In November 2007, my first trip to Laguna Seca Raceway didn’t quite go as planned. Since that time, I thought the place owed me one until I could make my return. I say the place owed me because my mistake of running over the Turn 6 apex marker like many others didn’t seem that egregious. A mid-January discovery of an open track day on February 25th with the Green Flag Driving Association (through MotorsportReg.com) paved the way for that return.
The weekend before the track day, I got a new set of Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires (P225/45R17 90W) (nuts…the Tire Rack has a $50 rebate on these right now until March 31st if you buy a set of four) mounted and balanced. Before putting the new shoes on, I changed the front and rear brake pads from the EBC Red Stuff Ceramic pads to Ferodo DS2500s. I didn’t change the rotors because I just replaced them the previous month with the EBC pads. And thanks to the Motive Products hydraulic brake and clutch pressure bleeder I got from RallySportDirect.com, I was able to bleed brake fluid by myself for the first time using a fresh 500 mL bottle of MOTUL RBF 600 high temp fluid.
After unpacking the car, adjusting the Koni strut inserts to nearly full stiff in the front and 1/2 stiff in rear (the latter required the removal of the rear seat (six 12mm bolts) to access the tops of the rear struts), mounting a video camera to the rear windshield, and slapping on some magnetic numbers purchased from izoomgraphics.com onto the front doors, the car was ready to hit the track. I was assigned #16 because my last name was probably sixteenth on the alphabetical list of people registered for the intermediate group at the time the numbers were determined.
I naturally used the first session to get re-acquainted with the track. After three or four laps, I figured out the braking points and lines I wanted to use. As I approached Turn 6 for the first time, I felt a little apprehensive, but knew it was time to exact my revenge! I drove through and took a mental snapshot of the turn to refer to when approaching it every lap.
Above is the video I recorded in the first session. I spent much of the early part of it following a Nissan GT-R whose driver appeared to be learning the track. Later in the day (Session 7), I let him by to see how well (or poorly) I could keep up with him/the car. He checked out on me in about half a lap! The ‘Rex and I could hang with him in the turns but didn’t have the beans to remain in touch on the straights. At the six minute-mark, I let a Porsche 911 997 GT3 RS–just like Chris Walton’s favorite car–blow by me going up the Rahal Straight. Soon after, you’ll see me get mired behind the slowest S2000/driver combination ever (they make another appearance at the 21:00 mark, too)! I don’t know what was going on with them throughout the day. However, I will give the driver of the S2K (black helmet) credit for seeking instruction later in the day (evident when the car was on the track with two people with him riding shotgun). The only allowed passing zones for the beginner/intermediate group that day were the front straightaway, the stretch between Turns 4 and 5, and the Rahal Straight.
As the first session progressed, I felt the rear of the car was too soft. After the session was completed, I stiffened the rear Koni inserts and also reinstalled the rear seat bottom. Its absence explains the clicking and clacking heard in the video above when the seatbelts were moving around in the turns.
Session Two had the distinction of being the only beginner/intermediate session with an incident. A first generation Mazda Miata somehow found its way into the kitty litter (gravel trap) on the outside of Turn 11. To begin the session, I left the pits behind a Ford Mustang (A GT350 replica? Kurt or JDP can definitely enlighten me here.) that let me by at the end of the first green lap. Two laps later, the session was stopped to get the Miata out of the sandbox. Once its wheels were back on the tarmac, it was able to restart and return to the pits using its own power. After the session resumed, I had the sheer pleasure of catching and receiving a point-by from a (stock?) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR a little less than 10 minutes after I left the pits. Two of the faster cars I let by in the session were an ex-Bondurant school Ford Mustang (Cobra?) and a Porsche 911 (997 Carrera S?).
The third session began with me leaving the pits behind an older Porsche 911 (964? 930? Little help here?). I had even more fun chasing this car than reeling in and passing the Evo in the previous session! The fun lasted until the 8:30-mark when I got stuck behind a 996 Turbo Convertible. The person driving it was nice enough to let me by between Turns 4 and 5, but the other 911 had already checked out by then.
During this session, I determined the car was a little more squirrelly than I’d like when transitioning from an on-throttle state onto the binders. As a result, I softened both of the rear Konis a smidge after I had returned to the paddock.
