Registered: Jan 2005
Limerock Track Day
Its 4am Monday morning and I canít fall back asleep. The impending track day has my nerves on edge and my adrenaline flowing. Iím able to doze for a little bit, but not as much as want.
Finally 6am rolls around. My mom is already up preparing me and Will breakfast. The dog licks my face to make sure Iím up, apparently heís excited for me too as heís jumpin around like he snorted cocaine instead of some good food.
The warm shower wakes me and the fresh coffee adds the needed caffeine to open my eyes. By 0645 Will and I are out the door. The car is loaded up on the trailer and the truck is packed and the tires and wheels are already changed on the Evo.
The trip to the track is very quiet and pretty. We show up at 0730, sign the waiver then drive in to find a parking spot. Willís eyes and mine are wide open as we drive past some of the cars that are there. There must be atleast 20 LotusísÖ.Elise, European Elise, Exige and track Exiges. On top of that we spot a few Ferraris, a Ford GT, an original (yes original) Shelby A/C Cobra 427, Pro Am Cup RSX, Noble M12, full race prepped FC, a few Z06s on R comps, quite a few e36 M3ís, 2 other Evoís (one red the other black), a few STiís, NSX, Porsche Turboís (911 and up) and many other hot cars.
Will parks next to another Evo (red) I figured Iíd be able to talk to him since we own the same car (not the case, guy was a choad). I go to fire the car up to back it off and she wonít start. She makes all the noises, but she isnít catching. This catches the attention of one of the guys there. It takes about 7 cranks to get her to fire up. At this point the guy is asking Will about my car. As soon as she starts up, the most beautiful sound in the world is heard, 4g63 on some lumpy cams. Man did she have some lump in her and she was loud! The car is backed off the trailer and I head over to tech.
Tech checks to make sure I have a Snell 95 or newer helmet (I do), makes sure my lugs are tight, wheel bearings are good to go, brakes, brake fluid, no loose items etc. I then run up to registration and sign in. I meet Ian Prout the President of SCDA (Sports Car Driving Association). He informs me that I will be running in Intermediate 1. There are 5 levels run groups today and they are categorized by driving experience and car, mostly by experience. The highest being Instructor, followed by Advanced, Intermediate 2, Intermediate 1 then Novice. So Iím in the 2nd lowest group, which is fine with me as I havenít been to Limerock in a while.
I head back over to my car and introduce myself to the guy who was talking to Will. His name is Wayne and he drives a 04 Z06 on R comps and he is an instructor. My ears perk up when he mentions that. We talk for a bit about my car and what I have done to it. I tell him suspension is all stock, but Iím running R comps and the motor has been nicely modified. His son asks what kind of power I put out. 354WHP is the response. Wayneís mouth drops. Yes sir that is correct. Stock turbo too. We chat for a bit then head over to the drivers meeting. Rules of the day are gone over. Passing only on front straight and no-name straight only, flags are such and this is what you do.
The first run group out is Instructor. Wayne heads out in his Z06. The track is cold and the day is warming up. Its about 48 degrees with the sun still rising. In Wayneís run group is the Ford GT, the Pro Am RSX, Noble, a few other race cars, a Ferrari and Mercedes CL 55 AMG. I watch Wayne during his run, Iím very curious to see his line and how smooth he is. 405HP and R comps are a handful on a cold track. Wayne is very smooth and predictable through the slowest part of the track (the esses). Iím really amazed as to how consistent he is stayin on his line, even though he starts getting faster and faster. The track never gets up to temp during his time out there, but it was getting faster. I timed him at 66seconds. Now for reference, when a street car eclipses the 60sec mark at Limerock, thatís considered VERY fast. Any car running in the 61s or 62s is fast also. I talk to Wayne when he comes back in and ask him if he will be my instructor. He says he was hoping Iíd ask him.
Iím in a 30min class first for beginner drivers. Iíve driven Limerock before but its always good to get a refresher. As it turns out, quite a few important things have changed since I had last been there. The most important being pit entry has moved back about 100 ft or so. Also the tire wall has slide back 5ft at the up hill turn. 5ft doesnít seem like much, but it takes the claustrophobia out of the up hill turn.
A quick lap around Limerock goes like this. Coming down the main straight, you set up on the left for Big Bend, a decreasing radius 180degree right hand turn. Once through Big Bend torque is the name of the game as you pull hard for 150ft through the short chute to enter the esses. Set yourself up on the FAR right for the left hander and make a very late apex. Go 20ft past the apex then steer right for the right hander leading you onto No-name straight. No name has two small kinks in it, but you can keep your foot down easily. At the end of no name is tricky right hander called the up hill turn. You early apex this turn, cause the road shoots up hill as you are swinging out wide. Make sure when you crest the uphill your wheel is straight and you are towards the middle of the track. Once you clear the uphill you are on the back straight, the back straight leads to West bend a fast 90degree right hand turn. Swing wide out of Westbend go under the infield bridge and drop downhill for the downhill turn. Set up wide, and use the cars squatting suspension to get on the power early and shoot down the main straight. The total course length is 1.53mi.
