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Old 03-17-2013, 06:50 AM   #1
Teutonic Speedracer
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At the Track Improve your chances of engine surviving HPDE

I purchased a 2013 WRX in September with the intent for it to be a daily driver with occasional track use (2-3 events per year). Plans are for just a mild Stage 2 setup with minor suspension and brake upgrades. I’m coming from a car that became a track only car (soup to nuts).

Between reading the NASIOC, IWSTI, and ClubWRX forums….there’s the infamous posts on ringland failures on the street as well as failures on the track (sometimes after only a few track days). With all the researching I’ve done, I’ve come up with a summary of practices as well as modifications that I believe can reduce chances of an engine failure at the track. Many of these are not specific to the WRX, but just general practice. Others might be more specific to the WRX and it’s turbo and less than robust piston ringlands. Many of these depend on how much HP you are putting down.

Oil
  • Make sure oil is changed before/after a track event
  • Make sure oil level is correct—before, during, and after the track event
  • Invest in an oil gauge to make sure oil is up to temperature before driving the car hard (both on the street and track). This can also be used to monitor that oil does not get too hot on track resulting in thinning that can damage the bearings. Use your warmup/cooldown laps for just that ---warming and cooling down the fluids, brakes, and tires.
  • From what I’ve read, these cars should really have an oil cooler to keep oil temps in the acceptable range. The side benefit is that reduced oil temps can also reduce water temps (may/may not require upgraded radiator)
  • Oil pan baffles can reduce the likelihood of oil starvation in long high g corners especially with track tires and upgraded suspension
  • Larger oil pan can reduce the oil temperature
  • Oil pickup – have been known to fail on both street/track cars
  • Oil grade – use proper oil grade for your engine, modifications, and ambient temperature

Water
  • Make sure if you’ve done any work regarding the coolant system that there is no trapped air in the system
  • Monitor the coolant level before/during/after track events
  • Depending on your climate and patience for swapping, a higher percentage of water can be used in warmer months on track and there are several additives that can be used to lower water temps.
  • Warmup/Cooldown laps apply to your water temps as well.
  • FMIC have been known to cause enough blockage to the radiator to increase water temps on track.
  • Make sure your radiator is clean (free of bugs/leaves/rubber/road grime) for optimal efficiency. An upgraded radiator may be required.
  • Aftermarket suppliers make shrouds that go above the radiator and are said to improve the efficiency of the radiator by directing more air through it vs. around it. Custom shrouding can also be added to the sides of the radiator.

Fuel
  • Use fresh fuel with the minimum octane level that you are tuned for.
  • Try to keep the fuel tank ½ full or more to reduce the chance of fuel starvation (leaning out engine) during/after high g corners or sloshing.
  • Fuel Injectors – A heavily debated topic---some recommend not being above 80/85% injector duty cycle (IDC) for extended periods of time. Some Stage 2 cars can be nearing 100% IDC at higher rpms, potentially leaning out at wide open throttle (WOT).
  • Fuel Pump – May be required to keep ample supply of fuel to the injectors, avoiding a lean condition.

Tuning
  • Make sure your tune is specific to the parts on your car.
  • Consider dialing the boost level down for track use to avoid detonation and higher engine temps.
  • Consider an air fuel ratio (AFR) on the more conservative side.
  • Make sure your tuner understands what your track time involves (20+ minute sessions at continuous high rpm/boost/WOT).
  • Consider one step colder spark plugs depending on your modifications.

Miscellaneous
  • AOS – Many recommend and Air Oil Separator to decrease the likelihood of oil entering the intake and causing detonation. Some AOS also return oil back to the sump so there will be less oil loss between sessions.
  • Air Leaks – make sure you don't have any as this can throw off your tune.
  • Data Logging – recommend logging prior to a track even to make sure everything is in proper working order and that you don't notice any red flags.
  • Intercooler – make sure your intercooler is in good shape (fins not all bent, tanks not separated, gaskets not leaking, coupling attached).

