Some of you may know that a rule change is in the works for the 2012 SCCA SOLO rules. The current rule for sway bars in the Stock class is that only the Front sway bar can be replaced/modified. There has been a proposal to change the rule saying that EITHER the front or the rear sway bar can be replaced/modified. This gives you the option of only changing the fsb or the only the rsb. This may sound like the greatest thing ever for our platform or for any FWD car for that matter, HOWEVER, I went through an experience that would say otherwise and leads me to rejecting this proposal.
When I first started autocrossing in 2008, I had a brand new Mazda3 Hatchback. The only suspension mod I had was a Racing Beat RSB (27mm compared the stock 19mm). I had stock wheels and tires. I loved it. Turn in was superb and the car rotated whenever I wanted it. PURE WIN!!!!
Until a friend of mine referred me to his buddy who was selling a set of used v710 (rcomps). Great price, great performance so I took them. This is where things went downhill for me and could possibly go downhill for others too. On the second event with these tires, maybe my 4th or 5th run, my car rolled over 3 times. It landed on all fours and I was okay.
Lets break this down. It rolled at around 35mph (+/-5mph) on a pivot cone turning to the right coming from a medium left. I turned the wheel at the usual point (may have been a little jerky) and the next thing I know I was upside down. The car just snapped into a roll. There was no forewarning, no indication, so sense of the car going over until it was too late.
This accident was the result of an imbalanced suspension mated with sticky tires and driver error. Novice drivers, heck even experienced drivers, make errors but we do not expect to roll the car when that happens. What happened was that the car wanted to rotate due to the RSB. The sticky tires did not allow it to and the stock soft springs and struts allowed the body to roll up to an unsafe degree and the weight of the car had nowhere else to go but up and over. Witnesses said that the rear of the car was about 5 feet off the ground. It was thrown into an airborne spin basically. Quite dramatic.
What this new proposal does is open the door for other people to have a similar imbalanced set up, legally in stock class and to possibly go through what I went through or even worse. We all know that rcomps are legal in stock class but are restricted to the size. Someone who does not have the knowledge and guidance can easily make the same mistake. I am trying to prevent that from happening.
In short, I will be writing to the SCCA rejecting this new proposal backing up my decision with my personal and detailed account of the accident. You live and learn on your own but sometimes what you learn may help others live. If you agree with me, it would be helpful if you could also voice your opinion to the SCCA: http://www.sebscca.com/
Video: Not of the actual roll. The roll happened one the next run at the location I was at at 39 seconds. You can see the type of turn that it was. Witnesses said the inside rear had been lifting off the ground about a 1 foot at that point. Havent seen this video in a while. DAMN i sucked! its just horrendous. good video of how NOT to autocross, obviously.