Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Road America

Road America is one of those tracks that you've spent many years wishing to drive after getting many looks at it in video games like Forza. Finally, those laps materialized in real life and Road America did not disappoint. As one would notice in video games, the track is huge, what you don't get a feel for in the video games is that there are elevation changes at almost every corner. The track is exciting to drive without feeling or being dangerous. The track does demand a lot from brakes though and our car almost completely lost brakes going into Canada corner which is one of three stretches in the track where you to out 4th gear in our car near 130mph. All the excitement on track was meet with the realization that our journey was coming to an end, sadly this was our last track event. The good news though was that we had survived and due to EVO failures we would end up getting third in our class. Third place it's important because that means we get a little trophy to commemorate our trip. Not to bad for what amounts to an almost stock Lexus.

Video Update

Hastings PM:
Noriko Driving the Auto X at Hastings:
We forgot to run our cameras at Brainerd, but the filmcrew had theirs in the car so maybe we'll be able to get some video from them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Highs and Lows

The drive from Hastings to Brainerd Wednesday night was a long and tedious one. This was another 600 mile journey and most of it was through Minnesota on two lane highways with 55mph speed limits. Obviously we couldn't afford to drive 55mph the whole way so we traveled at a rate slightly greater than the posted speed limit. This led to encounters with local law enforcement. We were pulled over once but not ticketed, the officer seemed mostly curious about what we were doing. Later on down the road another officer flashed his lights at us, apparently requesting that we slow down a bit. We obliged and made it to Brainerd receiving any more attention of that kind. Near the end of the drive the car started making a really bad rattling noise.

When we arrived at the track the next morning the first order of business was to find the source of the rattle. After tearing apart the trunk we could see that the nut that affixes the shock shaft to the mount was no longer doing that. We re-installed it and carried on with the events for the day. 

Four different competitions were to take place at Brainerd. The first two were roadcourse time trials, one on the historic Donnybrook Circuit used for TransAm 40 years ago and the shorter course used for SCCA club racing to day. The long course was intimidating with two extremely high speed sweepers, think Daytona without the banking, they're supposed to be flat out well over 100mph. We weren't confident enough to enter at over 100mph. The shorter course was more suited two our car as it doesn't use the super long straight. Corner 1 was a lot of fun and people watching from the bridge cheered our car on as it slid sideways through the corner. This turned out to be one of our best placing road course events at 44.

The remaining competitions were low ET and Bracket racing drag competitions. Oddly we did better in the low ET than Bracket racing due to being unfamiliar with the operation of the Christmas Tree.

When it was time to leave Brainerd our car wouldn't start. We received help to push start the car and drove it to the local Napa hoping we could replace the battery and continue on. After replacing the battery the car still wouldn't start and the Napa people told us we could pick one up in Minneapolis which we would then have to figure out how to install in the morning at Road America. Just as we were about to leave a guy came by and said he could fix it down the road, it happens that they rebuild starters and alternators all day long. These guys were great and know their stuff, we were back on the road an hour later with a fully functioning car. If your starter is on the fritz don't buy a cheap reman, have these guys get the original fixed up and you'll be back on the road for another 160k mi and it may even cost less that the reman.


The trip out to Hastings from High Plains went smoothly but once again we got in pretty late due to the time change. We read on the drive that Hastings was designed by the same person that designed High Plains and were really excited to check it out. Unfortunately, the track was missing many of the elements that made High Plains so cool due to the flatness of the topography. Like many of the tracks this one had a lot of room for the more powerful cars to stretch their legs so we didn't end up to high in the rankings though we were able to improve in the afternoon. There was also an autoX hosted at Hastings and that went pretty well except for the Mustang which somehow managed to collide with a barrier. An interesting development unfolded at Hastings, one of the EVOs broke down in the afternoon, leaving us a shot for second place.

Videos to come.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Videos

We were able to set a bunch of video uploads into the queue last night.

Monday Hallet:
A very interesting track, lots of blind corners and elevation changes. Lots of excitement despite its small foot print.
Tuesday High Planes Raceway:
Awesome track, here's the morning video.
Back to the past a bit,Wet Skid Pad from Saturday:
1/8 Mile Oval, also Saturday:

Another Competitor Comes and Goes

By the end of the morning sessions at High Planes Raceway we were neck and Neck with the VW R32 of Kris and Bob. Our times have been very close throughout the event. The morning times were no exception and they pointed out that we could have a good battle for overall position (since they are not in our class). This lasted for another 2 hours until we got on track for our afternoon sessions. Our goal was to make significant improvements on our morning time by studying the video from the morning session and adjusting accordingly. The session went really well but then Bob in the R32 appeared in the rear view mirror and tracked our car down like it was standing still. Despite being passed this session was really good, the afternoon time was about 9 seconds better. High Plains Raceway is an awesome track with elevation changes and blind corners, similar to ORP but ORP is probably even more exciting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Competing Against Ourselves

One of the disappointing aspects of yesterday at Mid America was that our afternoon time was slower than our morning time. Obviously this doesn't make any sense because by the afternoon you've already seen 5 laps instead of the 0 laps in the morning. The 335i was flying today and will likely to do so, thus, there's not really much of a competition there. The new objective is to go faster in the afternoon and really get the corners down. This was difficult to accomplish today at Hallett. This track is a like a scaled down version of ORP, a bunch of small elevation changes make almost every corner blind. Very difficult to master in only 6 timed laps. There appears to be some issue with the event timing system because it says we didn't start in the afternoon. Unofficially, looking at the video it appears we were 2-4 seconds quicker than the morning.