3 Dudes 1 Track (Audi Club adventures @SMMR)

3 Dudes 1 Track (Audi Club adventures @SMMR)

Last Friday we all attended our first Audi club event. We were intrigued by this event not only because it was going to be the Andretti 4 mile config, but it was also going to be run as an open test day. This meant that there would be no groups and the only time the track was going to be cold would be for the 1 hour lunch (which was included for us with our registration fee).

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As events gets closer, Pat will usually monitor the sign up sheet to see who and how many are signed up. He will then keep us updated in our group chat, and this way we can usually estimate how much fun the event will be based on how many people are signed up. A week prior to this event there was only a total of 30 people signed up, and when it was all said and done the list peaked at a measly 35 people. Most events we do will have at least 75 people signed up, so this meant that we would be getting more seat time than we would know what to do with. When Pat first mentioned this event I was on the fence about doing it, because as most of you know I have a lot of projects going on right now (CRV refresh, my brother K20 civic, B16a project for my 4 door, trying to keep pumping out blog content,  my 40 hour a week day job, and life in general) I didn’t really have funds to do it since I was spending any extra money I had on b16 swap stuff. Finally a week from the event, after hearing that there was only 30 people signed up I just couldn’t pass it up… I mean it was my “home track”, the facility is amazing, the track was going to be a config that we don’t usually get the chance to do, it was an open test day, and there was hardly anyone signed up. I knew that if I missed this I would be regretting it for a while. I did what I do best..I said Fuck Financial Security, and I signed up.

Thursday (the day before the event). I hadn’t even started my car since early December when I had to get it smogged for registration, and I also hadn’t even typed up the blog for Friday yet either. There just wasn’t enough hours in the day to work,  get adequate sleep before the event, type a post, and prep my car. Now i’m not the biggest advocate for safety, but if anyone has tried to do an HPDE event on little to no sleep then you can relate to why getting sleep for me was important. We were going to be getting much more track time than normal, and if you’re “too tired” to do the complete event, then why even sign up at all. This time around I was not only going to disregard money, but I was going to neglect my car by not prepping it, and make the conscious decision to post the blog one day late (on Saturday). Believe it or not, the hardest decision of them all was to postpone the blog for an extra day. The blog is something that (if you can’t tell) im extremely passionate about and most people often tell me that no one cares if I post late or skip a week, but for me it’s more about the goals I have set for myself.

Friday morning (the day of the event), I met up with Pat at the gas station by his house at 5:30 am and we then headed to another gas station to meet up with Scott. We brimmed the tanks and headed on our way to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. We got there around 6:45am and were greeted with a near empty pit area. It was at that moment I knew I had made the right choice by blowing everything off to do this event. Once we checked in we knew that from now on that we were always going to do Audi club whenever it comes to SMMR. They gave us a packet which contained, a track map, a lanyard to hold our membership card, event schedule, and (drum roll) NUMBER PLATES. Both doors too! I always hate the look of the blue tape. Registration just sort of turned into the drivers meeting, where unlike porsche club where you get screamed at and belittled like your a delinquent child. We were presented a slide show, and talked to with respect like decent human beings. The drivers meeting lasted all of 20 min, and then we were set free to attack the track.

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Normally at a Porsche club event that we do, we aren’t usually to crappiest cars there (well Pat and Scott aren’t) However, for this event the worst car that I saw was probably a stock C6 corvette. Just off the top of my head I can remember 2 R8’s, 3 NC/ND spec miatas, e92, Mclaren 650 lt, couple gt350/500 (i’m not sure), Cayman, boxster, gt3, and then us. The first cars on track were a GT3, the 650lt, a Ginetta G55 supercup, and then me. At first I was nervous because of the caliber of cars that I would going out on track with, but once I headed out and was able to mingle with everyone it was easy to see how much more respectable these guys were than the normal PCA attendees. As with every event at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, the club members are allowed to take their cars on track at the same time as us. The club members who are too good for us plebes that can’t afford a 40k membership, and the annual 6k fee, treat us as such. It’s not just the three of us but everyone, regardless of car make or model. They like to really let us know that this is their home turf and we aren’t worthy. They’ll drive way up on your ass, pass you when they aren’t supposed to, ignore flags, and move their way to the front of any line. The cars that they drive also reflect the amount of money they have… Radicals, lotus 2 elevens, and formula 4 cars to name a few.

