Archive for March, 2014

Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – 21-22 September 2013

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Following the event at the Glen, I had a couple more opportunities to drive at Calabogie. On one of these days I noticed that I’d used some brake fluid, so something was still not right with the brakes. I changed the rear pads and found that I had to rebuild the rear calipers. The dust boots were still making contact with the centre of the discs, where the parking brake drum is located. I realized that I could solve this problem by moving the caliper away from the hub by about 2 mm; and I could accomplish this by enlarging the mounting holes in the calipers into an oval shape, by using a round file. I set about to do this and it worked very well. Because the calipers are attached with two large bolts each, along with lock washers, enlarging the holes would carry very little risk of them moving afterwards. As a result, the pads are not completely contained within the disc surface, but the overlap is only 1 mm and shouldn’t affect braking materially.

The next event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly Mosport), was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22. I went down Friday afternoon and met my girlfriend – the lady I had met at the Glen. She had been driving in a charity lapping day on Friday, so we met at the track and then went together to my friend’s house in Pickering. They prepared a nice meal and we had a very enjoyable evening. The next morning we were up early and at the track in plenty of time for registration and some socializing before the drivers’ meeting.

Before we started, I spoke with one the instructors to be sure that I would follow their customs with respect to passing within the Red group. Essentially they are quite liberal and will accept a passing signal on either side in some of the corners where either side is feasible. Unfortunately it was very cold and wet on Saturday, so the driving wasn’t very good. I tried a lap a couple of times but the windshield fogged up badly and I couldn’t see, so I gave up. On the second attempt, I don’t think I was pushing very hard, but I touched the brakes at the top of 2 and slid halfway down the hill! It was also very slippery exiting three and I spun the tires exiting 5! My car can’t do that! My girlfriend had the same bad luck, although in her case it was a lack of grip.

I had a student in the Yellow group on this day – a fellow from Montreal in a 944 Turbo. He was doing quite well until mid-afternoon, when disaster struck. He passed a couple of cars on the front straight, but didn’t complete the pass as early as one would like. His entry speed to Turn 1 was pretty good, but he couldn’t start turning as early as he should. So by the time he was turned, he was still gong a bit too fast and his rear end got loose. We immediately went into a spin and he locked up the brakes. We slid backwards for at least 100 ft before crossing the track and smacking the concrete wall with the left rear corner. We were both okay but the light assembly and fender were damaged quite a bit. The acting chief instructor and track chair came to inspect the scene and learn what had happened. After they were satisfied, they said the car could still be driven in the event, but the driver was very concerned about having to drive back to Montreal, so he stopped. As far as I know, he made it successfully.

On Sunday the weather was much better, although still very cold, and we were able to have a full day of good lapping. I had four solid stints and drove in a very relaxed, controlled way. I matched my best lap time from 2011 when I was pushing really hard to achieve it and this time I was shifting at 5500 rpm. Go figure. I was assigned a new student in Yellow – a young Oriental named Ivan (!) driving a 2013 GT3RS 6-speed. His father used to drive and Ivan had obviously had some good coaching, because he was really good – smooth, consistent and fast. We reached 240 km/h at the top of the hill several times, until I told him to slow down so my stomach could survive the uneven pavement. Of course, we passed everyone.

I like what they’ve done to the track. The concrete patches have all been removed and replaced with grippy, Calabogie-style asphalt. They’ve removed a lot of trees at the south end, so that now, when you go under the Continental bridge, you can see the entirety of 4 and 5 laid out before you. It’s a totally different sensation from driving into the former gloom of the shadows. I really enjoyed driving it, but it’s still not the Glen.

After the event I loaded up the car and left it at the track, to be retrieved after spending the night in Toronto with my girl. Unfortunately a number of things occurred between us which made me realize that our personalities are incompatible. So I spoke to her after getting home and ended our relationship – sad, but better to find out early. We’re still friends at least.

