SPEED VENTURES LVMS RECAP

SPEED VENTURES LVMS RECAP

This event was randomly added to the Speed ventures schedule only weeks prior to the event. You weren’t even able to register for the event from their home page, you had to register via a link they emailed out. (I know this because I deleted the email and couldn’t register, I had to have Patrick email me the link) It seems the event was added last minute as an addition to the other activities taking place around the LVMS facility for the “Camaro-con” event. As I’m sure you can guess, the event was an all Camaro event much like an LS fest. There was drag racing, Auto X, a car show, and the Speed ventures event. There’s about 6 of us that make up a small close group of track regulars around Vegas, and as the event grew nearer we were very excited because it looked like only about 20 people were signed up for it. Until one day, Patrick said he had heard from someone else that there was actually a “Camaro-con” site where all the Camaro guys were signing up, and on that site there was about 50 people signed up. Still though only 70 cars for one track day isn’t anything to be upset about. The running joke in our chat was… there was just going to be a bunch of “boomers” and they were going to crash into us.

When the day finally arrived, we learned that our inside joke wasn’t far off. The field was made up of mostly brand new SS Camaro’s, a handful of ZL1 Camaro’s (brand new ones), and few classic Camaro’s. There rest of the field consisted of a few BMW’s (varying ranges), a few Porsche’s, and then just ones and twos of a few other makes. During the drivers meeting it became apparent there was not much skill here and that it was most of these guys’ first track event. Despite the lack of experience the day went off without a hitch, and I think that our group actually caused more issues than anyone else. Many offs, broken cars, and oil leaks on track… YUP we were “those” guys.

The worry some drivers meeting wasn’t the only thing that was scary. This track is notorious for being incredibly dusty because they go weeks at a time without doing events on it.  This makes for very slippery conditions in the first few sessions. Amongst our group of friends Scott and Patrick were first out. Just 6 hours prior Scott had completed the install of his new rear lower control arms on his BMW. He did this because the heims on the old ones were completely gone, they were clunking and would cause the car to be unstable. He found this out two days prior when he was doing a once over on his car as a “track prep” just to make sure everything was fine, which it clearly wasn’t. Since he had put off the inspection so long, this meant that he now needed to get lower control arms overnighted to him. Somehow he managed to get the parts in on time, and get his car all realigned. Not without having an incredibly late night prior to the event. So upon his first session out he was very frustrated because the track was so slippery (it’s also worth noting that the air temp that morning was in the low 40’s which would also cause it to be slippery) He came back in the pits very distraught over how badly the car preformed, he assumed that it was just a bad alignment that he had hastily done only a few hours prior. He jacked his car up but was unable to see any major issues with the alignment settings. Shortly after, Patrick rolled back in to the pit. He had taken Ever out for a ride along just so ever could see exactly how the track went, because this was Evers first time on this track. As they got out of Patrick’s S2000 , I remember Patrick distinctly telling Ever “don’t do what I just did.” As it turned out Patrick was having the same traction woes that Scott was having. Two sessions later it was Ever and I’s turn to hit the track, not more than 3 turns in my car was handling like it had never done before. It was over steering super easy, locking up under braking, and even having understeer issues. In my review mirror I could see Ever, oversteering like crazy coming out of turns. A feat that was normally a challenge with his 295 Toyo R888R tires. For my first session, just like Patrick had done, I also had a passenger. Nate was riding shotgun as I wanted to show him what it was like to really push the limits of what your mind would let you do. Much like Patrick had just told Ever, I told Nate the same thing… Don’t do what I just did, that was a horrible example of how to drive, and probably a better example of of NOT to drive.

After the first session Scott was up in arms about how terrible this event was shaping up to be. He was talking about wanting to just pack up and go back home, claiming there was bad luck in the air. After all our first sessions, we pretty much mutually agreed that this track day was really just going to be all about fun. We had all come there with goals, well Ever and Patrick did. Despite the lack of control during Evers first session, he still managed to get within 1 second of his 2:10 lap time goal he had set for himself. Patrick really wanted to best his Integra’s time of a 2:04.16. I didn’t even want to worry about times, I was so disappointed in my last performance from a few weeks ago at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch that I didn’t want to disappoint myself even more by knowing how slow I would be at this track.