Gauges
  • Gauges are optional, and not all of these are required. Some may be logged via the OBDII port while others will need physical gauges. A lot depends on how much you want to monitor and how many modifications you are running.
  • Oil Temp – Make sure your oil isn't getting too hot and thinning
  • Oil Pressure – This will usually indicate that something is already going south, sometimes due to the oil temp being too high, or some other type of mechanical failure.
  • Water Temp – Make sure your oil temp is in the proper range. Excessive temps can be damaging as well as increase likelihood of detonation.
  • Boost – Make sure your boost is not exceeding your target boost (within reason as most have a certain +/-).
  • EGT – This can verify your tune is safe based on it's reading and how it relates to your AFR.
  • AFR – This will help verify your AFR is at a safe level that your tuner targeted (mainly at WOT).

Please feel free to provide comments and additional ideas and maybe a moderator can make this a sticky in the forums. Again, a lot of this is not Subaru specific, but should at least help reduce your chances of an engine failure on the track, which is a personal goal of mine.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:59 AM   #2
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Solid advice.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:16 PM   #3
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Yes this is good common sense advice.

I would add that during a HPDE you aren't racing against anyone...there are no trophies or prize money. I got in the habit of turning up the boost to set faster lap times and it definitely led to the death of my motor. Leave power at a conservative level and try to improve times from driving, not more power.

Might also want to add a brake section. Upgraded lines/pads/fluid will go a long way. You don't necessarily need a BBK or anything to have fun at the track.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwx View Post
Yes this is good common sense advice.

I would add that during a HPDE you aren't racing against anyone...there are no trophies or prize money. I got in the habit of turning up the boost to set faster lap times and it definitely led to the death of my motor. Leave power at a conservative level and try to improve times from driving, not more power.

Might also want to add a brake section. Upgraded lines/pads/fluid will go a long way. You don't necessarily need a BBK or anything to have fun at the track.
Agree, and it's always nice to bring the car back in one piece by driving it 8/10ths or 9/10ths vs 10/10ths.

Also agree on brakes, but was trying to just keep this engine specific. For brakes I'm doing LGT rotors/calipers, SS lines, pads, and fluid.
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Old 03-17-2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teutonic Speedracer View Post
Agree, and it's always nice to bring the car back in one piece by driving it 8/10ths or 9/10ths vs 10/10ths.

Also agree on brakes, but was trying to just keep this engine specific. For brakes I'm doing LGT rotors/calipers, SS lines, pads, and fluid.
And on the topic of brakes, pay close attention to stainless lines, as it's not as noticeable when they need replacing. I replaced mine after three years, just to be on the safe side.
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:23 PM   #6
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I have a question about engine oil. I live in Texas and the summers get really hot. Would I be better off going with a 5w40 oil vs 5w30? Any extra heat resistance I can get the better.

I'm still undecided if I want to go with Rotella t6 or Motul 300 or 8100.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:45 PM   #7
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The race shop where I had my car recommended Castrol synthetic 5W-50 for track days.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:17 AM   #8
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I would recommend a thicker weight, synthetic oil for track days. I've run 15W-50 for a long time. Never had an issue with blow-by or consumption. I used Mobil1 15W-50 for a long time, until Walmart stopped selling the 5-Quart jugs. Now I run Motul.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bslate3 View Post
I have a question about engine oil. I live in Texas and the summers get really hot. Would I be better off going with a 5w40 oil vs 5w30? Any extra heat resistance I can get the better.

I'm still undecided if I want to go with Rotella t6 or Motul 300 or 8100.
Being a TX native also, during the summer months Rotella T6 5w40 is the lightest oil i've run.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:03 PM   #10
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Great Post! Solid advise and brakes is a must!


