Buttonwillow 5/18/23; Deeper in the SUB 2’s

This post is going to be a bittersweet one because this visit to Buttonwillow marks the beginning of the end for me… A hiatus if you will with the duration is unknown. Before you go assuming things, let me lay all my cards on the table.

After 40 years on this earth, we decided to bring a new human into this world. That’s right! On February 17th, 2023, Angie and I welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby girl into this world. Angie and I have been together for 21 years this fall, and we have been fortunate enough to have good jobs that allow us to enjoy the finer things in life. I’ll spare you the details, but we both decided that after living our lives to the fullest over the last 21 years, we felt we could put aside our extracurricular interests and hobbies to share what we have with another human.

Admittedly, I’m pretty self-centered and initially, I struggled with this thought of not being able to pour endless amounts of money into cars and motorcycles. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before… “fuck financial security” or “enjoy your life now because you can’t take any of it with you” Well, that was the way I used to live, and those ways of thought have allowed me to experience so many neat things. But now, that has all changed and I am fully embracing the dad life and finally responsibly acting my age.

I know what most of you are thinking. “Just because you’re a dad doesn’t mean you have to stop doing what you love.” Well for me, I feel as if I do. It just seems irresponsible to not be planning for her future while I blow 1500 bucks on tires every 4th track event or trying to buy 3000-dollar carbon doors. Before, it was easy for Angie and me not to worry about spending every last bit of money on the things we enjoyed. We were able to justify this because we were grown adults that would be the only ones suffering consequences from our bad decisions. Now though, that is a totally irresponsible way of thinking when you have another human that relies on and is 100% dependent on you. The last thing I want to be is a deadbeat dad who selfishly spends all his money on himself while his baby, who has no control of anything, sleeps on the floor without electricity because daddy gambled on the Lakers and lost everything.

Is that a bit extreme and dramatic? Yes, I’m sure it is. But I just want to make sure I’m giving my daughter everything she needs, and to do this, I feel I must put a pause on what I like doing. After all, I have spent the last 21 years enjoying the hell out of everything I have ever done, I think I can afford to take a break from myself for a few years.

I’m now 3 months into being a dad and I’m acclimating quite quickly. I’ve put my wants on hold in return for her needs. Don’t get me wrong, when she is old enough, I’ll be exposing her to the most amazing invention ever, VTEC! and taking her to track days and what not (because daddy’s going to eventually have to get back on the track). But what I will not be doing, is forcing her to be a motorsports enthusiast like her dad. I want her to grow up and decide on her own what she enjoys doing and what hobby she will be most passionate about. I think it’s cliché to hope your kid grows up enjoying what you enjoy doing. Let them decide on their own what passions to cultivate, as long as they truly enjoy something, to me, that is all that is important. And for that reason, I will never have a Recaro car seat or a “my daddy is a race car driver” onesie. I’ll just take a regular Chicco car seat and some plain Gerber onesies. She’s a baby, not a poster child for something she doesn’t even know anything about.

With that being said, you can see what I mean about being unsure about the duration of my hiatus. However, don’t for one second think that I’m “getting out of the car scene”. Absolutely not! Being into cars is much more to me than just a Hobby… It’s a way of life! Everything I have ever done with cars has been to the absolute max and that will never change. I will forever have a steadfast loyalty for Honda’s, unwavering passion for VTEC, and devoted love for motorsports in general that will never fade. For now, it will just be taking a backseat to my newest love… Madison!

Enough baby talk. On to my most recent Buttonwillow experience!

But FIRST!, a little backstory/rant.

If you’re an avid blog reader then you’ll know that when I first got the FK8, I was hyper focused on achieving the acclaimed Sub 2 lap at Buttonwillow and doing it all with a relatively stock car. A “Sub 2” at Buttonwillow is a benchmark that most people use to measure their “driving skill” and nowadays, if you can’t “Sub 2” then most won’t even take you seriously when it comes to tracking. I’ll admit, it’s a very poor way to judge a person’s skill and really is just an arbitrary number that is set without anyone questioning how the “Sub 2” was achieved.

