PCA Track Days AT SMMR

PCA Track Days AT SMMR

Last weekend we closed out our 2019 season at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch by doing the final PCA (Porsche Club of America) HPDE event of the year. This one was a little different than the normal PCA weekends because we actually ran a different configuration. Usually we run the Mansell 3.4:

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This time around we were running the Lauda 2.6:

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Usually, the Mansell will favor higher horsepower cars. This can make it challenging for me in my D16Y8 to stay out of peoples way, and look like I actually know how to drive. The Lauda course however, really only had two straights and the rest of it was pretty technical. I was very excited about this because it was a good chance for me to be able to really scare some of the higher horsepower cars. This config also gave us quite a bit of elevation change and even a banked bowl. The down side to running the course was, I had never run this config so therefore had no benchmark to compare to. I was bummed about this because I had just switched to the Bridgestone RE71R tires before the event. If you recall I had completely used up my NS-2R’s at Buttonwillow. Many consider the RE71R a “cheater tire” because its actually much grippier than other “200tw” tires, and can rival times of even some R Comp tires. The down side to these tires is they have great grip for only a few track days. After that, they then start to fall off much quicker than an R Comp tire would. During the two track days (Saturday and Sunday) I started to notice this. Towards the middle of Sunday’s sessions they began to feel like my Nankang NS-2R’s felt when they were brand new. The Nankang NS-2R’s were very consistent, and from my first track day with them, all the way up until Buttonwillow a few weeks back they performed the same. The RE71R however were noticeably grippier when brand new (Saturday), then on my second day (Sunday) didn’t seem to have the same grip as they did new. In some ways this is disappointing because they tease you with amazing grip for one day, then start to fall off. Remember though the RE71R “falling off” is still equal or even maybe slightly better than the NS-2R when new. Along with the RE71R’s I also added PCI Spherical compliance, front LCA bearings, and Hardrace Sway bar end links/bushings. You can read my HOW TO I did on installing all these by clicking the link below.

https://functiontheory.com/2019/11/installing-pci-front-compliance-bearings-front-lca-bearings-and-hardrace-end-links-swaybar-bushings/

I wasn’t the only one that was trying out some new stuff this weekend either. About a month ago Patrick and I installed an Eibach 32mm hollow front sway bar on his S2000. After being stubborn for so long about not needing anything but OEM, he finally caved and decided to get one. (In the coming weeks we will do the complete write up/review/install on the sway bar.) So we were both somewhat bummed that the config was different because we wouldn’t be able to compare our times that we had done prior to the upgrades we did.

The track is located about an hour west of Vegas, and Patrick and I like to get there early on the because you have to register and tech your car on the first day. The line for tech can get pretty long, and unlike other events that we do this one isn’t a “self tech.” There is actually a person going through you’re car checking everything, this is why the tech line ends up being so long. We met up at 5am that Saturday morning, and headed towards the track. When we arrived at the track we were pleasantly surprised because as it turned out, our friend John (who was supposed to meet up with us that morning) actually made it there before we did. As day broke I Started to take pictures.

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Patrick’s S2000, John’s Z06, and my Civic.

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The morning was very cold, the air temp was 36 degrees. This meant that the first session was going to be a wash because the track would be so cold there would be less traction. This however was a good thing because it gave us an opportunity to feel out the new config. Patrick was in “green” group so he headed out before John and I did.

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He obviously takes LARPing very serious.

Once Patrick’s session was over, it was now time for John and I to head out. John was in a lower group because he didn’t register in time for the event and the “green” group was all full.  I was in that group because my car is very slow, and I didn’t want to get in peoples way. As we went out for our first session of the weekend, it quickly became apparent that most of these people weren’t very good at driving, and were very timid in the more technical sections of the course. When I pulled back into our pit area, I was met by a very angry John who was furious about how slow everybody in our group was. John was so upset about it that he went to see about moving up to a faster group, but was turned down because they were all full. He then decided to call it, and not do the rest of the weekend because he couldn’t handle being in that slow of a group. Let’s be honest though, can you blame him? He’s driving a 575 WHP Z06, with 18×11 inch wheels and 315 BFG rivals all around.