I drive a 2011 limited sedan STI. (Track car)

After loosing my stock brakes at Summit Point last year I took my car to IAG and replaced the fog lights with air ducks to cool the brakes, installed SS lines, DBA 4000 calibers, racing pads, master cylinder brace, and upgraded the brake fluid from 600 to 660 Motul. It has made a world of difference . I was told not to put slicks on till I become a better driver, So I run Hancook RS3 (2+ full seasons of HPDE so far and still holding on)

Happy Track Days!
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:05 PM   #11
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I change all the fluids after every HPDE event, usually I run 2 to 3 day events, and love the Motul 300
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Old 04-13-2013, 06:17 PM   #12
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^ so you change power steering, brake, trans, diff, oil, coolant after every event?
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Old 04-13-2013, 06:34 PM   #13
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In texas and I use mobil 1 0w40. Something with the high zinc that protect against wear, but it does eff up your cat. However, cat are optional, right??

I think the 0 or 5 weight referes to the viscosity of the water. Chime in if I'm wrong uncle scotty.

I would stick to my car oil spec and top off with higher viscosity ... during track times ... I still run my 5w30 wit 0w40 to topoff.

5w30 and top off 0w40... that's what I do. Doesn't go against manufac. Warranty.

Last edited by BeefCurtains64; 04-13-2013 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:43 PM   #14
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I think changing AFTER the event is a bit extreme...plenty of life left in the oil after a couple days of hard running.
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theo@theoharris.com View Post
I change all the fluids after every HPDE event, usually I run 2 to 3 day events, and love the Motul 300
That's down right silly. Brake fluid too? If so, you could have spent a lot less on a decent fluid with a great dry point (maybe a not so hot wet point) if you were taking it right out.

Anyway, ship me what you take out? I'll never buy another fluid again!
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:52 AM   #16
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Always bleed ur brakes after a day at the track.
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finallymysti1 View Post
Always bleed ur brakes after a day at the track.
Why's that?
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:04 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godspeed07 View Post
Why's that?
Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time, lowering boiling point. When I was tracking regularly, I would bleed the brakes if there were more than a few weeks between events.

Man...wanted to keep this thread about the engine....not brakes or suspension!!
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:08 AM   #19
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Sorry...but that's good info to know...never knew that. Thank you sir

To keep us on track....what about coolant additives such as the redline water wetter. Supposed to reduce water temps by a percentage. Not sure how good it is but it is an option.
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:29 PM   #20
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water wetter def works! I've seen a difference in AZ summer heats
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeefCurtains64 View Post
I think the 0 or 5 weight referes to the viscosity of the water. Chime in if I'm wrong uncle scotty.

I would stick to my car oil spec and top off with higher viscosity ... during track times ... I still run my 5w30 wit 0w40 to topoff.

5w30 and top off 0w40... that's what I do. Doesn't go against manufac. Warranty.
Viscosity of the water? This is some very abitrary advice.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeefCurtains64 View Post
In texas and I use mobil 1 0w40. ...
I think the 0 or 5 weight referes to the viscosity of the water. Chime in if I'm wrong...
I think you might want to brush up on your viscosity terminology.

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Old 04-17-2013, 11:49 PM   #23
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Quote:
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I think you might want to brush up on your viscosity terminology.

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Good read!
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:49 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teutonic Speedracer View Post
Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time, lowering boiling point. When I was tracking regularly, I would bleed the brakes if there were more than a few weeks between events.

Man...wanted to keep this thread about the engine....not brakes or suspension!!
That point was mentioned above. If you're going to bleed it often, you might as well save some $$$ on fluid and get onewith a good dry point, but not as high of a wet point. ATE, for example (hell, even OTS valvoline syntec used to have a high dry point).

A primary reason for buying some of the upper-end fluid is that in addition to the high dry point, it also has a high wet point. Meaning, it's silly to bleed it all out, even after a few weeks.

C/N: Spend $texas on a fluid with a high dry AND a high wet point, only to bleed it out after every event or every other event =
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Old 04-20-2013, 03:17 AM   #25
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All of your list is very good advice, I particularly like
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teutonic Speedracer View Post

Consider dialing the boost level down for track use to avoid detonation and higher engine temps.
Been telling our customers that for years to no avail.
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