Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Second Year Anniversary!

It just occurred to me that I've been tracking my car for two years now. The time went by really quickly and I hardly noticed it. In that time, I've done a tonne of development on my car and hopefully improved as a driver too.

Here's a list of things I've done to my car:
  • Perrin Front & Rear 22mm ARB with Perrin Endlinks
  • Perrin Short Shifter
  • Schroth Quick-Fit 4-point Race Harness (driver & passenger)
  • COBB AccessPort with Stage 1 ECU Reflash
  • Megan Racing Street Coilovers (8k/6k)
  • Perrin Positive Steering Response System (PSRS)
  • Wilwood SuperLite-6 Caliper with 12.9" Rotor and Stainless Steel pistons and TCE stainless steel brake lines (Uses Wilwood 7416 Pad type; 0.65" / 16mm thick)
  • RacingBrake OEM Rear Caliper Upgrade Kit (290mmx10mm slotted rotor)
  • Fumoto Oil Drain Plug
  • Gruppe-S Stainless Steel Brake Lines (rear only; replaced front with TCE lines as part of Wilwood upgrade)
  • Sport Edition D Wheels (17"x7") with Nitto NT-01 DOT Competition Tires (225/45/17)
  • CruiseCam In-Car Camera Mount with AIPTEK A-HD camera and adapted Sunpak 0.5 wide angle lens.

That's quite a list and as recorded in my blog, I've taken a pretty conservative approach when upgrading the car. I certainly didn't get all that stuff at one time.

Looking back over the changes, I think my favourite changes were the Schroth 4-point harness and coilovers. I haven't run the NT-01s enough, but given some run time on them I'm sure I'd be adding them to my favourite list. Regarding my mistakes? Well, I think that clearly going from the stock brakes to the dynapro-4 to eventually the superlite-6 was the most painful/expensive. If I had the funds at the beginning, I should have gone straight to the big brake kit. Also, my use of the AT-2000 camera was a waste -- I should have gone straight to a mid-range video camera.

Of course, my car wasn't the only thing that's changed over the past two years. The largest change was with the track itself when they repaved it last year. Not only did they update the track surface but they also changed the layout in places as well.

The track surface is now smooth as glass with no cracks to speak of -- the old surface used to have little rocks and dust from all the cracks that would stick to your tires and reduce your grip. The new surface is clean and smooth enough that my coilovers actually feel really good (no bouncing, unlike the street/highway).

The layout changes were the most dramatic in Turn 7 where the shute leading up to the turn was straightened and lengthened along with the turn itself being much wider and sharper. It ended up being quite a bit slower than the old configuration. Here's a map showing the line I drove way back in May of 2007 (first time out with PerformanceBox) as compared with my Feb 2009 track day:

Even though the track isn't the same as before, it's illustrative to show the lap comparison graph. Certainly the line from Turns 1 through 6 are pretty much the same, and you can get a sense of how much more speed I'm carrying (red line is Feb 2009 track day and blue is for May 2007):

It surprises me how much I've developed as a driver (and car development too, of course). My speed into Turn 1 has increased by 10 MPH!!! and I'm braking later and harder. The entire time through the twisties (T2-T6) is faster than I used to be and in fact, except for T7 (due to layout changes) I'm faster just about everywhere. While it looks like I'm slower in T12, I think it's really because the new track is slightly longer than it used to be with T7 changes so the graph doesn't really line up right. I think the slowest point for both red and blue should be about the same point on the track. So I'm now about 3-4 MPH faster in T12 as well.

The laptimes show the story as well. Back in May 2007 I ran 1:43.6 whereas Feb 2009 I ran 1:37.4. This is 6.2 seconds! Of course, if I had data from my very first track day in Feb of 2007, it would be even more dramatic!

It's been fun so far, and I hope to just continue with my progress. I am thinking that I'll be moving up to advanced rungroup during this year -- I'll run some intermediate sessions first to see. In terms of lap times, I really don't have an idea of what I can achieve -- I know some areas I need to improve (e.g., braking into T1 and T7, carrying more speed into T10, etc.) but I don't know how to correlate that to time on the clock. I'm hoping to see the same sort of improvement on my race tires as I've seen lately on my street tires -- if so, then maybe I'll see 1:33s sometime this year. We'll just have to see how well my prediction works out.

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