Watkins Glen – 2-4 August 2013

Monday, March 17th, 2014

I was really looking forward to returning to the Glen, after correctly diagnosing my brake problem and fixing it with a new master cylinder. But I realized a week before the event that I should get new tires – the old Yokohama S-Drives were showing their age. I looked for replacements on line and then at a local tire shop, but couldn’t get a full set. I had to look for a different brand and settled for Falken FK452’s. The price was right was this was a bad choice. They are adequate tires for the street but do not provide the same level of grip as the Yokohamas. As a result, I was understeering badly and it changed my approach to all corners. Despite their aggressive tread design, they weren’t as good in the wet either.

It was an interesting event and it turned out to be quite enjoyable. Initially I wasn’t terribly enthused, because I knew only one guy (Mike, one of my evaluators from June), and the other NJ folks weren’t all that welcoming. A big part of the fun at these things is going with a few people I know, and then meeting more. On day two I met a couple of people from Toronto; we hit it off; I helped him with his 77 911 fan belt and her with her driving (in White) and her brake pads (in a 944 Turbo). He was a rank novice, loved my car and I took him for a few laps Sunday. He said he’d never been in a fast car before and I said “You still haven’t!”

My student was a challenge. He’s Israeli, having immigrated 6-7 years ago. He’s very bright and does financial work. But he filtered every comment I made about his driving and rationalized when I pointed out mistakes. I needed all of my patience to be firm, clear and explanatory so he would buy in to the suggestions. At one point I instructed him to pit prematurely so I could chew him out! He was very fast, but extremely rough at first. By the time I finished with him, he was more consistent and much smoother – but still very fast. And anxious to be signed off to solo, which I refused to do. I’ll leave it up to his Region to do that, which they understood and agreed.  We hit 145 mph before the Inner Loop and he engaged the ABS as we slowed for the turn, tires chattering on the way in. Not cool.

Speaking of which, three print Sprint Cup haulers had already arrived. And they’d painted all of the rumble strips/turtles a pretty red and white for TV.

The drivers in Red were generally pretty courteous, but there’s always a couple that pass without receiving a signal. The worst was on the way downhill into Turn 6. There were three cars behind me and I gave two signals, but the third guy in a Cup car went anyway – on the inside – taking away my ability to turn in for the apex. I shouted WTF! But he didn’t hear me. There were three different “someones” who passed without a signal – typical New Joyzee hotheads. And it was emphasized in the Instructors’ meeting every day. Once at my request. It’s a good thing I don’t wear a Hans device, because it would be impossible to look over my shoulder for “that guy”.

There were several spins and spills – including one that caused me to go off in Turn 8 – that held things up a bit. I was following a couple of newer cars that had passed me as I approached 8. I took my usual line and braking point and turned in (to the rght), but halfway through the corner the car stopped turning and went straight off into the grass. I braked lightly and turned a bit to the right to avoid hitting the fence. Initially I thought I might have a flat tire, but I kept rolling and couldn’t feel anything odd, so I drove to the paddock. The safety crew there is top-notch, so there wasn’t much of a delay.

The student’s car was a 2009 C4S Cab – translation:  Carrera AWD Cabriolet with 385 bhp and PDK. I’ve decided I don’t like PDK, because when you add throttle it may downshift two gears and give way more torque than you expected or wanted, eg. exiting Turn 7. And he was so anxious to be fast that we drifted around Turn 7 twice – in AWD! The car has so many nanny controls that it saved his ass (and mine) a few times. And he was timing laps until I put a stop to it. He admitted that he was better after the weekend than he was going in, but he really wanted to solo because he had last year at Pocono. But guess why they put him in Green? He needed more work!

We had a great BBQ Saturday provided by Paul Miller Porsche of NJ – free beer and tons of ribs, chicken and veggies. I made good time coming home, arriving in 5 hours. It took 6 to get there, with a lot of rain and a half hour at the border. I covered about 320 km on track and 890 on the roads – spent way more on gas than everything else combined. The cabin at the Seneca was only $135 for three nights!

