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Old 12-28-2010, 10:40 PM   #1
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Default Track noob trying to get more serious.

This is more of a when/what to upgrade as you progress as a driver.

I've been trying to fight the urge to get my car to the track more, but i am loosing. I've decided that I want to make a serious effort to make this my hobby and get good at it. At this point my car is a DD with decent upgrades that make it a good jump point for a track car.

If I could use one word to describe my track skills, it would be "suck". Which means I do not need to run out and buy a OSG, xidas, etc.

With that background. I have the 1.8 brake upgrade. Revalved bilsteins on FM springs, FM sways, FCM NB mounts and bumpstops, frame rails, roll bar, door bars, RE-11 tires.

The last track event I was faster than the previous event, and a little more aggressive than I should have been at one point. (Picked rocks out of my car for days after being pulled out of a pit)

Maybe it's my age, but throughout the weekend as I became faster; I was very aware of how vulnerable I was in my car. No top, stock seats, and stock belts. It felt like death could be waiting for me at any corner. Not quite that bad, but you get the idea.

I have a rollbar with door bars. I now have a hardtop, and before my next event I will have race seats and 6-point harnesses for both occupants. I think safety equipment will do worlds for my confidence. I'm not ready to commit to a full cage. I'd like to hear from people that aren't running cages, and how competitive they feel that they are.

How does everyone gauge how "good" they are, or when they have reached the limit of a setup? Is it as simple as lap times decrease and then start leveling off?

If the above is the criteria, then what would be recommended as a beginners lap timer?

Are FM spring rates ok to begin with on the track, or is this just plain inadequate if you want to approach this sport seriously?

IF YOU SKIPPED TO THIS POINT please provide input on the following.

Prep for my next track event will be:

1) safety equipment: seats and harnesses(safety and confidence that i won't die)
2) brake pads (never again will I remove hawk blacks and use axxis ultimates)
3) Some kind of lap timing device ( I think you can get the trackmasters software for the google phones)
4) suspension: keep what I have for now, or get new springs(700/400) and revalve my bisteins

As skill level increases, what order would you upgrade a car? i.e. brakes, suspension, diff, weight reduction, rollcage, etc?

When did most of you make the decision to run a full cage?

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:47 PM   #2
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You are running Inconel studs correct?
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:51 PM   #3
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Its fine to track right now but you might be hurting yourself with that much power to weight and being a newb. I like it when newbs start out in 100whp cars that handle ace. It teaches them how important corner entry, speed, and exit are. I would turn that boost way down to like 8psi? 200whp, grab some agressive street tires (RS3, re11, mx, etc), and get a traqmate with video.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:05 PM   #4
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You are running Inconel studs correct?
Not at the moment. I didn't think I was running hard enough. Then again, I guess it would be nice to have it before **** started breaking.

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I like it when newbs start out in 100whp cars that handle ace. It teaches them how important corner entry, speed, and exit are. I would turn that boost way down to like 8psi? 200whp
That would be easy enough with a new WG can.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:30 PM   #5
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Not at the moment. I didn't think I was running hard enough. Then again, I guess it would be nice to have it before **** started breaking.
I don't know how hard you are running, but knowing that you could blow a weekend because you just passed that point would suck. I would drop the $150 on the TSE studs and just be done with it.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:34 PM   #6
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+1, do it before you mess up the threads in the current manifold. Way easier to fix it now vs. when it actually breaks.

I'll post more about driver skill and such after dinner.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:14 AM   #7
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The last track event I was faster than the previous event, and a little more aggressive than I should have been at one point. (Picked rocks out of my car for days after being pulled out of a pit)
Hehe - as deep as you stuck it in at #1, I'm suprised you're not still finding a pebble or two! In your defense, the slow-*** maserati forced you to brake where you really don't want to! So I take it you'll be coming on down more often or traveling to RA and AMP with us? I don't need to tell you anything - other than buy a Hans -

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Old 12-29-2010, 12:45 AM   #8
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I don't need to tell you anything - other than buy a Hanz -
At what level should someone consider a Hans? Is it just as important as a rollbar? I've never actually seen any weekend warrior use one around here.

I'm also at the crossroad where I want to take my car off the street and get the full vband setup. My exhaust took a major beating at my last event with 3 broken turbo studs, ruined rotors, seized caliper.
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:46 AM   #9
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Basically in the same boat, Subscribed for info and opinions.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:11 AM   #10
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Basically in the same boat, Subscribed for info and opinions.
+1. Looking to get into that boat next season. No turbo but have the rollbar and looking at a Kirkey racing seat and a spare set of wheels for some r-compound rubber.

Thomas
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:14 AM   #11
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When you trust the car, you will go faster. Trusting every part of the car is no small feat either when you consider that very few of us are engineers or have any experience building racecars. Buy the biggest brakes you can fit because when that pedal is rock hard on every corner, every lap, you will go faster.