As you know, Speed ventures was hosting this event, and it was kind of a last minute event that was added to their roster to coincide with the Camaro-con event that was taking place all weekend at LVMS. What you don’t know is that on this exact same day Speed Ventures was also hosting an event at Buttonwillow. Since obviously the event at Buttonwillow had taken precedence to this last minute event here at LVMS, there was no transponders available for us. This made it even easier for me to not focus so much on lap times and just get out and drive. Since it was Camaro-con, most (50) of the cars signed up were Camaro’s with at least 4 times the horsepower of my car. They were almost all driven by Boomers with white new balances, and it was very easy for me to get discouraged. In my group alone there was SIX! ZL1 Camaro’s pushing near satanic numbers in both torque and horsepower, so literally every time I looked in my mirror there was someone I had to point by. They really had to assert their dominance too, by really getting right up my ass. Like what did they expect from me, I was in a civic. Of course they were going to be faster, they had nearly 6 times the amount of power that my car had.

Coming in to this track day I was defeated from my previous outing a few weeks ago at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, where I had set my goal for what I thought was a realistic time of a sub 3 min lap. I would have been happy with a 2:59.999, sadly though my best time was a measly 3:03.xxx. It was even more disappointing because both John, and Patrick were able to get a 2:52.xxx, and a 2:53.xxx in Johns SOHC non VTEC, street tire, non-aero, CRX. I was still a good 10 seconds off that pace. I was starting to think that I wasn’t as good of driver as I had once thought I was. The fact that I was able to be fast with my EG was mainly because I was technically “cheating.” The K20 power plant in that car makes 251 HP to the wheels, and allows me to really cover up any mistakes I made on track by just adding MOAR POWA!!! This was becoming very apparent to me as I wasn’t able to hit my goal of a sub 3 in my 4 door, and those other guys were much faster in a car that was equal to my 4 doors performance. I was technically one of those guys that has a crazy powerful car with the ability to make up seconds by smashing the gas on straightaways. So for this track I honestly didn’t put much thought into track times and really just wanted to focus on just having a fun time. The weather was nice and it was just going to be fun being out on a track, improving my driver mod one lap at a time. Previously for this track (LVMS Outside road course) in my EG my best time was a 2:01. Knowing that my 3:03 lap time at Spring Mountain Motorsport a few weeks ago in the 4 door was a solid 23 seconds slower than what I had got in my EG at that same track, I figured that I would just set an easily achievable goal of 2:30 for this track.

When most people talk about tracking their cars, or doing any HPDE events, I’m always skeptical of what they consider “tracking” their car. Are they just taking their car out on a track and driving at a higher rate of speed while still being cautious? Are they worried about crashing or wrecking their car? Do they only do it to justify a “track inspired” build they are doing to boost their Instagram following? The difference between driving spirited around town, or canyons and driving on a track is miles wide. For me, driving on a track is the only way I can judge myself against others by directly comparing times. I do it strictly for competition against myself, and to help me prove to myself that im a good driver. When I go out on track, all caution goes to the wind as I hammer my car to death trying to match or beat an arbitrary time that I have set for myself based on others time at the track I’m doing. This can be very hard emotionally when I don’t meet the times that I have set for myself, because I directly correlate it with not being a good driver and I take it very hard. Like I have stated before, I am very competitive and even though I know none of these times actually matter in life, and that I’m nowhere near being as good as even armature wheel to wheel racers. I will never make a career out of it, so why do I even do it?  Well mainly I do it because it’s the most amount of fun you could ever have, It feels good to be able to compare times to other cars that have more power and know that you’re as fast or faster than a car that’s much more suited for the track. Don’t forget, I’m doing this in a 1998 Honda civic that was designed to be as economical as possible. Not to mention the fact that it’s an FF car which really doesn’t perform as well on a track as compared to a FR chassis. Plus It feels good to get accolades from your friends/peers/other drivers. I’m sure everyone that goes out on a track “feels” like they are Mario Andretti, but are they really? The intoxication of being on track can blur the lines between having fun, and feeling like a real race car driver. This is where most of the confusion is derived from, just because you are out on the track, doesn’t meant that you are fast or able to justify any “mod” that you have done.

I feel like now days, while tracking your car isn’t as popular as other parts of the automobile lifestyle, it’s definitely more popular than it’s ever been. Due to the lack of popularity it’s easy to confuse “tracking” with “actually having competitive times”. I see and hear it a lot… the confusion and miss interpretation of the word tracking gets thrown around so much on social media, that people that follow these people are actually believing, that people who track their cars are actually doing good at it when in fact a stock car would probably be faster than they are. Now hold on a minute, before you go off the deep end…let me explain. There is no right or wrong way to track your car, and yes I’m always preaching just take your car out to the track and learn. Yes your car can be stock ,and no you don’t need to have a big budget. Just working on your driver mod is going to be the best thing you can do. But its very frustrating to be “fast” for a SOHC civic, but have no-one really recognize it because you are still 15 seconds off the pace of what “fast” really is. Yes, yes, I could just take my faster car out and be fast, but would I just be hiding my lack of driving skill behind my excessive power?