Wayne jumps in the car with me and we head out when my group is called. Once out on the track I go easy to get the tires up to temp. Iím immediately stuck in traffic. Now remember is NOT a race. I can not pass in the turns. I have to be patient and BE NICE to wait for a point by. Iím stuck in so much traffic I canít get a rhythm. Wayne has me pull in to the pits to wait for some open track. Ian stops me and lets me know when its good for me to go. He waives me on and I rocket out of the pits, getting up to speed as quickly as possible. I do 1.5 laps and I catch up to the line of cars I pulled in from. For my entire 25min session I did not run one clean lap. Wayne really wasnít able to say what I was doing wrong except to tell me where I needed to have the car. I no where near approached the limit. I was barely on the gas. Heck even down front straight I was in so much traffic, Iíd hit 5th and go ľ throttle and STILL have to let off so I wouldnít rear end anyone. This was ridiculous.
We come back in the pits and Wayne asks me if I want to ride with him. Are you kidding?? A chance to ride with an instructor in a z06 on R comps? Heck ya! His group is the next one out. We head out and do a warm up lap. On his first hot lap, we crest the up hill turn and you hear 3rd hear sky rocket as the LS2 motor spins the R compound rear tires. Wayneís car is very smooth and his inputs are very minor. Coming down the front straight he brakes at the 5 marker very hard. Then down shifts to 3rd, going through Big Bend he rolls through the gas tryin to keep the perfect balance. He rockets out of Big Bend and shoots for the esses. He points out the line I need to be taking from Big Bend to the left hander. Iím shooting over from one side of the track to the other, while he lets the car come back. Its much smoother and quicker. We catch up to some traffic which Wayne is able to negotiate very easily through. These instructors and racers drive just as much in the rear view as they do lookin ahead. About our 8th lap, Wayne is in some open track and really knockin off some hot laps, all the while pointing out where I want to be at. We are pulling down the front straight when all of a sudden I hear this RRRROOOOOOOOAAAAARRRRRRRR!!!. The GT40 goes screamin past us followed right on its bumper by the Pro Cup RSX. There is no better feeling in the world then being in a fast car balls to the wall and having a VERY fast car go roarin past you. Wayne picks up his pace now that his tires are up to temp and sticks right with them. The GT pulls on us on the straights, a little on the RSX. But through the turns this RSX is fast. He rolls in deeper and gets on it sooner. He is all over th GT on the straights. Wayne is just as fast as the RSX on the straights, but gives up very very little in the corners. The GT lets the RSX pass him on no name a few laps later then a lap after that he lets Wayne by. Wayne starts pullin away, using his superior grip and brakin abilities to put down some serious lap times. The RSX is long gone when we crest the up hill turn to see the Noble off in the grass. It looks like he got loose on the up hill and went off, fortunately he didnít hit anything. Wayne pulls in after that to talk to me about what he was doing and why. He says I should be faster than him since I have the power and the grip. I just need to figure out how to harness it.
We watch the other cars go and eventually I see the black Evo out there. I get some times on him. Low 64 second lap times. The black Evo is running in Intermediate 2. I check out his car when he pulls in. He has JIC coilovers and shaved Toyo RA-1s. I never get a chance to talk to the owner though.
Finally my group is called again for our 2nd run time. Wayne jumps in again. I go very slow on the first 4 laps trying to get some space opened up. I finally get some room to open up and get into a rhythm. Iím able to get about 5 ok laps in (some traffic) when I catch up to an e46 M3. Iím clearly faster than him in every part of the track. But he wonít give me a point by. This goes on for 3 laps. I shout over to Wayne, telling him Iím just gonna pass him on the front straight. I back off coming out of West bend to get some room. I open up about 100ft between us. I hit the downhill turn, but over estimated how fast the M3 would be going. As I pull out of the down hill turn, Iím on his bumper sooner than I expected, I didnít realize he was that slow. I grab 5th gear and start pullin past him, he is NOT letting up. I stay in it I pull past him easily, but I used the entire straight away to do it. I slide back in Ďlineí and go to jump on the brakes for Big Bend and I have nothing. Uh oh, I stab at the brakes again, nothing. Now its do or die time, I quickly make the decision to use the run off instead of trying to find the brakes and stick the turn. Once this decision is made, Iím two feet in. Now the brakes grab. Once grabbed I ease up to make a controlled stop and turn around. Wayne compliments me saying I made a great quick decision. Instead of risking the car and car behind me, I choose the safe route and made it out in one piece. The good thing is I have open track now. Once back on course Iím able to really turn some good laps, but only 3 because thatís when the flags wave signaling our time is up. On our cool down lap Wayne compliments my ability to adjust and make quick decisions. He tells me he wants me to move at least one class. He first must talk to Ian about it. A few minutes later Iím called to the paddock. Ian talks with me about what happened when I over shot Big Bend. I tell him, I had been behind the M3 for about 3 laps and he wasnít giving me a point by. I had a great run and plenty of room coming out of the down hill and used that to make the pass. Unfortunately the E46ís ego got in the way and he wouldnít let me go easily. I tell him I might have been able to stick the turn, but instead of risking it I decided to go straight. He tells me I made a wise decision to use the run off, but I can always pit in if Iím stuck behind someone. He then tells me he wants to move me up to Intermediate 2. Unfortunately they are on the track right now. So for my 3rd time out, Iím to run with my group then the last session of the day Iím to run with Intermediate 2.
