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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
POINTS EVENT 1, May 9th.

Weather forecast was for 100% rain, and it did not disappoint. Rain was falling when I crawled out of bed at 6:00 am, and was still coming down when I arrived at the new facility at 7:30. Air was a chilly 43°, and the high winds were not helping.

The 99 Cougar track build was still not race-ready, so I would be mitigating my points deficit by entering in my 2013 Focus ST. I'd never had the car on a course before, despite owning it for over 4 years now. It was a tossup between the Focus, the Cooper S and the Bullitt. The Cooper S had the better-suited tire for today (Michelin Pilot Sport AS/3), but its open differential meant that it would be spinning more than turning. The Bullitt would have been an OK choice, but high power on slippery pavement is always a recipe for disaster. So the Focus, on Sumitomo summer tires, with it's electronic torque-vectoring got the nod. If I'd have thought about it for 10 minutes, I'd have swapped on the winter wheels with the Continental all-season tires, but ... shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I worked Tech Inspection that morning, so fortunately I didn't have to stand out on course and call cones. This was the best possible choice for today - and probably every day. I sat in the idling Focus with the heater blasting all morning once Tech was closed.

XS cars were scheduled to run in Heat 2, so I parked in a spot where I could watch Heat 1, which was mostly Street Touring class, which had nearly 30 entries. Heat 1 got in a couple of timed runs, then the skies really opened up. This caused the timing equipment to malfunction, since it's based on a beam of light, and doesn't respond well to rainfall of that magnitude. Then the thunderstorm hit...

Everyone was pulled off the course and back to the paddock, and we waited a while to see if the weather would subside. It didn't really. So the decision was made to dimantle the timing equipment, award no points, but leave the course set up for "fun runs" for anyone who wanted to stick around and shake off the rust. Which was me.

So I finally got to feel out the Focus ST in anger, although it was hairy, being so wet. Regardless, the car is a real riot in that situation. Turn-in is the best I've ever experienced, and the car wants to rotate - but not to spin. It's really eager to get you through a corner. I pushed a little harder in subsequent runs and got to the point where I was needing to counter-steer a little from time to time; it was a real treat. If anything catastrophic ever happens to the Cougar's powertrain, I'll campaign that car in G-Street for a year. It was that much fun.

Forgot my suction cup mount, so I had to resort to helmet-cam; here's the last run of the day:


Event 2 is May 30th. I fully plan to have the Cougar ready to rip by then; hopefully I'll have legal license plates by that time. Rumor is that we'll be running the same course design, since this one didn't get its fair share of action.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
POINTS EVENT 2, May 30th.

Another cool day, starting out at around 50°. Ended up around 66° by the time my run group took to the track, with some sun, so conditions were pretty great.

We had over 120 pre-registered cars this weekend, which is 50% more than most events last season. So there were 3 run groups to divide everyone into equal-ish parts. My class was in the final run group later in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to wrench on things and prep, as well as watch the other classes for potential gotchas.

There were 13 cars registered in the XS group; 12 of them were in attendance. I was uncertain how I might finish, as some of the drivers were new to me, as was my own car. So I was hoping for a good solid third today. Judging from the run groups ahead of me, I estimated I would end up comfortably in the 37.xx range, and possibly dip into the 36's if things were going well.

Here's the car in the paddock; that's my friend Pete's Sentra next to me; it usually gives me a good run, and I never know which one of us will end up ahead.

81695


Wrenching on things for a little while, I found that most all of the bolts on the ST200 brace were not tight; so that's where a lot of the rattling was coming from. Fixed all that. Mounted up the GoPro and got ready to get down to business.

I rolled out and banked a 37.203 right out of the gate, on cold tires. Was pretty excited for that, as I usually pick up a good second or more throughout the day, so I was looking forward to some low 36's.

(Morgan Freeman voice: "Little did he know, this would sadly be his fastest time of the day...")

A novice in an Evo came through with a 36.2, so I figured I'd have my hands full there. But he followed up with several 43.xx and 44.xx second runs throughout the rest of the afternoon, so a timing and scoring audit revealed the 36.2 was incorrect, so that turned out to NOT be a factor.

