Ask Me Anything About Autocross

One of things I like to do in my spare time is write. I am generally not that great at writing. There are plenty of more talented individuals than me out there, but what I do enjoy is sharing my experiences and thoughts through writing.

As this week leads up to the SCCA Pro Solo Finale and Solo Nationals, I thought this space would be a great place for a “Ask Me Anything About Autocross.” I am going to give this Q&A format a try. I would love to field questions from anyone, especially non-racing or non-car people. So… ask away!

Send your questions to me on FB, Instagram, or whatever!

Why are you a shit driver?

K: I don’t push the right pedal all the way down, and I use the middle pedal a way too much.

What is your favorite auto-x element? Least favorite? What do you want to see more/less of at an autox?

K: Most favorite to date would be the “fake walloms” as I would call it. It’s essentially a wallom where only the last cone is relevant. The cones in front don’t do anything at all. Visually deceptive, but lots of fun. Least favorite element would be anything that requires me to slow down to 20 mph to get through. There isn’t any one element I would like to see more or less of. Maybe more creative/unique elements.

Is it more fun/stressful/expensive to auto-x with your daily driver or a car you keep just for racing?

K: Fun – Dedicated race car. The more prepared the car, the more fun it is to drive. Stressful – This kind of depends. More prepared car requires more work to get to get ready. A street car is essentially arrive and drive. Expensive – Definitely the more prepared car. Race tires are not cheap.

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Random Thoughts: Playing Better Pool Players Makes You Better is a Lie.

Back in 2015, a friend and I decided to pick up pool (billiards) again. We both played a lot during our undergraduate days, but since moving back to Fremont and getting real jobs, pool has kind of taken a back seat.

With the opening of California Billiards in Fremont, our desire to shoot was re-ignited. With the opening of a local pool room also came the introduction of pool leagues where there was organized weekly play. Our enthusiasm and desire to become competitive flourished. Playing in a league allowed us more opportunities to be competitive not only at the local level, but also allowed us to “flex our muscles” at the regional and national levels.

Over the last 3 years, as I moved from an APA Skill Level (SL) 4 to Level 7 in 9-Ball, and SL 4 to SL 6 in 8-ball, I’ve noticed several reoccurring themes. The biggest theme is that pool to us average folks is 90% mental. The theme I want to talk about is:

Playing better opponents or in harder leagues or (insert text here) DOES NOT make you a better player.

Anyone that tells you that it does is lying to you.

Yes. Playing better people is a component of becoming better, but itself alone is not enough for you to improve. And this really is true for any other passion or hobby, whether it be sports or autocrossing.

Most of the improvement and growth happens outside of the match. Ask yourself these questions after your match or during practice:

Before my match, did I adequately prepare? Did I warm up? Did I dial in my shot or stroke? Did I practice enough so that I am confident in making common shots? Did I work on my weak spots? What are my goals for this match? (Consistently run 3 balls? Make good decisions for pocketing vs. safeties? Execute key safeties? Minimize the number of mistakes I make?)

During my match, what did I do well? What didn’t I do well? Which shots did I struggle with? Which shots carried me? What were some of the critical mistakes I made? And how could I have avoided them? Or what was a better way to go about the situation? Was I fully invested in my match? And did I give the match the best effort I had?

After my match, what can I take away regardless of winning or losing? Did I practice key shots or safeties that I either struggled with during the match, or completely missed? Did I practice and improve on troubled areas or concepts of my game. Do I understand my mistakes? And did I make an honest effort to do any or all these things?

These are the key questions you really need to ask yourself if you want to improve. More importantly, being disciplined about critically analyzing your game and committing to practice in order to improve is key.

There’s nothing wrong with playing pool at a casual level. You can improve a little bit by playing casually, but modest improvement at most. However, if you wanted to get to that next level, you need to input the work that is needed into becoming a better player.

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