Monday, October 1, 2012

Watkins Glen 2012 NASA Recap

So as is the case every year, going into the event meant constant forecast checking.  Rain or no rain?  Though this year did have one curveball.  We have a baby due!  My wonderful wife let me make the trek and I was ready to book it home if needed.  Lucky for us, baby held off.

It ended up being dry on Sat but a cold, rainy, and wet Sunday.  My goal this weekend was to try to reset the track record held by Josh Smith for the past couple of years.  Back then, he first started racing his E46 M3 and it was pretty undeveloped.  A lot has changed in two years for E46 builds.  We now have very nice GTS3 detunes which keep torque up but peak horsepower low (EPIC Motorsports).  There are new aero parts courtesy Bimmerworld as well as a new suspension package from Motion Control Suspension (MCS) (the old school Moton guys).  That time was a 204.7 in a 300hp car weighing over 3300#s with a stock diff.

Fast forward to now.  Both me and Josh have almost every part imaginable for our cars and they are fairly identical.  I think the only difference really is he has Ground Control swaybars and I have Hotchkis.  I've also got completely stock calipers with Performance Friction Direct Drive rotors (

So in the race, I had to make my way around some faster out of class cars before I got open and clean track.  Unfortunately, my SmartyCam was not working (just one of my electrical issues this weekend, more to come on that) so all I have is a choppy live stream video via UStream through my iPhone.  You can view it here:

Once I got open track, the last two laps would prove to be the fastest.  My logger said 202.55!!!  That is a full 2.2 seconds faster than the prior lap record and sure to fuel talk in the paddock.  Unfortunately, this is where my second electrical issue came.  My transponder quit working.  After 10 years, I guess the wire is now hard and brittle.  It snapped at the fuse link connection rendering all my times unconfirmed and unofficial.  My race win was even not showing up.  I ended up having to plead my case to multiple race officials who ended up ruling that I did in fact "win".  But without official timing and scoring, I dont get the joy of nabbing that record :(

Here is a data plot of my two fastest laps.

It shows I was entering the bus stop over 90 MPH which is insane in my opinion.  Top speed was only 138MPH using a T1 exit of roughly 75MPH.  As a comparison, Josh's old data pegged him at 145MPH top speed.  I also voluntarily put in a "black box" because I knew there would be paddock talk of fast times.  I sat down and analyzed the data with the GTS director and Im confident that it doesnt show anything out of place.  We compared his car's acceleration slopes and they were much steeper than mine implying I actually might have had less horsepower.

Sunday's race was wet and rainy.  I managed to qualify top 3 overall in the race group which is good in a rain race because of possible carnage in the starts.  I lost some ground in the start and some Vettes go by, but I managed to retake the lead and win overall.  Couple of videos:


I almost forgot to mention that having remote reservoir shocks is freaking amazing.  This was me pre-race after it was apparent the rain would not let up.  Instead of dilly dallying with spring changes, swaybar disconnections, etc... all I did was drop the canister pressures down and the car felt amazing!  Only downside is that it takes surgical skill and precision to bleed out the proper amount.  First time I lost all pressure in one but luckily a nearby Vette crew had nitrogen ready (I had a tank but not setup w/ regulator, etc and it was 10 min to grid!).

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