Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Spring Mountain Level 2: Day 2

    Posted on February 10th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    After a good night’s sleep I found myself refreshed and ready for another day on track. Last night I spent quite some time going-over the track in my head, with the hopes that I’d be more familiar with the mechanics of each turn on the course.

    Like yesterday we started with a heel-toe downshifting exercise to warm-up. While I’ve been spending my time on track in an automatic transmission vehicle, I wasn’t going to pass-up the opportunity to get some more practice with a manual transmission. At first I had some difficulty with the mechanics, but it didn’t take too long to start to get a feel for it. I found that taking a moment to properly position my foot on the brake peddle (without applying the brakes) made it much easier to blip the throttle when it came time to heel-toe. While I was able to get several smooth downshifts, I still think that driving an automatic on track will be more beneficial at this stage.

    The first track session of the day was a lead-follow exercise, and I felt I did a fairly good job. When I wasn’t directly behind the instructor I was doing a better job hitting my marks… but when the little voice inside my head said, “catch-up to them”, I found myself making mistakes. Fortunately I was able to collect myself and run at my own pace, focusing on the driving line.

    The second session started as a lead-follow, but after a lap or two a student pulled into the lead and the instructor followed. With an open track in front of you, it is an entirely different experience… you can’t rely on just watching another car to determine what to do.

    I started-out leading surprisingly well, hitting my marks going into the Bus Stop (Turn 8 ) and apexing well through the Loop (Turns 10, 11, and 12). While I was being followed, the instructor also noticed that I was apexing really (really, really, really) early at Turn 2… and that it was keeping me from getting a good exit/drive onto the straight leading towards Turn 3. I also learned that I was getting too close to the “near apex” cone in the Chicane, resulting in a poor entry into Turn 4. Getting instruction over the radio really helped me figure out the proper line!

    After lunch we moved beyond lead-follow and began open lapping, which included the use of a transponder for recording lap times. I started out the first session with an instructor in my passenger’s seat and was really focusing on driving the proper line… hitting my marks in every corner on the first lap. With my confidence building I started to go quicker and quicker…

    Unfortunately my confidence got the better of me when I tried to drive into Turn 4 without using the brakes (no brakes = faster right?), only to find my car didn’t want to turn. Running wide I tried to dive towards the apex and added too much steering input… breaking the rear-end loose. Fortunately I still had stability control turned-on and was able to keep the car on track, but it was definitely humbling.

    Yesterday I got a feel for the importance of balancing the car while approaching the apex of a corner, and today I was really able to start to apply it on track. Using the throttle/brake the driver can adjust how much weight is on the front wheels; changing how easy the car wants to turn. Without changing the angle of the steering wheel you can make the car take a tighter line (less throttle or more brake) or a wider line (less brake or more throttle) towards the apex.

    A great example for this is entering Turn 10… you are fairly wide exiting Turn 9, but want to be all the way to the right for the entry to Turn 11. If I tried to turn the car only using the steering wheel it just wanted to push wide (like what happened at Turn 4). By briefly applying the brakes and shifting weight to the front wheels, the car hooks and turns-in like it’s on rails!

    The best thing about having an instructor ride along was the immediate feedback I received going through Turn 2. I was able to feel the proper line through the corner, and boy did it allow me to get on the throttle sooner… so much so that I was completely unprepared for how much more break pressure was required to slow down going into Turn 3. For then on kept working on keeping in the middle of the track well into the turn, such that the path into the apex and through the exit was as straight as possible.

    For the remainder of the day I was driving solo. During the second session after lunch I was really in the grove, and once I got up to speed I ran my quickest lap of the day (2:18.466) followed by two more laps less than 0.1 seconds-off! In the final “cool down” session (~70% of max, focusing on running the perfect line) I found myself running consistent lap times (~2:21)… when I wasn’t looking in my mirrors getting worried about holding someone up. I honestly think if I had run hard down the back straight that one (or more) of my laps would have been faster than my PB… it showed me just how important being smooth and on the proper line is to being fast.

    While I was 10-15 seconds a lap slower a lap than the other guys on track (the instructors can run sub-2:00 laps staying in 4th gear the whole way), I’m feeling good about how I progressed over the two days (especially considering it’s my first time on this track, and most of the others have been there two or three times).

    Unfortunately this time I’m only taking a 2-Day course, but I really feel that I’ve not only learned about a new track… I’ve also started to get a better feel for how vehicle dynamics and weight balance effects a car. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to come to Spring Mountain to refine my skills, but I’m sure that what I’ve learned over the past two days has made me a better driver.

