Shifting Gears Again – jZilla Track Days @ Road Atlanta

If you follow me on MotoIQ, you know that this was the first event after our Grannas Racing T-56 transmission swap. But the MotoIQ article doesn’t give you the whole story.

We had a lot of trouble with the transmission swap, and that’s par for the course with this car. Most of our issues and workarounds are documented in the feature. But what I didn’t talk about was how bloody hot it was. Granted, it’s no surprise that July in Atlanta was hot. But I am a desk jockey for the most part. My day job is banging away on the keyboard for a big software company. I don’t spend 8+ hour days in sweltering heat and 80%+ humidity. Thrashing to get the car finished the day before the event really took a lot out of me.

I hired L2 Motorsports to do some trackside support for the track day (they also did the transmission swap). And, from the moment I woke up, I was off to a bad start. jZilla wants you to bring your tech sheet to registration. My tech sheet was in the car. The car was locked up at L2 Motorsports! The stress was building. I had asked Mark (the person L2 assigned me) to get to their shop (which is next to Road Atlanta) around 8:30AM. Why would he need to get there earlier? I had all my spares and stuff packed in my Subaru and I was going to show up for registration and handle all that myself.


Once Mark arrived I was able to grab my tech sheet and finish registration, but I was already frazzled. Plus, I hadn’t gotten a great night’s sleep, or enough sleep, because I was so busy throughout the week that I hadn’t gotten a chance to pack everything I wanted. Things weren’t looking so hot. But the car sounded mean as heck and everything seemed OK, so when my first session came up I hopped in and got gridded up and waited for the flag to drop.

I knew from the jZilla event where the transmission blew up that the tires were… not optimal. Don’t get me wrong, Hankook makes a good product. But RS-3s with a 2012 manufacture date are quite a bit past their prime. I took the first few laps of the session very gingerly, bided my time, didn’t push my luck, and brought it back in without issue. Road Atlanta has some tricky camber and harsh curbing, so I did my best to keep it on the tarmac. While I managed, boy, was it already getting hot, and it was barely after 10:00AM!

For the next session out, I still was being cautious and hesitant, so I didn’t set up my EZVIZ cameras. Boy did I wish I had! After a few laps I started to pick up some speed on the back straight, and started to explore the braking zone into Road Atlanta’s famous 10A/10B combination. Grabbing a strong foot-full of brakes at about the 500 meter marker, I found myself instantly looking at the wall.

Basically the entire track from turn 7 until 10A is a concrete canyon, with barriers on both sides. But it’s really, really obvious as you get into the braking zone for 10A. I don’t recall which wall I was looking at first, but, the moment I jabbed the brakes, the rears locked up and tossed the car instantly sideways. I spent a lot of time drifting in the early 2000s, even competing in the first two years of FormulaD. I know a little bit about sliding a car. Thank goodness, because I managed to somehow keep it together and get the car to come back…

Only to find myself looking at the OTHER wall on the other side!

I definitely gave the 10A corner workers a show, because I basically had a huge tank-slapper and then dragged the car sideways drift-style down into 10A, managed to get it straightened out, and then took the turn. Super bummer that I didn’t get it on video!

Needless to say, I did not approach the braking as aggressively for the rest of the day coming into 10A 😃. However, that session was tough, it was still getting hotter, and I was sweating profusely by the time I pulled into the pits. I don’t really remember if I did another session or not, but, by this point, I was so overheated, so overtired, and so overstressed, that I started to feel bad. I wasn’t quite sick, but I was getting there. I have a tendency to get motion sick these days in cars with a lot of body roll, which the SC300 doesn’t have. However, I knew that pushing myself would be a bad move, so I retreated to the air conditioned confines of the L2 Motorsports front office and laid down on the couch and tried to take a nap. I knew I made the right decision because, when I entered the office, Chris Degioanni (L2’s owner) said that I looked green.

After some rest, rehydration, and lunch, I was feeling a little bit better, so I headed back out and managed to capture my session on video. I got another session on video as well, and both of them are captured on YouTube. By this point there were only a session or two remaining, but I knew I was done. The brakes didn’t feel great (there are upgrades on the horizon!) and the tires were not going to give me a whole lot more than they already were. So I made the safe choice and called it a day.

Lesson Learned

You spend a lot of money on your car, and, for some, it’s also the vehicle you use to get home. Know your physical and mental limits, and don’t try to exceed them just to get an extra lap. You’re much better off getting the car home unscathed. Also, whatever time you think you need for preparation work (like packing supplies) — triple it. Worst case scenario? You have extra time to relax or sleep.


Date: July 15, 2018
Location: Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA
Event: jZilla Track Days
Type: Practice Day
Best Lap Time: N/A
Result: N/A

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