You wax...I'll race
So many things to go wrong and to worry about:
- Social distancing
- Forecast called for 80% chance of rain for both Saturday and Sunday for the last two weeks
- Learning my shift points in the new T-56 Magnum-F
- Trying to advance to Yellow run group
Some items which went right: Weather for the weekend turned out to be relatively nice track conditions. Saw several drivers who I chatted with last time this weekend. And TDE did an excellent job of appropriate measures for social distancing. A “COVID-19 CHECKLIST FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS” PDF was sent ahead of time which needed to be checked off and signed during morning check-in. Seemed thorough to me, but best not to post online.
Some goals for the weekend:
- Stay on the track (supposed to rain this weekend and spun off track last time in the rain)
- Learn T-56 shift points
- Track awareness (which I screwed up badly at one point)
- Advance to Yellow
Back to this weekend, after politely asking for a Yellow checkout ride, my request was granted. Went well. I listened to the instructor and he said during the ride that they already felt I could move up.
On the last lap I hear something in the back possibly flying up into the wheel well. I try to lie to myself and convince myself that it is just marbles flying up. Yet I know my car. And I know there ain’t that many marbles on the race line. Do not see anything in my mirrors. And do not say anything to my instructor.
As pulling into my pit, a driver hollers out saying my exhaust is hanging down. Now I am relieved. This ain’t new and I know how to fix. The Corsa Catback x-pipe falls off the hanger sometimes. Can just lift it back up…when cool of course.
So let it cool a little, yet still to heavy for me to lift, which was not an issue previously. Good thing I brought my small 2-ton floor jack. While packing I considered leaving it at home. But it is a small jack and the stands do not take up much space either. Jacked up the muffler and got the exhaust back on the hanger. No problem. Noticed that the other side had hose clamps on the hanger such that the exhaust cannot fall off the hanger as easily. So went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and then O’Reilley’s to get some more hose clamps for the side which fell off. Easy to install late at night just before dark in the hotel parking lot. Pix to follow.
Referring back to the restaurant, when I pulled into the parking lot the car had a giant “60” on both sides in blue painter’s tape, no front plate and a tow hook (the mount for the plate doubles for a tow hook receptacle), huge tires and a rumble from the Corsa Catback x-pipe (properly installed!) A nice family asked if I race so I told them about MSR. We were seated outside so they saw me pull up and upon leaving asked me to do a burnout or something. I smiled and politely declined. We are here to learn, improve, and increase safety. As tempting as it was, I can get it out on the track and not the street. Especially after 1.5 margaritas and no front plate.
I missed a black and yellow! How stupid could I be? My first session ever in Yellow run group and I miss black and yellow flags saying we need to come in.
Later I apologized profusely without the following explanation / excuse. I committed the cardinal mental sin. I was in the middle of the pack in my first time out in Yellow, and I ain’t backing down. I can run with these drivers. I am fighting for position. Which is not what we are supposed to be doing since this is a school…not a race. At this level, the proper response is to find open air, not fight for position. Specifically, take a slow ride thru the pit to find open air without cars all around. But I committed an idiotic mental sin in trying to pass Yellow drivers. In the process, I missed black and yellow flags out telling everyone to come in.
Several cars in front of me have their left fist at a 90 degree angle out the window by the roof saying “I am going into the pits”. So I think maybe we are all going in. But some cars stay out. Split decision. And I make the wrong one. I stay out with the other cars immediately realizing the black and yellow. Now I have to drive all the way around the entire track knowing what an idiot I am and for everyone watching to also know what an idiot I am.
Around the track and into the pits, get a firm yet well-deserved talking to by the Pit Manager Dean. “This is not good for your first time out in Yellow”. All I can say is “Yes sir”.
The Yellow class on dampeners (do not call them shocks!), springs, and sway bars (um…anti-sway bars?) was outstanding. The instructor said this was the first time he presented this. The class attendees were engaged. Hope they don’t kick me out of Yellow for my previous oversite.
The second session was so much better. It felt good. What is “it”? The T-56 shift points. Car control. Track awareness. And passing cars. I got passed by #8 GTI. But that is OK. Control of my vehicle is the goal. After the session I met Driver 8, and learned from him.