Pete's Sentra was hooked up pretty well today, but he only ended up with a 37.889 for his fastest run, slotting him into 4th overall.

Third went to a guy in an old Prelude who is often faster than me. Today he couldn't manage to catch up, and ended up with a 37.835.

I took second place, with follow-up runs of 37.548, 37.276, a really sloppy 37.692, 37.409 and 37.252. Relatively consistent throughout the afternoon.

Today's big spoiler was the 97 M3 a few cars down the row. His first shakedown run came in at 35.91, and he eventually banked a 35.170 - a humiliating number for me, to be sure.

DRIVING THE CAR:

Surprisingly, the balance was there. The rear DID NOT step out on me at all; it just rotated a little in hard cornering, which was a welcome change. Part of this could be due to the much smoother tarmac at Fortress compared to the pitted, rough surface of NTR in previous seasons; the grip was WAY more accessible here, thankfully.

The power was there, too, although this was no surprise - it's the same powertrain I've been using for 3 years now.

The exhaust system still needs work. The clearance to the subframe connectors is about 1cm, so every time the car's weight shifted through a transition, there was a loud BANG from under the car. I'll be looking into that before the next event. I may end up with that side-dump after all, if I can't come up with any other solutions.

VIDEO of my last run of the day:


You can see me throw up my hands in frustration at the end, as I couldn't believe that this run still wasn't as fast as my first shakedown, and I never got into the 36s.

OVERALL RESULTS:
  1. 1997 M3, 35.170
  2. 1999 Cougar, 37.203
  3. 1989 Prelude, 37.835
  4. 2003 Sentra, 37.889
  5. 1988 MR2, 37.809 (with XS-B PAX)
  6. 2004 Acura TL, 39.484
  7. 2015 Scion FR-S, 39.788
  8. 2017 MX5 RF, 39.639 (with XS-B PAX)
  9. 2010 370Z, 42.030
  10. 2003 WRX, 42.326
  11. 2018 Camaro 1LE, 43.217
  12. 2012 Evo X, 43.791
FINAL STANDINGS:
41 of 126 Raw time
62 of 126 Indexed time

I finally finished faster than the guy in the 2008 Mustang GT who ALWAYS somehow puts down faster times than me, so that was nice.

Decent points in the bag today, although seriously down on the leader, so not a great haul as points totals are based on the percentage of the leader's time. So now I have a new target to shoot for - we'll see how this season shakes out.

Several photographers in attendance today, so I hope to get some good action shots. I'll add them in here as I find them.

Edit: photos starting to show up -

 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some more photos just landed -

81719


81720


I think the car might be a little too raked; I might try dropping the rear another inch or so and see what happens. It seems a little uneasy in the slaloms, like it will spin if I push it much harder. I'm wondering if a lower rear ride height might shore it up a little.

IT'S ON THE LIST.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm having a hard time accepting it's not green still.
That reminds me, I need to update my sig...

any rubbing on the front?
Zero rubbing on the front, oddly - it looks REALLY close in the photos. The only rubbing I found was on the parking brake cable, so I just need to tie that back away from the tire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks like it is indeed lifting the inside rear tire a little. This was the hardest hairpin on the track:

81724
 

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Was the rear sway bar connected?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

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Looking at that last photo, it's hard to believe the front isn't rubbing the fender. The rear wheel fills that well, another inch though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looking at that last photo, it's hard to believe the front isn't rubbing the fender. The rear wheel fills that well, another inch though.
Indeed; I'm going to have to go have a look at the inner fenders once the rain lets up just to be sure. I didn't see or hear anything on course though, so I think I'm probably in the clear. If not, a mild pull should be all those guys need to be safe & sound.

I also still have in my back pocket the 650# Eibach setup from the previous coilovers; that would allow me to raise the fronts up a little more, too. These D2 springs are pretty close to maxxed out, as far as ride height goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Checked the fender liners and everything is clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
More shots from last week, picking up the inside right a little -



 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
POINTS EVENT 3, June 13.




It was a HOT ONE. Temps in the 80's already at 8am, and on to a high in the mid-90's.

Just over 100 pre-registered cars this weekend, in 2 run groups. The schedule was to run 2 heats in the morning, then break for lunch, then 2 more heats in the afternoon. My class was scheduled to run in session 2 and 3, immediately before and after the break.