Here is where my problem lies. People that have no clue about tracking, having no awareness of how much of a challenge it is to actually take your car on track and set a good time, or how much abuse you are actually putting on your car, think they are track gods. They show up to the track, say some cool words like “oversteer”, “apex”, “trail braking”, chat about tire compounds, spring rates, talk loudly about how they were so much faster than everyone else at their last track event, and everyone just got in their way. Im constantly feeling like I have to justify myself, and really try to explain… “guys, I’m “fast for a SOHC” no one cares though. Its a tough battle, because trying to improve my driving skill by driving my 4 door isn’t very glorious and there is only a small select amount of people that will be able to actually relate or comprehend how good my times might be. I know im being a bit hypocritical here by saying this, because only a few sentences ago I was saying how I was 10 seconds off the pace of my fast friends, and how disappointing it was. I will validate what im talking about a little later in the post.

Now let’s dive in to everyones individual break down of their day.

Starting with probably the most entertaining person of the day, Chris. Chris co-owns Sin city BMW located here in Vegas. You might have seen his car sneak into some pictures from our last event at SMMR a few weeks back.

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Chris has such a positive, amazing outlook on life. He’s incredibly funny, and is just out trying to have fun. On Chris’ first session of the day a couple laps in, he managed to completely blow up his engine. We aren’t talking about some small incident where the engine loses power, or stops running. We are talking about complete F.U.B.A.R. He literally threw a WHOLE rod out of his engine, putting a window so large in the block that you could almost take the crankshaft out through it. He said he heard 2-3 seconds of knock, knock, knock, and then BOOM! pieces of engine were flying by his windows as he littered the track with parts and every last ounce of oil in his motor. This naturally put about a 30 min halt to every session as they cleaned everything up. Chris, with the optimistic glass half full mentality was excited about blowing the engine, for now he had a reason to finally put a 6 cylinder in. He was a bit disappointed that he paid for a full day and only got a few laps, so what does he do? He gets a ride back to his shop on the complete opposite side of town, and grabs another car.

While he’s off picking up the other car, the tow truck comes for his blown up one.

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Shortly after the tow truck leaves, Chris arrives with his “backup car.”

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Yes this is the actual car used in the filming of the Netflix series Hyperdrive. Chris’ shop built this car for the woman who used it in the show. Unregistered, nothing but a front windshield, RHD, welded diff, this was not the ideal car for him to just jump right into. Despite everything though, he managed to get a 2:14. (this car is a 6 cylinder though.) I don’t know too much about BMW’s so I don’t really have too much else to say about it.

Since we are talking BMW’s we might as well jump into Scott’s adventure.

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As mentioned above, Scott had to switch out his rear lower control arms the night before the event and he blamed his traction issues on this for the first two sessions of the day. Thinking this was a sign from above, he talked about just going home for the day. Luckily he stayed, because he ended up having a good time. His car went on through out the day issue free, despite the minor over heating issues that he gets when he really takes the car to the limit.

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Heres Patrick and Him lined up just before they headed out for their first session of the day.

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I don’t have much else to say about his day, I don’t even know what time he ended with. (sorry Scott) Its always challenging to be participating in an event and then trying to document everybody too.

Now on to the Honda’s. Starting with Patrick, as mentioned above he was setting his sights for his Integra’s time on this same track of a 2:04.16.

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This was his first session of the day, when he was taking Ever out for a sighting lap. Patrick hadn’t even gone off yet, his car was still that dirty from going off at our last event at SMMR.

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After his first session, and realizing that the track was incredibly slippery. He just kinda relaxed and forgot about trying to get a good time. For the second session he took Nate out for a ride along, and ended up jumping the curbs at the bus stop pretty hard.

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Here Him and Nate trying to see if there was any damage under the car (there wasn’t), and Patrick checked the zip ties on his shocks to see if he was bottoming them out (he wasn’t)

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Above is Nate and Patrick talking about where he had jumped the bus stop curbs a little too much.

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By the third session, the tracks surface was getting warmed up and the dust was all gone from the racing line. He was able to get a 2:06 on that session which if I remember correctly was a PB for him on this track in the S2000.  After that session there was a break for lunch, we all (5) piled into my 4 door and drove to get some lunch. Along the way you could see that the flame was reignited in him. The track was in a lot better shape than earlier in the morning and he was only 2 seconds off that goal he was shooting for. When we returned from lunch he headed out, with a fire in his eyes he was going for the gusto. When that session ended, he had just about done it and was feeling pretty confident that he would be able to beat the Integra’s time. The time he had just gotten was a 2:04.29, literally one tenth of a second off the Integra’s PB time.

