The Third Time’s the Charm
2020 has been an interesting year for everyone. A pandemic, an economic collapse, and a motorsports hiatus. On top of it all, I managed to seriously injure myself and not really be able to walk or work on the car for almost a month. But the end of the year has brought a lot of learning and success.
Since the last post here, the car has received quite a few updates. From more FIGS Engineering arms and Penske shocks, to a sequential shifter assembly from S1, new safety equipment from Sabelt, upgraded rear subframe bushings, and a complete vinyl wrap, a lot has changed. And, since everything keeps changing, it’s been mostly “will it all still work?” as opposed to “push hard and go faster.” The jZilla Track Days event at Road Atlanta in September was supposed to be the first event of “push hard and go faster.”
After a solid first day of feeling things out, I came to the track in the morning with the intention of inspecting the car and checking out all the suspension. Since everything was more-or-less freshly installed, double-checking that bolts hadn’t come loose is wise. When inspecting the left-front, however, I noticed that there was a circumferential cut that went almost completely around the tire, and was almost down to the base. I wasn’t sure what was causing it, but I decided to quit while I was ahead and to go home and see what I could figure out.
After some reflection and thought, I realized that this tire damage had likely occurred last year at the #GRIDLIFE Road Atlanta event where I had a control arm problem. The wheel had moved back and contacted the pinch weld at the rear of the wheel arch, and that’s what cut the tire. Just to be super sure and super safe, I decided to tape up the inside of the fender area in any location where it looked like tire contact might occur. I used bright red racing tape, as it would be very obvious if a tire contacted it.
I then took the car to Atlanta Motorsports Park for a shake down. I don’t particularly like that track with the SC300. For a big, fast car, there is not a lot of run-off room, and it’s hard on brakes. But it has a couple of spots that are very hard on the suspension, especially the left front. If anything was going to bottom the suspension or cause wheel-to-fender contact, it would be some of the right-hand corners at AMP.
After a day of beating up the car at AMP, I couldn’t find any signs of tire contact. The new S1 Sequential shifter continued to perform well, and everything seemed to be in good working order. It was time for full send it with a third event to close out the year!
I then attended a DE weekend with NASA’s South East region at Carolina Motorsports Park during the weekend of November 7-8. CMP has recently been repaved, and I had not driven it in over a decade. The weather looked like it was going to be fabulous, and it ended up being just that. With lovely temperatures despite the November date, the surface was warm enough all day for good, clean driving.
I had a self-inflicted data logger issue on Sunday, so here is a video of the fastest recorded laps I have:
And, here are some laps of dicing it up in traffic on Sunday:
Sunday’s combined DE3+4 sessions were point-by-optional and passing anywhere. Since I am still learning the grip levels of the car, there were a lot of passing opportunities that I could have taken that I chose not to.
Overall, I am so happy with how the car has turned out, and I am eagerly looking forward to 2021’s events. I hope to see you out there!
It’s always a good idea to spot check the car before a day of driving – you never know what you’ll find. And, especially in HPDE, there’s no trophies and no timers (at least no official timers). You’re better off slowing down a bit and being safe than taking out one of your fellow drivers just because you wanted to complete a pass.
Date: November 7, 2020
Location: Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC
Event: NASA SE Brady Memorial
Best Lap Time: 1:48.104