Here is what I mean by that… take for example, someone that has a brand-new Porsche, BMW, Corvette, ETC… those cars come out of the factory running “Sub 2’s”… especially after people put 200tw tires on them, better suspension, and brakes. Hell, my 3-month-old daughter could probably “Sub 2” in one of those cars LOL. Now compare it to Pat, who did it 5 years ago in a 160 horsepower Integra GSR with 225 Nt01’s and no aero (see video below) Remember, I’m just trying to highlight the differences between a fast car and a fast driver.

Also, I will be first to admit that doing a “Sub-2” in a FK8 isn’t really something to ‘write home about’ because these cars also fit into that aforementioned ‘cheater car’ category and out of the box with a good driver (better than me) these are capable of a “Sub-2”. Please, PLEASE, don’t take offense to anything I’m saying as I’m merely mentioning it to put in perspective how loose the term “sub-2” is. There are no doubt super-fast drivers that have new Porsches, BMW’s, etc… I’m definitely not saying all those drivers don’t have skill. I’m just helping people to understand that all “Sub-2’s” are not created equal, and you really should be asking important questions when someone says they can “Sub-2”. What car are they driving? What tire are they on? What power level is their car? Do they have any aero? Etc.…

I digress…. If you’re interested in reading the story of how I was able to achieve my first “Sub-2” stock power, stock exhaust, stock intake, stock intercooler, just lowered on swifts, RV6 rear sway bar, 265 rt660’s, and some cooling mods. Below is link to when I first achieved a “Sub-2” in my FK8 at Buttonwillow.

A 1:59.8xx wasn’t good enough for me, especially since there are plenty of fast guys that can achieve a much quicker time in the FK8, and Pat was even quicker 5 years ago with a car that had half the power, half the tire, and half the tech. It was very important that I prove to myself that I was a quick driver and that I wasn’t relying on my “cheater car” to do all the work for me. So, I set out to try and get much deeper into the “Sub 2’s” However, on my next track event at Buttonwillow I ended up having one of the most frustrating days ever at a track event.

I was on some one-year-old heat cycled rt660’s that had been through 5 events, had no grip and were like driving on ice. It wasn’t just the tires, there were many other factors that contributed to my frustrating day, but I’ll spare you all the details. Just know, I was having a bad day. I was only able to muster up a measly 2 flat. In fact, because the rt660’s we so done, I even switched to my “daily wheels” the Regas, with 2-year-old RS4’s and was able to get quicker times than when on the tired rt660’s. That day, on the old RS4’s I managed a 2:00.24 and 2:00.36, which is still very respectable all things considered… however, none of that mattered to me. I needed to be much deeper into the “Sub 2’s” to be satisfied with myself.

That terrible event was last November 2022, and Angie was 5 months into her pregnancy… There was no chance I would be able to make it out for redemption at another track day any time before her due date. It would have just been irresponsible to leave Angie at home alone while I was 350 miles away out of town.

It was about to be Christmas, New year’s, our baby shower, Valentine’s Day, and then our due date was March 9th. And in true Billy form, I was still hung up on the fact that I couldn’t get deeper into the “Sub 2s”, when I really should have been sharing the excitement of our soon to arrive baby. I couldn’t help it though, it was tearing me up inside knowing that I was just an average driver and no matter how arbitrary that “Sub 2” number was, I felt I needed it to justify my knowledge of what I write/preach about on the blog. How could I possibly have a blog about “Functional cars” and yet not be a quick driver. I really put a lot of pressure on myself because for some strange reason I needed the validity.

It was clear that I wasn’t going to get the redemption that I needed any time soon and it was time to switch my thought process to a much more mature and responsible perspective. Because on February 17th, 2023, at 8:00am our beautiful baby girl arrived, a few weeks early and it was now time to be a dad.

Being a new dad was exciting and distracted me from the dark voices in my head reminding me I’m not a quick driver. I made it a whole 2 months before that irresponsible itch to go back to Buttonwillow and get my redemption started to surface again. Angie was still on maternity leave and things were starting to get a little more “routine” at home and it just so happened that SoCal drivers club had a track day in April. I waited a few days before summoning up the courage to ask Angie if she would be ok with me taking a quick trip to California for about 24 hours.

