Laguna Seca and Willow Springs Events – 1-2007

Well, Laguna Seca was fun; we had terrrific weather at about 58* and not a cloud in the sky. On the plus side, I got a ride in an Exige S, and now I MUST HAVE that supercharger. The power is incredible, and it seems to pull as hard at 3500 rpms as my car does at 7k. The downside of the event was that I could not, no matter how I tried, break below a 1:45.9 in my car. Now this is a decent time, but a guy I can usually beat by about 3 seconds a lap at a shorter track like SOWS has run a 1:45.5 at LS in an Elise, so I’m racking my brain for wtf is wrong with me, going back out, driving as fast as I can, not braking for T4, barely braking for T6, having moments in T9 (a very fast downhill turn after the corkscrew); basically just driving like a madman. She can’t go no faster…but I would soon figure out why…

Got some good pics of the car though.

Suspension really loaded up at base of corkscrew:

Lot of wheel-lift for a 95mph corner with walls on both sides (T4 with no braking):

So, I leave Laguna having had a great time, but totally disappointed with my times. Fortunately, I’ve got 5 hours of driving ahead of me to think about things…Couldn’t be the exhaust change…but man the car seems down on power…tires are brand new NT01’s…the PFC 01 pads were awesome…and I changed to them 2 days before the event…in a hurry…and I remember I hadn’t changed the rear pads on the Exige before…and they have those damn screw in rear calipers…which the handbrake cranks…and I couldn’t get those damn coilsprings back on which release them the ebrake, so I left them off and decided not to use the ebrake…then the guy that washed my car used the ebrake…and my car doesn’t roll in neutral anymore…and do you suppose those damn springs release the rear brakes after each brake application? Well, it turns out they basically do. So every f’ing time I hit the brakes on track, the rear brakes would drag until the runout on the rotors finally pushed the pads back a bit…which probably was just before I hit another braking zone.

Well, at least now I have an excuse for being slow.

Flash forward: Friday night. We have a Willow Springs event at the big track this weekend, and I’m furiously fighting with the damn springs on the rear calipers…and finally figure out the trick to it and get them on. Now I’ve got no excuses for WSIR tomorrow.

WSIR was awesome We had a dry morning, light rain from maybe 1-2:30, and dry again after that. I hadn’t driven WSIR for about 2 years, as I’ve never really been a big fan of WSIR, because you know, it’s just not dangerous enough in the dry 😉 But we had a great time driving it in the rain. Ran a 1:36.5, which isn’t fantastic, but it was a better time for this car than a 1:45 at LS, I think.

Then came the highlight of my tracking experience for the last few years. Some Porsche racers who are setting their lights up for the Tribute to Le Mans wanted to test their lighting systems, so we got a rare nightime practice session out of the track. We hand-picked a group of 7 drivers who we were resonably sure wouldn’t do anything too stupid in the dark (there are no lights on the track at all), and did 1 hour after dusk at the “Fastest Road in the West”. It was f’ing terrifying, in the best possible way Of course I simply had stock brights on my car, and you’d come into T8 at 120mph, trying to follow this very long right-hand sweeper by memory because you could not, for the life of you, see where the paving ended on the left to setup for the infamous T9. It was at once fantasic and the stupidest thing I’ve had the opportunity to do in a long, long time. And the best part is I have video of it

How those guys drive Le Mans at night at 220mph, even with their much better lights, is beyond me. Maybe you get used to it with time…but Jesus Christ it’s terrifying when you kind of loose track of where you are in a turn and can’t see where the pavement ends. I drove for 54 minutes of our hour-long session, driving a little faster each lap, before I decided if I stayed out I was going to do something really dumb, so I came in. There were no incidents…though I did come into T9 one lap, staring at the left of the track to hug the outside of the T9 entry, only to see hazard lights up ahead just before plunging into a HUGE cloud of dust where someone had gone off…that was a moment I won’t forget for a while…

I’ll post some videos after I look through what I’ve got.

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