So I decided that my open car trailer needed a refresh. A previous owner had done a roll-on paint job which would routinely peel up as sticky race tires rolled over them. They had also shoddily rewired the trailer, stretching wires taut to make them reach. Very aggravating as I would often have grounding issues with the brake and signal lights. That, plus rotten fenders made for a bit of a project. I had the entire thing painted and rewired by my favorite body shop, Weaverland Custom Paint, in Narvon, PA. I had it and some other race car parts sandblasted and sprayed in a graphite color of their choice. Turned out great! Then got it rewired at my local trailer shop.
Back in early September, 2015, I decided to try out one of SCCA's new "Track Night in America" events. These events start around 3PM at various tracks around the country. I left work around noon, drove (from Philadelphia) in my FR-S to NJMP, unloaded my tools and the rest of my loose bits, and off we went! I bought a camera mount for the passenger headrest to mount my GoPro, and 3D printed mounts for my RaceCapture data logger. I have updated the design since, but haven't yet gotten around to printing and testing it, so if anyone's interested, feel free to contact me.
So I'd never driven Lightning before, and was driving my bone-stock FR-S. The first session I got acclimated to the track, even though I only got one hot lap before two knuckleheads in the advanced group ran into each other.
During the second session, I noticed the brakes fading pretty severely. I adjusted my braking distance and pressed harder. Some of the entries into turn 1 were still a bit hotter than I'd have liked ... and this is what I found on the wheels when I pulled into the paddock.
My E30 race car's front rotor came to the end of its life during a race. Stopped OK, but that's that! I buy rotors by the dozen, and they're inexpensive, so no need to play games!
I had a little toe problem with the rear suspension of my race car. As another racer once said, "Toe out in the rear of an E30 will scare God!" Didn't bother me too much ...
So I elected to drop the rear suspension and investigate. Turns out I had a bent trailing arm. And most of the bushings were shot. Fortunately I had a spare left trailing arm, so once I got the bearings out of it and replaced, welded some reinforcements, and did a little painting, we were back in business. Getting the bearings out of the replacement trailing arm was a bear at first, and the press came in handy. As you can see, I also had to modify a pitman arm puller to get the subframe bushings out.
Oh the memories ... I'm getting nostalgic already! My first HPDE (and first NASA event) was at Summit Point in April of 2011. I can say, it was a blast, but at times it proved rather frustrating. For anyone looking to get started with HPDE's, I highly recommend it, but sometimes those new parts you put on just for the track may not work out so well ...
NASA's VIR event was another HPDE 2 event for me. It was only my second time at the track, so it took a bit to get comfortable with all the turns. I also had a style conflict with my instructor, who got a bit nervous with my aggressive use of the car! Eventually he grew accustomed to it, and we had a great time. On Sunday morning we were chasing down a modified Audi S4 (which passes me on the back straight at about 7:50 in). Too bad the camera quit after only 10 minutes. I spent the entire session dogging that S4. It was quite a blast to chase down a much faster car. Spec E30's sure hold their own in the corners!
Hyperfest 2012 at Summit Point Motorsports Park went well, I drove another High Performance Driving Event, this time in Group 2. I also soloed at the end of Sunday, my first time driving on track with traffic by myself. I was able to analyze traqmate data from the session and found that I was quite consistent. I had a great time chasing down a Toyota Supra Turbo, with an E36 M3 chasing me. I always managed to catch up to the Supra, but he wasn't really holding me up. The M3 never really caught me, except at the end of the straights! All in all, a great time!
Improved Parts is all about exploring interesting and practical manufacturing techniques, solving unique problems that crop up in our everyday life, and GOING RACING!