As a new Dad, I honestly felt really guilty at just the thought of asking, let alone actually going. I had thoughts like… What kind of dad am I to put myself before my daughter? And what kind of example am I setting? Anyway, like all addicts do, I found a way to justify it to myself and ask Angie.

This should come as no surprise, but Angie said yes! So, I hopped on the SoCal Drivers Club site and went to register but…. it was sold out! UGHHHHHHHH…. I had waited too long to “pop the question.”

This was very disappointing because if you know anything about the weather in southern California, especially Buttonwillow, you’ll know that at the end of March the temp really begins to rise and by mid-April it’s already in the 80’s. With the bane of the FK8 being its heat management, or lack thereof, hot weather and FK8’s mix like religion and science. All this means is, there really isn’t any point in trying to PB in hot weather.

That was it… my opportunity to get deeper into the “Sub 2’s” was gone and for the next few years I was going to be stuck at 1:59.8xx. Or was it… That’s right, there was no way I was going to let Madison have a dad that was an “average driver.” Nope, SoCal Drivers club had another event on May 18th, and I was going to sign up for that one come hell or high water.

I checked the weather forecast for May 18th (mind you this was about 5 weeks out at the time), and it said that it was still going to be in the mid 80’s. I figured if mid 80’s was the high, then maybe the morning would be a nice mid 60 degrees and I would be able to get some flyers in while the temps were still low. Spoiler alert! Don’t bank on weather forecasts that are 5 weeks out.

The time was now, and I was going to throw everything I had into ensuring my trip to Buttonwillow would be worthwhile. I ordered new tires (275 RE71rs’), installed Wunderalden rear spherical toe arms, RV6 solid front compliance mounts and spherical lower control arm bushings, RV6 front pipe, removed my oil cooler, switched out my OEM coolant for VP stay frosty, and did my own alignment. I was shooting for :57’s but secretly had a stretch goal of 56’s.

For those 5 weeks before the event I spent the short 2–3-hour stints that Madison would sleep, in the garage modifying my car all while wondering why Angie puts up with me and my stupid hobby. Keep in mind that Angie is still on maternity leave, but I was back to work and doing 50-hour weeks. On my days off I was doing dad/family stuff during the day, then at night I was in the garage burning the midnight oil just to ensure my trip to buttonwillow would be a worthwhile one.

Don’t worry, I took tons of pictures as I installed every new part and I do plan to do write ups on all of those installs in the next few weeks. I was just so strapped for time before the event and there was no way I was going to find time to do write ups of each install. Plus, I wanted to get this Buttonwillow/hiatus post out while it was still recent and fresh in my mind.

It wasn’t until Sunday May 14th, Mother’s Day and not just any Mother’s Day… But Angie’s FIRST Mother’s Day as a mama. After working all morning then getting off and doing Mother’s Day celebrations with Angie, I found myself finalizing my alignment and taking the car out for a test drive late that night just to make sure it was ready for Buttonwillow in 4 days.

I was running out of time and if there were any adjustments I needed to make to my alignment, I needed to know then so I could plan to make the adjustments on Wednesday morning before I headed out to Buttonwillow. I was working Monday and Tuesday, so there was no way I was going to find time to adjust it either of those days. I was off Wednesday and Thursday (the day of the event) so realistically, I had to be in the garage on the evening of Mother’s Day.

Before you give me the business about being selfish or insensitive. I still made sure that the day was centered around Angie and that it was a very, very special one.

Thankfully everything checked out on the car that Sunday night. Wednesday came and we spent the morning doing some family time stuff, but I had to be on the road by 4:00pm to make it to the Motel 6 in Buttonwillow by a reasonable hour. I began packing the car around 1:00pm Wednesday afternoon. The first thing I had to do was get the track wheels swapped out for the daily wheels. I had the track wheels on that had the brand-new tires while doing my alignment because that’s just what you do. If you do the alignment while the old worn-out tires are on, it can cause inaccurate toe/camber measurements.

Once the wheels were swapped, I loaded the rest of my track day essentials (see pictures below, but keep in mind these are older pictures, so the tires depicted are not accurate) kissed the family goodbye and was on my way by 4:15pm.

Exploded view.

Everything packed up.

