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!


August 27-29 – NJMP-Thunderbolt – PCA

With the multiple changes we made to the car during August I was anxious to get the car on the track and re-learn how to drive it! Especially considering I’ve never driven a car with any level of aerodynamic downforce.

After getting special permission from the event coordinators, Barry Battle Pro-Driver in the GrandAm Continental Tire Series buckled in piloting the car as I rode shotgun to shake down the car. WOW! I couldn’t believe how planted the car felt in the high speed corners. For example, the last turn on Thunderbolt leading to the main straight, previously I had to lift a bit off the throttle before turning in, no longer. The car took the corner FLATOUT with no problem!

A few minor suspension adjustments later I sent Barry out by himself to see what kind of fast lap he could throw down. As I listened to the car roar down the main straight past the elevated watch tower, around T1 and T2, then close the gap on other cars out in this “advanced” run group with unbelievable speed I was so excited to get to drive this thing myself. A couple laps into the session I see Barry coming around the Jersey Devil headed through the Esses toward the main straight I notice no traffic in front of him for the first 4 turns on the track. Finally a clear lap and Barry proceeded to lay down the quickest lap this car has ever done. Post session checking the datalogger, 1:30.3! 4/10ths of a second quicker than the current NASA GTS3 lap record! We’ve built a beast!

The car drew alot of attention as it screamed past Porsche 911 Turbos, GT3’s and the like! It looked and sounded great while doing it!

Saturday morning I climb in the car, ready to see what I can make this car do.

My previous fast lap at this track is a 1:40. I glance down at the MyCron3 lap time after my first hot lap, a disappointing 1:42. Lap by lap my confidence in the car and newly added aero grows, and a I get used to the new differential gearing and ability to put power down out of the corners I watch the lap times come down lap after lap, 1:38, 1:36, 1:34, 1:32! Whoohooo we are flying now! 8 seconds quicker than my previous visit in June!

As the weekend continues I continue to get quicker with a fast lap of 1:31.3! 6/10ths off the current NASA GTS3 record, but still a second off Barry’s pace. I’ll blame it on my race rubber being cycled out and holding me back in the corners, hahahah.

Oct10-11 – NJMP – Thunderbolt – PCA

First Weekend @ NJMP Thunderbolt and First Weekend with Traqmate
Traqmate Logo

Have heard time and time again (and believe), that the best investment you can make in going faster isn’t anything you can do to your car, it’s investment in the driver. Seat time, traction sensing and analyzing your performance. Professional instructors are expensive… very expensive. Data logging has now becoming affordable. The information you can collect and analyze trackside with the newest datalogging hardware/software packages is simply amazing. I will never drive another lap w/out the traqmate!

Day1, Session1, best lap: 1:58.6
Day1, Session2, best lap: 1:51.4
Day1, Session3, best lap: 1:45.3
Day2, Session1, best lap: 1:45.2 – thought I couldn’t go any faster until I really looked at the data.
Day2, Session2, best lap: 1:41.5
Day2, Session 3, best lap: 1:40.3

I thought I was going “fast” when I was turning 1:45 laps on Thunderbolt during the last session of the day on Saturday but after analyzing my data and having a second instructor ride with me whose "home track" was NJMP I turned a bunch of 1:41 laps and a couple 1:40's by the end of the day Sunday.

Sooooooo many things to discover about what you are actually doing when you are out on the track driving…an instructor can only pay attention to and relay so many things to you while driving at speed!

Examples of Traqmate improving my lap times the very first weekend of use by a novice:

1) I was coming off the throttle (not coasting but dropping to 50% throttle, ie maintenance) on the main straight between start-finish and the braking zone. I didn’t realize this while I was driving but it stood out like a sore thumb in green/red/black on the trackview data analyzer, I picked up over .5 seconds there between my best Saturday run and my best Sunday run. 12.393 seconds v/s 11.720 seconds through that segment.

2) Instructor was telling me I could carry more speed through certain corners but my “comfort level” wasn’t there, by looking at the friction circle analysis tool I saw that I was maintaining nowhere near the G load in those corners as I was in other corners (you know how some corners are deceiving and can be taken much faster than they look). Knowing the car had more grip (assuming constant track surface) I knew I could take those corners faster. Example, I was able to confidently increase my Corner #4 entry speed from 58Mph to 71Mph picking up over 8 tenths of a second in that segment alone (8.707 seconds v/s 7.850 seconds) and looking at the data even during my quickest segments I know I can go even faster there.

Those are two examples both of which can be done trackside between sessions. VERY powerful stuff!


click image to see video

Blog Mary

Thunder Track in NJ
My first Porsche event at Thunderbolt!

Yikes! Also my 1st time being out with the Blue group! After having a successful solo event at Shenandoah I am feeling confident.

