I think it’s pretty cool to use racing slicks at the track. The grip is incredible. My best lap on slicks is 2:07, which is seven or eight seconds a lap quicker than with my street tires. Seven seconds may not sound like much, but it’s like driving a different car. I use a different gear in several places and I use a different line in a few turns. I can take turn three flat (foot flat to the floor) on slicks. It’s fun.
On the other hand, slicks are a bit of a pain. I can’t drive to and from the track on them, so I need to have somebody carry them (and a jack and impact wrench) for me. And even though seven seconds may not sound like much, the extra g-force in the turns is hard on the equipment. I spun once in turn 7 on slicks. The force was so hard one of my motor mounts broke.
So although they’re a lot of fun, I don’t think the cost/benefit ratio is favorable. I think I have a day left on the slicks and I want to use them up so I can put streetable tires on the track wheels.
Objectives, Goals, and Results
An F1 car can wear out a set of slicks in as little as a dozen laps. Obviously, Hoosier wouldn’t sell very many racing slicks to the track day crowd if they wore out that quickly. I bought these tires used. Years ago, I had a set of 60 treadwear tires that lasted four track days. I’m thinking these A7s would last about as long. So this is the last hoorah for slicks.
Ryan was kind enough to carry my slicks for me. It’s the second time: he brought them out for our Thursday evening session, but I didn’t use them because of the rain.
So, the objective for the day is to use up the slicks. What about goals? It’s important to have a goal every time you go to the track. Today’s goal is a big one: set a new personal best time. I did a 2:07 with Michael in the passenger seat. A passenger costs me about two seconds a lap. If the conditions are good, I should be able to do a 2:05.
The forecast high for Denver was 60, but the morning at the track was blustery and overcast. The ambient temperature was probably not much over forty and for the first couple of hours you couldn’t see your shadow; the track was cold. I wondered how that would affect my times. The usual case is that my times improve throughout the day. I expected the weather to improve somewhat, so that should help, too.
My best lap (2:09.95) was the 5th lap of the day. In spite of the improving weather and lighter fuel load, my times steadily got worse. My first clue that the tires were done was that I was never able to take turn 3 flat. By my fourth session, I was down to a 2:13.52. That was the last session for the slicks: I was down to the cords. The slicks were dead.
To end the day, I ran three sessions (more like two and a half) on the street tires and ran in the upper 2:13s.
Cars and Drivers
The paddock was a bit more upscale than I was expecting. There were some nice cars there.
I’ll start with the Lotus. Ryan and myself, of course, plus two Elises and an Evora GT for a total of five. In the red Elise was Cory, who I had met a few years ago. Neither of us realized we’d met until he mentioned spinning his car and hitting a stanchion. I was riding with him at the time. Buzz had a silver Elise with out-of-state plates. And the gray Evora was Kris, who also brought out his McLaren 570S.
There was a red Lamborghini Huracan there as well. I’ve seen a few Lambos at the track, but only in the paddock. This one ran laps. At one point, I thought I saw a red Evora, but I was mistaken. My view was partially obscured by a wall; it turned out it was an Alfa 4C. I never saw it in the paddock. Another car I’ve seen in the paddock but not on track was an Audi R8. This one ran some laps. The McLaren, Lamborghini, and Audi were fast on the straights, but were not turning quick laps. I’m not surprised – I don’t expect them to get driven hard. Even though they were running in the Experienced group, let’s just say they hit very many apexes.
I had some nice “battles” with a Miata and a Lemons BMW. On one of my street tire sessions, we found ourselves running together, nobody able to open much of a gap on the others. I had some nice conversations with the drivers. The BMW owner said he was surprised my last sessions were on street tires. He thought I was faster than earlier.
Conclusion and Highlight Reel
I shouldn’t have gone out for that seventh session. I cut it short, but not short enough. I had to buy five bucks worth of 91 octane at the track ($7 a gallon) to make sure I could reach the gas station in Byers. Good thing I did, because I’d have fallen eight or ten miles short otherwise.
Six sessions was plenty. With the abbreviated seventh session, it added up to three hours. It’s more physically demanding than most people think. A day later, my arms were still a bit sore and my spine, while not bruised was tender. I managed to keep my kneepad in place the whole time, so my knee isn’t very sore. It’s a thrill ride.