Despite the high amount of traffic in my group, I was still enjoying my time on track. There really isn’t ever a time I wouldn’t enjoy being on a track. Even when there is traffic, you can still hone in your fundamentals. Practicing looking thru corners, properly hitting apexes, and picking the best lines thru turns. Even if you’re not able to make a complete lap without hitting traffic you can just work on specific areas of the track. Seat time is never wasted and the more you get the better you’ll be.

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It was now time for Patrick to head out for his second session of the day.

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While he went out I ran over and took some action shots of him on track.

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As he came in, I was getting ready to head out for my second session. This session went pretty well for me,  it seemed like most of the other people were starting to learn the new config and were able to move a little faster. There definitely wasn’t as much traffic in the second session. At the end of the second session it was time for lunch, we drove into town and ate.

During the afternoon sessions things got much better. The air temp was now in the 60’s and the track was soaking up the sun. Things were much grippier on track and I was really begin to test the limits of the RE71R’s. I felt like I was carrying so much more speed through turns 1 and 2 than I would normally. (since both configs share the same turn 1 and 2) After lunch is when I start to film my laps and put the AIM in the car to start timing the laps. I managed to get a 2:15.xx which I was pretty happy about, and below you can see the video of my session. (it is unedited and you can see how much traffic I was dealing with)

 

That night Patrick had some previous engagements so he had to leave before the last session of the day, and since John wasn’t doing the event anymore he decided to leave when Patrick did too. I was left alone with an hour and a half to kill before my 4th and final session, so I did what anyone would do… I pulled out my phone and watched some Bob’s Burger. I began to get tired as the afternoon sun gently warmed my body, I was so tired that I started to wonder if it was going to impact my motor skills during my last session. As my turn rolled around I lazily started preparing myself, tuned on my car, put my helmet and gloves on, and headed out. Immediately the excitement snapped me from my tired state, and I even went on to get my PB for that day… a 2:13.75! Below is another unedited video of my final session for day one. Due to a technical error on my part I only have the 17 minutes of the 27 min sessions for both, because I deleted the other half of the files. Unfortunately this means my 2:13.75 lap isn’t on video, but it did happen!

 

I always rotate my tires after each track day.

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Day 2:

Patrick and I met up again in the morning, but this time about an hour later since we didn’t have to tech or register. The drive to the track leaves Vegas and heads through Red Rock canyon, which offers a very scenic drive.

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As we headed up the mountains, a new contender appeared… Dirty Dan! I have heard about him many times before, but this was my first time actually meeting the legend in person. Dan has a stock motor AP2 and is pretty quick in it too.

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We arrived at the track and got all settled in.

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Dan had taken a small hiatus and was coming out of his retirement for this Sunday.

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He was also rocking some brand-new Nankang AR-1’s. Patrick and I were both very excited to see how well these tires performed compared to the sport cup 2’s that Patrick has. Dans over all impression of them was… “the tires are great right out of the gate, they were very predictable in the cold and got better and better after each lap. I started them out at 29psi and when the session was over the tires spiked to 34-35 psi. I think I started to get a little too over confident with the tires that I overdrove the car a bit and just experienced a lot of front push. After cleaning up my driving a bit the tires responded nicely to my inputs. They will also let you know when you dun goofed and give you a good amount of time for you to react and make the necessary corrections.”

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Keep in mind that the AR-1’s are in fact an R comp tire and are not a “street tire” so comparing the Cup 2’s and them isn’t really fair. There is a tremendous amount of hype right now about the AR-1s, Dan believes they are living up to that hype and worth it. From a spectators stand point as I watched the two of them battle on track, you can clearly see that the AR-1’s give so much more grip allowing Dan to catch up to Pat mid turn. Then when Pat was behind Dan coming out of a turn, Dan could get on gas much sooner giving him a much better drive out of the turn.

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Pat’s PB for the weekend was a 2:04.45, and Dans was a 2:03.6. I know that isn’t much of a difference, but please remember that there was a ton of traffic in their sessions. When asked, Pat believes that if there was no traffic Dan could have easily gotten 2 flat or even possibly sub 2.

Here are videos of their PB laps.

