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Old 01-23-2014, 06:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Anyone here going to be there? I'll be in a Nissan Pulsar. Exciting.
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The second weekend of February saw ChumpCar with it's opening race weekend, starting off a new season of crapbox cars seeing how long they'll last after hour upon hour of being ragged on. Being a racer on a budget, I wholeheartedly recommend Chumpcar as the best and most competitive form of racing you can actually do. My last race was back in April of last year at Buttonwillow. I've very much been looking forward to learning a new track and getting a few solid hours of seat time on a track filled with cars passing me over and over and over again. Road Atlanta did not disappoint. So I leave Houston on Friday ass early in the morning. The race starts on Saturday, but on Friday there are 4 Spring race sessions of 1 hour each separated by 4 testing sessions of 1 hour each. So one of the test sessions would be my chance to get a feel for the car on a less crowded track and learn the track. I arrive. I go rent a car. I ask for a Focus or something similar. They give me a goddamn Corolla. It was a 2012 and a total sack of ****. It drove like soggy french fries. I'm trying really hard to forget that car or the reality that so many idiots buy them on a daily basis. Absolutely miserable drive. So Road Atlanta is hiding in the hilly backwoods of NE Atlanta. Brasewood if I remember correctly. Very fun windy up and down roads on the drive there. The track amenities are very nice. It's not as well laid out as MSR Houston, but this is an historic track that wasn't built for clubbers to buy into - this place was built for top not racing and spectators. So, the track. The front straight will see at the highest speeds on the track following a downhill sweeper. Many cars see hard braking into the number 1 sweeper. My car, a 1986 Nissan Pulsar, required light braking followed by jumping on the gas and just trusting the car to get pulled around. Any nervousness or misjudging the braking zone (thinking it's longer than it actually is) would see my car just traveling straight forward onto the grass. Which I did. Once. Early on in the 1 hour test session. The sweeper turns into a steep uphill climb into a blind turn 2. Light braking and knowing when to cut the wheel on blind 2 helps you carry a lot of forward momentum. It levels off a bit coming into 3 where, for my car, I didn't have to brake much, if at all. Other cars jump on them more. 3 is less blind and sets you up for the downhill/uphill esses which are taken flat out until a quick jump on the brakes to rotate the car into turn 5. Turn 5 is a bit blind, so you don't get to see how much runoff room and track you have available. A lot of people wanted to take this corner sharp when it really wasn't necessary. There is a lot of track to use here which many didn't capitalize on. A short straight and slower turn 6 sweeper lead to heavy braking for 7 which sets you up for the back straight. The back straight is very long and lead to a downhill dive into the valley of 10a and 10b. After Apexing 10a, I would be back on the gas the entire time through 10b, the blind climb into 11 and the dive into 12 back onto the front straight. Road Atlanta has several VERY blind corners which are easy to get used to during the day, but are a bit nerve wracking at night. Turn 2 and 11 stand out as the biggest gut checks. The car. 1986 Nissan Pulsar. It has a 1.6L carburated piece of whatever of the ****. I don't want to say it was a junky engine because it worked. It fucking worked much better than any other Chumpcar I've raced in. But goddamn it was slow. It wasn't nearly as slow as the Porsche 924 I drove at Buttonwillow, but that's not saying much. A lot of the cars you'll see on the field aren't terribly fast, but not many of them would be outrun by a rental corolla. This car would. So, does it being slow mean that it wasn't fun to drive? Oh no. It was an absolute fucking blast. The owner was a very nice guy that watned an all purpose car that he could quickly modify to meet whichever racing series he was doing. He's done dirt track and oval racing with this Pulsar. Guy is a Nissan fanatic but can't really afford a 300zx or Sentra SER. The car was spotless inside and out. I didn't get an engine bay pic, but it would put most cars here to shame. It was definitely car show quality and it stayed that way throughout the race. The car was very nimble and had no problem changing directions or communicating very directly when one of the tires was nearing the end of adhesion. This, of course, is assisted by the face that there was power nothing and it was all analog. Direct steering and direct brakes on a very light underpowered FWD car. Turn the wheel, floor it, and adjust steering input based on the angle you want to achieve. It was definitely a great beginner car, and incredibly impressive that Santus kept it as immaculate as he does, even throughout the race.