As you can probably tell I was doing this very last minute, and was just rushing through all the prep. The night prior I remembered to plug in my gopro to charge, but for some reason it didn’t charge at all. My thought is that it’s because I connected it to my desktop while my desktop was asleep, but who knows. All I know is that I don’t have any video footage from the day. Fortunately though Pat and Scott both have some in car footage that i’ll post below. Since there was so much track time I really didn’t get to take many pictures, and the ones that I did take were kind of rushed but after all the day was about getting buttloads of seat time.

For my first session all I did was check the oil level, check the tire pressures, and then headed out. Check out those official number plates (or as some say, badges of honor)

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None of us had ever done this config before…we had all done parts of it, but not all of it connected. This track was a 4 mile monster that had long straight power zones, hard braking zones, elevation changes, and tight technical sections. My first laps out I spent just getting used to how some of the connecting segments went. That morning was also pretty cold out too (low 40’s) so at first the on track grip was not to good. I stayed out for about 13 laps straight until I ended up getting bad fuel starvation while going into a hard braking zone, when I went to blip the throttle to downshift there was nothing! I came in because obviously I needed fuel, so I headed into town real quick to get gas. When I arrived back at our pit it was 10:27am, and I decided that I would go out on track for the remainder of time until lunch at noon. I checked my oil again before heading out for my 1.5 hours of above 7/10 driving.

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I went around the track 20 times before the checkered flag waived. I managed to put a total of 80 miles on the car in that 1.5 hour session. The whole time I was out there I couldn’t believe how well my car was doing. Zero brake fade, zero loss of grip, zero clutch/trans issues, zero overheating, ZERO! the car just kept on going, and in no way was I taking it easy on it. I had forgotten to get Ever’s AIM from him the night before so I wasn’t able to get any timing in. No lap timer, no camera, just Me and the car. Lap after lap, learning more and more after each one. Figuring out how getting oversteer on certain parts of the track would allow me to be quicker, getting better at trail braking,  and chasing around cars pretending that my little econobox could hang with these thorobreds’ that I was sharing the track with. It was just the little civic that could, and it almost makes me kind of sad that i’m going to put a B16 in it. Having the D16y8 is so much fun, partly because you can just stay WOT through most of the track, it’s a cheap SOHC motor that’s easily replaceable so I don’t really care about treating it badly, and because its rewarding for being so underpowered and still being able to hang with and even pass some cars.

By no means am I insinuating that this 90 horsepower 4 door civic is faster than any of the cars I was mixing it up with, because obviously with a profession driver these cars would eat me alive. Its just cool to be able to sweat some of these guys, and let them know that their driver mod isn’t as good as the car they bought. On the straights their 500+ hp cars would destroy me of course, but come to those turns where I could brake 5 cars later than them, and the technical areas where I could just stay WOT while they had to be on and off throttle was as great feeling and brought big smiles to my face every time.

It was now lunch time, and I needed gas again. 80 miles of WOT is not as good for MPG’s as it for SPG’s (smiles per gallon). Usually when we are at a PCA event we run into town to get gas and food, this time though Scott suggested we see what food they had at the club house because he said while he was out on track he could smell them grillin. This is where we found out just how great Audi club was… When we got to the club house we asked how much the buffet style lunch was, and they told us it was included in the registration fee. WHAT??!!?! Free lunch! well, technically not free but we didn’t have to pay more money for food on top of the registration fee like you would do at PCA.

We gobbled down our burgers, and headed into town to get gas.

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We got back to the track and I wanted to rotate my tires because I had just been out for nearly 130 miles and I knew that the front would be wearing quicker than the rears. Once back on the facility I stopped of to take a piss, and thought this building would make for a cool picture.

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Everytime I come to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch I can’t help but go crazy over how sick the C7’s for the Ron Fellows driving school are.

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I pulled back up to our pit area and began to jack up my car

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Once I took off the passenger front and rear, I immediately had flashbacks from when I did the Buttonwillow open test day and badly wore out the passenger front. Just look at how bad my front passenger is worn compared to the rear passenger. Let’s talk about this for a little bit before you go telling me my alignment is off.

  1. I do my own garage alignments, and yes there could be error. However, at Buttonwillow I had a different alignment on the car. Yes it was still my own garage alignment, but I have done another one since then. So I find it hard to believe that I messed up the alignment the same way BOTH times.
  2. Since Buttonwillow I have installed PCI spherical compliance, and spherical FLCA inners.
  3. I don’t have a LSD in the D16y8 (which is the main reason I wanted to go B series, because getting a LSD B series would be more economical than building a crazy SOHC trans) so that passenger wheel has the shorter axle and therefore more power to it. albeit not much power,  but there are more right turns that i’m hammering through then left ones on this track. This means that that inside wheel is unloaded and im sure its spinning as im WOT.

