The Windy City Miata Club (WCMC) is a not-for-profit organization designed to promote the enjoyment of good will and fellowship derived from owning a Mazda Miata. Though most of our membership is located in the Chicagoland area, we have members in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and other states. As of the end of 2015, we have 310 great members, with 211 Miatas.

You're invited to join us at our next meeting or activity! Regular club meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month at Fuddruckers in Downers Grove (Click here).

New and prospective members are always welcome at our events. Some events may require an RSVP to the organizer. If you want more information about an upcoming event, please email the event organizer at the address shown on the event page or you may contact us here.
 

A Word from our President - July 2016

NOT EVERYONE CAN BE AN AUTOCROSSER

One of the things I committed myself to doing this year was getting to an autocross event. We’ve been members of the Club for more than 16 years, but the only autocross-related events, I’ve attended were the driving schools sponsored by the Club and organized by the autocross team years ago.

One beautiful Sunday afternoon in June, I made it to Boomers stadium to watch autocross. And I said “yes” when lead autocross coordinator, Pat Marcus, invited me to ride along with her. It is incredible – the videos we showed at the General Membership meeting and even the mentored runs at the driving school don’t capture the experience of being on the track. However, by the second run I was having flash-backs which reminded me that I was never very good at amusement park rides (or riding in a single-engine plane, for that matter.)  Fortunately, I didn’t anything to embarrass myself and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon sitting trackside.

I learned that I may not have the “right stuff” for auto crossing, but I also learned a great deal more. Autocross is a very serious sport. You may accept the invitation to come out once to “try it,” but to come a second and third time means making a commitment. Autocross is about the vehicle – though, believe it or not, one of the regulars drives a Chevy S-10 pick-up. It’s about the engine and its modifications, brakes, suspensions, tires. More importantly, competitive driving is about the driver. When I was running the skid pad at this summer’s BMW driving school my mentor - who also races a Miata – told me I was holding it right on the edge of breaking loose. He said he could feel it through the seat – and he was excited for me. Unfortunately, I never did sense what he was experiencing. The accomplished autocross driver knows his/her car, its limits, and the feeling my mentor was describing.

I learned from Uve Jerzy that autocross is even more than the bond between the driver and his/her car. The best drivers are able to get into any car and within a few runs post remarkable times. It’s about anticipating the demands the track will place on car and driver. It’s strategizing when to accelerate, when to brake, and how to take each turn.  It’s about reflexes and a bit if nerve. It’s about thinking and split-second decision-making. Most importantly, for the good drivers it is about practice, practice, practice.

There are a few other things I learned about autocross. First, it is “crazy fast,” and drives done well are absolutely elegant. The best drivers were running the course in less than 50 seconds. It is competitive. Sometimes the difference between the times of two cars is counted in the hundredths of a second. Yet, in spite of the competitiveness, the gathering of auto crossers felt like a supportive community. Drivers cheer for one another, help one another, and express admiration for drives done well. Finally, I witnessed that the WCMC autocross is done well. I appreciate the work done by the autocross coordinators and the other committed Club members who offered a well-organized, efficient, quality experience for Club members and the wider community of auto enthusiasts. WCMC can be proud of its autocross program.

So, you may not be an auto crosser either, but you are certainly welcome to come out and see what all the fuss is about – maybe even try a ride-along. There are plenty of people who will offer to take you. The schedule for the balance of the autocross season is found on this website. I promise that you will have an enjoyable afternoon – and you may even learn a few things.

John Schumacher

 

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