  • Spring Mountain Level 2: Day 1

    Posted on February 9th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Today I started my 2-Day Level 2 Course at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort.

    While there are a couple courses going-on at the same time, I really lucked-out… there are only two people (including myself) in the Level 2 course. This has resulted in quite a bit of one-on-one instruction. So far all of the instructors have been very good at working with me on my goals. Much like the previous course, I’ve been surprised just how much I’ve learned in only one day.

    Because Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort is located ~45 minutes from Las Vegas, I decided to stay in one of the on-site Condos.

    Being able to get a good night sleep and not have to deal with the drive in the morning was been great. Being able to look out your bedroom window to see Corvettes driving by on the track is definitely unique!

    The course started-out in the classroom for introductions and some review of the fundamentals. We then headed out in the Corvettes for a heel-toe downshifting exercise. I’ve not been able to practice with a manual transmission vehicle since I took the last school in December, so I was a little nervous. Fortunately I was doing much better shifting through the gears… and didn’t even burn-up the clutch!

    At first I was quite flustered about the heel-toe process, but after some one-on-one instruction I started to understand it. Like last time the whole process was overwhelming, but breaking it down into individual steps… and practicing them one at a time… really make a big difference. Rather than trying to jump-in and do it all at once, I took a few passes where I only practiced blipping the throttle… then added-in the downshift. By the end of the drill I actually did a couple smooth heel-toe downshifts!

    During the heel-toe exercise one of the instructors mentioned that the school has a couple Corvettes with automatic transmissions. This was the best news I’ve head in a while! While I will eventually want to practice driving a manual transmission, not having my mind occupied with the mechanics of shifting allows me to focus on learning vehicle control.

    After another short classroom lesson we headed-out onto the track for an initial lead-follow session. At Spring Mountain the cars are equipped with two-way radios, so there is instant feedback on track… almost like the instructor was sitting in your passenger’s seat. Because there were only two of us in the course, and two instructors, the first couple sessions were very educational.

    For the Level 2 course we were on the 2.4 mile (Bus Stop & Loop) configuration. The course is quite a bit larger than the one I drove previously, and while you can just leave the car in 4th gear the whole time, there is quite a bit more shifting involved. While I started-out only shifting into 4th on the back straight, it didn’t take long for me to need 4th gear in several sections. Also, having an automatic transmission, I wasn’t afraid to up/down shift to get more performance out of the car (not that a Corvette Grand Sport is a slouch).

    We spent the entire day driving on the track, mostly in 10-15 lap sessions. Breaking the day into several shorter segments allowed for plenty of time to debrief and ask questions. So far my focus has been on learning the track… which has been humbling. Even just trying to recall what corner I was in has been a challenge… let alone remembering all the breaking/turn-in/exit points while speeding around the circuit. This is where having a the radio has been really helpful… if I’m doing something wrong in a corner there is nearly instant feedback; that way I’m able to make adjustments for the next lap.

    All of the sessions today were lead-follows, and I feel that I’m getting a good hang of things when there is someone showing me where to go. Unfortunately there were a couple times when I wasn’t the first car in line behind the instructor… and I found myself having a difficult time consistently hitting my marks…

    My biggest issue so far has been judging when I should start applying the brakes. Unlike the previous track I was on, there are no break markers/cones at Spring Mountain… and I have a tendency to miss-judge my closing speeds. When this happens I enter the corner too quickly, sending me wide at the apex… killing my corner exit. While I’m getting better, there are still times when I’ll completely blow a corner.

    Overall I’ve been very happy with my progress so far. While it would be nice to be gaining more experience in a manual transmission vehicle, I think I’m getting much more out of the course because of the automatic. I’m starting to get a better feel for the racing line, and will continue to work on consistently hitting my marks… I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

  • Continued Education

    Posted on January 28th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    My experience at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving was truly life changing… and I can’t stop looking for ways I can get back on the track!

    My goal has always been to get the G8 out on track, but I spend so much time on the road that just seems impossible. To do things right I’d have to swap brake pads, order my track wheels/tires, install a race seat/harness, etc… then there’s the maintenance (flush brake fluid, oil change, tech inspection). After the track day I’d have more maintenance, etc… it just takes more time than I have.