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I got to the track around 1pm and took my time going around and surveying all the different cars. It's a veritable car nerd heaven. Loads of M3s, Corvettes, Porsches of all kind, the Honda Crowd, the Nissan crowd, Audi and Mercedes wagons towing 944s.¬* Surprisingly, though, I didn't see anyone that had a vehicle that could be described as hellaflush. I can't imagine why. I met the car owner and the rest of the team. BSed a bit and talked about my history with cars and track experience. Aside from the owner, I had the most seat time in a competitive atmosphere. That's scary. ¬* The 3rd test session was going on when I arrived. So after the BSing and acclamation, it was about time for me to suit up and learn the Pulsar and Road Atlanta. The trust that I needed have in my car and my right foot wasn't readily apparent on my first outing. I just made an effort to keep my lines predictable and controlled. Aside from a 4 wheels off incident at turn one, my test sessions was fairly boring and extremely successful. I try to focus most on consistency and track awareness, not laptimes, but I ended up setting a 2:10 best lap and 2:12/13 consistently. The 2:10 was the best lap the team set on Friday. Driving a car faster than the owner is an important personal victory. ¬* After coming out, everyone else was a bit more eager to hear my impressions on the car and the track. Exceeding peoples expectations, especially when they're judging how you handle their property, is a lot of fun. I didn't have anything negative to say about the car at all. It was extremely well sorted out and I could tell that the owner spent a lot of time being meticulous and exact with what he wanted. I'm not one to go around giving compliments often, much less ones which seem inflated, but the owner is a craftsman and that car was a masterpiece. It's just too bad it had only 110 horsepower or so. ¬* And the steering wheel. The steering wheel was a comically large 20 or 22in thing that belonged on a bus. There are some youtube videos of Santus, the owner, racing on an oval with this car and this steering wheel. If I can find one, I'll post it to show you I'm not exaggerating the hilarity of it. It made controlling the car much more difficult. Shuffle steering and constantly rearranging your hand position severely hampers your ability to make immediate and emergency inputs. He went and bought 12in wheel that night to replace. ¬* I was exhausted and ended up falling asleep in the corolla for a few hours. I woke back up around 10, had some frozen food, and had a decent share of Jack Daniels with Santus's son who was helping out with the car and in the pits. I froze my ass off all night sleeping in their camper and was, in general, completely miserable. I slept through the beginning of the race and midway through second stint. ¬* Around 10 or 11, I awoke to screeching tires coming up right outside my window of the camper. A wheel has seized and they were bringing the car into the pit to diagnose and fix the problem. My heart started racing and I busted outside only to find that it was the yellow Camry V6 swapped MR2 next to us. It also happened to be the fastest car on the track. Heart died back down, but I was awake. I headed down to the hot pits to see how the race and the team was coming along. I was greeted and we went over the game plan for the day. I wish there was something to say about the proceedings, but reality is that if everything is going well, you just spend a lot of time waiting around. And that's what we did. There was a driver swap another hour into the race, dumped some fuel into the car, and then back around to waiting. We were very nearly the slowest car in the field of 109. But 3 hours into a race, cars start dropping slowly but surely. ¬* As the 5 hour mark starts coming close, I suit up and get ready to take the wheel. A much smaller wheel than last night. Everyone is very grateful that it got swapped out from the buswheel from last night. We don't have a radio or comms system set up for communication during the race, so we just have to generally be ready for anything. An on track incident happens and a full course yellow comes out, so the car pits and I get swapped on in. The car is comfortable, I'm not hot. Everything is where it should be, and everything feels great. ¬* I start turning my laps as fast as I can, which, by everyone elses standards, is quite slow. Around 25 minutes in, I lose all brake in the downhill braking zone after the back straight. I just coast right on by the corner and into the gravel trap. Not fun. I pit and my team waves me into the cold