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'04 645Ci
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989 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So, I spent all day yesterday at the BMW performance driving school and it was a great time, plenty of good drivers. I was in the C class (having justified not being a beginner thanks to a driving school I took at Second Creek). The GTO received plenty of compliments although there was definitely a snobbishness towards the M (understandable due to being a BMW club). There was a Hertz Shelby in the A class and I was bummed I wouldn't be able to run against it.

We had four sessions (2 at 20 minutes, 2 at 25 minutes) and it took the first two sessions for me to get accustomed to PMI's track (especially that looooooong turn 1). By the third session I began getting the hang of it (although I was four off in turn 6b due to an early, eager entry) and the GTO was tearing it up, passing all but a couple of the M3s. By the fourth session, it started coming together really well and my instructor for the session (a dedicated M3-er who was none too complimentary of the GTO at the start) spent quite a bit of time after the session actually complimenting my car!

My impressions:

Acceleration: Let's face it, the GTO has the torque to stomp most anything out of the exits and the HP in the straights to overpower the M3 (in fact the GTO's HP and torque can make up for a lot of your mistakes). My GTO only has 2,000 miles on it (i.e., it's not broken in) and I was easily hitting 125 MPH on PMI's 1/2 mile straight.

Suspension: The Ms are known for their race bred suspensions and they are incredible. That being said, the GTO did very well in the turns. Now, it could be that the class I was in didn't represent the the M's suspension to the fullest but from my experience there, the GTO more than held its own (i.e., no one pulled from me in the twisties - or anywhere for that matter - and by the fourth session I was chewing up ground on the vaunted M3s in the twisties).

Brakes: The GTO's weakness. They suck. My '06's brakes are better than my old '04's but there was plenty of fade by the end of the day. The good news, though, is that they're so weak that you quickly realize throttle is more important to driving the GTO, especially the long, sweeping turn 1 into the stab at turn 2 and the hairpin turn 7. The brake limits are evident in turn 9 and going into turn 1).

Overall: The GTO more than held its own and it is a very good track car. However, if I were to keep tracking the car, I'd be wary of increasing the HP/torque (there's plenty) without upgrading the brakes. The suspension can certainly be improved and, again, if the HP/torque is increased, I'd certainly look at upgrading there too. As it is, the out-of-the box GTO is pretty damn good for a track day and there's not much that can touch it, especially in the GT class.
 

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Mile High Air
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3,070 Posts
So what did you think of the school and instructors? Did it help you improve your driving skills?

I'm sure they were glad to see a different GTO out there other than mine. Sounds like you kept up the rep, good job.

My neighbor was one of the instructors, he drives a white e46 M3 and is very good.
 

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nice. That straight at PMI is very addicting.
 

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yeah the 04 brakes are terrible. friday mine finaly got to the point where I had to blow turn 1 two times. I just knew they werenot gonna get me down from 140 or so and not die. thank jeebus for credit cards, ordered a new setup.

I had forgotten you had traded yours in, haven't seen it yet. PICS
 

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'04 645Ci
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989 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
grfperformance said:
So what did you think of the school and instructors? Did it help you improve your driving skills?

My neighbor was one of the instructors, he drives a white e46 M3 and is very good.
The instructors were very good and spent a good deal of time discussing what I did right and wrong. It was worth the $$$ and it helped my driving.

Yeah, one of the instructors had a bad-ass, white e46, lowered and I got to ride with him during lunch (instructor rides). Actually, riding with him, even just two laps, really helped my driving in the third session as I could get a feel for how the course should be run. Good guy.
 

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Enthusiast
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I wish I coulda gone. Going and getting some professional driving training is one of my short-term goals..

Do you know about what times you were turning?

Driver skill counts for a lot.. I was getting stomped when I went to PMI by a WRX, but that driver was really good. There was a 450+ awhp STi out there who was significantly slower than a box-stock Evo.. the difference was the driver. Driver skill upgrades count for much more than almost any mod you can make to your car.