    In addition to the learning, one of the great things about a driving school is that you don’t have to worry about getting the car ready… you just show-up and drive!

    Bondurant was an incredible school and I learned a ton about vehicle control, extending your vision, and being smooth. I’m sure I would learn a bunch more if I returned, but I think trying another school (more specifically at a different track) would be more beneficial.

    I looked into the California schools (Skip Barber at Laguna Seca and Jim Russell at Infineon Raceway), but they seem to be mostly focused on Formula cars… not something I’m interested in.

    One of the schools that I hadn’t looked into originally was the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort outside of Las Vegas.

    Ron Fellows was a very successful factory Corvette driver (I’ve photographed him many times)… GM even produced a special edition Corvette to commemorate his career. Naturally, the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School uses Corvettes.

    One of the great things about the Ron Fellows school is that they have multiple levels of courses. This allows me to pick-up from where I left-off after Bondurant.

    My schedule is quite crazy due to work, but luck has it there is a Level 2 course (concurrent with a Level 3 course) coming-up in a few weeks. I decided that I need to make a trip towards the West Coast… and what better way than to stop at a driving school along the way!

    The Level 2 Course is a 2-Day program includes ~250 miles of driving on their 2.2 mile and 2.4 mile courses. The majority of the time is spent on track working on car control (throttle steer, brake induced over steer and under steer, etc.)… but there will also be drills on their wet skid pad! The Corvettes are also equipped with a 2-way communication system for increased on track instruction.

    While I’m really looking forward to attending this course, I know that a couple days on track isn’t going to be enough!

    Last year I spent six months living/working in the little town of Tooele, UT. The whole time I was dreaming about getting on track at the Miller Motorsports Park, which is located just north of the town.

    Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) is one of the premier racing facilities in the world. My favorite feature is the variety of course configurations that are available. There are completely different West (13-turn 2.2 mile) and East (12-turn 2.2 mile) courses, which can be combined to produce the Outer (14-turn 3.0 mile) and Full (23-turn 4.5 mile) courses. With all this variety, it will take many trips just to learn the nuances of the track!

    The 3-Day course a MMP includes days on both the East and West courses… allowing me to increase my experience on reading a track and determining the proper racing line. The course also has an incredible option… you can upgrade to drive the Ford Mustang FR500S, an all-out race car!

    The standard vehicle for the course is a modified ’05 Ford Mustang GT (left) that includes a roll cage, racing seat/harness, and performance brakes/pads. The FR500S (right) undergoes ~350lbs of weight reduction, has a built-in data acquisition system and a complete aero package, and uses a DOT approved race tire! Both cars have similar engines/power, but the race-prep can shave seconds off of lap times. Upgrading to the FR500S is a no-brainer for me, when is the nest time I’ll be able to drive a race car? I can hardly wait!

    One of the best things about the 3-Day course at MMP is that it has elements that appeal to someone who has done previous courses (like me), but is still designed for someone who has never done a driving school before. When I took my course at Bondurant, after each of the drills I found myself thinking how much my Father would have enjoyed it… and the MMP course would be perfect for both of us! Now I just need to convince him to get behind the wheel!

  • Bondurant: Day 3

    Posted on December 21st, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today was the final day of the 3-Day Grand Prix Road Racing course at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Looking back over the past few days, I’m shocked at just how much I’ve learned.

    This morning we didn’t waste any time before getting back out on track, and jumped right back in where we stopped yesterday… driving the Lake Loop and Carousel track configuration.

    Last night I spent a fair bit of time thinking about what I was doing well, and what I was doing poorly. As I summed-up in my post from last night; Smooth is fast. I took extra time to slow down and focus on driving smoothly into and out of the corners… wow, what a difference!

    By smoothly braking into the corner, rather than stomping at the brakes at the last possible second, I was better able to turn into the apex and get back into the throttle. Rather than jumping off the brakes at the turn-in points, I increased the amount of trail-braking I was doing… and that really helped with the weight transfer (keeping it on the front wheels) making the car much easier to turn. I was also able to focus on the racing line and use as much of the track as possible (rumble strips are your friends). I quickly found the proper line entering Turn 9, and that allowed me to better enter Turn 10… putting the car another foot to the right made things so much smoother (and faster)!

    I also focused on looking where I wanted to put the car next, which is a little strange when you’re going around a corner, but it really helped me with the late-apex corners (like the Carousel).

