Oct30-31 – NJMP Thunderbolt – NASA-NE

Another great weekend at the track and another new fast lap.

This time @ New Jersey Motorsports Park – Thunderbolt Circuit

I really like this track, it is fast and the massive amount of run off is confidence inspiring. This past weekend was a NASA-NE event and I participated in my 2nd Time Trials event.

Since the car was built for NASA GTS3 class, no specific attention was paid to the “points” classification of time trials – consequently I fall into the TTS class which is an “unlimited” modifications class where the only restriction is your weight to horsepower ratio.

The TTS class limit is 8.7:1 (8.7lbs for each 1rwhp), that is car weight with driver at the end of a session. My #72 car with me in it and 1/4 tank of fuel tips the scales at 3100lbs and dyno’d 297rwhp (call it 300) with current mods. That puts me at ~10.33:1. SIGNIFICANTLY below the Weight to HP limit. I could drop 500lbs or add 50hp and still run in TTS class!

My purpose of TimeTrials this fall wasn’t to be competitive in TTS but use it as a stepping stone to racing next year with the following two objectives:

1) Practice getting into the “Race Qualifying” mindset quickly. 1 or 2 warm up laps, then GO GO GO. This is significantly different than the DE routine of slowly bringing the pace up through the session and frankly through the day. In qualifying you head out cold and in 5 minutes you need to bring it up to a 9.5/10ths or 10/10ths level AND drive that perfect qualifying line, often times having only one chance at a flying lap – gotta make it count!

2) Experience in an environment that does not require point-by’s. In the dedicated TimeTrials run groups no point-by is required, if you catch someone, simply make a sensible pass. This turned out to be a pretty big step, since all along in DE’s I 100% knew that the car I am about to overtake is aware I am going to pass them because I sat and waited (Alan, hahahaha) for that point by from them. The first few passes were a major leap of faith in the other driver.

Even with an “uncompetitive” car from a weight:hp standpoint in TTS I managed to take 1st place in the TTS class both days by nearly 3 seconds to the 2nd place finisher in a class of five cars, one of which was the NASA-NE Regional TTS Points Champion for 2010.

For those 1st place finishes I earned my first “Racing Trophy”, two free tires from Hoosier through their Contingency Program – (that’s $600 worth of tires!) AND set the NASA TTS lap record at the track!

This was weekend 4 of our “5 different tracks in 6 weekends Fall Run”. It has been a great learning experience in car development. The changes I made to get the car to work at VIR didn’t work so well at Mid-Ohio, nor did the VIR or Mid-Ohio setup work very well at Thunderbolt – I didn’t make any changes at Watkins Glen because I was simply learning the track that weekend.

YAY for an OCD-Datalogging personality and the .xls session log book I keep so I’ll be able to quickly dial the car in for a specific track next year and waste less practice time figuring out what works. I’ve forwarded my .xls session log book to a couple of you, if any others are interested in a copy because it sounds like something you may want to start keeping for yourself, please let me know, I would be happy to share a copy in our mutual efforts to improve our cars and personal driving capabilities.

For those of you who were there, hope you had a safe drive home – to those of you who weren’t, hope I see you at the track soon!


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