My instructor is Susan-1st time to have a female instructor-I’m a bit concerned about her pushing me to be aggressive but quickly sense that is not the case. She was very patient as I struggled to learn the track but she has no hesitation to tell me to get on the gas, get up on the next car, and to push me on my threshold breaking! I was VERY frustrated with myself on the 1st day- I wanted to be perfect right away…patience..learn the track, get the lines, then add the speed… I pass some (Porsche’s- yay) but get passed by many more. Kyle passes several times throughout the day- bummer! Here comes my competitive side again! Kyle had a spectacular day! I am so proud of him; he gets every new track so naturally- I want to be as good as him and don’t want to let him down with my skills… thinking of team “Nocab”

I end the day feeling sore from being too tense and not feeling like I did good enough.

Day 2- Kyle expresses that I need to relax! Session 1- still not feeling my groove- struggling with turns 4 and 5, and even 6 and then onto the rest of the Jersey Devil. I’m not confident- breaking too soon- taking turns too early, messing up.
Then Session 2 is better-passing more, getting more speed, feeling looser. Susan is doing a great job at talking me through the track, pushing me not to brake-get on the gas and most important- STAY on the gas on the fast turns-she would not let me lift my foot going into scary turn #14…still hesitation. Afternoon class covering the track was HUGE for helping me with the last session!
Session 3- now or never- I refuse to go home without “the feeling”. And yes- I finally hit most of the track right on-and at my best speed! Turn # 14- I do not let off the gas- foot hard on the peddle! I am passed by another M3, she doesn’t let him go by so quickly- “stay on him”- I hold tight on him for several more laps (thinking he might give me the pass by but no). Checkered flag comes up- high 5! I finally got something out this event that I can take home and feel like “I did it”!
(By the way- that M3 showed up with a change of tires. Hopefully I gave him a run right back!)

It was awesome when Susan pushed me around the tough turns at high speed telling me to “make those tires squeal”! A little sliding here and there- haha-that’s what makes this so much fun!

Cars @ NJMP - Thunderbolt with PCA

Kyle is solo’d and beats his best time at the end of the day a 1:40! (We timed the expert group with some having the same/slower times than this) He is well on his way to the next level- Club racing in his future!!

Can’t wait for the next event Halloween weekend!

Practice on iRacing for Summit Main!


Line Reminder Notes:

Down the main straight hitting nearly 130mph, brake hard at red and white curb and use incline into turn one to bring your speed down, downshifting to 3rd, don’t turn in too early or you’re screwed, not necessary to get all the way up on the inside curb, track all the way out getting back on the throttle early, breath off the throttle, once you are comfortable no need to brake here then turn into 2, make sure you kiss the curb on the right, you should begin unwinding and applying throttle BEFORE apex and cresting hill to allow for a nice trackout over the crest, there is lots of room, keep in the throttle until the curbing on the left before turn 3, breath off the throttle to transfer weight to the front wheels and turn in, get UP ON THE CURB, you paid for the entire track, use it!

The curb is low and won’t unsettle the car, by getting up on this curb at apex it feels like you gain 10’ of additional track during track out, good passing zone between 3 and 4, but make sure you crest the hill with your wheel centered and going straight because you will get light when carrying good speed (100mph+) through this section.

Turn 4 is much faster than it looks I was entering it at 71 my second day and there is easily another 10mph here, use the apex curb then let the car track out as much as it needs. Turn 5 is a bit of a throw away, no need to track all the way back right to enter 5, downshift into 3rd, apex late and get back on the throttle as soon as possible. Another good passing zone between 5 and 6 (on either side) just follow the driver point by in the car you are overtaking whether they want you to pass on the right or left.

Turn 6 is a fast turn, touch the brakes, turn in and hammer it in 4th down to turn 7.

Turn 7 is faster than it looks too, need to work on that more, let the car track out and hold the steering wheel stationary, steering through a long right hand sweeper with throttle in the center of the track, approaching the entrance into the “Jersey Devil” brake and turn in, again use the curb and get yourself lined up parallel with it to set yourself for the long left hand sweeper of the “devil”, don’t double apex this turn, take it wide and tighten it up as you round the bottom, look up for the NJMP watertower and use it as your guide this will give you confidence to get back to WOT as you leave the “bottom” of the jersey devil …

WOT as early as possible in the devil IS IMPORTANT as it is the beginning of the main straight, keep your foot mashed to the floor through the S’s and around turn 14…granted I haven’t had the balls to keep it WOT all the way through 14 (I always breathed off the throttle for a partial second just before turning in, although Mary says she rolled through 14 with her foot firmly planted on the go pedal!) then back to WOT as you roll over the inside apex curb then let the car track out and get yourself across the start/finish line as you head down the main straight to start this joy ride again!