    All of these factors made me so much faster that I started bouncing-off the rev-limiter in 3rd gear going down the front straight (~105mph)… as a result I needed to start shifting into 4th, then back down into 3rd before Turn 1. I was fairly good at the up-shift, but my inexperience with a manual transmission (and the lack of heel-toe downshifting) really showed… I found myself shifting too soon or not letting off the clutch smooth enough, often times locking-up the rear tires.

    Compared to yesterday, I wasn’t “fighting” with the car as much to put it where I wanted to on track. With things going so smooth, the laps started ticking-off and any sense of time completely disappeared. At one point I started to feel myself getting tired/distracted, so rather than continue to make little mistakes, decided to pull into the pits for a breather. When I did, my instructor told me they were going to be throwing the checkered flag in a minute and it was time to head to the classroom… two hours had past!

    In the classroom we discussed many of the details required for racing… things like flags, rolling starts, following the pace car, single-file restarts, etc. After talking about it, we again jumped in our Corvettes and headed to the track to practice.

    I decided to stay at the rear of the pack for the starts, just so if I missed a shift no one would be running into the back of me by mistake. An added element of the rolling start was that it was the first time we were allowed to go side-by-side and actually race one-another! While it was only for the length of the front straight, it was quite exhilarating being so close to other cars all racing for a place on track.

    Once the starts were out of the way, we continued to lap the track working on our skills. It was at this point that I had the most incredible driving experience of my life… two Corvettes running nose to tail, lap after lap… it was incredible!

    It didn’t matter that there was a car right in front of me, I kept looking far ahead for my breaking points, apexes, and exit points. Being so close, ~1 car length, I found myself thinking less about the mechanics of what I was doing… and just driving. Even my downshifting improved! After ~10 laps he waved me past, and it was my turn to be the rabbit. It continued for another couple laps before we parted ways, but after the session I had to thank him for such an intense “race”.

    After lunch there was a brief classroom session to introduce us to the full (1.6 mile, 15 Turn) Bondurant Race Course.

    In this configuration, rather than turning left into Turn 2A… you crest a little rise and drive into the Maricopa Oval. While we have driven this section before, we now included “The Bean”… continuing to turn left out of Turn 4, rather than just going straight. This lead us towards a crest at Turn 6 and then rocketing into Turns 7, 8, and 9.

    These new sections were challenging, but again… when you got it right it just felt so easy. One of the areas this was most apparent was the run down the back straight. If done correctly, once you crest the hill at Turn 6 you don’t need to lift off the throttle until you enter the braking zone at Turn 9. With the changes in elevation, you really get to feel how the weight of the car is transferred… and what it does to the handling of the vehicle.

    As the afternoon went on I started to learn the areas of the course where I could really put the peddle to the metal… without negatively effecting the handling of the car. I felt myself getting quicker and quicker… having to break harder into the corners, but without the “recklessness” I had when I started the course. Where I once was abruptly tossing the car into the corner, I was now smoothly guiding the car through it. I was consistently challenging myself, fixing one issue then moving to another… asking, “is this the best you can do?”

    Far too quickly the checkered flag flew on the final session of the day, and with that my course came to an end…

    After getting out of the Corvette for the last time, those of us who were not returning for the 4th day of the Grand Prix Racing Course (which is focused on Formula series cars) received our report cards and graduation certificates.

    Overall this has been an incredible experience. Hopefully I can apply the knowledge that I’ve learned towards some Auto-X and Track Days in the G8. Having completed the course I have a new understanding of how to drive, but I know there is so much more I can learn. Now I just need to figure out how I can come back to take another course!

  • Bondurant: Day 2

    Posted on December 20th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    My second day at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving flew-by so fast, I could hardly believe it was over!

    The morning started-out with a quick classroom session, then proceeded onto the skid pad in the skid cars.

    I’ve been on a skid pad before, but never in a vehicle that could have the front/rear wheels lifted off the ground. Using the hydraulic jacks on the outriggers, the instructor was able to induce either oversteer or understeer mid-corner (without the need for additional throttle input).

    I’ve had a difficult time in the past (especially in snow/ice) trying to deal with understeer… most of the time I just crank the wheel and slide straight… today was no exception. It took me quite a while to learn that I needed to apply the brakes (transfering weight to the front wheels) and reduce the steering input. I eventually figured it out, but I think I’ll need to get some more practice with this before I feel really comfortable.

