Well, that was brief…
Looking back at 2020
So: 2020 was going to be the season where I got back to racing after a long hiatus (yet another… :sigh:). I’d bought a new racecar the previous year, done a TON of work to lighten it, improve some aspects of it, and get it ready for a season of racing. I’d bought a new truck to tow my trailer, which had been sitting for five years and therefore had also had a front-to-back overhaul, and bought a new driving suit and other personal gear. If the season went like I expected, I had a reasonable chance at not one but possibly two championships. I was Ready. To. Go.
And then COVID happened, and not much else. Ugh.
Thankfully, the volunteers running the various clubs that put on our races, and working with various levels of government, health agencies, and track management, were somehow able to put together about half a season’s worth of sprint races, plus the traditional end-of-season endurance race. Sadly without any of our Canadian pals (or their club’s race) due to the closed border, but absolutely impressive and better than nothing. Also, because of the abbreviated schedule and the lack of parity between American-based racers and those in Canada, Conference decided to suspend the class championships as well. Okay, then, racing was going to be even more “just for fun” than usual, but hey! I was still going to be racing and any time spent in the car was still going to be in service of getting used to the new car.
And the racing was… interesting. However much the relative ratios resolved between how little I’ve raced in the past few years, a car with a solid rear axle vs. independent suspensions I’ve had on every other racecar, or simply the fact the Mustang is big and heavy, the fact remained that so much of the “season” was about, basically, starting over. Added to that was that any time I did something instinctive, it was based on “muscle memory” from cars that were quite different to the Mustang, which actually tended to make things worse.
I was also fundamentally frustrated that, although one of the positive counters to a big, heavy, occasionally awkward car like the Mustang is all that V8-powered horsepower and torque, I found myself with roughly the same acceleration and top end as the SE46-classed BMWs (E46-generation 3-Series). Power-to-weight issues aside, it seemed that gearing was also going to be something I’d need to look into.
Looking forward to 2021
Aside from simply RACING again, my big plan for 2020 was to get used to the car and settle in to learning how the car handled purely on mechanical grip, with the expectation that I’d be ready to tackle aerodynamic issues and do some additional weight-removal in the off-season.
Since the whole “settling in” thing didn’t really get a chance to happen, my expectation is that 2021 will be the season that 2020 never got a chance to be. The one real change will be in going from a 3.55 final drive to an autocross-like 4.10: sure, it’s going to put me in the very “overdriven” 5th gear all the time, but I’m already forced to use 5th on the straights at Portland and Pacific Raceways, so no great loss there. At least I should be getting there a lot more quickly!