I backed out of the driveway and headed to my local Shell gas station to fill up. If I top it off before leaving town, I can make it all the way to Tehachapi, where I can fill up again and then easily make the rest of the 70-mile trip to the Motel.

While heading to the Shell it began to rain. Now here in Vegas this isn’t anything unusual for this time of year when it’s considered monsoon season. It was just disappointing because after a 10-minute downpour, my poor white car was filthy, and I thought to myself… Great, so this is how the trip is going to go. 15 minutes into the trip and there is already a bad omen.

I was already bummed out because the weather forecast from 5 weeks ago turned out to be a bit optimistic and now, the more accurate, weekly forecast was showing the high at Buttonwillow to be 99 degrees for Thursday. This was 20 degrees hotter than the 5 weeks out forecast had predicted. Before you say it… I know, I know, never trust the weatherman. I was just being overly optimistic that the weather would be good but deep down, I knew better. It’s always hot that time of year.

Despite these issues, I did everything I could to maintain some positivity and continue to focus on getting a much-improved lap time. I opened my third eye, aligned my chakras, recited my affirmations, kissed my four-leaf clover, and rubbed my lucky rabbit’s foot. Since it was going to be so hot, I knew my secret stretch goal of getting into the 56’s was out the window. I had to readjust my thinking and shoot for 58’s and have a stretch goal of 57’s. 58’s, while not that much improved from my previous “sub-2”, still sounded much better and my ego was going to have to just accept that for now.

The drive from Vegas to my first fuel stop in Tehachapi went well. Below are some shots from the gas station. As some of you may notice, I took the oil cooler off my car. Previously, I had the Greddy one that went in the grille area and pretty much blocked all air flow to the radiator. Since my car is the 20/21 model, I have the LKAS sensor where the side mounted oil coolers usually go, so I don’t really have another option. There is a company from the United Kingdom called HEL that makes a side mounted oil cooler that works with the LKAS sensor since all EU FK8’s come with LKAS from 17-21.

I will hold off for now because the HEL oil cooler steals its air flow from half of the driver’s side brake duct. Plus, I am still looking into ways to see if I can get an HKS oil cooler to fit on my car. I have seen someone from the Philippines modify an HKS oil cooler to fit their car with LKAS, but the sensor blocks much of the air flow to the cooler. I have also read from some EU FK8 forums, that you can simply delete the LKAS, and the car will still work properly. However, I need to look more into this because I’m scared that the car might go into some sort of limp mode if the LKAS sensor is unplugged.

Either way, after doing a few track events with the Greddy oil cooler blocking what little airflow there already is to the radiator. It just didn’t make much sense to me to have the oil cooler, which had oil nearing the 240–250-degree range directly in front of the radiator. As the air passed through the oil cooler, all that 240–250-degree air is being wicked away from the oil cooler but then that hot air is now hitting the radiator. With the ECT in the 230-240 range, that hot air coming from the oil cooler wasn’t allowing the hot radiator to properly shed that heat away since the air hitting the radiator was warmer than the actual ECT was. I will get more into the when I do my post about removing the oil cooler and adding the VP stay frosty (should hopefully be out in the next few weeks)

Lotta bugs on the drive so far.

With all that weight in the car, it looks slammed in the rear. No scraping or rubbing though and it’s still a very comfortable ride. (I’m on swift springs and have the LE ADS sensor set in “sport mode” for the drive on the freeway”)

The sunsets as I drive down into Arvin. (Phone pic)

I didn’t really know what A LOT of bugs was, until I drove through the farm town of Arvin, CA. LOOK AT HOW MANY BUGS ARE ON MY CAR NOW!

I woke up Thursday morning after a mediocre night’s rest at the fabulous Motel 6 off the 5 freeway. I woke up 45 minutes before my alarm was even set to go off (5:15am) because no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find a comfortable position on the box of springs they called a “mattress.”

I spent the first five minutes of my morning washing all the bugs off my front windshield, then I hopped on to the 5 north headed for the Lerdo Hwy exit.

As I was pulling off the 5-freeway approaching Lerdo Hwy. I stopped to make my left turn heading towards Buttonwillow raceway but before executing my turn I had to yield to an oncoming car. That car not only turned out to be a beautiful CW FK8, but it was someone who was an avid blog reader and was someone who I had exchanged messages with via internet about FK8 stuff.