    Despite owning a rear wheel drive vehicle with gobs of torque… thankfully, I’ve not really had many chances to recover from excessive oversteer. It was really great to feel how the skid car starts to slip away, and to practice what is needed to smoothly recover. I was truly surprised just how important it is to look where you want to drive the car (and not at the telephone pole you’re sliding towards)… keeping your eyes focused on the exit point for the corner makes correcting much easier.

    After the skid car we hopped into our Corvettes and returned to the Maricopa Oval. Today one of the other students snagged the car I was driving yesterday (he can have my burnt-up clutch), but it wasn’t a big deal… I just selected another Corvette from the line.

    While the other students were adding heel-toe down shifting to their corner entry, I focused on my driving line. Having a night to think about all of the lessons from the previous day really helped, and I started out driving much better than I did yesterday.

    At this point I was really pushing the Corvette as hard as I could. After a while I stopped to re-adjust my seat, only to find smoke pouring off the front brakes (I actually went back out to do a few cool-down laps).

    Unfortunately, I was often driving the car too hard into the corner (getting on the brakes late)… and as a result would carry too much entry speed towards the apex. While I might have been going faster into the corner, the inability to properly turn the car before the apex kept me from rolling into the throttle… and hurt my speed out of the corner (and onto the straight). I also found that I “dive” for the apex, rather than smoothly turning towards it; forcing me to take a poor line… again delaying me from getting back into the throttle out of the corner.

    The last activity before lunch was a threshold braking exercise. It consisted of driving at 65mph towards a set of cones… and decelerating (without the use of ABS) before a line on the ground. After each run they would move the cone closer and closer to the line, until the point where it was difficult to get the car stopped in time (without going into ABS). We also did a run from 65mph going full into ABS, while turning… but even with my brain telling my foot to do it, I had a difficult time just slamming on the brakes (full ABS) and keeping the peddle to the floor.

    After lunch all of our time was spent on the track running the Lake Loop and Carousel.

    We strapped-on helmets and jumped into the Corvettes for a session of follow the leader. While the basic concepts of hitting your brake point, turn-in point, apex, exit point were all the same… trying to tie multiple corners together was quite a bit more challenging. It didn’t take long for the instructors to pull-off, leaving us to explore the track for ourselves.

    I found Turn 2A is much like the constant radius corner of the Maricopa Oval, so felt fairly confident in that section. Turns 7 and 8 is a nearly straight shot from one apex to the other, but requires you to use both sets of rumble strips (which is great fun). Turns 1 and 2 are fairly “basic”, but requires you to slow-down properly from the ~100mph run down the front straight. Turns 11 and 12 are a bit more complicated, and requires a fair bit of trail-braking (to keep weight transferred to the front wheels, aiding steering), but I felt I was negotiating this section well.

    I found myself having the greatest difficulty driving through Turn 9 and into Turn 10. The first part of the session I wasn’t braking enough into Turn 9, and as a result I was not able to get the car properly turned before heading into Turn 10. After a quick ride-along with my instructor (who can really make the Corvette move!) I got a much better feel for the amount of braking required. Turn 13 was similar, I wasn’t braking at the right point to transfer weight to the front wheels… and as a result was pushing (understeer) away from the apex, keeping me from getting into much throttle prior to the braking zone for Turn 14.

    I guess my take-home from today is that driving into the corner faster or breaking later, doesn’t necessarily translate into a faster lap. I was also pushing my equipment harder than needed (the whole smoking brakes thing). Simply braking longer (at a lower pressure) to a slower speed, allows for a better turn-in… and a line that allows you to return to the throttle quicker on exit. I also need to remind myself that “Smooth is fast”… and that aggressive/abrupt braking and turning (while it might feel fast) is only scrubbing speed and increasing the wear on my equipment.

    After about an hour on track (it honestly didn’t feel nearly that long) we pulled into the pits and headed into the classroom to wrap-up the day. At the beginning of the course everyone in the class was fairly quiet and kept to themselves. After today’s track session everyone was suddenly very talkative… comparing driving lines, discussing problem sections, sharing experiences… it was incredible!

    Tomorrow is my final day of the Grand Prix Road Racing course (others will be continuing to a 4th day in the Formula cars). After a short spin in the skid car (*rimshot*), the rest of the day will be spent on the track putting everything I’ve learned together.

  • Bondurant: Day 1

    Posted on December 19th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today was the first of three at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, and all I can say is WOW!