The most enjoyable things I worked on over the course of the day were trail-braking and figuring out how to get through the Rainey Curve (Turn 9) well. I found I could work on the former most when braking for the Andretti Hairpin (Turn 2) and Turn 3. Almost every time I drove through Turn 9, I remembered Josh Jacquot’s advice not to lift when driving through it. Since I’m a) not as skilled as Josh and b) not driving whatever rocket ships he may have driven at Laguna Seca, I would usually go to a partial-throttle state when driving through the turn. For some odd reason, I seemed to feel more G-loading when driving through Turn 9 this time than my first track day at Laguna Seca. Because of that, I figured I consistently carried more speed through there.
Session Four provided me with the most clean laps out of all the sessions I drove that day. Because of that, I probably turned my fastest laps during it (no timing transponders were available for rental that day). I suppose I could extract each lap’s time from my recordings, but that would be inaccurate and take a long time. I’m guessing I turned faster laps compared to my first trip because of the upgraded suspension components (JDM STI springs and Koni strut inserts) I had this time. During this session, I also had the pleasure of feeling I had the car’s setup totally dialed in as it responded to all of my inputs in the way I hoped and expected.
The driver of the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi I caught and passed told me he had been experiencing brake fade the entire day. His car was also shod with Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires (although his tires were 245-width) and stopped by Ferodo DS2500 brake pads. My car was using the stock rotors whereas his car was equipped with DBA 5000 two-piece rotors. I think he was using the ATE Super Blue brake fluid.
The Direzza Sport Z1 tires held up great on the track. They didn’t seem to provide as much ultimate grip as the Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires, but definitely didn’t wear as much either (perhaps a visual confirmation of its 200 treadwear rating compared to the 180 rating of the RE-01R). Adhesion felt consistent throughout each session with no signs of becoming greasy or going “off.”
At the end of the fourth session, I heard a scraping sound coming from the rear. A closer inspection revealed that I had used up the left rear brake pads. Not wanting another track day at Laguna Seca to come to a premature end, I donned a pair of gloves and began one of the quickest brake pad changes I had ever performed. The change would’ve been even quicker if I didn’t have to be careful handling the hot pads’ backing plates. Now you may be wondering how I used up the rear pads before the fronts. The front brake pads were a new set of Ferodo DS2500 pads. The rears, however, were used for my track days at Buttonwillow Raceway and the Streets of Willow Springs in March and April 2008, respectively. I thought there was going to be enough pad material left to get me through the day. I obviously thought wrong.
The rear brake pad change was completed in about 40 minutes. I missed half of the fifth session, but was glad I could enjoy the rest of the track day. I didn’t bring any spare rotors with me to the track. But I didn’t care. I was determined to turn more laps even though the rotor had been warped and scored. The vibration produced by the rotor was quite significant, but braking effectiveness seemed largely unaffected.
Another issue that arose in the afternoon was the beginning of the demise of the tranny’s fourth gear synchro. With 108K (hard) miles under its belt, the transmission has served me well. Upshifts over 4,500 RPM from third gear to fourth gear began producing a light grind sometime during the fifth session. I began shifting more deliberately and making sure I was shifting “straight” and not “diagonally” to see if things would improve. They didn’t. (I got a quote of $1,200 for synchro replacement the next day. I’ll probably just live with this for the time being and try to drive more conservatively…at least in third gear anyway.)
Sessions Six and Seven were pretty much more of the same. Because only 30 cars registered for the event, the organizers thought it would be good to combine the beginner and intermediate groups. I was initially concerned when this was announced in the morning drivers’ meeting. An upside of the merge, however, was that everyone would get more track time. The original plan was to run five 25-minute sessions. The new plan allowed for six 25-minute sessions and one 15-minute session.
At the 11:20-mark in Session 7 (see video above), I let the Nissan GT-R by me on the Rahal Straight. Watch as it runs away from me by the end of the lap! Near the end of the session, I didn’t drive as well and started to get a little sloppy. After the session was done, I deemed myself fully satisfied with the day and felt exhausted. It had been a great day!
A full gallery of the day’s photos can be seen here:
The other videos from the day can be seen by viewing the “More From User” and/or “Related Videos” in Google Video.
That’s all for now (especially since the ‘Rex has an ailing tranny)! I would love to hear from others about their open track day experiences! Or if you’d like more info on tracking your own vehicle, I’d love to help!
On the night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 19, 2009), I drove over a piece of debris on the 10 East while I was passing through Downtown Los Angeles and approaching the East LA interchange. During my drive to work the next morning, I noticed a white 2005-2007 Subaru Outback 2.5i in the adjacent lane to my right slogging through traffic on the 60 West with me. A minute or two later, he honked his car’s horn to get my attention. I put the right front window down for him to tell me the right rear tire was flat.
Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.
This notice completely surprised me because I did a quick walkaround (with a flashlight) when I got home the previous night looking for damage. That “inspection” was prompted by a loud bang I heard from the left front when I ran over the debris (remains from an accident?). I was really surprised the right rear tire had been affected.
As displayed above, the right rear tire’s sidewall had been slashed. By the time I pulled the car off the freeway and stopped, the air pressure reading I took showed 0 psi. I was impressed with how well the tire’s sidewall supported the weight of the corner and prevented the car from riding on the wheel/rim. Also surprising was the fact that I didn’t perceive that the tire was low. After stopping the car in a Jack-In-the-Box parking lot, I took out the 12V comprossor than came with the emergency kit I bought a while ago from the Tire Rack. Minutes later the tire was now at 37-38 psi. With air in the tire, I completed my morning commute to work. I measured the tire pressure again when I got to work and saw that it was still around 37 psi.
I decided to take the car to Stokes Tire Pros. during my lunch break for a closer inspection. There, a technician noticed the gash in the tire’s sidewall. Jack presented me with my options and I drove back to the office. My plan was to order a replacement BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S tire (P215/45R17) from the Tire Rack (I only needed one because the left rear tire was still relatively new) and have it drop-shipped to Stokes. While waiting the two days for the new tire to arrive from the Tire Rack’s distribution center in Reno, Nevada, I thought it’d be okay to use my full-size spare tire.
The gash in the sidewall was amazing in the sense that it usually remained closed which allowed the tire to retain its air. The tire didn’t lose any air over the course of my trip home! I swapped my full-size spare tire, an old Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position P215/45R17, with the right front tire and moved the right front to the right rear. Why didn’t I simply put the spare on the right rear corner? As a former summer/track tire,I knew the spare had a lot of wear on it (I prayed it wouldn’t rain) and thus, wouldn’t have a circumference similar to the left rear tire’s. Having different circumference tires on the rear corners could potentially overwork and damage the rear (limited-slip) differential.
The next morning, I snapped some shots of my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Hybrid. j/k Doesn’t the car look amazing with mismatched wheels? The replacement tire arrived around Noon on January 22nd. I went to Stokes shortly thereafter and had them replace the tire that afternoon.
In 9-1/2 years of driving, I had never lost a tire to a nail, screw, or other road hazard. It was that thinking that led me to think I would be okay without the Road Hazard warranty the Tire Rack offers. Now I’d think twice before passing up on the warranty again for my next set of street (read: primary use) tires. On one hand, it’d be great to have that protection and peace of mind. On the other hand, the coverage isn’t worth it if it’ll be another long time until I need to replace a tire or tires due to unforeseen circumstances.
Saturday, January 3, 2009 marked five years of life together with my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan, a.k.a. Devoted Dan. After 104,000 miles, it continues to run well and provide smiles per mile. Below is a brief rundown of our time together.
January 3 – Took delivery from Frank’s Irvine Subaru in Lake Forest
March – Installed 17-inch Prodrive P1 wheels (made by O.Z. Racing) with Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position tires (P215/45R17)
May – Cleared headlights
November – Installed Prodrive round tip axleback exhaust/muffler
January – Retrofitted Subaru 4-pot/2-pot brakes, installed Prodrive springs, Group N STI strut tops, and Goodridge stainless steel brake lines
March – Participated in my first track day on the infield road course of California Speedway
April – Flashed the engine ECU with a COBB AccessPort Stage 1 map
September – Participated in a track day at the Streets of Willow Springs
December – Installed fender sidemarkers and 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rear diffuser
January – Participated in a track day at Buttonwillow Raceway, obtained 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX stock wheels and tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE92 -P215/45R17)
May – Participated in another track day at Buttonwillow Raceway
April – Returned to Buttonwillow Raceway
November – Participated in a track day at Laguna Seca Raceway
December – Installed Koni strut inserts and Japanese domestic market (JDM) STI springs
March – Ran at Buttonwillow Raceway again
April – Ran at the Streets of Willow Springs again
February – Already registered to return to Laguna Seca Raceway
Happy New Year! See you later! :o)
On Wednesday, October 22, 2008, Devoted Dan hit 100,000 miles! :o) Since January 3, 2004, he’s definitely done a terrific job earning his keep. I’ve subjected him to eight track days, on and off road escapades, and the rigors of a daily commute in Southern California.