I pulled in right behind the FK8. As we sat waiting for the gates to open, Bruce stepped out and came to introduce himself. It is such an awesome feeling to know that my blog reaches and helps so many fellow enthusiasts. It is very refreshing to meet people who read the blog and can relate to how much effort I really put into it. It’s also nice to know that there are other fellow enthusiasts that share the same ideas/mentalities about motorsports as I do.

Once inside, I begin to unload my car. I took some pictures so you can see how I’m able to shoehorn so much into the car. Below you’ll also notice a 5-gallon fuel jug in my car. This is full of e85 as I add it in throughout the day to ensure I keep the car at an E20-E25 blend. Currently I’m only running a Hondata base flex fuel tune in hopes that the added ethanol would help aid in the cooling of the car.

I leave the rear seats in the upward position and can line up all four track wheels across the rear bench. I also sneak in some tools, and other things on the floor behind each front seat. Then I have all my clothes, helmet, camera, laptop, and hydro flask in the front passenger seat. In the back I have my essentials, A jack, extra pads, fluids, OEM replacement parts (incase the aftermarket parts fail), larger tools, jack stands, rags, and funnels.

I was very excited and hopeful to be going out on some sticker RE71RS’s.

Side note, I drove on them for 30 miles when doing my Mother’s Day test drive and concluded my alignment was good enough because the rear stickers looked almost brand new. As for the front, obviously the stickers would be more worn than the rear because of spinning while accelerating. What little bit of sticker was left up front showed no indication of irregular wear.

This time around, I was also going to be stepping up to the carbotech xp20 compound pad. I tend to drive the FK8 like it’s my K20 EG that weighs 2100 pounds with me in it. I’m very aggressive on brakes and you just can’t really drive the fatter FK8 the same way as you can a golden era Honda. Because of all this, my brakes tend to get very hot and usually overheat after about 4 hard laps.

I have tried many pads throughout my FK8 adventures. Starting with the Raybestos st43, then upgrading to hawk dtc60, then trying xp10’s, then hawk dtc 70’s, and lastly carbotech xp12’s. Throughout all those front pads, I always had project mu club racer rear pads just to ensure consistency when trying to determine what front pad was best for me.

This time around however, I switched out the rear pad for a more aggressive Paragon R5 compound. Plus, I recently installed Wunderalden brass brake caliper bushings in the rear too.

You can read all about that install by clicking the link below.

As you can see, I’m also using Girodisc rotors and titanium shims to help aid in heat management. Look at that brake temp sticker too. Zero reading on it after driving all the way down from Vegas, which means brakes never got over 200 degrees F throughout my whole 350-mile drive.

I make the drive with the OEM pad, then before heading out on track I swap to the XP20’s and head out on to Lerdo Hwy to bed them properly. I let them cool back down, then head out on track.

While swapping the pads, I’m also swapping out the “daily Regas” for the track wheel/tire setup. Both track wheels and Daily wheels share the same specs… 18×9.5 +45. Only difference now is I’m bumping up to a 275 tire on the Titans.

Ok, the track goes hot at 8:00am, but only SoCal Drivers Club exclusive members are allowed to go out for the first 15 minutes of uninterrupted laps. Then, at 8:15am the plebes are allowed to head out, I am plebe. I headed out at 8:15am and by 8:22am I had already nearly gotten to a :58.

Let’s real quickly dissect the data for the first session. As you can see my best laps were 4, 2, and 3. This is because lap 1 is a wash since I’m just out getting heat in the tires and feeling out all the changes I’ve made to the car since last track day.

  • Lap 2, the car was feeling good, but I usually do two laps to ensure ample heat in all tires/brakes.
  • Lap 3, got stuck in some traffic and was trying to strategically place myself amongst other cars for a flyer on lap 4.
  • Lap 4, a flyer it was indeed. However, as you can see from Min/Max speeds I left a lot of time on the table and quite honestly this should have been a :58. Unfortunately, I got very excited because all 5 lights were green on the AIM (this means I’m predicted to be much faster than my previous fastest lap) and I stayed on the throttle way to long going into sunset (final turn) totally blowing through my braking zone and almost going off track. I managed to save it but lost a lot of time due to my blunder.

