As some of you know, I've been getting people together for upcoming track events.
There is two dates that people seem to like (by way of their votes).
-September 9th, NASA HPDE event at Infineon $149
-October 22nd, Thunderhill driving school at Thunderhill $225
Well, I just attended the August 12th program at Thunderhill. It was a blast! I wanted to give a quick rundown for those of you that wish to attend the Sep 9th event at Infineon. I hope this entices some of you to participate. It is something that has to be experienced. Please enjoy…
I left early morning and got to the track at 7:20. I would have gotten there earlier but decided to take a quick detour and purchase 100 octane fuel. I wanted the car running on this fuel before getting to the track. The track is about 70 miles from home, so I thought it would give the car enough time to adjust. The fuel was $5.99 a gallon, a little less than double the cost of premium. Anyways, I made it to the track with about 10 minutes to spare.
Most track events have a mandatory Driver's meeting. This one started at 7:30 am and lasted 30 minutes. During this time, they discuss some things like the day's schedule (http://www.nasaproracing.com/norcal/...ule_aug06.pdf)
, flag meanings, etc. The meeting is clear and concise. A friend sat in with me. He decided to sit passenger which is allowed in Group 2. So, his total cost was $15. Not too shabby for a day of fun.
8am. Group 1 & 2 run together at 9:40 (see link above). That gives me plenty of time to look over the car. I check fluid levels again. I also checked tire pressures too. I didn't bump up the pressures at all. I generally run 36f and 32r. I knew the tires would heat up quite a bit. The new Falken Azenis had a max rating of 50psi, so I didn't want to exceed that. Besides, it was about 95F. That would help bring tire pressure up too. BTW, I meant to purchase a pyrometer before the event but hadn't time to do so. I applied painter's tape, although not required, to the fenders & lights especially the fog lamps. They are too costly not to cover up! I then had the car tech'ed. That cost $40. I could've/should've had it done prior to the event but I forgot. The tech looked over the same basic stuff. I'm sure if it were a track car, it would have been more involving. He asked a lot of questions about the vehicle, mentioning he's never seen it before on the track. All this took about 45-1hr.
9:30am. Okay, 10 minutes to go. We lined up on the grid. The grid was nice, that is to say the grid workers were nice... actually pretty damn good looking. Anyways, we got ready. AC off. Stereo off. Everything was already unloaded from the vehicle (spare tire, etc). Helmets strapped. We were ready to go. BTW, we ran top up for sessions 1 & 4, top down for 2 & 3. Windscreen was off of course.
9:40am. We all follow the pace car onto the hot pit. He gets the okay from the tower and we're off. There was about 30-40 cars on track. It might sound like a lot of cars but this is a 3 mile course. You begin to spread out fairly quickly. I was 4th in line. Pace car, race-prepped 996, 996, me. I got past the 996 and pace car on the first straight. There was no way I was getting past the race-prepped 996. After several laps, we caught up with the tail end of Group 1. Note: Although group 1 & 2 run at the same time, group 2 is sent out first. Group 1 was running a bit slower so that's when you take advantage of the hot pit. You pull in, signaling to the tower that you want more space; they then feed you right back in where there's space. Quick and simple! We had enough time to put down 7-9 laps. Max speed was about 120 down the straight. Of course, I didn't pay too much mind to the speedometer. You have to keep your eyes on the road ahead. I was one of the quickest cars out there with exception of the prepped 996 mentioned above and a 996 GT3. That is not to say there weren’t faster cars. In fact, the C6 Z06 would probably take honors but this is more about driver's skill not the car's capability. There were a couple times that I allowed vehicles to pass on the straights. An S2000 was behind me a few turns. In all honesty, he was faster in the corners but was left behind on the straights. I decided to let him pass so I could study his line. Of course, his car was faster on the corners regardless. How much more do I weigh? Anyways, the track was smooth and void of faults. It is an easy track to remember with 15 turns. I got a little squirrelly on Turns 3 and 5. They are both off camber and it’s easy to understeer or snap oversteer. You can’t run it too hot with the SLK. It takes a bit of patience getting through but that’s part of the fun… learning your limits with the car. I should mention this is where the top came into play. The car felt more stable with the top up especially here. Also, I believe there is more downforce on the rear with the top up. I believed that coming in but it was nice that I ran both scenarios and got to feel the difference.
There was a great range of vehicles out. Fastest was the aforementioned Z06 all the way down to a Honda Fit. It makes it fun to have such a wide variety of vehicles out there. You also learn that it’s not all about power. You’d be surprised how quick some underpowered car move and how slow high-powered vehicles moved. There was a particular Caterham S7 that was flying down the straights but just about missed every corner. He just couldn’t find the line short of it being painted on the ground. The SLK55 handled great. It wasn’t light on its feet, but those Falken Azenis did their part. They were great! I can now see why so many rate them so high. The last lap of each run is there to cool your car down. I took it easy during those times. Once off course, I parked with the car running for about 5 minutes. I wanted the transmission to cool down. Of course I also popped the hood. I used this time to recheck tire pressures. They got up to 46f and 40r. I let out some air to regain a little traction. After the 5 minutes, I went to the download.
10:05am. Download meeting. This is where the instructors review the session. If there were any mishaps, it would be covered here. Conversations usually revolve around passing questions and such. If a car left the course, they would discuss it with the driver so that everyone could learn from his/her mistake. It was humbling, yet fun and informative. This meeting went on for about 15 minutes.
So, that’s how the day went. 20 minutes of track, followed by a 15 minute download, then some rest time in between. It was loads of fun. So much fun that I forgot to take pictures. I also didn’t have time to setup a camcorder. I was going to record the event but never had a chance. They do allow it provided the camcorder is properly secured. I’ll do it next time. By the end of the day, you are exhausted. I drank a ton of water but even if you are not dehydrated, you are still mentally tired. I left very satisfied.
So, that was my day. Did I mention it was fun? I think I covered that. I’m sure I left a lot out. I only hope this inspires some of you to get on the track. I’ve attached a couple pictures and links. Hope to see you soon!
Link to Track Event thread:
If the link doesn't work, please visit Mbworlddotcom. Information is located in the Events thread under: "Feeler: Norcal track event"