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Old 05-11-2012, 11:01 AM   #1
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First Race. How to Prepare Car.

It is not really a race, but it is close.

I am going to the Thunderbolt track in NJ next weekend. There will be an instructor with me in the car the entire time. It is an all day event. Maybe a total of 4 hours hard driving throughout the day.

I will basically be trying to keep up with an STI the whole time. As I catch up, the STI driver will speed up, until I get comfortable at very high speed turning and braking.

My car: 87,000 miles. 5 Speed Manual Transmission. It is due for a transmission oil change in 3000 miles. Engine oil is good. Just replaced engine and cabin air filter. I am replacing lower control arms and strut top bushings since they are bad. I am installing lowering springs and getting alignment. I just got new front tires and they are balanced. Rear tires are still good.

I am finishing up installing my exhaust system + test pipes today.

In addition, I plan to clean the leaves and sticks out of the radiator to try to prevent possible overheating. Coolant is full and only 4000 miles old.

My brakes and rotors are good. I might possibly swap in race pads from a Cayman S for the race If they fit. I got them for free.

Anything else I need to worry about? This is an event for novices where no passing is allowed.

Again, keep in mind that it will take me 1.5 hours to drive to the track, 4 hours of hard driving at the track. And then 1.5 hours driving back home. I really don't want a breakdown.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:55 PM   #2
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Don't scrimp, change the tranny oil now.
If you're past 70% on this engine oil change, I do that too. According to the experts (I'm not one), most failures happen on track toward the end of engine oil life.

And do your brake fluid too. Use a new color so you can easily see when the caliper is cleared of the old stuff. Your brakes take a beating, don't let the fluid ruin your day. It can boil quickly when old.

Take notes from your instructor and get video if you can.
You're gonna' have some fun! Enjoy


PS. And it's not even close to a race, it's driver education.
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:04 PM   #3
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Flush the brake fluid.

Check the power steering fluid before the event and during lunch the day of the event. Overheating of the PS pump is a classic failure, caused by puking of PS fluid during high rev operation.

This recommendation is controversial but overfill the oil by 1/2 quart. I did this with absolutely no adverse effects at my first and only DE. Oil starvation is a real problem with these cars, which can lead to catastrophic engine failure. What happens is the scavenge pumps in the heads can't get rid of all the oil that accumulates in them, especially on left hand turns after hard braking, and the result is the oil pickup tube sucks air. Worse case scenario with overfilling with oil is you will overwhelm the AOS and you willl blow a big plume of smoke. If that happens, then if it were me, I just would go home. But I'd rather have a plume of smoke than a blown motor.

When you get the checkered flag, put it in 4th gear and go to the pits very slowly, without using the brakes. When you get to the pits, DO NOT put the parking brake on because the PB pads with weld to the hot drum, and idle the car for about 5 minutes to let the oil drain back into the sump and to cool down the motor. This will help prevent smoking when you start the car again.

Aim for hot tire pressures in the middle 30's. Run even pressures front and rear, the recommended stagger of 7 PSI lower pressure in the front is to induce understeer, which is precisely what you DON'T want on the track.

Get everything out of the car, stuff will fly around at speed. Floor mats, everything in the trunk and frunk, but leave the spare, it will help in case of a front end crash.

Have fun. Its really awesome seeing how fast our cars can go around corners.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:47 PM   #4
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Fresh fluids, get lots of sleep the night before if you can. Drink water and pee between every session. Listen to and trust your instructor. Relax, breathe, and have fun!

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Last edited by Topless; 05-11-2012 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:51 PM   #5
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Don't worry too much about the car, even in pure stock form it can handle just about everything that the track can throw at it.

MOST IMPORTANT is to take time to remember that you're living the dream.
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Old 05-27-2012, 10:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topless View Post
Fresh fluids, get lots of sleep the night before if you can. Drink water and pee between every session. Listen to and trust your instructor. Relax, breathe, and have fun!

I drove my Boxster in stock form for 2 years before I built my race car.
Your car is WAY more capable than you are (no offense).
Like was stated above get a good nights sleep, drink lots of water, listen to your instructor and have fun

One of the biggest hurdles new students have is their failure to look way down the track. Many are so concerned at the immediate corner they literally look 20 feet in front of the car and fail to set up the corner properly. Instinctively your hands (and therefore your car) will follow your eyes so by looking further ahead you are subconciously giving your brian more time to analyze the upcomming events....
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:38 AM   #7
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FYI, I had my track day 2 weeks ago. It was amazing. My car did suprise me.

My instructor was telling me to turn sharper. I felt like I was turning as sharp as possible at 60mph without spinning out or losing control. He grabbed my steering wheel and forcefully turned it. No tire screeching. No loss of control. It took that turn like a champ.

I shaved off at least 33 seconds off my laptime from my first ever lap to my last recorded lap about 5 or 6 laps later. My camera ran out of memory. I had a few laps after my memory ran out so I assume I shaved off more time. Every lap was faster. Here is a video of the faster, last recorded laps if you have not seen it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHGHDFmS_Lg
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Last edited by ProjectM96; 05-29-2012 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:59 AM   #8
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He grabbed my steering wheel and forcefully turned it.
Wow. That is a fairly dangerous thing to do. Did he try to heel-and-toe for you too?

All joking aside, only one person should be driving the car at a time. Instead of grabbing your steering wheel, he should have either taken you out for a ride along to demonstrate early turn-in techniques OR coached you from the passenger seat to learn to do it yourself.
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