Thursday, August 26, 2010

NASA TTA Win & Track Record @ Gingerman!

Woke up to rain. Got to the track and finished unpacking and it was still raining for the warmup. Even though I was on Hoosiers, I decided to head out just to make updates were all installed correctly. I switched back to TTA mode, meaning I reinstalled my AMS FMIC, AMS LICP, AMS MBC and brand new Buschur UICP (finally dumping the stock UICP for good and all it's troubles staying attached I hoped). I ran just 2 laps of fun in the rain and literally slid through the last turn and into pit lane - but everything shook down just fine.
I went out in the first timed session, and planned to hammer it right away while the temps were still cool. It was a good plan, but I took it a step too far and blew through the first turn on my 2nd full lap. Just a scenic trip through the grass; no harm no foul other than a DQ for the session. Everything mostly felt good except the car liked to understeer out of some corners which seems to be a theme my last few events. It was bad enough in some turns that it was literally hopping while fighting for grip.
Anyways, in the final 3 sessions I put down faster and faster times and ended up with a 1:32.1 which snagged me first of 4 in class and broke the TTA class record.

In the last session I got a soft brake pedal so I figured my already this pads were shot. As soon as the session was over I tore into the brakes. I had put in an older replacement set to hopefully get me through the weekend; but they only lasted 1 day as they were down past the middle wear marker on the RF. Having a new set of DTC60's; I popped them in and rotated the tires to get ready for Sunday. I'm not a big fan of doing maintenance at the track, but this isn't a bad job and the temps weren't bad at all. Much better than how the day began with all the rain!
Sunday we got to run the new config which adds about a 1/3 mile to the track in the form of another carousel turn and a longer backstraight that starts uphill. It took a bit to get used to it as their's really 2 carousel turns and some off-camber downhill stuff - the longer straight...well it's straight! Carousel turns can be difficult to get a handle on, especially if your car doesn't handle well. I think mine handles pretty well, but it seems to be disliking corner exits more and more over the past month; understeering like I mentioned above. It's probably a combination of a few things including the fact my JIC coilovers have 35+ days on them now and likely need refreshed. I also have the camber plates maxed out up front which only nets me about -2.5 of camber. And lastly I've been running a higher class - TTA. Even though I'm not fully utilizing my points allotment yet, I am running more horsepower which in turn seems to make the corner exit understeer that much more pronounced.
Anyways, I dealt with it the best I could in the carousels and came away with a best of 1:40.6. This time I flip-flopped with a TTA Corvette from Sat and finished 2nd of 5.

Old Course vs New Course:
Just to give you an idea of the changes and how they affect the Evo vs others:
  • 1.8 miles vs 2.2 miles
  • Top speed on backstraight of 110mph vs 125mph
Anyone that's competitively tracked an Evo knows that we fall victim to straight-line speed to things like Corvettes! I think the longer backstraight definitely brought this sad fact into play with my finishing order. The longer straight combined with basically 2 additional carousel type turns made for a new course that doesn't seem to flow quite as well. Then again; based on my results over the weekend maybe I'm biased! haha.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shedding some weight!

Every little bit helps!  With NASA, you have to meet certain minimum weight requirements with each car.  Mine is 3263lbs and I can get right down to that mark current with about a 1/2 tank fuel. 

However, you have the option of taking 'mod' points for additional weight reduction.  Personally, I don't think it's the best use of points, but in the absence of something better - why not!  I can always add strategically placed ballast back in to make minimum weight.  Plus the other groups I run with like Redline Time Attack have no minimum weights.

Not pictured is a lot of carpet and sound deadening I pulled from the floorboard and under the dash.  Lots more left...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brake Pad Checkup!

I was changing tires in prep for my next event next weekend.  I usually seem to change out pads and rotors well before they're done since I'm anal about that and do not want ANY downtime on the weekends.  But I knew the pads were getting low, so I figured I'd pop them out and give them a lookover and here's what I found:

Whew; glad I looked!  This was after 3 days and ~200 miles at VIR where my car hits 140+mph twice on each lap!  I think I got my money's worth with these.
Also note that even with the pads this low, driving 10/10th's and ambient in the 101-103 degree range I still had zero brake issues at VIR. 
Thanks AMSOIL DOT4 brake fluid!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Fresh off my first day at VIR (see earlier post) I was just getting started on the weekend's festivities!
After the GRM awards ceremony, I went back to my pit area to transform/downgrade the car into NASA TTB trim for the weekend which besides a small tire and weight different includes about 50whp less! And guess what; it was still insanely hot.
Saturday Morning:
The call was a 7:30am meeting at the track. Because of the heat from the previous day, I felt like I had been up partying all night long even though I wasn't. Great way to start the day and along with the Gatorade and water I was drinking I had to mix in some caffeine as well to get me going!

I had just enough time to tighten everything down and make the morning warmup for TT. I was going to be running my usual TTB trim which is ~300whp & 3280lbs with 245 Hoosiers. Practice went fine although I did pop off a boost line and was overboosting on the last lap so I came in a bit early as I already had a few hot laps in for a good grid position.
NASA Mid-Atlantic does their TT program scheduling quite a bit different from what I'm used to in the MW/GL division. Where I'm used to 5 total sessions; here I was only going to get 2! So that's a lot less track time, and a lot more pressure to have your setup right and a good clean flyer of a lap w/o any offs (4-wheels off = DQ)! I thought I did well, with a 2:13.7 but that stuck me in 4th out of 7! Fortunately I had nearly 4 hrs to figure out where to pick up time.