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I wasn’t too worried because it hadn’t even worn through to the next layer of rubber like i did at Buttonwillow,  it was now going to be on the back (non power wheels) and there was less negative camber on the rear.

 

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Now onto the drivers side, you can see the tires wore much more evenly from front to back. The front one (left) shows a bit more wear on the inside due to it being a power wheel, and having more negative camber than the rear one (right)

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With the car back on the ground I topped off the oil and was ready to head back out.  “topping off” the oil is another reason why im putting a B16 in because i’m pretty sure the valve seals are bad on this motor.  It doesn’t smoke during acceleration, but only between shifts, and after long decels. Before I headed back out after lunch I had to put almost 2 quarts of oil in it, but it’s a SOHC so all you’ve got to do is keep oil in it and it will last forever. Keep in mind this was after 130 miles of WOT at above 5k RPM so some burning oil will be normal.

I went out for another 45 min’s then came back in to just double check my tires. While I was in, Pat and Scott were also taking a break too. I asked Pat if I could borrow his AIM just to get some sort of time reference that I could compare myself to. My tires were fine and I was ready to head back out, Scott and Pat had both been getting consistent 3:18’s and I was just hoping I could sub 3:30. I went out for a total of six laps with the AIM, my first three laps I wasn’t able to break that :30 barrier but I was close. On lap 4 I managed to do it getting a 3:29.84, then on lap 5 I managed a 3:29.54, and then finally on the 6th lap I was able to knock off nearly a full second with a 3:28.60! This was about all my tires were going to be good for since they were now getting pretty greasy. Again, I went 10/10 trying my hardest to get a good time and the car just kept on working flawlessly. I came in gave Pat back his AIM, and proceeded to instantly head back out. SEAT TIME, SEAT TIME, SEAT TIME is all I kept telling myself the whole day. Even if I wasn’t conscious of what I was learning, I was subconsciously picking up better driving habits/skills that would inevitably help me feel more comfortable on track under extreme driving conditions.

My car would go on to finish the day without incident, but I would have to go back into town one last time for gas. There was never more than 20 cars on track at a time, and since the course was 4.0 miles long that meant we were spread out so thinly that most of the time I would never even see another car near me and it was almost as if I had the whole track to myself.

My setup is so basic that it’s laughable (well to some).  This setup has taken me to over 15 events last year, and has been nothing but reliable. I have driven it to Streets, Buttonwillow, and many other local events. In that time, the only things I have had to replace are the consumables… Tires and brake pads/rotors. Keeping the car basic help keeps the reliability, after all “complexity is the enemy of reliability” With the engine and trans both having more than 200k miles on them it’s truly a testament to Honda’s reliability, and it also highlights the fact that you don’t need to build a crazy “track build” to have fun. Spend your money on track time, consumables, and I bet that in a year of spending money that way you’ll be faster around a track than the guy who spent that whole year building some million horsepower, aero, wild car that he’s just using to flex on the gram. I managed to put 220 TRACK miles on my car that day (not including driving to the track, or driving home), and it drove home just as smoothly as it did on its way out to the event. This little D16y8 never ceases to amaze me, and now is leaving me with the question, why i’m going B series? Don’t ever underestimate the potential of the SOHC, and never listen to anyone that says you need more power to have fun (they obviously haven’t done a track day)

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This is the last time this engine will be in this car, and the next time you see this car on track it will have the B16 in it. Im somewhat sad to leave behind the SOHC because it has been nothing but great to me, and helped me achieve many milestones that i’ll never forget. I have spent the last year getting seat time and moving up in run groups, and there comes a time when I need a little bit more power just to not be a nuisance on the track by getting in peoples way in the more advanced groups. As I mentioned above, the main reason for going B16 was to be able to get a LSD trans, and my D16 was burning oil at too rapid a rate. The total cost to build a crazy SOHC trans, and rebuild my motor was nearing the price of just going B series. You’ll notice that I stayed 1.6 as this was never about making tons of power, that’s what I have my K20 EG for.

Enough boring stuff, let’s talk a little bit about Scott and Pat now!