I head out for my 3rd session. I try to line up to be one of the first out but I get beat by an S4 and the NSX. When flagged to go out, I take my time on the warm up laps. Two yellow flay laps later and the green flag drops. Iím easily half the front straight behind the NSX and S4. The S4 is pulling away from the NSX. As we complete our first lap, Iím all over the NSX. He quickly points me by on No Name straight. The S4 has pulled about 3 seconds ahead at this point. I storm up on his bumper coming out of Big Bend on to the short chute. He then points me by on No Name straight. Finally some open track! I get two laps of open track when I catch two Porsche Turbos. The first 996 points me by but the 2nd one doesnít. He stays in it. Great another drag race. I pull 4th gear to 7500 rpm to make sure Iím in power for 5th gear. I grab 5th and the boost hits instantly. I make quick work of the other 996 that didnít want to give it up. Thereís only one problem. There is a Miata up ahead I hadnít seen. The Porschesí were blockin my view. As Iím completing my pass on the Miata I have to jump on the brakes for Big Bend. Iím at about 130mph. As I hit the brakes, my car pulls to the left and the rear tries swingin to the right. I quickly release the brakes and apply counter steer. I HAVE to get on the brakes to make the turn, the Miata is still beside me. I get on the brakes hard, the rear end still trying to come in first, I heel toe to 4th and ease up. The car settles a bit, but Iím still too fast. I heel toe 3rd and reign her in. Iím not in the line I want to be in. I come into Big Bend about mid track. Wayne had told me this might be a preferred line and I should try it. Well Iím here now I might as well try it. The car tracks beautifully, Iím actually having to get back in the gas. I come out of Big Bend letting the right side tires grab the curbing. As I rocket down the short chute, I set up for the left hander only to catch the flag guy waving the yellow flag. Damn it! No one crashed it was just the last lap and they were posting the flags to let people know to slow down. I head into the pits and do a check of my brakes. They are grabbing fine and equally with no pull. Maybe it was just a fluke thing. Still I pull the brake fluid cap off and check the fluid. I just bleed it out and dumped in Motul 600F the day before. I know I didnít cook it. Will and I do a brake check, and re bleed to make sure I have no air in the lines. I still have one more session, this time with a faster group.
Mean while, my sister guys out for a ride with a guy in his E36 M3. My sister has a blast and the guy posts some very impressive lap times, low 62s. They head over after there stint is up. The guy is a semi professional racer. He is also a driving instructor here too. His name is Bob Rivera. He tells us about a Pro Truck he races up here that has posted 53 second lap times. WoW!!! Heís been doing this for about 25yrs or so. Bob is a really nice guy and he gives me some pointers for my last session.
My Dad and I get some lap times of the cars that are out there. The Pro Cup RSX is running 62s the GT 40 is running low 63s to high 62s. And there are other various cars running 67-69second laps. I had been turning 65s but I keep getting caught in traffic. Hopefully I can get some open laps in this next session.
Intermediate 2 is called up. I head over to stage and what do I stage behind? Two cars in front of me is the black Evo, behind him is a blue Sti then its me, then another blue Sti. This is gonna be some fun. As we head out I think to my self, this the last session, you havenít broken or crashed, go easy and go home in one piece. Then out of no where, the devil straps himself into my passenger seat, what you wanna go easy? Take it and give it all sheís got. You trailered yourself here, you HAVE a way home. Well the devil has a point. Once the flag drops Iím on it. The 4 Japanese rally cars are nose to tail. Two laps later, all of us have passed the 5cars in front of us. Once we get some open track, the 2nd Sti starts falling back. He canít keep up. We are pulling on him on the straights. The first Sti is slowing me up, I canít completely get on it coming out of a turn because Iím right on him. The good thing about being in a faster run group is people pay attention! Less than half a lap of tickling his back bumper he lets me by, letting up as I pass and giving me room to get back Ďin line.í MUCH NICER!!! Now its black evo, me, and the two StiísÖquickly falling back.
