iI usually wait for the snow season to be over before going for the track. April 23rd sounded like late enough. Little did I know that I'd be snowboarding in more than one foot of fresh powder the previous day.
Luckily, the weather was ok the next day. Since Thunderhill was a mere few miles from the Willows general aviation airport, I took the opportunity to fly there. It was about 55mn in the air when flying by Mt Diablo (to avoid crowded San Francisco airspace), and close to 2H if you factor in going to/from the airport, getting the plane ready, tied down, and so forth... That said, it was both more scenic and peaceful than driving there, and I didn't have to worry about cops while doing close to 200mph :)
I was a bit sluggish on my first session, but started getting a bit more awake and precise on my next session and getting more comfortable with the amount of brakes and traction I had, or didn't have. Unfortunately, that's around the time that my brake pads started going out (I knew they wouldn't last the day, and brought spares).
Changing the said brake pads ended up being much more work than expected however. The pin that needed to be slid out was wedged in there quite well, probably due to heat expansion. We did get it out eventually, but the next problem was that the new brake pads I had were too thick, and just wouldn't fit.
After more calls, the advise was to rub them down until they were thin enough to fit. Sure enough, I used some stone to rub them against, and they fit eventually.
After that I had 3 more sessions left (one lost to brake changing), but unfortunately, something wasn't quite right in the pad install, and my brake fluid would overheat and boil. It's scary to have your brake pedal go to the floor with no brakes when you're going over 100mph, and there is a turn coming :) (pumping helped a bit, but was barely enough).
We drained the fluid, which helped a bit, but I still had problem after a few laps each time. Ultimately, we now think that the pads were a bit too thick, and were rubbing on the rotors even when I wasn't braking, overheating the whole system. My car is now getting a full flush and brake check, which should take care of that.
Anyway, I was able to get a few laps that were a bit better (down to 2:11 or 2:10), but still very far from what the car could do. Not only do I still need to learn how to drive it, as it's nothing alike my old turbo miata, but I was also being very conservative on braking because I didn't want to lose my brakes at 120, right before a turn...
That said, despite the brake issues, it was still nice to have a little fun on the track, but I don't feel I got to learn a whole lot this time, especially on my later sessions where I was more awake, but just afraid of pushing it too much and losing my brakes in the wrong place. Unfortunately, I also didn't much time to socialize, or take other pictures. I was too busy changing the pads, and then trying to bleed out the boiled brake fluid... (that said the pictures I was able to get (including 2 not from me) are
The flight home was fine (55mn) and I got home in less than 2H door to door, which isn't bad :)
The funny part is how I was trying to shift my M5 with the windshield wipers, which my brain had decided had become paddle shifters :)
Oh, and thanks to Jason for the help :)