Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finished up this weekends video.

     Had some technical difficulties with the camera saturday.  Lost one session because when I turned on the camera I held the button too long and it went into picture mode instead of video (anyone with a gopro knows how that happens).  Then after I melted off the wheel weights, the video become a little too wobbly.  So this is what I wound up with.

lime rock august 25 edit from Nathan Bookbinder on Vimeo.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I live my life a quarter mile at a time...wait what?

     I was very looking forward to go racing this weekend with all the other bullshit going on for me right now.  Relaxed all day Friday, gassed up the car, topped off my tires so I could bleed them down once I arrived.  Went out and had a good times with some friends, and called it a night.

     7.15AM saturday, and I am welcomed with a noticeably (to me) low left front tire.  Get out the gauge and it reads 28psi.  That means it lost 5 psi in about 12 hours...great.  The valve stem ball/pin needs to be tightened, and surprisingly my dad claims he has the tool, but obviously not with him.  Put 5 psi back in and got on my way to the track.  The thought was that being a metal valve stem with an o ring at the cap, i shouldn't really have to big an issue...and i do carry a spare electric pump anyway.  An uneventful ride to say the least.

     Arrived at the track, rolled into the paddock, and surprisingly my dad was already there and had the EZ-up up and providing shade...sweet.  I set on to unpacking my car, get registered (at which point i found out I was being bumped from novice to intermediate run group), tech'd, etc.  Had a half hour to kill before the drivers meeting so I re torqued my spacers, and a few other rituals, and set all 4 tires to 32psi.

     It was a great day weather wise to be racing, although we quickly found the track temp was above its optimal zone and in the slippery hot zone.  

Decided to run on some of this for the day (put 4 gallons in a half tank of 93, and put in another 2 gallons when i was at 1/4 tank).  And let me just say, even though I'm tuned for 93, the car definitely has a ballsier feel to it. 

1st session - Mentality was to just go make sure i have the muscle memory of the proper line and do a couple 7/10th's laps to see where i was at.  Quickly noticed that the exit/trackout point of turn 2 and into the braking zone of turn 3 was covered in dirt and rocks.  This lead to having to re adjust your double apex of big bend so that you could stay way inside out of the dirt.  That sections leads itself to stabbing the brakes and getting ABS lockup even without the dirt...  Either way, did a hot lap and wound up surprising myself when I clicked off a 1:06.62, already beating my previous best by a full second.  I felt like I hit none of my marks whatsoever, and literally felt the rear end jumping around under braking, and definitely had to counter steer a few times.

Second Session - Was kind of a waste, I wound up in bad traffic twice because they kept black flagging a guy and then releasing him back on track at not the best time.  Did some slower laps to make sure I could identify all my marks, and then clicked off another 1:06.xx.
     After a cool down, and 2-3 minutes sitting, the guys in the pit next to me gave me their infrared heat gun.  outside edge of my calipers were over 500 degrees, rotors were upwards of 600 degrees.  The wheel was even too hot to touch, and that's after the heat travels through a 20mm thick metal spacer.  The extreme heat did me the favor of removing all my wheel weights from the barrel.  This made the ride home down the mass pike well...interesting.
     I also started having issues with downshifting into 4th gear and 5th gear ground on the way in once.  The downshifts make sense since I'm granny shiftin, not double clutching like Dom says I should.  Sorry Fast and Furious flashback.  Basically I need to figure out heel toe soon, or a more effective braking strategy to be completely done braking and then blip the throttle.  It's also possible that at 60k miles my clutch is pretty worn and needs to be adjusted and/or its not releasing all the way at high rpm.  Have a few things to try this winter to get it to shift better as previously mentioned.

Third Session - By now i was fatigued and low on gas, even after putting in two more gallons of VP100.  Traffic was a little better and i clicked off a 1:06.8x, 1:06.7x and finally a 1:06.6x.  Midway through the session I went to take the hill at turn 7 and the car sputtered and was acting like I had some weird boost/rev limit.  Turns out what little gas I had in the car was too far from the pump.  I called it a day at that point.

     I was literally and figuratively out of gas, and became pretty convinced that my brakes were used up.  I didnt want to put more 100 octane in at $9.99 a gallon, and figured I wasn't gonna get any faster.  Of course right as I'm packed up and session is called...instant cloud cover rolls in and I bet the track came down 10 degrees dammit.
     Again...super impressed with my car.  Only change from last time was the 60 dollar mini battery.  the change in feel of the car in the turn 2-3-4 complex was very positive.  That, combined with my goal of the day (which was literally "trail break the shit out of everything") led to going 1.5 seconds faster than last time out.  I'll take that.


     I appear to have my tire pressures dialed.  The rollover looks pretty good...could aregue both ways against/for another pound.

     I think I over heated/smeared my pads.  The CL pads i run have an interesting failure mechanism.  As opposed to other pads who just over heat and the mu goes off a cliff (leading to stepping on the pedal and getting nothing at all), these slowly compress giving you a longer pedal almost like boiling fluid.  My pedal did get longer but...i dunno.

     In the end, the car has done great.  Specific to this track I think with some well thought out changes there may be a second per lap still left in the car.  I'm at the point where I am almost positive the spring rates are the limiting factor.  Id love to jump to coilovers next season, but to many annoying things to take care of that cost a lot to do this winter.  I also need to get out to more tracks that involve more than two gears.

gonna re read this in the next few days and edit/add/etc, as well as finish editing the video...check back!

Sunday, August 19, 2012 other news (I have no idea whats going on edition)

     While having beers with a coworker/friends on Friday night I realized that I'm pretty sure I just black out Monday through Friday and wake up for Saturday and Sunday.  I don't know if it's rage, blood pressure, or turning into the my typically one day off  (if I'm super lucky I actually get two in a row) I have zero idea what has happened the rest of the week.  We are so understaffed at work it's not even funny.  With the latest being the tragic/sudden passing of one of my nicest coworker's husband, which really put everyone in a crappy mood...oddly enough it quelled some of the other bullshit for a day or two.