The seat and harness will make you feel better, be safer, and go faster. Sadly, the Xida will make it easier to drive the car and tighten up the connection between the brain and the car...you can think it and the car does it. I don't have a cage either and there are moments where I consider my mortality. As long as I can calculate the entry and exit to be neat and tidy, I still push it...but I only push it after considering the exit plan if everything goes to ****. I found myself rehearsing run-off strategies in a few places at Hallett because I was starting to scare myself there. If you don't have a cage I recommend you take the time to plan you run-off scenarios, rehearse them in your head, and know WHEN to go "both feet in." There comes a point where you gotta kill the tires to keep the body straight

I don't really care about "how good I am" I'm chasing lap times and my goal to have the fastest Miata on the board. However as long as I go faster than the SM record, run hard with the AI guys, or outrun the spec Boxsters, I'm happy. Even if I go slower then I should, I still had a damn fun day every time. It's so much fun when the car is reliable.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:27 AM   #12
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Being 22, I have no sense of my own mortality, so I can't really comment on the safety gear. Keep buying it until you feel safe. I've got a halo seat, HANS, 6-points, full cage, etc. because I know I should have all that stuff. Minimum is what the Rental car currently has - 4pt half cage, seats, 6pt belts. Since we are going to add 30whp to that car next year, it's also getting the rest of the cage put in. If you feel vulnerable or unsafe in the car, add safety gear until you don't feel that way anymore.

Use SM records to figure out how fast you should be. Driver training and coaching is huge - once you're comfortable with the car and sliding it around a bit, hire a coach to show you where to find the last couple of seconds.

Last thing is track time - get a lot of it. I've been racing or tracking cars and karts on a regular basis since I turned 15. If you don't drive the car, you'll never know where you (or the car) needs to improve.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:39 AM   #13
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First off beginners should NEVER be on r-comps. You will learn bad habbits.

Second DO not buy a hans if you dont have a seat and harness.

Third NO beginners should be chasing times. There is a reason that NASA does not allow transponder use in HPDE 1.

OP your car is overly set up for what I like to see beginners in. Simply, if you can drive the tires off a minimally modded car and then start adding parts. You will understand what each part does for the car and how it affects it. you will also be a better driver in the long run.

I think the first thing any beginner who is interested in doing track days should do is get some good brakes, fluid and lines, tires (again NO r-comps), and an alignment.

Safty is right up there and should be first, but I am assuming that has been taken into account. If it hasent then I would not want to be out on track with that person.

Have a great day,
Jared
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:26 AM   #14
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I don't need to tell you anything - other than buy a Hans -
At what level should someone consider a Hans? Is it just as important as a rollbar? I've never actually seen any weekend warrior use one around here.
Well, as ^^ mentioned, a Hans is useless (dangerous) w/out a harness - but if OP is running aorund here, he'll HAVE to have a fully prepped car built to the level of a SM - excpet if he runs with Chin - which is only once a year here. All the other clubs won't let you run otherwise basically.
I've got 3 girls under the age of 7 and I'm 37 - so my mortality and safety is important - the Hans is just another insurance policy incase the bad happens, which will happen eventually if I stay in the game. Hell, even a Hans won't propect from a side impact - hence why I'm eyeballing seats with a halo. Couple years ago there was a SM racer that broke a couple vertebrea in his neck from a side impact at T1 road atlanta, and he had a Hans, no halo.
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:41 AM   #15
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I don't really care about "how good I am" I'm chasing lap times and my goal to have the fastest Miata on the board. However as long as I go faster than the SM record, run hard with the AI guys, or outrun the spec Boxsters, I'm happy. Even if I go slower then I should, I still had a damn fun day every time. It's so much fun when the car is reliable.
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Use SM records to figure out how fast you should be. Driver training and coaching is huge - once you're comfortable with the car and sliding it around a bit, hire a coach to show you where to find the last couple of seconds.
This is what I would use. Alternatively, if you run at the same track often, you will learn to get a feel for quick times that will help you set a goal.


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Third NO beginners should be chasing times. There is a reason that NASA does not allow transponder use in HPDE 1.
Can you expound on this? I am sure there is some logic behind it, but at first blush, it sounds like playing t-ball and not keeping score.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:13 AM   #16
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Well, as ^^ mentioned, a Hans is useless (dangerous) w/out a harness - but if OP is running aorund here, he'll HAVE to have a fully prepped car built to the level of a SM - excpet if he runs with Chin - which is only once a year here. All the other clubs won't let you run otherwise basically.
I've got 3 girls under the age of 7 and I'm 37 - so my mortality and safety is important - the Hans is just another insurance policy incase the bad happens, which will happen eventually if I stay in the game. Hell, even a Hans won't propect from a side impact - hence why I'm eyeballing seats with a halo. Couple years ago there was a SM racer that broke a couple vertebrea in his neck from a side impact at T1 road atlanta, and he had a Hans, no halo.
If you're going wheel-to-wheel then I agree, but not if you're running TT. Bad **** can happen on the street that will kill you too. I suppose I have a different mentality that keeps me in check making me comfortable running without the cage. I don't want to add aero without the cage, but I'm fine where the car is. Something bad where you need the HANS won't "eventually happen" if you keep your head right. When I find myself in situations I don't like, I give "them" space and go away from them. I'm not going to cut a lap if I'm running a defense line or dive bombing, so I let them go.