As you can see from the other laps, I had much higher min speeds which translates to time left on the table. If you’re slowing too much in turns, then you are really going to lose a lot of time there because the slower you’re moving the faster those tenths of a second add up.

After lap 4 of the first session, I had a cool down lap (lap 5) then came into check hot tire pressures.

Pressures were at a staggering 40 psi front and 38 psi rear. For the record, I started with 27psi cold front and 31psi cold rear. I lowered the pressures to a more appropriate 34psi hot in front and 36 psi hot rear (in hopes to help with rotation).

Feeling very excited and optimistic, I immediately headed back out on track because it was already 81 degrees, and I needed to make sure I was maximizing time in the “cooler temps”.

By 8:40am a mere 18 minutes after my last PB, I achieved a respectable 1:58.79. Unfortunately, that would be the best I could do that day. I just ended up getting too hot, tires got greasy, ECT and oil temps began to get unsettling, and my brakes would be cooked after a few hard laps. More on all this later though.

Now, let’s dissect the second session. Just like before lap 1 is just a lap to ensure there is proper heat in the tires. Then BAM!

  • Lap 2, My PB ever in any car at Buttonwillow. You could argue that the tire pressures helped, but personally I think it’s the increased min speed and the slightly higher max speed. The slowest part of the track is at the “offramp turn” which is turn two. Fastest part of the track is coming out of the Esses into the straight right before sunset turn. The higher speed can be attributed to a better line/drive coming out of sweeper. Also, nailing the braking zone better into sunset allowed me to carry more speed through the turn.
  • Lap 3, I was finishing my PB lap and carrying momentum into lap three. At the start of the lap, I was quicker through “off ramp” which helped bump my min speed to 38.1 mph and was heading towards another PB and possibly even the :57 I was striving for. Unfortunately, I caught up to some traffic which slowed me all the way down to a 2:01.50. However, based on min/max speeds I should have done another PB.
  • Lap 4, despite getting caught up in some traffic and not only having the slowest min speed by far, but also the slowest max speed. I still managed to get a 2 flat which just goes to show that my lap 3, with those min/max speeds was no doubt going to be another PB. I might have been a stretch to say that lap 3 could have been a :57… but it would for sure have been a deeper into the :58’s.

A neat thing about the SoCal Drivers Club events is they have their own photographer that takes pictures throughout the whole day. This service is standard at all their events, and you don’t have to pay extra for the pictures. Their photographer uploads all pictures to a drop box where you can then download them. That is how I got the pictures of my car on track and me in the pits.

On the picture below my front tire looks so low on air. I promise you though, I’m at 34 PSI hot.

TRUST ME, It’s as hot out as this picture makes it look.

The gauge pod you see houses my DEFI oil temp gauge. This is new for me and will help me get better data when it comes to oil temp without and with an oil cooler. Let’s just say that the LOG R app’s oil temp is not actual. You all should have known that though.

Halfway through the day and it’s time to swap tires front to rear to ensure I get the most life out of them as possible. By this time, I have already gotten gas twice as I don’t like to run the risk of getting fuel starvation which then triggers limp mode and has trapped me out on track once before. I can usually get two 5-7 lap sessions in before I brim the tank. This may not be necessary, you or someone you know might go 30 laps before needing to fill up, I don’t care. It just gives me peace of mind and enables me to get some freeway miles allowing the brakes, and trans to cool back down to a reasonable temp while I head to the gas station. (Trans and clutch temps are often overlooked and equally as important as ECT)

After rotating the tires front to back make sure to fill up the now rears with air and readjust pressure to what you desire in the rear. As for the front, usually you’ll just need to let some air out because generally on a FWD, the front rear tire pressures are higher than the front.

Topping off the ethanol to help maintain that e20-25 blend.

Since it was also lunch time and the track was cold, I took this opportunity to snap some glamour shots.

I really wish that my hood matched the car :(. But I have already painted it twice and I’m honestly over it.

I knew with a car this low; I was going to have to run more camber to get the 275’s to fit without rubbing. So, my current setup is.