There were 14 cars registered in the XS group; 13 of them were in attendance. Again I was uncertain how I might finish, as some of the drivers were unknown to me. I got soundly spanked by a 90's M3 last time, and another DIFFERENT 90s M3 was registered today, so I considered that as trouble.

The course was tricky; there was a crossover element right off the start, and lots of people were missing it and putting in DNFs, even some seasoned veterans, so I made a mental note to make that my 100% focus immediately. I knew if I got through it cleanly the first time, I'd be OK for the rest of the day.

I banked a 37.533 right out of the gate which was respectable based on the times I was seeing in the morning session. That put me in the lead after the first round - the closest competitor being the '91 M3 with a 38.365. But I knew that car had a lot more in it. And that '89 Prelude was always there as well as Pete's Spec V.

I cleaned it up for my second run and picked up 2 tenths, 37.323, then promptly managed to overdrive the living daylights out of it for run 3, and lost 4 tenths, 37.728, but was still holding onto the lead. Pete sent it in the Sentra for a 38.295, pushing him into second.

The '91 M3 went out for his third run and tragically managed to oil down the track, stopping everything dead for almost an hour while the course workers got busy drying up the mess. Fortunately for me, no more threat there, as he was done for the day. I don't know if he would have been able to find another full second, but I'm relieved I don't have to wait and see. Tragic, as the car was an absolute immaculate Brilliant Red show piece, and it was very well-driven; a real joy to watch on course.




Due to the long delay, the scorching temps, and the timing issues off and on throughout the morning, the chairs decided to end the points event after 4 runs. I banked my final run of the day at 37.360, almost but not quite beating my previous best.

DRIVING NOTES:

I went in with a little lower tire pressures today. I started out with 36f 34r, down from my usual 39f 36r. I also dialed the front dampers down to about half the normal stiffness, which didn't seem to affect the handling adversely at all - and as a bonus, made the car a lot less brain-rattling to drive in general. The tires felt a little squirmy at first, but showed no signs of rolling over, so I'm sticking with it for the time being. The Bridgestones started getting really greasy in run #3, so I had to spray them down before run 4. They sure don't like the heat.

VIDEO of my fastest run of the day, with questionable GoPro GPS overlays. The mic really accentuates where I chicken out on the throttle:


Very close to hitting the limiter on the back stretch, at an indicated 54 MPH, so that was probably relatively accurate.

OVERALL RESULTS:
  1. 1999 Cougar, 37.323
  2. 2003 Nissan Sentra, 37.783
  3. 1989 Honda Prelude, 37.858
  4. 1991 BMW M3, 38.365 (XS-B)
  5. 2017 Mazda MX5 RF, 38.781 (XS-B)
  6. 2004 Acura TL, 39.544
  7. 2015 Scion FR-S, 39.770
  8. 1999 Honda Civic, 40.219 (XS-B)
  9. 2003 Nissan 350Z, 41.372
  10. 2016 Fiesta ST, 40.812 (XS-B)
  11. 2010 Nissan 370Z, 41.663
  12. 2003 Subaru WRX, 42.544
  13. 1994 Mazda Miata, 46.302
NOTES:
XS-B cars are the light-weights of the class, below the minimum 2500# weight limit for XS-A. As such, they have a more severe PAX handicap and have to work harder for positions. Note the Fiesta ST, who ran a faster time than the 350z ahead of it, but still placed lower in the list.

FINAL STANDINGS:
21st in raw time, 32 indexed.
104 registered, 96 recorded times.

Still waiting for official photos to be posted, but we had several photographers again, so those will be coming along too.

Next event on June 20th! No time to take a breather. Exhaust system wasn't as noisy this time, but it was still banging around a little. Hoping to be able to clearance some things this week and relieve that a little. Also still waiting for my wheel spacers on. back-order, so maybe I'll have those before then. 2 events now trying to get my GoPro to interface with Track Addict, and it's not happening. Haven't had a chance to troubleshoot or comb through online community discussion for that yet, but I'd love to get to the bottom of it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I've never really had any issues with coolant temps since I replaced the water pump. There was a time a few years back when it would get hot in traffic on hot days and creep up over halfway on the gauge, but with a new WP I haven't seen that happen in quite a while. And I sat in Grid at idle for a LONG TIME this past weekend.