Iím slowly catching the black evo. For the 4 laps it took me to catch up to him, I was coming out of Big Bend every lap, fighting the steering wheel as I kept my foot down. She wasnít getting out of hand, but she was getting squirrely. Iím really able to stay in it too. Because as I crest the up hill turn, even with R compounds, the RPMs were shooting up as all 4 tires broke loose. A couple of times I had to turn the wheel to keep the car going straight. Once on the back straight, Iíd stab the brakes to load the front, then let up a little so I could trail brake. This would bring the rear end around slightly. Almost to the point where the steering wheel would be straight in my hands. Once the wheel is about straight, I was fully back on the gas in 4th gear letting the right side tires hit the rumble strips then letting it slide back out to the left dropping the left side tires onto the rumble strips. Once at the bridge for the down hill turn Iíd let up then as the suspension would compress Iíd get back in it, never touching the brakes. By the 4th lap, I could see I was slightly faster on through the downhill turn and short chute. I figured my only chance to get by him would be the front straight. I had a little bit more pull than the black Evo. Coming through the down hill turn for the 4th time being behind him, I got a great run, just the same way I did against the M3. The Evo pointed me by. He too let off. If he didnít I would not have been able to complete the pass before Big Bend. The other thing I had noticed when behind him, was he went into Big Bend a lot deeper than me. I was constantly having to pump the brakes then fight the car as she wanted to spin around on me every time I came in to that turn. So as I completed the pass, I stayed right just incase he didnít expect me to get on my brakes that early. This was a good thing, because on entry to Big Bend he was RIGHT on me. Iím feathering the throttle in 3rd gear and once stabilized I drop the hammer. The rear tracks around a little but she pulls like a banshee out on to the short chute, the rear end sliding out a little. I plant the front end for the left hander and make a beautiful arc for the right hander to No name straight. Iím able to get aobut 5 laps in before we run into traffic again. The black Evo is right on me. But Iím slightly faster than him through the down hill and pulling up to the esses. We go through traffic then Ďbattleí for about 5 more laps before the checkers waive.
I pull into the pits to see Bobís M3 on my trailer. His car blew the radiator neck off so Will is going to tow him home.
I quickly go and find the black Evo driver. I introduce myself and he quickly realizes Iím the red Evo driver. He says he has never pushed so hard to keep up with another car out there, but he had a blast doing so. He asks what I have done, I say stock suspension just R comps with lots of motor work. Turns out he is pushing 333whp so I was only 20whp up on him. He had suspension and sticky street tires and I just had R comps. We talk for a bit. He says it was pretty amazing watching me go with the car because there were many spots on the track were he could see me fighting the car a little. Especially coming out of Big Bend and the top of the up hill. But he said the most enjoyable part about being behind me was my entry to West bend. He said he could see me load the front end, then switch to trail braking and let the rear end track around then Iíd power through. The funny thing is I could see him doing the same thing. I wish someone had a video camera of us. That had to be the coolest thing. Watching both Evoís come in partially sideways to West bend together. My father comes over and says I did some amazing driving. I ask my lap times and Dad says very low 63s with an occasional 62. But I was behind someone when he would time me. The black Evo guy (Kyle) says only 63s? I run high 63s with my car and you were faster than me. You easily are in the low 62s if not high 61s.
Kyle and I talk for a bit and exchange Evom names. Turns out he goes to Limerock quite often where as this is my first time there in the Evo. My mom then comes and talks to me saying I had her heart going a few times when I came out of Big Bend and she could see the car get squirrely on me.
My track day had come to an end at this point. Will and I pack things up and head down to Bobís house. Bob turns out to me a very, very, very, very, wealthy man and extremely nice too. Owning a Busch North car, Pro truck, 1970 Corvette Stingray 454, a 1970 Chevelle SS 396, a 1996 M3 (supercharged, FMIC, Nos on the intercooler an twin dry shots). His house is easily 6000 sq/ft, 8 garages, 12 ft lift and a 40 ft trailer. I was in awe. We hang out with him for a while before Will and I load my car up and head out.
My first track day was a success. I do have some issues to get worked out though before I head back. First and foremost my brakes, I have to have consistent brakes. The no brakes then the wanting to swap ends is not good, Iím thinking brake up grade. I also need to finish my tuning as I only put down 354WHP when I should be in the 385whp range.
Thereís always something more to be done. All in all the track day was very good for me. I didnít wreck or break. And I will be going to another one. Also top things off, Wayne is recommending I already be bumped up to Advanced group. That would be put me at the highest level I can attain with out being and instructor. Iím going to try and make another Limerock event before I leave.
Pics to come soon