  • Front -3.1 camber which is achieved by pulling the strut alignment pins, and the use of EVS camber ball joints. Toe is set to ZERO. No rolling of fenders and only bending the fender tab slightly
  • Rear -2.8 camber which is achieved by SPL camber arms. And I’m also running ZERO toe as well. no rolling or cutting of anything in the rear.

Usually running that much rear camber is going to make understeer more present but I was left with no choice to allow for tire fitment and have no rubbing issues.

Also, at the start of the day (when I managed to get my PB of 1:58.79) I had the rear RV6 sway bar set to “medium/hard”. This means, on one side the endlink bolt was through the middle hole and the other side the endlink bolt was through the stiffest hole. After a few sessions, it was apparent that I needed to adjust the rear sway bar to the stiffest setting (both endlink bolts through the stiffest holes.) This would help reduce the understeer by allowing the rear to rotate easier by increasing its roll stiffness. And, by having the bar set to full stiff This also effectively increases the rear spring rate which can change pitch and dive and even allows for less squat which can translate into more traction up front when on throttle.

Keep in mind there are many other variables that play a role in all of this and there is no “one set up fits all” that you can live by. After setting base alignment numbers it’s best to play with your suspension settings yourself and adjust the car to what feels best for your driving style. In my opinion, I would consider “base alignment numbers” to be -2.5 to -3.0 front camber with zero toe. And -2.0 to -2.5 rear camber with zero toe. On FWD cars you can usually leave the front swaybar OEM and just upgrade the rear swaybar. If you get an adjustable rear swaybar, just ensure the initial settings are stiffer than the OEM rear swaybar, then just gradually increase the stiffness to your liking.

Those XP20’s are HELL on the rotors. I knew this going into it though because Carbotech is very clear about this.

Nearly 490 degrees F caliper temp.

Due to the rapidly increasing temps, after the first few sessions all hope was lost and there was no way I was going to better my PB time. No longer was this track day about getting PB’s, it now became about data and suspensions adjustments. I made the aforementioned sway bar adjustments around 11:00am and took the car out before lunch. Immediately I could tell that the stiffer rear end was much easier to rotate and stopped the car from squatting as much under acceleration.

I was able to consistently run :59’s but with track temps in the high 80’s now (89 degrees is what my dash indicated air temp was) the tires were getting greasy as I continued to push hard. I was only able to get about 4 laps in before the brakes would start to not perform up to par.

Admittedly, I could probably adjust my driving style to conserve the brakes a bit more. Because if the Spoon Sports FK8 can do 25 hours of Thunderhill with stock Brembo’s, Paragon 2-piece rotors, Endless pads and much more power than I’m making. Then clearly there is something I’m doing wrong. The xp20’s were a bit too aggressive for me and more than likely I’ll be reverting to the xp12’s which were a little easier on the rotors.

Oil temps would be nearing 270 degrees F, as indicated by the DEFI oil temp gauge. However, ECT’s were still ok, and the OEM temp gauge was still at its “normal operating temp” range on the dash. This alone was a big win for me! I can only conclude that the VP stay frosty coolant was doing its job helping to reduce the overall temps. Just to confirm ECT were decent, I would open the Hondata app and find that ECT’s were at 220 degrees. Don’t get me wrong… this is still hot, but it’s not the 230–240-degree ECT’s that I’m used to seeing (even with the oil cooler installed). Plus, it was reasonably hot in the high 80’s without a cloud in the sky.

After lunch time the track went hot again at 1:15pm. Again, the exclusive peeps get to go out at 1:00pm but the plebs must wait until 1:15pm. No matter though, by this time temps were in the mid to high 90’s (with air temp indicated on the dash at 96 degrees). I did one more session, but the ECT temp gauge started to climb above the “normal temp range”, and it was not worth pushing the car to a potential breaking point or prematurely wearing it out just for the sake of being on track. When it’s that hot out, even a N/A car will start struggle.

I called it quits and began to transition back to “street mode” for the drive home. Oem front pads back in and Regas back on.

Was I happy? Not really. Let’s just say it’s the happiest I have left Buttonwillow in a while. I mean, I was satisfied with the :58 but deep down I knew I had so much left on the table especially after looking at the data.

