an impromptu event for me. Dan, Danny, and Mike registered in advance. I showed up since I had free time. Regardless, it was a great way to spend the day and mark the end of our spring break.

Let's get into it:

CDC Autocross March 21st

People who came:

1. Danny Gross - Shake n' bake

2. Dan Gugger - Lives life 3-speeds at a time

3. Mike Constantine - Constantly in the 50s

4. Louis Schiavone - Chillin' like a Schiavillian

5. Salman Kazmi - Now the official CPT photographer?

Part I. Friday night dinner

It was Friday at 8:00PM in Germantown, MD when some friends and I had gathered at Caspian Kabob for dinner. The kabobs were tasty, the conversations were turbocharged, and the parking lot was painted with the presence of Evos, Mazdas, an MR2, and of course a GT-R.

Dan and Danny had mentioned that they were driving at Autocross events saturday and sunday. One with CDC on saturday and another with SCCA on sunday.

My heart jumped with excitement as I had forgotten the season was starting up soon. Although I wouldn't be racing, I still fostered memories of the various ride alongs with friends. So I told Danny that might swing by at noon.

After playing Gears of Wars 3 until 1:00AM I figured I was done playing with UFO Encounter on Team Deathmatch. My fatigue was causing me to miss active reloads and my roadie strafes were becoming sloppy. Thinking if I'd like to spend my saturday playing some Forza instead, I decided that autocross would be far more enjoyable.

So I told UFO Encounter he was a "nub", turned off the Xbox, and set the alarm for 11:00AM. "Should be inturstin'" I told myself.

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Part II. Saturday morning - I wake up

Damn it. It's 11:58AM.

I'm late.

And it wasn't until 1:00PM that I arrived at the venue.

Saw D. Gross in the parking lot looking over the Mazda 3. Fortunately my tardy arrival was before their afternoon runs. After rejoicing over this revelation we walked over to the course to see the action.

Sir Gross speaking with an individual


Guggerheim staring at something


A ninth generation Mitsubishi Evolution


Miata with datsun racing livery. Ooooo


Once Gugger was done with his shift he drove his charger from the course to the parking lot.

During that return trip, I ran into Mike and Louis who had been there since the morning as well. I faintly recalled Louis telling me they'd be here so was happy to see them there. Had only seen Mike autocross once before and was looking forward to riding with him.

Gugger's charger made lumpy cam sounds parking next to the mazda. The car sounded healthy but proved to have problems in the morning. His first run consisted of his flex-piped exhaust falling off. The second was characterized by his car spinning out. And by the time I arrived, there was tear on one of the coolant lines.

It was a tense moment at Keys stadium. I gasped.

But this is Dan Gugger we're talking about. The guy who built the motor himself. The man who was drunk and ran to the parking garage and back to help me with fuses. The individual who was in my build thread! Hope was not lost.

Dan improvised. He had an extra hose and small clamps at his disposal. So he cut part of the extra hose and used it to cover the ripped part of the installed hose. Next, he put a clamp around both and voila it was done.



Closing the hood


I was at Costco and Danny was at Chick-Fil-A while that was going on. Costco membership was entitling me to $2.50 for a gallon of 93 and $4.00 for two of the dankest slices of Pizza. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, my phone made a noise indicating I received text message.

Being the responsible driver I am, I pulled over and checked the message from Dan Gugger.

"Can you get me 3 gallons of water"

She. It.

Gugger ran for me before. I can do it for him except sober. Brought 15 liters of water and fortunately didn't need to use much. Fixed? Let's all roll onto the course.

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Part III. Gross drives his car

Gross was the first of the three to run in the afternoon.

It really is phenomenal what he's done with that Mazda 3. The body feels very rigid, the turn-in is vicious, and the grip is relentless. It set 47s from what I last recall.

What I like about the car is its subtlety. It's not loud and doesn't have "mazdaspeed" badges on it, but all the tasteful modifications are functional. This isn't a Mazda 3 that happens to handle well, this is a car that handles very well. And the credit goes to the driver who built it.

Hello Danny Gross


Zoom. Zoom.




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Part IV. Mike drives a red civic

Next up was Mike Constantine. The man with an Si.

It's very easy to identify people in this club. Lyman? Oh yeah he has the RX8. DeShaies? Yes, the badass karter. Mike's been one of the few people I've seen that consistently goes out and enjoys his car.

He's on par with Gross and Bair when it comes to being a consistent autocrosser. But from initial impression I could never guess it. Humble guy with a stock Si (from what I know). But the enthusiasm is very much alive when he's on the course.

I'd never rode in a K20 civic until then. Always perceived that VTEC would kick in like a turbo does, but it was a very smooth progression into that powerband. The motor produced a decent amount of torque with a nice kick at the higher RPMs. The all-season tires were shot and I could tell by the severe understeer at some points. However, I knew he had a set of dedicated summers - which he informed me of as well.

I'm not a fan of the FWD drivetrain but can say the Civic Si is a solid car. The chassis rotates well and the motor deserves praise. Can easily see why people buy it.



Ok, serious faces


It's red


Gugger riding shotgun


Speeding responsibly


Elegantly understeering


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Part V. Dan drives an angry yacht

Finally it was Gugger's turn in the Charger.

Ridiculous is the first word that describes this car. Awesome is the next one. When I was told that the charger was running I could only imagine the excitement people would share with me there.

Spectators would clap when a miata set a fast lap time. They'd comment on when the Evo X would understeer. However, when the charger was running they would whip out their phones and take videos. It was possibly the most treasured car there. Maybe it was because it was smoking its tires for the entirety of all the straights. Maybe because it has 500HP crank through a 3-speed transmission. But I think it was because he didn't give a crap about times and wanted to have fun. And my god it was hilarious to be in it for a run as well as seeing it move.

Chassis is horribly floppy because it's huge, but the charger is all about character. The styling, power, ridiculousness. It's a car you remember.

Rolling up


In line. Louis doing something with his hands


Danny photobombing this picture


Louis enjoying life. Mike fixing the GoPro in the background


Vroom vroom I'm a charger beetch


Me helping Gugger check for coolant leaks


More pics




Do you see the smoke? That was for the entire straight. Raw power.


Gugger's runs marked the end of my day. With those completed, I shook hands with everyone there and parted happily with the thrills and pictures I had.



Aside from saying it was a great way to end spring break, you know I'm going to include some type of deep reflection here.

I've always felt that the real car enthusiasts are in the organized racing community. These crowds are humble, welcoming, knowledgeable, and they know how to drive! You don't need to have the latest STI or the most track-prepped CRX to win or enjoy yourself. Sometimes all you need is to be smart with your Mazda 3, be dedicated with your Civic Si, or entertain everyone in your 1973 charger.

I always tease Louis about taking the Impala out for a spin since he's usually with Mike at these events. And it was today where Lou dropped knowledge on me. He talked about Pontiac GXP superchargers fitting his engine, potential for manual swaps, and many more things. We didn't discuss the performance potential of other cars, but exploring that of his own car.

And in the autox community you'll find people that follow through with such words.

Try it once and see the appeal of the sport.

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