Autocross with Equipe Rapide
Ginger and I went to lunch on Sunday, July 26 at Lupe's Tex Mex Grill in Bedford, right across the street from Pennington Field, a multi-purpose stadium run by the H.E.B. School District. In the parking lot, we saw and heard revving engines and squealing tires as sports cars were weaving in and out of cones. Hmmm, interesting.
After lunch, we walked across the street to see what was going on. We asked a group of guys who seemed to be stationed at one of the corners, carrying flags and a fire extinguisher. It turns out that it was an "autocross" event - these guys were members of a club called Equipe Rapide, who attend such events all over Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere.
We were at the perimeter of the track, which was clear now since the heat had just finished, so one guy named Tim invited us into where the start/finish was, saying we could watch things up close and get more info if we wanted. Tim told us about the event: just about anyone with just about any type of vehicle could register and pay a small fee and run the track if the car passed a simple mechanical inspection. There were probably 100 cars in total, of a whole bunch of different types, mostly sports cars with racing decals, but some rather stock-looking. There were Corvettes, Mustangs, Mazdas, a Camaro, a Firebird, Honda Civics, a Mini Cooper, a Mitsubishi Lancer, even a Lotus Elise on the "exotic" end and a rather plain-looking Nissan Sentra on the "low" end. Some people were even driving tiny Formula 1-type cars.
Somehow the conversation got to the point where we said we'd love to go around the track but of course we couldn't drive it... and Tim asked if we'd like to ride with him in a few minutes next time he went, to which Ginger enthusiastically replied "YEAH!" So indeed, all we had to do was borrow a helmet and sign some sort of waiver. What did the waiver say? We have no idea, but it probably said that we wouldn't sue if we died in a fiery crash.
Tim brought his car around, a black 2006 Corvette Z06 - everything completely stock except for the tires - and after a few minutes was ready to roll. Ginger went first, turning in a time of 33.598 seconds. Actually, this was on the second run, since the first one was cut short because the white Mazda RX-8 spun out ahead of them.
After watching another heat, it was Tim's turn again, and Neil jumped in for this ride. Another Corvette Z06 was the only one in Tim's class with a better time, but the 33.155 seconds wasn't quite enough to catch up.
The ride was quite a thrill - the track was all tight turns and a few weaves in and out of cones - the parking lot area was no more than a quarter mile long, so there were no long straightaways. Even so, with the acceleration of the cars, some with more than 500 horsepower, they could get up to 70 MPH or so in the small space.
Here's satellite view of the stadium area - the track was laid out in the Northeast portion of the parking lot area - no curbs or medians to break up the surface.
All in all, it was quite a cool experience - not just the thrill of the actual 30+ seconds of track time, but also talking with Tim, a really friendly guy, about the event and the cars. It was kind of a bummer not to have had a camera with us, but it was cool enough to keep a lookout for upcoming events in the area and actually plan for it next time.