Race non-Report: Lemons Thompson

Friday

On the Friday tech/practice day, I got to see first-hand the car I would be racing. A first generation Honda Odyssey converted from automatic to manual, and from grocery getter to neighborhood trolley (Mr. Rogers theme). There was still a lot of minor work being done on the car, and when I finally got in to test, it was 4:00. My brother had taken it out earlier and complained that it was not handling like it used to. The brakes were shuddering in T1 and the car bounced around, especially in T6.

I took several tries to buckle into the harness. I’ve been using camlock buckles for a few years and hadn’t remembered what a pain the swan neck locks are. The brake pedal was one of those huge automatic rectangles and it had a long travel before engaging. I suspected it would be hard for me to heel-toe, and it was. My heel-toe technique requires a high and hard brake pedal because I leave my heel anchored to the floor. Oh well. Also, the clutch was very stiff and there was no dead pedal. So my feet weren’t very happy with the cockpit. And neither were my arms. The steering wheel was angled more like a truck than a car. This caused my elbows to ram into the side protectors of the aluminum seat every time I turned more than 30°. I ended up driving somewhat one-handed.

Once I got on track, I remembered how much I like Thompson. There’s not much in elevation or camber, but what there is, is used to good effect. My favorite part of the track is the 7-8-9 combination. I experimented with different braking points and gear selection and then Tom, the owner sitting next to me, told me to bring it in. We probably did ~6 laps. As reported earlier, the brakes shuddered in T1, probably because the rotors were uneven. And the rear of the car bounced around quite a bit. But the part that confounded me most was the lack of rotation. It was really hard to get the rear end free. As a result, the fronts were constantly searching for traction and the open diff was spinning the inside wheel. It probably didn’t help that the tire pressures were set at 35F 31R.

There was an AiM Solo running, but I didn’t look at it. I’ll download it when I visit Mario in Ithaca next week.

Saturday

Did I mention that my back has been giving me problems? Again? Well, it has, and it’s getting worse. Last year, I neglected the warning signs and ended up walking with a cane when I could walk. I had to take 6 months off from driving. This year I decided not to repeat last year and took myself out of the driving rotation. I have only so much money in my back account and I’ve spent too much.

You’re probably thinking “Ian, you suck at back maintenance”. And maybe I do. But I have been doing PT exercises religiously for nearly a year with not much to show for it. Maybe PT isn’t the answer. I had a lot of people telling me that PT would fix my ailing knee. But actually there was a piece of ossified cartilage swimming around inside the joint that no amount PT was going to fix. I’ve got an appointment in 2 weeks to inject my back with steroids. I don’t see that fixing my problems in the long-term, but it’s the next thing they try before surgery.

4 thoughts on “Race non-Report: Lemons Thompson

  1. Shame you had to sit out the race, even if the car wasn’t exactly (even close to) optimal. Best of luck with the back recovery. That can’t be much fun.

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    1. Thanks. It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s also not life-threatening. I’m trying to see this as signal to take even better care of myself as I get older.

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  2. possible its a “not too good” physical therapist. i’ve had a number of ok ones and one that was amazing… really thought about the kinematics and what was going on in a very engineery way that resonated with me for my knee. the PT was targeted and effective. could that be the deal?

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    1. PT was working for a while. I was pain-free for a couple months. I’m getting an injection tomorrow. I don’t expect it will really work, but it’s the next step before surgery.

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