Drivers excuses include…

  • Lap traffic during the coldest part of the day. This was to be expected though and it really wasn’t bad traffic like you would experience on a track day with 75+ people. It was just enough to not allow me to run hot lap after hot lap without obstruction.
  • The heat… even at 8:15 am it was still 78 degrees. IMO FK8’s need below 60 degrees to be running at max potential. This is just an arbitrary number I came up with based on my experiences, please don’t come at me with an argument.
  • Should have had the sway bar on the stiffest setting for the first session of the day. Usually, I run the sway bar on the medium setting (both endlinks bolts are through the middle holes) with the rear camber at -2.3 degrees. However, because I was now running more negative rear, when I had set the alignment in my garage on Mother’s Day evening, I also adjusted the sway bar to the “medium/hard” setting in hopes to offset the impact of the added rear negative camber a bit. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have just initially set it to full stiff. I was just worried about the rear end being a little tail happy, so I set it to medium/hard.

If the stars had all aligned that day, it was cooler out, less traffic, and my swaybar was set to full stiff initially I could have for sure gotten a :57 and I really want to believe that a :56 was within grasp.

Due to the lack of satisfaction with my overall performance. I am already planning on returning to Buttonwillow in December for another SoCal Drivers Club event and hopefully get that :57 or even the :56! I just can’t rest until I’ve achieved a quicker time.

I would also like to let it be known that in no way am I disappointed in the fact that I must take a hiatus, nor am I regretful in any life changes that have occurred. I made the decision to embrace fatherhood and I’m going to ensure that I cherish and nurture it to its fullest. As I stated earlier, I’m not giving up on my hobbies… I’m just redirecting my focuses and ensuring that my daughter doesn’t have a selfish deadbeat dad.

There will be plenty of time for the track once she gets older. Plus, there are plenty of quick drivers in their 50’s and I’m not going anywhere or slowing down anytime soon. At first, my greatest fear was forgetting what I once knew so well. I know now though; it doesn’t have to be that way and if a small hiatus is what it takes for a Childs eternal happiness, then so be it.

I will always maintain the blog and ensure that it lives on at least until I die. I just don’t know what the near future holds for it in terms of post frequency and content. I do have about eight more posts that will be released over the next few months that include, things like FK8 part installs, Pat’s car(s) update(s), and whatever the hell Ever is up to lately in bumfuck Arizona. After that… I’m not sure what is to come. As mentioned, I will be doing Buttonwillow again this coming December and most likely that will be the final post for some time.

Whatever happens, just remember I’m not going anywhere. I may just be lying low for a while and embracing new things that bring me happiness.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope you found this long-winded post somewhat enjoyable. If you did find this post amusing, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know via Instagram, @Functiontheory, or email me at Billy@Functiontheory.com, or simply comment on the post. I would love to hear from you! I feel like I really “wore my heart on my sleeve” in this one, so please keep all criticisms to yourself.


  1. Such a nice write-up! I’m glad you were able to install that Defi and that it’s providing useful data. Congratulations to you guys on the baby girl!! You will be an amazing father and will still be able to enjoy track time, just a bit less of it in the first few years.

    Fyi, I was grinning ear to ear when you dropped the magic number ..2..7..5 lol, so happy you decided to try it and bend those tabs. Did you like the 71Rs? I just put those on the rear of the Sup, I need to match the front. I’m running out the old 660s from the R on the front now just to save $.

    When is the Dec event, I might try to join you on your adventure if it’s mid month. I’ll let you rip the Sup if you let me try to 56 the R. 😉 lol

    Based on your conditions stated you likely have a high 56 well within your reach. Momentum and rotation with runout are your friends.

    Thanks for the great blog brother! Enjoy that dad life, it gets so much fun 2yo and up.

    1. DUSTIN!!! Great hearing from you man! Yea the DEFI gauge is great for real-time data acquisition. I loved the RE71rs a lot, I like them better than the RT660’s… I mean they should be better though considering the price lol. They were very consistent despite track temps being very high.

      There are actually two events in December. One on December 1st and the other on December 15th. IM honestly not sure which one I’m signing up for yet, just because I can’t be sure what’s happening 6 months down the road lol.

      Im really happy to hear that you enjoyed the blog post! And thanks for your optimistic outlook on being able to track again hahaha.

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