The final - rather the 'other' timed session was around 5pm. I lined up very early and went out and just kept my foot in it. Just like the end of the day Friday, the track was pretty greasy. Did I mention Sat was even hotter than the UTCC event?? I think the high was 103 Saturday and the track conditions showed it. I was clicking off lower times on each of my laps as I struggled through some traffic. My last lap was my best - 2:11.8 which vaulted me into 2nd place; just .5 off the win. I was pretty happy with that outcome. In a sense, I picked up a 1/2 second from the previous day even though I was running 50whp less, thinner tires and more weight! Not bad... I secured 2nd out of 7 and felt pretty good about my chances on Sunday.

Only prep work was rotating the tires and tightening everything down. The practice session went just fine and in the 3hr gap before our 11:30am timed session I started packing up for the long trip home. We had an 11:30 timed session and then something like a 4:30pm session which I was not planning on sticking around for - not when I had a 900 mile trip home!

Anyways, once the session started I clicked off a few laps and had a 1:11.2 which was my best to date. I took a partial cool-down then hammered out a final lap. I had to pass 3 cars on this lap and still came away with my best ever - my traqmate showed a 2:11 flat. I did about the best I could and hoped it would hold up.
After about 30min of chugging water and packing I went to check the midday results. And this was how close it was:
1st place: 2:10.998
Me: 2:11.028

Yep, that's just .03 off the win... I was sooo close to taing down the win in TTB from the locals! But, I needed to get home so I packed up the car, said a few goodbyes and took off. All-in-all I was insanely proud of the car. I punished it in 100+ degree temps all weekend to the tune of 200+ track miles and it never flinched at all. I ran both a 100oct 26psi and my normal 93oct AMS Performance tune and kept everything in check with AMSOIL fluids. Thanks again for the great products guys! Also a shoutout to Forgeline rims and Hawk pads; great products.

Monday, August 2, 2010

GRM's Ultimate Track Car Challenge @ VIR

Part 2 - UTCC Event
Went out for the morning practice session at VIR! Never been there before, only watched videos. I knew the top cars were going to try and put down a fast lap to get a good grid position. So I was pointing around cars and on lap #2, going ~120mph down the back-straight I see a few fast movers coming - a Porsche GT3 & 2 Vettes - come flying past me probably 30-40mph faster, bang a few gears while downshifting into the corner and gone! Just the shear closing speeds was an instant wakeup call!
Overall for my first session, minus a few key turns, I got the hang of the track rather quickly and felt comfortable at the high speeds. I ended with a 2:23x and was grouped into the '2nd fastest' rungroup which was my plan so I wouldn't feel pushed.
My prep for the first timed session was very minimal. Just some tire pressures and the required stickers for the event really, leaving my boost at 24psi. For the first timed session I put down 2:16x I think. A lot of us were heading for A/C after this session; sweat literally pouring down through my helmet and into my ears just on the warmup lap! It was at least 99 at this point; plus the humidity.

For the 2nd timed session it was around 1-2pm in the afternoon. I turned my boost up a few cranks to what I assumed would be ~26psi. Once on track, all it was showing was 24psi down the straights - just f'in hot! My datalogs showed I was already reaching 140mph on the backstraight, 142mph on the frontstraight and 121mph before the essess! This session yielded me a 2:13x. This also gave me some good comparison data from my traqmate to see where I was picking up time - and I guarantee it wasn't more speed down the sun-drenched straightaways! Have I mentioned it was hot?

Between the 3rd and 4th session I got ahold of a friend that races an Evo in SCCA T2 and got some advice about the track. I was learning that I was being a pussy at the top of the esses and definitely messing up 2 other turns badly as well. With that advice in hand, some more studying of my traqmate and the shear will of knowing my final time goes in a magazine, I went out for the final timed session. I thought it was hot and greasy before... it was horribly worse! I didn't mean to trailbrake in every corner but it felt like that's all the car would do! I thought I was going off more than once in T1 - the hardest braking zone on the track. Braking into T1 at 140+ down to 50 the car just wiggled left-right-left-right as it was fighting for grip.

The final session was about 3:30pm - by far the warmest part of the day. I tried something new - just not let up through the climbing essess - and it was soooo much fun floating through there! On my final lap of the final session I ended with a 2:12.2 which put me 29/66 cars and 14/27 in class.

Ultimate Track Car Challenge @ VIR - 950miles there!

Part 1 - The trip down
As I had to be at VIR first thing Friday and it's 800+ miles, I knew I needed a FULL day of travel. I had to take care of some business in St Louis on my way through, so a slight detour was needed before spending the night in central IL with some family. After about 5hrs of sleep, I left at 5am. It really was a normal trip passing through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Total trip with my detour through STL was about 950 miles and 14hrs of actual drivetime. The mostly downhill 5% grades in West Virginia were ok, and the last hour had 2-lane downhill 9% curving grades (wasn't looking forward to these on the way out!). Got to the track about 7-8pm local and unloaded the car in the all sand paddock area.  It's pretty neat when you enter VIR, you drive over the track and to your left are the climbing esses!