But has he really hit the 100,000-mile mark? The car came equipped from the factory with Bridgestone Potenza RE92 tires with a size of P205/55R16. Properly inflated, those tires require 830 revolutions to travel a mile. Much of the car’s street miles, however, have been on Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position (P215/45R17), Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R (P225/45R17), and Bridgestone Potenza RE92 (P215/45R17) tires.
Here are the number of revolutions each of these tires must turn to travel a mile:
- Bridgestone Potenza RE92 (P215/45R17) – 847, 2% inflation over stock
- Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position (P215/45R17) – 847, same as above
- Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R (P225/45R17) – 833, 0.36% inflation over stock
Multiplied over “100,000 miles,” one can figure out that Devoted Dan has probably only traveled ~98,000 miles. For you automobile enthusiasts whose vehicles are no longer on the factory-supplied shoes, the same circumstance probably applies to you.
With “100,000” in the book, here’s to many more miles and more importantly, many more good times! :o)
Am I the only one who has noticed how similar these two commercials are?
Bridgestone 2008 Super Bowl commercial
Budweiser 1999 “True” commercial
I guess AdWeek noticed it back in February 2008 after the big game.
Lippert Rates the Super Bowl Spots
It’s time again to give thanks to the Lord, our God and King…His love endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34,41; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 2 Chronicles 7:3,6; 2 Chronicles 20:21; Ezra 3:11; Psalm 100:5, Psalm 106:1; Psalm 107:1; and more)!
Softball – Team Edmunds co-ed softball team (now 6-3) won their fourth straight game on Monday night 17-14 over the top team in the league (7-2) in eight innings (one extra inning). I went 1-for-4 (pop up to the pitcher, line single between the first and second basemen (sure felt nice to rope), groundout to the pitcher, and reached on an error on a hard groundball I hit back to the pitcher) with 2 runs scored. The error I reached on occured as I led off the top of the 8th inning. We had a 12-10 lead going into the bottom of the 7th, but were unable to hold the home team to less than two runs as the balls they hit seemed to find all the holes. It was a good, fun game. The only bad thing that happened was I didn’t have to slide at all and get dirty. This team was the team I had my worst game ever against. They hold the tiebreaker over us as they beat us twice and lost to us once. I hadn’t joined the team yet the first time we played them. Any progress my injury made toward recovery was thrown away by playing and running the bases (and also basketball on Sunday nights). I probably won’t be 100% until a few weeks after the softball season is over (3 games remain in the season with playoff games afterward).
I had dinner with my wonderful, old (not in age…old in that I’ve known the person for almost nine years) friend, Talene Lee, tonight. It’s always nice to catch up with people you don’t regularly see!
I missed most of tonight’s (Tuesday night) 2007 MLB All-Star Game. Padre pitcher Jake Peavy pitched an okay, scoreless first inning for the National League team. Padre pitcher Chris Young was credited with the loss thanks to an amazing inside-the-ballpark 2-run home run by Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners. At least Padre pitcher Trevor Hoffman didn’t get rocked again this year.
Puttin’ on the
I threw some old shoes back on to Devoted Dan tonight. It took me about 90 minutes to do it all myself which wasn’t too bad. I then took him for a nice, “spirited” spin for about 20 minutes.
Why the change? I can’t totally tell you all why I did it yet. Let’s just say I felt I need to get a good feel for Dan’s capabilities again with “stock” all-season rubber (Bridgestone Potenza RE92 – 215/45R17…the tires that came off were Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R – 225/45R17 summer (read sticky/grippy) tires).
Here are a couple of hints:
Finally, Subaru has a new commercial that makes me want to drive! Off the top of my mind, Mazda, Audi, and BMW have awesome commercials that have been evoking this feeling in me for years.
I spy STI!
Here’s another treat for you all! The next-generation Subaru Impreza WRX STI has been spotted at the famed Nürburgring track in Germany. Click on the photo or the link below to watch an exclusive video at Edmunds.com Inside Line.
Article and video here: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/GeneralFuture/articleId=121620
Thou shalt not steal
Photo: ©2007 Dann Chen – Russell Martin gets “owned” breaking the eighth commandment in the 11th inning of the game played on June 30, 2007. As a result, the Padres won by scoring two runs in the top of the next inning off Brett Tomko and Trevor Hoffman shut the Dodgers down in the bottom frame to produce a 3-1 victory.
The Los Angeles Dodgers: Property of the San Diego Padres
The Pads lead this year’s series 7-5. Who wants to see the Swingin’ Friars rough up the (other) Blue Crew on Wednesday night, September 12, 2007? I’ll be there! Will you?