pit area so they can work on the car. Around 8 minutes goes by and they have new pads installed and I'm good to go. I wish I had something interesting to say about the other hour and a half or so, but it was largely uneventful. I got passed over and over and over, and I spent more and more time standing on the accelerator instead of lifting. The car carried momentum like a champion. I got plenty of rude gestures from other drives during full course yellows which are supposed to be taken down to 70-80% of race speed. Well, their 70-80% was often my 120%. It sucks having a giant caravan of cars which can't pass because the leader is slow as balls. Sorry guys. That'd be me. The next few minutes after a yellow was always a bit harrowing due to the amount of traffic that always feels like it's going to run you over. I just ignore it, stick to my line, and give them the burden of making a clean pass. Around the 7 hour mark, I bring the car in safe and sound. ¬* The race continues to be largely uneventful for us. I spend the next four hours napping, washing my hair, taking random photos like a creeper, socializing with other people in the pits, and watch other teams pack up their dead babies. Dusk and nightfall approach and the pace on the track drop considerably. It's unnerving to approach a blind corner during the day. It's a bit scary to do it at night with little to no forward visibility and cars approaching behind you. After the sun is done doing its job, it's my turn to go back out for a couple hours. ¬* There was moderately more lighting at Road Atlanta compared to Buttonwillow, so there there were some visible markers for braking zones that you could pick out if you wanted. My muscle memory and balls were my friends during the night stint. My lap times suffered 5-6 seconds - a sharp contrast to the 15-20 most other cars were seeing. Being passed was a lot less common, except by the fastest cars. When passing did happen, it was often very easy to just stick to the tail of the leader. Following a car at night makes it much easier to go fast, as apposed to when you're up in front. Night saw accidents aplenty everywhere. I spent nearly half the session doing ring around the rosey under yellows. The second brake pad change happened during this time as well. They were prepared and it was just a few minutes. ¬* We also spent nearly 20 minutes under red flag - everything shuts down and everyone pulls over. The RX8 (and our pit partners) lost control and smashed its face into the barrier nearing the end of the back straight. It wasn't even on the downhill, it was still solidly on the straight. Some arrive and drive drivers aren't as good as others I suppose. So after a nice (almost) 2 hour stint of liesurely driving around pitch black Road Atlanta, I came in and handed the car off for the last time. There was only one more hour left of the race and Santus wanted to be the one to get a checkered flag. ¬* Got one, he did. The Pulsar ended the race with no mechanical failures at all. Aside from consumables being swapped out, we spent the entire time on track. For those of you who might not understand what a big deal is - consider this. 95% of the cars out there were faster than us, most by a wide margin. We finished 47th out of a 109 car field. It doesn't seem like much to brag about until you take a look at the field full of Porsche 944s, 325s, 240s, Miatas, civics, and integras. Oh, and 2 blisteringly fast V6 MR2s which dumped all over everyone. It was a very fun race, and a well sorted car which was ALMOST as clean as when the race started. ¬* I can't give enough props to the owner and builder, Santus Gore. At every pit stop, driver change, and brake swap, he made sure fluid levels were good and that there wasn't a speck of oil in the engine bay. I eat off of plates that are dirtier than that car. Often. For someone who smokes inside his own camper, the guy knows how to maintain a spotless race car. I'm not entirely sure if I'd want to race that car again. It was just a tad too slow. Just about anything Nissan could be swapped in as long as it wasn't carburated and do just fine. Budget constraints mean that probably won't happen for him. And that's too bad. I'd race anything that guy built in a heartbeat. I'd **** well consider buying from him, too. It was one helluva weekend. And Road Atlanta is one **** of a track. edit for formatting on different forums.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Given all the reliability issues at Jerez to start off, the Aussie GP could be pretty wide open.
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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