Third Annual Florida Slalom

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Third Annual Florida Slalom.
By Pascal Gademer, South Florida Jaguar Club
pictures and video clip Ginger Corda / Mike Baker, posted 3/15/05

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- Video Clips -
Pascal Gademer (72 XKE) Slalom - Ginger Corda (71 XKE)
Pascal Gademer (72 XKE) Road Course
- Gary Hagopian (62XKE)
Patrick Dupuis (49 Mark IV)
Note: all clips about 5MB in Media Player 9 format and don't forget to turn up the volume! For best result, click on pause when Media Player starts playing the clip while downloading. When download is complete, click on Play to view the clip.

In many JCNA regions, having a sanctioned slalom on the calendar is a common occurrence with members having as many as ten opportunities each year to exercise their cats and improve their car handling skills; all within a couple of hundred miles. In the southeast, and especially in Florida, a sanctioned slalom is big news as it seems that club members prefer to clean, polish, detail and show their Jaguars rather than driving them. While it would be easy to blame the annual migration of snowbirds (what we Floridians call the often slow driving northern visitors who invade the state during winter) for this lack of enthusiasm, ironically it is a snowbird who found the perfect slalom location and encouraged the JCOF to offer the first JCNA sanctioned slalom of 2005. Obviously, Gary Hagopian is anything but slow (although this time on) at the wheel of this modified 62 E-type coupe but the fact is that anyone coming to spend winters in Florida can't escape the snowbird label...

17 drivers registered for this 3rd JCOF Slalom, including 13 Jaguars ranging from a 1949 Mark IV to modern XJS, XJ6 and XJ8s. The location Gary found was perfect, conveniently located in Tavares just north of Orlando and should have attracted many members for other Florida clubs... unfortunately, the only date available happened to be on the same week end as the Amelia Island Concours, in the North Florida club's backyard and it seemed that members of the other two clubs (Suncoast and South Florida) found the distance a little over except for Ray David of Suncoast, and myself from South Florida, this slalom was mostly a JCOF and snowbird event.

The Lake County sheriff training grounds was ideal for the slalom with a large empty parking area and a short road course nearby. Once registration and tech were out the way, Gary led the troops around the slalom course for a briefing and offered a few pointers on how to master the standard JCNA 3 lap course. In order to accurately compare scores across all clubs, the JCNA slalom course a fixed design, carefully measured, so that competitors across the country compete on the same course, with the same chances (except for surface quality of course). Despite what some may think, it is not harsh on the cars because the speeds are pretty low, most cars run it in 2nd gear and unless you push real hard even the tires aren't going to suffer much wear.

I was first on course, thanks to event chair Ginger Corda registering my 72 E-Type coupe as nr 1 (she clearly wanted me to clean the course...) turning a time of just over 46 seconds: not good. Although I knew the lack of practice and a little over enthusiastic left foot didn't help, I noticed that other competitors times where slower than expected as well, due the surface texture. Gary Hagopian, who normally turns record breaking times below 40 seconds could barely make it into the 42s...

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Road Course Results
1- Pascal Gademer, 1972 XKE 1.19
2 - Gary Hagopian, 1962 XKE 1.20
3 - John Falco, Mini Cooper S 1.22
--- Benjamin Yu, Mini Cooper S 1.22
5 - William Sutter, 1996 XJ6 1.24
--- Bruce Abbot, Probe GT 1.24
7 - Ginger Corda, 1971 XKE 1.27

Full Slalom Results

Among the highlights were runs by cars that you wouldn't expect one the slalom course, like Patrick Dupuis in a 1949 Mark IV or William Mayer in a 1967 white 420G; for those not too familiar with Jaguar's history the 420G/Mark X is the largest Jaguar ever build! Quite a sight on a slalom course and clearly handicapped by its loooooong wheelbase.

Slalom was a family affair for the Wheelers, with both father and son competing while mother and daughter looked on. Jefferson Wheeler only about 8/10 slower than his father and providing us with the best entertainment on his first run with a full 360 donut, 1994 XJ40 bodied Vanden Plas nearly disappearing in the cloud of tire smoke. I also had a copilot on board with my 10 year old daughter Brittany getting her first taste of competition and loving every second of it.

Once all the runs were completed, it was time to tackle the 6/10 mile adjacent road course; a pretty narrow and very twisty course used for police training. Also unforgiving with a few trees and ditches but all competitors listened to the warnings and despite pushing hard everybody would end up driving home with their cars looking as they did in the morning... And challenging it was! almost all 2nd gear with 4 long 180 degree turns and very technical complexes. Unlike the morning slalom where I was struggling for grip, this course just felt right with the car reacting perfectly and feeling very balanced... except for locking up the brakes a couple of times. It's hard to describe but you know when a lap feels right or not; in the long 180 degree turns, once the car was set in the turn, it required almost no steering input, staying on the edge and balanced with the throttle. Pure bliss!

Results turned out to be very interesting and totally unexpected with Gary having to settle for second place one second behind my time of 1'19". How could the Silver Hammer be defeated by what Gary calls the "big easy" in reference to the long wheel base, power steering of my V12 E-type? it looks like my street P Zeros were better matched to the surface than his race compound Pirellis...

By 3pm, all driving was wrapped up with participants struggling to get the big smiles off their faces, award certificates handed out and all went on their way home. Official results from the slalom can be found from the online scoring system, results for the road course session cna be found in the side bar...