Le Circuit Mont Tremblant – 22-23 July 2013

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Since moving from Ottawa to Perth, the trip to Mont-Tremblant has become an hour longer, but I decided to make at least one trip up there because the track is a lot of fun to drive. Because I hadn’t been through the Rennsport Instructor Training program, I registered in the Black run group. I would simply drive and enjoy the trip. Before the 2012 season I had asked to be admitted to the program and twice my e-mails weren’t answered! In any case, I wasn’t prepared to commit to attending half of the Rennsport events, which is a prerequisite to be one of their instructors. In the future, if I’m asked to help out, I will gladly do so.

I left home around 2 o’clock, leaving 3-1/2 hours for the trip, through Ottawa and across the ferry at Cumberland. As planned, I arrived at the track before 5 o’clock and had to wait a few minutes for the day’s group to clear out so I could find a parking spot. As I was unloading, I said hello to a few old friends and got myself organized for the morning. Then I decided to drive by an old friend’s condominium on one of the golf course, to see if she was there. When I knocked on the door, I was greeted by a man! He knew my friend and had bought the condo from her. He also turned out to be a Porsche fan, so we talked quite a bit about our cars and experiences. After a pleasant visit, I went to my hotel and got settled.

The next day I met a number of old friends while waiting for the drivers’ meeting, including the Chief Instructor who hadn’t answered my e-mails. We chatted about various things, but he obviously wasn’t aware that I’d successfully completed the National Instructor program at the Glen and I didn’t bring it up. So I was able to drive in the Black group without controversy and had a great time, although the weather was quite hot. I had to watch my oil and cylinder head temperatures and take it easy in order to keep them under control. But the brakes were excellent.

At one point, while going through Turn 7, I heard a noise and my charging lamp came on. I slowed and made my way to the paddock, where I confirmed that the alternator belt had broken. Fortunately I always carry at least one spare, so I was able to change it quite easily – although I did drop one of the shims and had to borrow a magnet to retrieve it from below the pulley. The fellow who loaned it to me was a friend from Ottawa, who suffered a bigger problem around the same time. The clutch on his 944 let go, leaving him stranded without a ride. There was nothing to be done other than trailer or tow the car back to Ottawa. I offered to let him use my trailer and I would drive my car, but he had a CAA membership that would cover a flatbed tow, so he used that. It must have been an interesting drive home, because the flatbed driver didn’t speak English and my friend doesn’t speak French!

On the first day I hooked with a guy whom I think I met two years ago. He has a pristine white mid-80’s Carrera (maybe 87) with 226,000 km. It is bone stock, right down to the brake pads. He wanted to run together, so we started at the back on two stints and I followed him for lap or two, but I was clearly faster so he waved me by. He’s carrying a lot of weight in the interior (seats, stereo, speakers, spare tire, tool kit, etc) so he couldn’t keep up, except on the straights where he was using more rev’s. My lap times were about 6 seconds slower because of short-shifting, offset a bit by better brakes; but his were 7 seconds slower than mine. We talked a lot between stints about where I thought he was losing time, such as not carrying full throttle through 6 and 7 (after the apex) and braking early for 7, 8 and 10. He improved a bit, but without track pads, his braking was limiting. I was also going to play with another friend in her ’13 Boxster, but she was just too fast for me to keep up.

On the second day, I left before the last stint, since otherwise it would have been very late by the time I got home. I had to stop on the way home a couple of times, after going over the very rough roads in Mont Tremblant and a construction zone in Namur, to tighten the straps. Then in Kanata, after getting through very slow rush hour traffic around 6 o’clock, there was a very heavy thunderstorm, so I stopped again after the exit for Carleton Place to tighten the straps because they were soaked. I also need to stretch my legs because I started to get one of those deep leg cramps (in my left leg – the braking one), during the storm – very disconcerting.

It was an excellent event, with only about 100 cars. And the weather was perfect, if a little hot for the engine temperatures. Now I have only about 10 days to get ready for the Glen again, with a couple of Calabogie Lapping days thrown in for good measure.