I’m quite tardy with this post.
Last Saturday was another Emich sponsored day at HPR. Usually I sign up for just the afternoon. You get four sessions, with fewer cars each session. And you can sleep in. This time, though, I signed up for the whole day. It would be a “maximum” day: seven sessions.
I used up the slicks a year ago and since then I’ve been pondering what tires to put on the track wheels. Not slicks again, as I can’t drive to and from the track on them. And slicks are so much harder on the car. Anyway, I’ve been looking at the various alternatives and haven’t come to a decision. Because I loaned the wheels to Kevin for use on the Lemons car, I didn’t need to come up with a decision yet.
Kevin has solved the problem for me. He just bought another set of wheels for his Lemons car, so he returned mine. “Have fun with the tires,” he said. We didn’t use them in the Noah’s Ark race in June and our overheating issues in the September race resulted in running only 40 laps on them. Thanks, Kevin. Much appreciated.
They’re Advan Neova AD07 LTS2. The LTS2 means made for Lotus. The fronts are smaller than I normally use, 175s instead of 195s. I was thinking they were 200 treadwear tires, but they’re 180s.
These tires come with a few questions: How fast can I go on these tires? How will the narrower front tires affect me? How long will they last?
Only time will tell as to how long they’ll last. If I only do two or three days a year, they could last a couple of years.
As to expected lap times, I pulled a number out my ass: 2:10.
In the movie Rush, Niki Lauda says, “God gave me an okay mind, but a really good ass, which can feel everything in a car.” I’m pretty sure God didn’t give me a really good ass. By putting these tires on the car, I’m changing two things: the grip of the rubber, and the width of the front tires. Which means I’m changing the grip in the front a different amount than I’m changing the grip in the rear. Is my ass good enough to sort that all out?
On the way to the track, I’m not in any hurry. I’ll drive fast at the track, I don’t feel the need to go fast on the Interstate. The first guy who passed me who was clearly going the same place I was, zipped by at about 130 in a Porsche. A few minutes later, a string of BMW M3s, followed by a McLaren and an Audi R8. I caught all but the Porsche at the gas station. I finally picked up a decent gas can, a Kawasaki green 5-gallon one. About four gallons went into the car, and I filled the new can. Depending on the day, I can get 4 sessions on a tank, so with the can I will get 6 and probably 7, if I cut a session or two short by a couple of laps.
When I got my wristband, I asked about the car count. Fred said he limits the day to 75, but we had less than 40. I’m guessing that’s really 60 cars – something like 20 morning, 20 afternoon, and 20 all-day. Good for me, my group wouldn’t be more than 20 cars.
I didn’t get out right away for my first session. I took it easy on the out lap, as the car was cold. I was cold, too. It was probably only 50 degrees F (10 C). I had my t-shirt and flannel on under my driving suit and a hoodie over it. It’s chilly at 110mph with the top off.
The first session, I caught up to a black R8. He pointed me by, then managed to keep up to me. That’s a much faster car than mine, and I reeled him in pretty quickly, so I was a little surprised to kept up with me. I was faster in the turns, but he could always catch me on the straights. He was about the only interesting traffic I dealt with.
After the first session, my wheels were dirtier than I expected. I’ve been spoiled with the CL RC5+ pads I’ve been using for the last seven or eight years. They’re relatively dust-free, and the dust is more gray than black.
I really enjoyed the second session. Because of the low car count, I was able to run quite a few laps without any traffic. I was consistently running in the 2:11s, thinking I could easily manage a 2:10 by the end of the day.
When a session is ended, the worker at turn 1 picks a car to be the first to get the checker flag. The lights at each bunker will display the checker as this car approaches it. I’m pretty sure they picked me to be the first car to get the checker for the first two sessions. Woo hoo! I won!
I try to treat my in lap as a cool-down lap, and never use the brakes. So it wasn’t until I pulled into my spot in the paddock that I heard the noise my front brakes were now making. I’d used them up completely.
Regular readers may recall that I just put these pads on after my Atlanta trip. I used OEM pads rather than my usual CL RC5+, which nobody had in stock at the time. I had used the OEM pads for years before I switched to the RC5+s and never had any abnormal wear. They weren’t as good as the Carbon Lorraine pads, but they weren’t bad.
I have less than a thousand street miles on these pads, and no track miles before this morning. The fronts are completely gone. I’m lucky they didn’t score the rotors.