A couple neat happenings this weekend at TDE: Had two C8 Corvettes there. When I saw the first I did not even know what it was. Thought it was a McLaren. And I rode shotgun with a buddy Jeff in a little Gator track car. When I find the link I will post here. And quite important: Socialized with drivers met previously: Chris, Stephanie, Kevin, and Jeff, among others.
So how do you end a weekend at the track in an extremely highly modified GTO? As posted separately on this forum, the GTO has massive body work with custom fender flares all the way around now sporting 315’s up front and 335’s in the rear. Looks tight. Yet after adjustments from the body shop, no rub whatsoever under any conditions.
So I hear rub. Slow down and take corners easier. No rumble strips. Rub gets worse. Now tire smoke is coming into the vehicle cabin. Got off the track safely. Let cars around. Got my left fist in the air at a 90-degree angle near the roof. Safely exit track to pit road to my pit.
In the pit, see the passenger rear rubbing. Seems the inner plastic wheel well is all worn. Fasteners are easy to reach. Jack the car up and remove. Fixed? Sure! Drive around the pits (slowly and safely watching for other cars). Not fixed.
Limp to the hotel to get my stuff and limp home, listening to the rub the whole way. Knowing from experience that the rub is probably safe to get home on, yet not for the track. The most disappointing part is knowing that if certain people found out about this, how happy they would be to see me fail. It pains me with the knowledge that my efforts are not only disrespected. But also my issues on the track and with the GTO are nothing but a source of extreme exacerbation to the point of absolute hate.
So now that my overly emotional outbreak is complete, we can now address the one aspect of the entire weekend which some GTO people on this forum really want to know about the most: The T-56 Mangum-F with Mantic 9000 clutch, Hinson shifter, Tick Performance master cylinder, and one-piece carbon fiber driveshaft.
Flipping awesome! To summarize: comfortable and at home. Natural. This is the way it is supposed to be. A4 is OK. I shifted as if a manual anyway. But it ain’t got no physical clutch pedal. Of all the stupid mistakes on my part this weekend and all the mechanical failures, some solvable and one weekend ending, at least the T-56 took my canning (to use an Australian term).
Clutch pressure when depressed was fine. I am slightly small: about 150 pounds. Holding the clutch down was fine. Yet the release thru upshifts was the beautiful part. For downshifting, JessterLSX sent me two excellent homemade videos on rev matching. Upshifting is easy. Rev matching while downshifting is an art. And several methods to accomplish. None of which I really did. I downshifted thru the gears, which felt wonderful! Yet I did not reach the throttle to rev match. Per my younger experience, I slowly released the clutch to allow the revs to increase up to the flywheel (I might be phrasing this wrong).
Needless to say it took time to learn shift points. Yet not that much. On Diamond’s Edge, after going down to third ending the straight, I can break and downshift in a straight line to second, purposefully do not apex the first turn, apexing the second so that have a nice launch into the Front Straight.
Yet at Sugar and Spice, do not need to go down all the way to second. Again, can sacrifice the first corner, carrying enough speed thru both corners to keep all the way up in third.
Then into The Launch, break and downshift mostly in a straight line (mostly…this is not a binary process). Then downshift again down to second prior to Keyhole.
All the while the T-56 was natural and at home. This is where we are supposed to be. A4 to M6 swap is uncommon. The speed shop Peitz Performance delivered. The GTO is still broken down now with the wheels rubbing. But at least the transmission, stood up.
So we (me and goat) limped home. Saw the rear passenger side wheel pushed up against the rear wheel well. Seems to be a suspension issue to me, not body work. Took and sent pix to Peitz. Spoke on the phone. We agreed probably suspension. Unfortunately they cannot get me in right away.
The next TDE is 27-28 June 2020. Already paid. Hope to get the goat fixed by then. Yet we do not fully know the issue with the wheel hitting the wheel well. Probably suspension. But we do not know.
Hope we can make it. And I really hope that someday my goat does not breakdown so much. Unbeknownst to this forum, I bought that car new in 2006 and put so much into it. As we all know, when modding, we are only chasing the next weak point. Hopefully if I put enough into the GTO, we can decrease enough weak points so that it will take my canning on the track. If you analyze the some of the pix which will be posted in “Pictures of your GTO on the track” section close enough, you can see the thrashing referred to.