I imagine that some judicious pad and fluid upgrades would help resist fade.. the STi has large Brembos and weighs much less than the GTO, but I was getting fade.. but then, Hawk HPS's aren't track pads, and I'm sure whatever generic DOT 3 fluid was in there wasn't helping either. I'm curious to see what, say, EBC Yellowstuffs and some good DOT 5.1 fluid would do for resisting fade.
 

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'04 645Ci
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989 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I didn't have an opportunity to see my track times, so I couldn't even begin to guess. :)

And, I agree, the best upgrades are to the driver. It's difficult for average drivers to push these cars beyond their limits if you're following the line decently. It's not usually a car's lack of capabilities (i.e., speed, adhesion, braking) that get you but not following fundamentals (eyes up, line, entry, apex, exit, etc.) that put you in trouble or keep you slow.
 

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jagular said:
I didn't have an opportunity to see my track times, so I couldn't even begin to guess. :)

And, I agree, the best upgrades are to the driver. It's difficult for average drivers to push these cars beyond their limits if you're following the line decently. It's not usually a car's lack of capabilities (i.e., speed, adhesion, braking) that get you but not following fundamentals (eyes up, line, entry, apex, exit, etc.) that put you in trouble or keep you slow.
thats so true. by the end of the day my tires were trashed and the brakes were squishy, but I didn't wanna stop! so I slowed down and focused on being smooth and not overloading the tires, and using the brakes even less. I got faster!
 

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Mile High Air
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Actually, you're not allowed to time your car during the driving school as that would be considered racing. The only way BMW can keep their insurance is to position the class as a driving school, not racing school. If you're caught timing, you can be expelled. It's a tough rule but it keeps the BMW club in business.
 

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Sounds like you had a blast. I'm so bummed i missed it. I was wondering if any of you track racers have aftermarket pedals. I have an 05 m6 and the pedals seem to be to small to double clutch. Maybe its just me, but i was wondering if anyone else has this problem.
 

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GRF, that makes sense.. but it's still not hard to get rough lap times with a wristwatch.. it takes a little while to go down that long straight :)

PBManiac, do you mean heel-toe? There was a thread in the suspension forum, I think, about relocating the pedals so they'd be closer and easier to heel-toe on..
 

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Way Kool Rich. So now no excuses the next time we all go. ;)
And that was great that you got to ride along with that one guy to ride the fast line.

BTW - Based on the Vids I took, and using landmarks, I was turning lap times around 1:57. Anything less then 2:00 minutes would be OK times. Based on some other posts I have seen, fast times would be around the 1:45 mark. If I had race tires I'm thinking I could easily drop 2-3 seconds on that track. Still at least :10 seconds off the fast drivers.

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RedhotGTO said:
Way Kool Rich. So now no excuses the next time we all go. ;)
And that was great that you got to ride along with that one guy to ride the fast line.

BTW - Based on the Vids I took, and using landmarks, I was turning lap times around 1:57. Anything less then 2:00 minutes would be OK times. Based on some other posts I have seen, fast times would be around the 1:45 mark. If I had race tires I'm thinking I could easily drop 2-3 seconds on that track. Still at least :10 seconds off the fast drivers.

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or some go faster parts to wind her up in the straight.... :secret:
 

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'04 645Ci
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989 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
RedhotGTO said:
Way Kool Rich. So now no excuses the next time we all go. ;)
And that was great that you got to ride along with that one guy to ride the fast line.
No excuses. Just bad luck with work; otherwise, I'd have been there Friday too!

RedhotGTO said:
BTW - Based on the Vids I took, and using landmarks, I was turning lap times around 1:57. Anything less then 2:00 minutes would be OK times. Based on some other posts I have seen, fast times would be around the 1:45 mark. If I had race tires I'm thinking I could easily drop 2-3 seconds on that track. Still at least :10 seconds off the fast drivers.

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Nice times and, yeah, my poor wheels are scrubbed on all fours on the outside. Definitely be worth having good rubber on track day!
 
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