I did the Boston Zoom-Zoom Live event this morning, and MAN was it empty at 9am. :) There were no lines for anything until 10am, which was great, as we got to do all the events multiple times. My buddy's wife set the closest time for the Gymkhana for 9-10am, which was pretty cool for her. I had the most fun doing that event in the Mazda5, it moves pretty good for a minivan-like vehicle!
The Jinba Ittai was pretty cool. I did a mid-47 time with no balls lost the first run, and knew I could go faster, but slipped up in the FIRST turn, and lost 2 of 3 balls, but still ended up within 1 second of the reference time, so that was pretty cool.
The "School" event, with the RX-8s was a LOT of fun. They had a decent 25-30 second course set up, and professional racer-instructors to ride along. It was strictly a 2nd gear affair, and while they specified "no burn-outs", they didn't specify "no red-lining" so I drove it up to just a bit over 8k before shifting into second, which was probably 3/4 of the way up to the first corner. I don't have a of RWD-competition experience, but my theory's pretty decent on it (thanks Gran Turismo!) Aside from a little throttle-oversteer on the first corner, I was pretty good about keeping the under-steer and over-steer under control, braking and accelerating firmly, and transitioning through corners smoothly. I felt in control (but much faster than I'm used to our civic going!) throughout the whole course, and the instructor pretty much just pointed out a few apexes as I went into corners, and I used the information he gave me to approach the corners with an eye towards maximum exit speed. At the end, he congratulated me on a good drive, and said I was one of the smoothest rides he'd had.
The Competition event was, of course, where everyone wanted to be. I was psyched to be driving the Miatas instead of the Mazda3's this year, and manuals instead of automatics. We waited 10-15 minutes for our turn to drive, watching the other drivers. The best time I saw go through when we were standing there the first time was a 38.013, and the reference time was 38 seconds. When it was my turn, I got myself strapped in tight using the "sliding-locking seatbelt" trick, and then motored up to the start area. When he sent me off, I made a decent 2.5-3k launch with no wheelspin, and then promptly almost understeered off the course for the first tight left-hander of the course. "Oh yeah, this is RWD, gotta give it some gas! Duh!" After remembering I wasn't driving FWD, I stepped it up for the rest of the course, getting a little tail-happy in a few corners (just a little, it's pretty easy to get oversteer in the MX-5) and then blasted through the finish for a 37.5. !!! Wow, OK, these little cars are FAST. *big grin* That was good enough for 4th place. Hmm. I know I messed up two corners, I can go faster..... Sooo, back in line I went. Well, they were running two lines in the queue, one for manuals and one for automatics. The automatic transmission line was about 1/4 as long as the manual line, and I was feeling cocky, so I jumped over into the automatic line. If I didn't go faster, I had an excuse, and if I DID go faster, I could really brag. :) This line was only about a 10 minute wait, so I was back in the car pretty quickly, a nice dark-grey model, with the automatic paddle-shifters. Woo, this looks like fun. :) The guy gridding us had pointed out that the course didn't actually start until halfway through the first left-hand corner, so blasting full-speed into that corner didn't get us anything, except a lot of slide, so I figured I'd do it a little differently this run. On take-off, I eased out at a moderate speed, until I was wide-right about 20 feet before the left-hander, and then turned in and floored it. The back end kicked out nicely and then I made the right-hand transition and was off to the races, paddling it into 2nd. I gotta say, the automatic drove VERY similarly to the manual. The little extra weight didn't seem to hinder me at all, and I was very careful to tighten up all my lines from the previous runs I'd botched or under-steered on. It's EASY to get oversteer in these little cars, and just as easy to bring it back inline with a little lift, which made it great to drive. There were a few bigger sweepers I didn't even brake into, just tapped the brakes at the end where they tightened up into a chicane or slalom, and even the slaloms were big enough you only needed a little flick to traverse safely and at a pretty good clip. You could almost straight-line the ending slalom/chicane, if you trusted your ability to brake quickly while making a relatively hard right-hand turn to not take out the ending-area cones, and more than one person tried that and looped it. I, however, did not loop it, and pulled into the finish area. I felt it was a pretty good run. Of course, as I'm driving over to the timing guy, the entire gallery starts clapping. WT... The guy says to me, "Yeah, pretty good time, "36.1." DUDE, 36.1?! "Wow, thanks!" I took a little bow to the crowd as I stepped out. :)
So, that time was good enough by about 1/2 second to the next closest time, by a kid named Boris, to take the fastest time for that hour. I'm HOPEFUL it's good enough for the day's best time. The next closest times aside from Boris were 37.2 or so.
So, yeah, a good time. I made it out of there with a first-place hat, a t-shirt, and some pretty nice Bose tri-port headphones. I felt this event was just as well run, but more fun, than the Rev-It-Up event from last year, and catered more to amateur racer/street drivers than the cut-throat competition for the Mazda last year. I hope that, if they bring Rev-it-up back, they either run this event as well, or make RIU more like this!