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Ever’s clearly trying to talk to Patrick, but Patrick is so focused on his AIM to see what time he got, that ever might as well be talking to himself.

The morning’s poor track conditions had Patrick adjusting his tire pressure’s to try and fix the issues he was having on track. Everybody’s cars were handling so poorly in the morning we were all trying to adjust things, but what we should have been adjusting was the track. Once the track warmed up Patrick realized that he was a little too low on tire pressure, so he adjusted his pressure’s to 37 PSI hot.

After getting so painfully close to beatings the Integra’s time, he went out again. Pushing hard to beat the time, maybe a little too hard. He went off very hard, catching air through the bus stop and going way in the dirt. He didn’t get stuck, and was able to drive back in to the pit. He was very concerned though as he arrived back in the pit, leaving the car running as he popped the hood. The PTSD that he has from previous S2000 catastrophes (see older posts on the blog about him blowing his engine at Buttonwillow) Was causing him to think he developed a rod knock. Oh man, he went off the deep end. He was ready to sell the damn car, or buy a J swap for it.  As we all listened in to what he was hearing, to me it sounded like maybe a pulley was bad. I told him to pop off the serpentine belt, start the car real quick without a belt just to hear if it was still making the noise. When he started the car without the belt the noise was gone, he turned the car back off and we manually spun each pulley without finding an issue. Patrick began to inspect his belt and realized that there were a few rocks that had gotten stuck in it when he had gone off, these were making the ticking noise that he was worried about.

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He pried the rocks out and and reinstalled the belt.

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Clearly you can see how relived he is by the smile on his face. He will need to replace this belt though before another track day because the rocks had damaged the belt a little bit.

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After this, he decided he was no longer going to try and beat that time he had set in the Integra. After all he was mealy one tenth of a second off and now he knows that beating that time is a realistic goal. It’s also worth mentioning that he is on tires that are 4 years old.

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He’s got more dirt on his tires than most people that drive jeeps have on theirs. (the hammer is a wheel chalk so he doesn’t use his e-brake. Its never a good idea to use your  e-brake right after you come off track because your brakes are too hot and it can cause rotor warpage, or the pads to melt the rotor)

Here is a video of his PB lap in the S2000

 

Now on to Ever, and his crazy ass.

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He started of the day with one super clean car. Coming into the event he had set a realistic goal for himself of a 2:10 lap time, and on his first session of the day with Nate as a passenger he managed to get a 2:11. Unlike the rest of us, Ever’s day started out very good. He was on track to beat the goal he had set for himself. However as the day went on, he was constantly struggling to beat that time. Let me just be clear, when Ever is on the track he is not holding back just because his car is a NSX, he is always taking it to 11. As anyone should be if they are tracking their car.

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He went off a total of three times that day, one was barely just a little understeer dipping two tires in the dirt, the other was some oversteer that sent him way off through the dirt ending up on a small access road. But the one that takes the cake was him coming down the front straight at 120 MPH then going to hit the brakes going into turn one and realizing that he had NO BRAKES. The front straight is a scary one because of its high speed and the fact that there is a tire wall at the end that stops you from jumping into Las Vegas BLVD, as the track makes a sharp right. With no brakes what so ever he tries to use the e-brake to slow him down and some what drift through, but instead ends up WAY off track in the dirt nearly smashing his car into the tire wall. I was behind him while on track, only realizing it was him as I passed him while he was out in the dirt I couldn’t tell if he hit the wall or not. Since he went off on turn one I had to do a full lap at yellow flag speed before I could exit. By the time I came around to exit I could see that he was still out in the dirt and that the rescue vehicle was heading his way. As I pulled up back in our pit, I alerted others that Ever had a MAJOR off and I wasn’t sure if he damaged his car or not. At that time we could see that his car was moving under its own power, and we watched in suspense as he wasn’t close enough yet to see if there was damage or not. When he got to where we were close enough to yell, he gave us thumbs up and we were instantly relived at the fact that there was NO damage to his JDM GEM.

After that incident he decided to sit out the last sessions of the day. It turns out he ended up boiling his brake fluid. He is only running OEM fluid in the car, nothing that has a higher boiling point. This is why it’s important to run brake fluid that has a higher boiling point if you’re going out on track. He is also running Hawk HP+ pads up front which aren’t necessarily the best for high speed track stuff, they are more suited to spirited driving or Auto X.