Halfway through the session, I was passed by a BMW race car. The owner came over and chatted with me. He said he was sorry he didn’t have a camera on his car, because he had a nice view of the smoke coming off my brakes when I was under heavy braking. He thought at first I was bedding in new pads. He asked if I had changed rotors when I changed the pad compound. I hadn’t. He suggested that this was the cause of my abnormal wear. That there’s some transfer from the pads to the rotor and if the new pad doesn’t play well with whatever the old pad put on the rotor, this could be the result.
When I last ran the OEM pads, my front rotors were drilled. My current rotors are slotted. Other than driving faster now than I did then, that’s the only change that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s part of the story? I doubt it.
So that was a disappointing end to my day.
Now, about the tires.
Turn 7 is a right-hand uphill sweeper. On my hard street tires, I take this in third gear, shifting into fourth as it levels off. On slicks, I’m in fourth at the bottom of the hill, well onto the high cam. In the second session, I was trying to figure out which was better with these tires. In fourth, I was barely onto the high cam and couldn’t really accelerate up the hill. If I could have entered the turn just a little bit faster, just a few more RPMs, I’d have been able to accelerate. Here’s where I think I felt the narrower front tire. I was getting a bit of understeer, and maybe the wider tire would have made a difference.
In any event, I’m quite happy with the tires. I have no doubt I’ll be able to get under 2:10 with them.
Chat with Pettiford
My day done mid-morning, I took a tour of the paddock. Mike Pettiford was there – he’s always there on Emich days – so I chatted with him a bit. He’s a driving instructor/coach.
Naturally, we talked tires.
He says he drives to and from the track on slicks all the time, even on thousand mile trips. I’m skeptical. I might believe he doesn’t get too much wear on the streets to and from HPR. But a thousand miles of highway driving? The original equipment tires for my car were 60 treadwear with giant tread blocks. They were good for about 2,500 street miles for the rears and not a lot more for the fronts. I can’t imagine that slicks would last as long.
When I mentioned rain, he shrugged it off. “I just go slow.” I got caught in a nasty storm on my way home on my street tires. Twenty miles an hour was too fast. Slicks would have put me in a ditch, or worse.
He doesn’t think much of me and my 460 tires. “What’s the point of having slow tires?” Not his exact words, but close enough. The other two guys in the discussion nodded. Different strokes. For me, the enjoyment is in driving the car as close to the limit as I can. With soft, sticky tires, the limit is a lot faster and with faster speeds are higher consequences. So I can get at least as much enjoyment out of hard tires as soft.
One other exchange got me shaking my head a bit, too. I’d mentioned that my top speed wasn’t any better on slicks than on other tires. One might think that having a higher speed on the exit of the turn before the straight would allow for higher speed at the end of the straight. That was his thinking. It’s not my experience. He didn’t say he doubted my statement, but he wasn’t convinced. The fact of the matter, though, is that top speed is related to horsepower. Slicks don’t give me any more power, so they don’t increase my top speed.
I ran three cameras on the car for the second session, but none for the first. I was thinking I’d rather have video of later sessions than early ones and didn’t think I’d be able to keep them all charged, so missing the first session was no big deal. First time with three cameras running. It’s probably better for a highlight reel than a lap.
I drove home trying not to use the brakes at all. Like a 70-mile cool-down lap. I didn’t need the brakes until I was a couple of blocks from the house, so I’ll call it a success. I found a set of pads (both axles) at Blackwatch and ordered them. I got a call from Fred at Blackwatch on Monday. “Your name is good and your phone number is good, we were just concerned about the email address. We didn’t want to send your order to Russian hackers.” He bumped me up to 2-day shipping.
I told Fred the story of my 18 lap brakes. He says the material transfer theory doesn’t work as the RC5+ are sintered and don’t transfer material the way other pads do. He said, “Maybe you’re driving faster now.”
I did the front passenger on Wednesday and the front driver on Thursday. I set a personal best on the time. Not a high bar, for sure.
The car is driveable now, but I can do the rears at my leisure.
It took me about an hour to clean the wheels. They’re much easier to clean when they’re not on the car, but they were the dirtiest they’ve ever been, not even close. And the dust was a deep black and didn’t always come off easily.
And, finally, the obligatory video. Sorry, I didn’t realize the OBD dongle in the car quit talking to my phone, so no data from the car.