    The day started-out with some classroom discussions about vehicle control and weight transfer. We then took a tour of the facility. The workshops at Bondurant are top-notch… each car is given an inspection (at least) daily… and there are piles of tires/parts for repairs. We then hopped into a van to check-out the rest of the property. If you ever have an opportunity to take a van around the Bondurant facilities… DO IT!

    At this point we broke into groups and chose our vehicle for the next three days…

    While I really would have liked driving a Pontiac G8 for the course, I’m “stuck” driving a C6 Corvette Grand Sport… oh darn!

    We headed-out to practice heel-toe downshifting. This was a problem for me… as I was having difficulties even getting the car into the proper gear. It took me a few times to launch from a stop… and (when I didn’t stall) was not very smooth going into 2nd and 3rd gears. After a short time I pulled-off track and went with my instructor to another area to just practice working the shifter and clutch. At this point I was just miserable… I wasn’t doing very good, kept stalling, and overall was frustrated at my lack of abilities.

    After the heel-toe drills we headed back into the classroom (where I was able to meet Bob Bondurant himself!) and talk more about driving lines and weight transfer. While I tried to pay attention to what was being said, I just couldn’t get my mind off the difficulty I was having with the manual transmission. We broke for lunch and I went out to grab a sandwich… all the time time being frustrated at myself. How bad was it? I just wanted to cry!

    After lunch we continued the classroom session before heading out to the Maricopa Oval to put the lessons we learned in the classroom to the test on track!

    For this exercise I only needed to get the Corvette into 3rd gear and leave it there… which was the best news that I had heard all day! We drove the oval in a counter-clockwise direction, having to navigate both increasing and decreasing radius corners.

    After a few warm-up laps, I put the throttle down and started to push the Corvette harder and harder. I can honestly say, this was the hardest I’ve ever pushed a vehicle before! Lap after lap of trying to hit your marks, looking through the apex to the exit… it was exhilarating! At this point I completely forgot the morning and couldn’t get the ear-to-ear grin off my face.

    I did a good job looking where I wanted to drive the car, but I was regularly turning into the corners too soon… making proper exits a bit more difficult. I also wasn’t as smooth on/off throttle and with steering as I’d have liked. I took some time to slow things down a bit and that really helped me get on the proper lines.

    After the oval we headed to do an accident avoidance drill (very similar to the one I did as part of the Civilian EVOC course I took years ago). Having to put the Corvette in the proper lane at 45mph was fairly easy (even though I nailed a cone on the last attempt), but it gave me quite a bit of time to work with the manual transmission. While I still stalled the car a few times, I got much better at (slowly) launching the car and shifting up into 2nd gear.

    The last drill of the day was more heel-toe downshifting. This time, rather than being out on my own, I joined the others and practiced smoothly shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear. I was orders of magnitude better than how I was in the morning… and didn’t totally burn-up the clutch! I’m still far from “fluent”, but I feel confident enough in my abilities to continue using the Corvette for the driving exercises.

    Tomorrow morning I believe we are headed to the skid car… and to quote an instructor, “If you’re not having fun in the skid car… you shouldn’t be driving a car”. I can hardly wait!

  • Bondurant!

    Posted on December 18th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    It has been over a year since I purchased my birthday gift, but I’ve finally found the time to attend the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving!

    I’ve been looking forward to this course for so long, it’s been almost unbearable. While I was very excited, I was quite nervous about having to drive a manual transmission vehicle. I’ve driven a stick a few times in the past, so understand the procedure, but have never been able to become “fluent”. I tried to rent a car with a manual, even considered buying a “beater”, but in the end went into the course with minimal experience.

    When I flew into Phoenix, I knew I was in the right place… greeting me when I stepped-off the airplane was a Bondurant Corvette!

    I’m taking a Grand Prix Road Racing course, so will spend the next three days immersed in all things racing!

  • 275/35-18 Hoosier Race Slicks!

    Posted on July 5th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    I’ve been needing to nail-down my track tire situation for far too long. My goal was to fit the widest, stickiest, tire that I could on all four wheels of the car. After way too much research I was finally able to get a test wheel on the car!

    The tire is a 275/35-18 Hoosier race slick, mounted on a 18×9.5″ +45mm wheel. That is just about the widest, stickiest, thing available for all four wheels on the G8 (without some major modifications). This will allow me to keep the car balanced and still rotate tires front/rear (unlike a staggered setup).