The day before the event we replaced all the gaskets on the top end of the motor.  Complete valve covers, and Vtec solenoid gaskets (both) because while his car only has 55k miles on it, it spent most of its life sitting so most of the rubber gaskets dried out.

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Its always a strange site when he pops his “hood” to cool his car after each session, and it’s in the rear.

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See how strange it looks.

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You can now see how dirty the car is after a few offs. (above)

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And this was after the last major off, we had the actual hood popped to inspect the boiled brake fluid.

Finally on to me and the crazy day I had.

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As I mentioned earlier I had no intention of even timing myself, for fear of letting myself down again. Like everyone else I started off the day being all over the place, and constantly being passed by cars in straights only to catch back up to them through the turns was frustrating beyond belief. Like, I get it… your car has a million horsepower, Im in a fucking civic.

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Like everyone else, I stayed adjusting pressure for the first two sessions till finally getting it dialed in once the track was clean and warmed up.

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After each session I come in, leave my car on, pop my hood, I turn my heater on full blast, and let the radiator fan cycle completely. I feel this allows for the coolant to properly flow and cool everything back down to a reasonable temperature.

So not having a transponder wasn’t so bad, as Ever and I were in the same group and we were just kinda playing around with each other on track all day. After Evers high speed brake failure, he was done for the day, I was able to grab his AIM and use it for the last two sessions of the day. On my first lap out I was able to get 2:15 with out really trying. So like Patrick, once I knew that I was within striking range of a good time I decided to really go for it.

Here is video of a few laps with me trying to keep up with an S2000 (not Patrick) you can clearly see in the video how slow my car actually is as he fly’s by me like I’m standing still on the back straight. I try to keep up with him for a few laps but he just pulls too much on the straights. During this video the best time I got was a 2:13, and I was pretty content with that time.

This was my second to last session of the day.

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Above you can see that on turn one there isn’t much run off before you hit the tire wall (this is where Ever went way off)

I had one more session left, I was painfully close to a 2:12 and I had one last try to get a 2:12. I ended up easily getting a few 2:12’s then was able to PB and get a 2:11. See the video below for the PB lap.

As you can see in the video I’m beyond excited. Im very happy for a few reasons, One: Johns best time in his CRX was a 2:14 at this track. That was the same car that he had when he did the 2:52 at spring mountain, where I could only get a 3:03. Also this track in my EG my PB was 2:01, this meant that I was only 10 seconds off that pace. Unlike Spring Mountain where I was a full 23 seconds off my EG’s pace. Im happy because I know that my driving is improving using this slower car, and hopefully I can come back out in my EG and run a few seconds faster.

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Here is my basic car (above) And (below) are the kind of cars that were sharing the track with me.

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Literally four of these were in my session alone, not to mention the other SS Camaro’s.

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I ended the day on cloud nine, I was so freaking excited that I was able to get a 2:11. The whole entire emotional roller coaster that is tracking your car is a wild one, and the highs are very high, but the lows can be lower than low. I sometimes have to remind myself to put my ego aside so I can just enjoy the feeling you get when you’re on track driving to the absolute edge. Days like these are such fun times, hanging out with friends, improving driving skills, and sharing the emotional roller coasters that we all ride through the day. No matter what happens at the end of the day, as long as you had fun isn’t that what really matters? It can be scary to push your car to the limits, because you don’t want to wreck it or any of the parts on it. If you’re not driving to the absolute edge then why are you even spending money on fixing your car up at all? To me there is no greater feeling than having to upgrade a part on your car because you are clearly working it past what it was designed to do. It’s like a little reward for yourself for improving as a driver, getting to upgrade to the next level of parts.

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We are such a Motley Crue of cars aren’t we? With the exception of Evers car, the rest of our cars look so plain and basic. They do not look like what you would think a car that is quick would look like, but just remember… It’s the driver mod that really counts. If you base your opinion of how quick we are on what our cars look like, then you would (like most others at the events) be surprised.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.  I hope that they will either… Help motivate you to get your butt on a track, or at least teach you a few things if you’re already out on track. Remember! Don’t be intimidated by others at events, because chances are they have a battleship mount with a tugboat ass. Just show up and drive within your limits, if people give you a hard time pay no attention to them because a true enthusiast will help you out, and a fake one won’t. If you have any questions about anything I have talked about, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Email Billy@functiontheory.com, Instagram @functiontheory, or just comment below.

 

 

 

 

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