SVT radiator, basic stock water pump. Maybe you have some air in the system somewhere?

EDIT: 225 isn't that bad; that's the high end of normal. In fact, my high-speed cooling fan doesn't even kick in until 226 on the dash. If you're hitting 230 or more, then that's a problem. The boiling is an issue though, so maybe your coolant-to-water ratio is off, or maybe there's still air in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
ALSO - if you want to register for OVR's points event #7, you have to look at my old car, LOL

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
POINTS EVENT 4, June 20

Another hot day; indicated 89° in the car on grid. I had rotated the tires, and raised the front suspension by another half-inch or so earlier in the week to see how that would affect things. Damper settings same as last week: full soft in the rear and halfway in the middle for the fronts. Cold tire pressures 38 front, 33 rear.

78 drivers on the books today, down a little from before but still good numbers.

10 cars registered in XS, one no-show, so 9 drivers of record. A couple of wild cards - an old 90's Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS 2-door with an STi swap, and the 97 M3 from a few weeks ago.

Really excellent, fast course layout with one crossover element again - it seems that those are necessary to make the most of the smaller space we're in this year.

I was spectating for heat 1, so I could watch the lines and see how the morning times were looking. Judging from the times on the board, I estimated I would end up comfortably in the mid-35.xx range, and maybe dip into the 34's if things were going well.

First pass was better than I expected - 35.251 fresh out of the gate. I was determined to NOT let that be my fastest time of the day, like the pattern has been all season thus far. Matt in the M3 casually tossed out a 34.0 on his first exploratory run, so it looks like it's going to be one of those days. After first runs I was solidly in second, though. Tires were HOT; the entire grid was spraying them down between runs.

Pushed a little harder next run and over-estimated a chicane, losing a few tenths for a 35.475. Sorted that for the final run of the morning session and came across at 35.094. I could taste that 34.

Next heat was immediately after lunch break. The tires had time to "cool" for a while, and run 4 finally yielded that magic number: 34.964. With that I had landed in the top 20 overall, but I and the MX-5 ahead of me kept trading spots, so I needed to go faster. I followed up with a 35.035, and had a sudden realization about where I was losing time. I had been so focused on carrying as much speed as possible in the fast sections, I was doing the classic "fast-in, slow-out" method in the hairpins, and that wasn't going to work here. So I made a mental determination to get on the brakes a little sooner and see how things progressed. So my next run came in at 34.999, and the final run of the day tripped the lights at 34.846 - a personal best on the day.

The SD card in the GoPro decided it wasn't going to work anymore after run 6; I suspect it was due to heat. So I didn't get the fastest time on video. So here's my second-fastest pass from run #4. I'm getting really sloppy with my hands on these short courses, so that's something else I'm going to have to work on:


DRIVING NOTES:

Still a little banging from the exhaust system, but it's not so alarming anymore. I can live with it for now.

OVERALL RESULTS:
  1. 1997 M3, 33.386
  2. 1999 Cougar, 34.846
  3. 2017 Nissan Sentra, 35.647
  4. 2017 Mazda MX5 RF, 35.293 (XS-B)
  5. 1998 Toyota MR2, 335.543 (XS-B)
  6. 2004 Acura TL, 37.055
  7. 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, 37.233 (XS-B)
  8. 2010 Honda Accord, 38.759
  9. 2003 Nissan 350Z, 41.372
FINAL STANDINGS:
20th in raw time, 42nd indexed.
We have several WILDLY fast GS and HS drivers that are ostensibly unbeatable on Index times, but this one was especially bad. Was happy to end up in the top 20 raw though.
82 drivers registered, 78 recorded times.

No official photos yet, hope to see some soon.

Double-header next weekend - Saturday AND Sunday. Should be grueling. The wheel spacers have shipped, so they will arrive this week.

GoPro update - as far as I can tell, the newer GoPros don't play nice with other people's software; heck, they don't play nice with their own software. So no OBD overlays for me unless either A: I pick up an older GoPro for that, or B: GoPro gets its act together and updates things. Frustrating.
 
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