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Can you expound on this? I am sure there is some logic behind it, but at first blush, it sounds like playing t-ball and not keeping score.
Tracks don't let "kids" run transponders in HPDE because they're worried they will "get in over their head" and push the effort past the talent level.

I rarely put all-4 off or loop the car, but I drop a couple wheels on occasion; little steps will get you to the lap records, and get you home. Of course we've all had a few big offs, and when it's too hot I acknowledge it, then commit to going off in a straight line, under control. I firmly believe that people who say, "You have to be able to push the car off a cliff (risk wrecking) to go 10/10," are reckless idiots and I want them nowhere around me.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:16 AM   #17
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OP your car is overly set up for what I like to see beginners in. Simply, if you can drive the tires off a minimally modded car and then start adding parts. You will understand what each part does for the car and how it affects it. you will also be a better driver in the long run.
Without a doubt, this is correct. If I were to do it all over again, I would start with an NA. However, I didn't originally build the car for this, so this is my jumping point.

I think I will keep it detuned for a little while. No point in having all the power if I can't turn a respectable laptime with 200HP nevermind 280HP.

Big brakes would be nice, but it won't be in the budget this year.

Is nailing down corner entry speed something that comes with time at each track, or do you guys pretty much know how fast you can enter a corner on a track you have never driven? Are you looking at entry mph, or just feeling the car. If it feels good, then try a little faster?

Braking: My first track event i was told not to break while turning. I'd get on quick and hard, lift, then turn in. My next track event i was told I need to start break through the turn. What approach to this question are you all using?
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:48 AM   #18
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Is nailing down corner entry speed something that comes with time at each track, or do you guys pretty much know how fast you can enter a corner on a track you have never driven? Are you looking at entry mph, or just feeling the car. If it feels good, then try a little faster?
Each corner or series is unique to every track in the world. I've made up a lot of time by turning-in earlier than most recommend, as long as my apex speed is there and I use all of the track on exit. I feel the car and use every inch up to the curb. When you have a depowered rack, poly bushings, 225's on a 9", metal upper and lower shock mounts, and an aluminum seat with very little padding you get phenomenal feedback from the car...you can feel the slip angle in the weight of the wheel and the "roar" through the seat. I go very slowly on a track I've never driven for the first half of the day, pick off one or two corners at a time on different ends of the track. In "discovery" I take most turns 1-gear too high while I'm feeling it out because eventually I'll use that speed, need to turn the car more, or or need the torque to adjust the exit.

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Braking: My first track event i was told not to break while turning. I'd get on quick and hard, lift, then turn in. My next track event i was told I need to start break through the turn. What approach to this question are you all using?
Learning trail braking is scary, little steps are your friend.

"Getting on it hard" is bad word choice in my opinion, and why I switched compounds. I run a very-high friction pad so I can be very light on the pedal; I'm a toe-braker. Brake gently, progressively, and when you release the pedal the car will "release" cleaner and do what you intended.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:07 PM   #19
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"Getting on it hard" is bad word choice in my opinion, and why I switched compounds. I run a very-high friction pad so I can be very light on the pedal; I'm a toe-braker. Brake gently, progressively, and when you release the pedal the car will "release" cleaner and do what you intended.
You are right: I meant hat i don't get on the brakes and slowly scrub speed. I was on the gas as long as possible and then immediately scrub speed quickly with the brakes, off, brakes, then turn on. On/Off the brakes quickly is what I meant.

I was told that a pair of race shoes are great for learning brake pedal feel, so I was planning on picking up a pair.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:10 PM   #20
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You are right: I meant hat i don't get on the brakes and slowly scrub speed. I was on the gas as long as possible and then immediately scrub speed quickly with the brakes, off, brakes, then turn on. On/Off the brakes quickly is what I meant.

I was told that a pair of race shoes are great for learning brake pedal feel, so I was planning on picking up a pair.
You want one gentle pedal application increasing pressure progressively.

I like very thin shoes. You may also want to experiment with different compounds. Brake pad choice is typically a personal preference, my PFC-97, Hawk DTC-60, Hawk Blue, and Carbotech's felt wildly different.
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