I came into this event just trying to get more seat time, and enjoy the ability to come and go form the track as I pleased. This was the same for both Scott and Pat who had no agenda and just wanted to enjoy a day with no traffic and battling it out with each other. Pat arrived being worried about his brake pads (Project Mu club racer) that seemed to have prematurely worn out. He had only had three total track days on them coming into this event, but they were badly worn. He also had a large slice (or crack) on the inside side wall of one of his tires.  He has knowingly done one other event (LVMS ORC) with this crack, and most likely he unknowingly did at least another weekend (the last PCA event we did at SMMR) with the crack.  For some reason, Pat has some sort of hang up on getting new tires. It can’t be because he’s cheap… just look at what he has done to his car(s), Maybe it’s because he feels like new tires handicap him and it’s too easy to PB, or maybe he doesn’t want to waste tires that still have tread. Whatever the reason, none of us truly understand why he does it. The crack in the tire hasn’t slowed him down and he never gives a second thought to going 10/10 because of it.

Just look at this guy, how could he be scared of anything.

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The eagle eyed reader might have noticed that he has ditched the Bride seat , and replaced it with a Recaro. Pat has picked up a CRV as a daily driver and is going to be turning this car into a TT5 car.

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Pat too, clocked over 200 miles of track time that day and needed to fill up with gas 2 times that day.  His car would not give him any issues other than the brake pads starting to chunk, and the tires finally giving up on him after they have gone through too many heat cycles to really be grippy anymore. You will see in his video, just how easily the car oversteers.

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Both Pat and Scott don’t rotate their tires half way through the day like I do.

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Even after seeing how worn out his brake pads are, he can’t help but smile. This is what being at track day can do for you.

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Pats S2000 specs are, S2k Challenge Street class spec:

  • JRZ Race Singles Front / Koni Race Rear, (don’t ask) 800/700
  • Eibach front sway, ap2 rear
  • EVS front lower ball joint
  • Buddy rear lower ball joint
  • Spoon rear toe arms
  • 17×9.5 Titan7s
  • 255 MPSC2s
  • Test pipe
  • Comptech Catback
  • k&n intake
  • ap2 trans
  • Bride Zeta III  Recaro
  • Sabelt Harness
  • no aero

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 Pat say’s “pb was 3:18.48x but did not get on camera. Need to work on braking later, there’s a lot of time there. Im going change pads again which I believe will help. However, I need to push my braking points anyway. I think 3:16s are possible with improvement in the technical section and braking.” Below is the best lap he got on video.

 

As for Scott, both him and Pat were able to get almost identical times despite the differences in each of their chassis and the differences in their driving styles (take a look at both of their videos) Pats S2000 is a bit quicker on the top end, and can even begin to pull on Scott’s E36, but when it comes to braking though… Scott’s can real Pat back in. All day long the two of them were chasing each other around, and I would occasionally get in their way. (this is another reason I need just a little bit more power, I want to be able to have some fun playing with these guys. Relax Pat! im not saying that the B16 is going to give me 10 seconds, but it will at least bring us a little closer so it’s not such a shutout like it is now)

Scott drove to the event on “street” tires, and had to switch over to his “track setup” once he arrived.

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Scott was also able to get a few 3:18.50x but was struggling for traction with his DEAD hankook tires. This was his 11th track day with these tires! They have been flipped and rotated to help prolong the tread, but there is only some many heat cycles a tire can do before it loses all grip. The tires were going off (mid to late corner understeer in particular)

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Tires weren’t his only issue for the day, his trans was giving him some shifting issues too.

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“He was number 1”

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 Scott’s E36 short spec list:

  • 1995 BMW M3 S50B30US
  • 3.15 Final Drive
  • 3150lbs w/ Driver
  • DEAD Hankook Rs-4 (11th Track Day)
  • No Aero
  • Bilstein Sport Dampers
  • H&R Sport Lowering Springs
  • Flipped Strut Mounts

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Below is video of Scott’s in car.

Honestly we were on the track so much that it was hard to get good content/pictures. In the end we all had an amazing time, and were all happy that we did the event. It opened our eyes to Audi club and how amazing of an event they put on. Going forward we will be attending any Audi club event that is at SMMR. It was also a great day because we all drove our cars home in the same condition as we started the morning.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story. If you’re not doing any HPDE events, then you’re truly missing the most fun you’ll ever have. I highly suggest you look into doing any HPDE event local to you. If you have any questions regarding doing a track day please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can email me at Billy@functiontheory.com, DM me on instagram @Functiontheory, or just comment below.

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