Current Music: Björk - Big Time Sensuality
Current Mood: Good day
So, at the very last minute (7 hours before I left), I received my new compound E brakepads from Wilwood and ended up installing them around 19:00 (a bit behind schedule, but I was just not feeling that great, and really needed a nap when I came back from work)
After swearing in different languages untorking my lug nuts with the cheapo wrench that comes with the car, and pushing the pistons back in, I put in the new pads (took less than 30mn, not too bad considering how under-equipped I was :) I went to try them in the neighborhood. Holy crap, did they make a world of difference, I could almost lock my tires instantly because how well they gripped.
I ended up heading for
around 20:10, somewhat behind schedule, but got there in about 1H55mn (163 miles) and the funny part is that I passed both John who left 20mn before me, but from Fremont by 680/580 (about 30 miles ahead of me), but the better part is that I also passed another 10 or so thunderhill bound miatas on the way, including the BAMO guys who had left from Milpitas an hour before me. The only hitch was that by running a full boost on 505 (about 135mph), I ate up a lot of gas (funny how that works) and barely made it to willows on my full tank of gas (11 galons, 163 miles, that would be under 15mpg, ooops, my car used to do up to 26mpg when driven nicely)
The next morning I pretty much felt like a trainwreck when I got up (well, it was also the fact that it was 06:30). Maybe the caffeine or being on the track helped, but by the time I was on the track, I was feeling a bit better.
As I expected, I wasn't doing too well on my first times out (2:24 lap times), and even got my car very sideways several times, although I amazed myself when I was able to save the car every single time (i.e. I didn't spin out or even layed a single wheel off the track). Group A had a couple of seriously fast miatas though (a white one with blue stripes was actually running a good 15 to 20 seconds faster than me apparently, it had a big turbo (much bigger than mine apparently), and also a very fast driver)
I also rode with "Maniacal Engineer" Matt in group B, thanks to whom my car was in running order, and he didn't need a lot of instruction from me. On his second time out, I really didn't have much else to tell him. He pulled a 2:25, which for his second time at Thunderhill in an NA car is seriously impressive (I don't think I'd have done a whole lot better in his car, and I've ridden thunderhill a few more times than him).
By lunchtime, the adrenaline that was keeping me alert wore out and I went to crash somewhere, I was absolutely dead. My first session out in the afternoon was just not good, I was feeling really weird physically, still feeling the effects of that stupid cold, and was actually apprehensive about doing something stupid while on the track.
I had another caffeine drink, and somehow pulled out of it, so that by my last session, and especially open track, I was finally doing better again, bringing my times down to 2:21, and finally under 2:19 during open track (maybe 2:18, but that's on my stopwatch, so I might have been off by a second). This is mostly by improving my times through turns 1, 5, and 8, realizing (thanks to Char) that was sometimes being too conservative in 9, and doing my last laps under very light rain (WTF, where did that come from?)
While my brakes were fine, I could really use some heel and toe shifting skills as I'm now losing too much time braking and trying to pop the clutch back in without unsettling the back end too much, but on the equipment side, I've really reached the limit of my Toyo T1-S tires. I was really driving the car sideways in sweepers, at the very edge of what those tires would do, and that wasn't nearly as fast as some other people can do with slicks (surprise, surprise). That said, it was cool to see how far I could push them and flirting with the edge (mmh, reminds me of something else, bug I digress ;). I however stayed conservative on turn 1 and 8 (85mph and 90mph max respectively) as screwing up on those yields really bad outcomes, and my balls are only so big (at some point the will to survive kicks in :)
I was pleasantly surprised by how well my car performed under stress, both in handling, and turbo-wise. It got warm (oil reached 150°C and coolant reached about 108°C according to my Tec-II readings), but that was within acceptable numbers (luckily the day wasn't too warm, which is why things worked so well). I also have some pad left on my brakes, about 2/3rd, which is nice, and while they were dusty as expected, my rims weren't entirely covered with dust by the end of the day.
On the way back (2H flat to sunnyvale), I drove a bit more conservatively as the day being over, I really got hit by fatigue (to the point that I was close to pulling over as I was afraid to fall asleep at the wheel), but just this once, it actually subsided. On 505, I was able to pull a top speed of 139mph which was a new personal record for the car :)
All in all, I was really worried about today considering my physical condition, but somehow, my brain and reflexes pulled through while I was on the track, and I had a great day (and no tickets on the road, which is always good)
relevant link to miata event page
as well as a
link to the pictures