    The main reason for going to 18″ 35 series tires (vs 19″ 40 series tires) is that there are far more tire compounds available (street, R-Comp, slick). The smaller wheels should reduce the unsprung weight by a few lbs over larger wheels (18″ is the smallest wheel that will clear the Baer Brakes). It will also lower the car another 1/2-inch when on track, without having to change the ride height on the coilovers (which would result in needing an alignment).

    I’ve had some concern about how well the 275 tire would work on the front with a 9.5″ wheel and a +45mm offset. Fortunately I can also use run a 5mm spacer in the front (effectively making the wheel a +40 offset), but it doesn’t even look like I need it to clear the Coilovers. The wheel also sits perfect on the front and rear… so much so that I might not even need to roll/cut the fenders!

    I don’t plan to run a race slick for quite some time, as I need to learn how to drive on a less forgiving tire first, but it’s good to know that this setup will work for all of my track tire needs!

  • On-Track Video Reprocessed

    Posted on May 11th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    After processing the video from a recent track day at the Autobauhn Country Club, I was a little disappointed with the results. I couldn’t figure-out a good way to do the track map… so gave-up. I did clipping back/forth between the various video feeds, but it resulted in a hard to follow video.

    After some additional thinking… and nearly 20hrs of processing (boy I need to get a desktop for doing my video work) I have something I’m happy with:

    I still have one more camera worth of video that I could add… maybe a unique shot for the session (driver’s feet, front/rear wheel, etc.). I’m thinking I could make the rear-view camera smaller and have a third video at the top… but I guess I’ll have to play around a little more in the future. At least for now I know I have a decent plan for when I hit the track!

  • HOD: Autobahn Country Club

    Posted on May 2nd, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Participation in track days are one of my main goals once I get back home, so when I heard a few G8’s were going to be attending an event an hour outside Chicago… I had to attend!

    Hooked on Driving, one of the groups that puts on driving events in California, was running this Track Day… and it turned-out to be a great way to learn about what is required when doing track days.

    HOD rented-out the Autobahn Country Club, a 3.56 mile 19-turn road course. There is little elevation change on this track, but the wide variety of corners makes it quite challenging.

    I only took one lap around the track as a passenger, but I would imagine it would take me quite a while to learn the track. Fortunately there are cones that help with the process… marking turn-in, apex, and turn-out… and I thought they were just there to get in the way when I’m taking photos!

    One of the reasons I wanted to attend this event was to see what others were doing at the track when it came to preparation for the event. The equipment people are using, tools people bring, etc. I was able to get quite a few ideas about harness bars, brake cooling, etc. I was actually quite surprised to see that most people drove to the track on the tires/brakes they used on circuit… I really figured I’d see more people changing these items out in the pits before the day started. I definitely learned a bunch spending the day in the pits!

    The other reason I wanted to attend the event was to get some data! I’ve done some data logging on public roads, but have never done anything on a race circuit. I’ve really wanted to learn how to process data with laps, sectors, etc. I was lucky to have a G8 owner (CntryClub007) who allowed me to hook-up my gadgets to his car!

    I’ve hooked-up the Race-Technologies DL1 to my car before, just with some Velcro on the dash, but had some difficulty on the super clean (and protected) dash of CntryClub007’s G8. Fortunately I had some of the stick-on mounts for my GoPro cameras… and with a little modification, I had a new mount made for the DL1. I’ve even ordered another suction cup so that I have a portable mounting solution that doesn’t require sticking something to a dash.

    I had hoped on gathering data from multiple cars, but that didn’t work-out. Regardless… there is more than enough data to keep me busy for a while!

    In addition to the data logger, I also had my GoPro video cameras mounted in/on the car.

    I tried some new angles this time, but still think I need to find a few more to add some variety to the resulting videos. It is also quite difficult to clip together video/data from multiple track sessions to make an interesting video. I also had some difficulty getting the track map data from the data logger integrated into the video… I eventually gave-up this time, but I hope to figure it out.

    My most difficult challenge this time was the audio! For some reason, when the car I was filming reached higher RPMs the audio recorded by the GoPro just went crazy. There was a high pitched “tinny” whistle sound. It turned-out that I had to remove selected frequencies from the audio… fortunately I have access Soundtrack Pro, which allowed me to pull-up a spectrum of the tones. I was able to match the noise to a set of harmonics starting around 1k Hz… and once I removed them, it sounded much better.

    I have to say that I learned all sorts of things from today’s activities. I can’t wait to get home and put all of this to use with my car on-track!