Patrick’s

Dans

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As for me, my Sunday was going pretty well. As many of you know I’m running Tein FlexZ coilovers. As an entry level coiler they work well, but as I start to get faster Im starting to reach their limits. I started off the morning turning the dampening to full hard up front and one click away from full hard in the rear. I will have to say that this made a dramatic improvement in the cars performance, usually I’m running 4 clicks from full hard up front and rear. I feel the limiting factor of the FlexZ’s is how soft the springs are, and by turning to full stiff you are now just over working the shock trying to get it to pick up the slack of the softer spring.

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As usual, I didn’t film anything for the first two sessions of the day. This was a bummer because I ended up getting my PB on the second session of the day. It was a 2:13.01, so painfully close to a 2:12 of which I was sure that I could do. Unfortunately the traffic was just too much, and it was impossible to get 2 laps in a row with all of it. This meant that I was having to plan out the traffic patterns and make sure I wasn’t going to catch up to slower cars but the end of the lap. As you can see in my videos below, this was constantly a problem for me.

You can see in the video how I’m catching up to cars that are actual sports cars, and have way more power than I do. There is a big ego problem with these guys. As you can see they wont let me pass them, and they think they are faster than me just because they can drag me on the straights but then I catch right back up to them in the turns. You can see at some points i get so angry that I ride their bumpers pretty close. Not to be a dick, but rather prove a point. JUST LET ME PASS. 80% of the time spent on a race track is in a turn, so if someone is catching you in the turns let them pass. DO NOT try to flex your million horsepower on me in the straights, it’s more embarrassing that I catch you rather than just letting me pass. Also remember, just because I’m keeping up with slow drivers in fast cars DOES NOT mean that my civic is fast or I am an amazing driver. it just means they are slow and lack experience. Dont be the guys that has a ridiculously built car, only to have a plain old civic stay on your tail. There are also plenty of other drivers with fast cars that are actually fast in the advanced group, just none in mine.

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There was also a very special moment for me off track that day. On the second day, I noticed there was a clean S2000 in the pits that wasn’t there the previous day.

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I wanted to go over and check it out, and since Patrick is the S2000 guru I told him to come with me. As we approached the car, the hood was open and the driver was sitting in the front seat. Once we got close enough the driver popped out and we introduced ourselves, It turns out that he was actually an avid reader/supporter of the blog and that some of the articles had actually helped him out. The genuine recognition, appreciation, and gratitude he shared towards the blog, and everything we do was unbelievable. It was so awesome to actually meet someone at the track that reads the blog, and actually utilizes the articles. This one interaction makes all the hard work and dedication I have toward the blog worth it, and even if the blog only helps one person thats all that I need to justify continuing to do it. This may only be one person, but this one person was doing exactly what I hope to inspire so many other to do. He was actually taking his car out to events, and using my blog for resources about doing so.

This whole weekend was such a whirlwind of emotions. from being frustrated about traffic, and slow drivers, to having fun driving a much more technical track, improving driving skills, and meeting a fan of the blog. We dont do this for any other reasons than just having fun, and trying to help motivate people to get out and use their cars for what they are building them for. At the end of the day we are just some amateurs going out and trying to hone our skills, we know we will never be any where near as good as real race car drivers. I will take a day on the track over anything else, no matter how bad the session is going… Remember the fun you have doing it, remember how it makes you feel being out there pushing your car to the limits. Even though we had no baselines for this config, it was still great getting out and trying out all our new upgrades. I was also awesome to finally meet Dan, its always great to meet others that are equally into cars/tracking as I am.

Below are links to all the pictures I took from both days.

100 pictures from day 1

174 pictures from day 2

Below are some of my faves from he weekend

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Like always, I hope you read these articles and they motivate you to get out on a track. You car doesn’t have to be crazily built, you just need to get out there and get the seat time. Remember too, if you start to feel comfortable while on track… You need to push harder. If there aren’t at least a few times during a lap that you dont feel scared, then simply put, you wont improve. The goal of seat time is to get incrementally comfortable, then continue to push beyond that comfort zone. This is why no seat time is wasted, and there is always an opportunity for you to improve somewhere on the track. Doing this will improve your driving skill because you will be able to find the limits of what your car is capable of. If you’re not pushing those limits and go off or spin, then you will never know how much faster you can be.

Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully this has got you thinking more about getting on a track. Please, if you have any questions or comments, dont hesitate to reach out. email Billy@functiontheory.com, instagram @functiontheory, or just comment below.

 

 

 

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