     But anyway...

     Unfortunately, the coworker mentioned above had graciously offered to work a day for me so that I could go to the EMRA race at NJMP in September.  For obvious reasons my trip has been cancelled.  This very likely means that my event at Lime Rock next weekend will be my last for the season.  There is a chance that pending my work schedule, which of course I probably won't have until October, that I could make the NASA NJMP Thunderbolt weekend the end of October or even the EMRA summit point weekend...but I'm not sure I want to head all the way to West Virginia.

     I've been "falling out of love" with the damn car lately on top of everything else.  It's running great, but my wide band has apparently died yet again and on top of that, after pulling some logs last week found out that my logging resolution has dropped to 1/10th of what it had been (aka the data is useless).  This of course happened right as I had 3 days off from work and planned on tweaking the map and converting to Tephra V7 finally.  I spent 2 hours re installing all my software and drivers and got no change.  The only suggestion I've gotten from anyone is to just reformat the damn computer...I fucking hate windows.  The shifting of the car has gotten reaaaaallly annoying.  Keep in mind I have about a 3 mile commute to work through the city, so a low rpm 2nd gear lockout is a giant annoyance.  My best guess is that the clutch is not fully disengaging, and since I've been lazy with the trans fluid change interval and not installing the new clutch line/removing the restrictor, it's my own fault.

     As of today, as much as I don't want to, I think my plan is going to be to go park the car for the winter in September and go get it out if I wind up making the October NASA event.  I don't really want to park it for 7 months, but by the time the middle of next month rolls around I'll be over 59k miles (did about 5k so far this year), which means I need to seriously start planning my 60k service and winter mods plan of attack...and getting down to setting aside the money obviously.  I'm trying to rationalize it because it will save me equipment costs, my current tires will only have 2 events, brakes only 3, which will probably get me pretty deep into next season.  On top of all that, another car was broken into in classic smash and grab fashion right in my apartment buildings parking lot, ya know, the one with all the cameras, and a guy I work with had the cat cut off his truck in the work parking lot 2 days ago.  To say I'm mildly concerned about my wheels and/or car being stolen would be putting it lightly.  This is a large part of the reason that I'm trying to find a new place to live that includes a garage, but that too is proving futile. 

     Who knows...lately I can't plan more than 2 days ahead with the way things are going.

     My feelings will probably completely change after Lime Rock next weekend.

     I'm wonder I have insomnia....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"How being an Idiot is the Smart Way to Drive Fast"

     I spend a lot of time reading car forums/blogs/industry sites etc, etc.  Some of my favorites: jalopnik, autoweek, autoblog, smoking tire, crank and piston, speedhunters, you get the idea.

     So I won't lie, I stole the above title straight from a great article from a series on jalopnik called "how to drive fast", which is written by Alex Lloyd (indy car driver).  I suggest you all read it, his articles have been great, well written and its really cool to get insight straight from a professional driver.  The main point of the article is that in the end, to be/become a fast actually need to be a bonified (sp?) idiot.  I mean the truth of it is, the breed of person that dives feet first into auto racing could be reasoned to have a screw (or multiple) loose, since we do after all hurl ourselves into turns at speeds that normal people cant even handle in a straight line down the highway...and come out the other side (most of the time at least).  The game is as much mental as it is physical and engineering.  (here's the link for the lazy)

     Try explaining that one to the girl you meet at the bar. (hint: she wont get it)

     But I digress, back to the car at hand.  In random forum discussion the idea of making a sway bar adjustment was brought up.  It had crossed my mind but the I hadn't really done the research on the key points like my actual spring rates and how much stiffness change each adjustment point on the bar made.  This stuff was an easy find, my springs are 290in/lb front and 330 rear and whiteline has a readily available stiffness chart.  After talking to Andrew at GTWorx, he suggested that going to the middle setting on the rear bar coupled with my springs, and that this would not push me into an over steer situation, which obviously wouldn't be a good thing for a green driver like me.  Long story short, I had hoped that I'd be able to up the bar and it would make an awesome change to the car...low and behold the bar was already set there.  On one hand this is good because it's stopping me from making a big swing at the setup that may get me in trouble, but at the same time it means I will have to learn to drive around the inherent evo under steer that I hoped wouldn't be so blatantly apparent.  There is one small change I can make, but that's a story for another post.

     Here is my sub $100 mini battery setup that sticks to my modus operendi of building a car that at anytime I can put back to stock, operates in a close to stock manner and is fast...and hey I make a good salary but even still im not dropping $250 on a freaking mini battery (most vendors sell kits with trays that replace the stock tray, cost well over $200, and use a bettery that is 2 pounds heavier...I win.)

     It's odd being in a position with a car where it feels complete and well rounded.  I honestly don't think with all the cars I've ever built that I have had this complete feeling a car.  I continue to be impressed on a very consistent basis with how well this drives to and from work, and yet goes out and rips it up on the track.  I think big things will be coming next year.  Global Time Attack has recently announced an "enthusiast" class with much tighter rules a la must be driven to the track.  This was set up to combat the "street class" cars that are aero'd out with 500whp, slicks, etc and running higher classes normally, from strapping on street tires and running the next down class to easily win and set records.  I fully plan on hitting the GTA NJMP event next year.

     Now I just need to find the time to get the tune a tad more dialed based on what I was seeing on my wide band last time out.  I still need to get around to converting to ECU boost one of these days too...

     I actually don't mind writing these either lately...just need to come up with more shit to talk about.