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Old 11-18-2002, 02:00 PM   #1
KimchiHo
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Mountain View, CA
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2002 WRX
It's so black, it's blue

Default Thunderhill trackday: what to prepare?

Hi guys,

I will be going to my first track event this weekend at Thunderhill. I was wondering what I need checked/replaced before I go. I only have 12k miles and I just changed my oil about a thousand miles ago. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

- KimchiHo
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Old 11-18-2002, 02:34 PM   #2
Dan_E
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2000 RS-TURBO'D

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Tires...get some sticky ones. Makes for a much more rewarding experience. Oh and if you're feeling truly savage, buy a set of race compound brake pads and use those for the track day. Less fade, and you don't wear out the nice quiet stockers. I could be rappin on about stuff you already know, but other than that...a 12k car all should be well! Utilize instructors if and when they are available. Get your moneys worth and learn something!

Have fun!
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Old 11-18-2002, 04:20 PM   #3
wrxinfx
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I've attended the SCCA HPDE at Thunderhill and had a blast. Be sure to try out different instructors to get different points of view. Bring a tire pressure guage - they have air there, but it's good to keep an eye on your pressure after each run as you build up heat in your tires. They will ask you to empty your car of any loose items, so bring a big dufflebag you don't mind leaving laying out in your parking spot, or a tarp. Bring two small blocks of wood or similiar to block your tires with, after you run, you dont' want to use your ebrake as you can cook your rotors (you'll want to leave your engine running to cool down/warm up).

Sticky tires make it more fun, but if it's your first time, I'm guessing you're looking to improve your on-road safety and car handling, so running with the tires you always run with is a good idea. To that end some folks take out their spare and jack when running. I left that stuff in so the car behaves the most like "normal".

Atend every debrief, and ask lots of questions. When I was there my WRX got a lot of atention which was fun, but can be distracting. Focus on the task at hand, and stay calm, and work your way up. Remember it's not a race!

Afterwards I gained TONS of confidence and understanding my car's feedback. Look forward to that!!

btw - many subies will be there this weekend running on the dirt rallycross track. Stop by and say hi. I'll be in the rally class on sat. and the rallycross on sunday.

Casey
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Old 11-18-2002, 05:46 PM   #4
Impala SS AutoXer
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Having run a few of these in my other car, I'll second what the others are saying and add a few :

1. Flush your brake fluid before, and run some good DOT4 fluid (ATE, Motul, Valvoline Synthetic, or even FORD brake fluid...seriously!). Then AFTER the even, flush AGAIN with any of the above except for the Ford (it works great for short term, but is crappy long-term fluid due to it's hydroscopic nature aka it absorbs water quickly).

2. Strongly consider running "track" pads at the track. For our cars, the Hawk HP Plus or Axxis Ultimates would either be a good choice. You'll cook the stock pads in short order!

Also....

Quote:
Bring two small blocks of wood or similiar to block your tires with, after you run, you dont' want to use your ebrake as you can cook your rotors (you'll want to leave your engine running to cool down/warm up).
Actually, not an issue at all on the WRX. It IS an issue on other cars that use the rear caliper as the E-brake. However our cars use a drum brake INSIDE the rear rotor for the parking brake.

So, feel free to confidently use that E-brake, won't hurt a thing
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Old 11-18-2002, 07:18 PM   #5
mityVR6
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Don't alter the car for your first event. Just make sure it's safe. That means that you have plenty of pad material left (stock pads are fine for your first couple events), tires have good tread remaining, nothing loose in the car, brakes are firm (bleed the fluid if you get the chance) and the tank is full of gas. You'll have so much fun trying to learn the track that you don't want to deal with the car while you're there. Make sure it's solid and you'll be fine. Worry about "prepping" it more seriously later on when the car - not your driving skills - is the limiting factor. I would suggest this stuff regardless of the car you drive.

(Obviously I don't have a Suby but I've done Thunderhill and Laguna Seca and can say with confidence that either can kick your butt regardless of what you drive or how it's set up. I helped a friend setup her WRX for Laguna Seca and even after the THill event she had enough brakes left to get her around Laguna and home. That's two events on stock brakes... not bad. I don't recall exactly, but she might have done Buttonwillow on them, too. Anyway, for your first event you just won't be driving that hard and the car will hold up fine.)

-Adam
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Old 11-18-2002, 08:15 PM   #6
wrxinfx
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I aggree with Mity. Also - one way to unecessarily waste your brakes is to do 120 down the straight - only to brake heavily at the end. Think about taking it easy down the straight - I held it to 90, that way I didn't have to do a huge amount of braking - which wears the brakes and creates uncessary risk - save that for Schumacher and the boys...

Casey
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Old 11-18-2002, 11:04 PM   #7
wackie
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I'd be pretty impressed at a stock WRX doing 120 down that front straight at Thunderhill. That double-apex before the straight is a PITA.

I'm going to take an in-between stance. It really depends on YOU. I did my first track event this summer and completely wore through the stock brakes (that had about 15k on them), cooked a set of Azennis ST115 tires to the point where the front ones were chunking off rubber (which could have been avoided with more conservative driving or a different alignment). Although it was my first on track experience with my car I've been driving offroad vehicles (ATVs, GoKarts, etc) for nearly 15 years. The idea of being on the edge of what the equipment could handle was nothing new. And believe me, if your brakes fade after coming down that back straight (arguably the hardest braking on the track) like mine did, you'll wish you had better pads.

JD
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Old 11-19-2002, 12:46 AM   #8
mityVR6
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The brakes won't go away all at once. You'll experience - maybe - some fade after the main or back straight but they won't just disappear. You can adjust your driving to suit the condition of your brakes. That in itself is in educational experience. You'll really feel like you're learning about your car when things like this come up. You'll miss out if you upgrade to track pads. I say drive the car as is until the equipment really starts to limit you, then look into upgrades.
-Adam
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Old 11-19-2002, 09:59 PM   #9
hoche
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I agree with pretty much everything that's been said. In one track day, I took my OEM pads from 30% worn to about 90% worn. I also had some pretty severe brake fade, noticeable in two places on the track: the downhill just before turn 10, and the hard braking off the back straight before turn 14. I have since changed to Porterfield R4-S pads, which wear much better.

As for tires, I melted the outside edges of my street tires to the point where chunks were flying off. I started driving more conservatively and they were ok, but my laptime was quite a bit slower. Granted, they weren't the greatest tires - Dunlop D60A2's. However, the real problem is that street tires in general aren't designed to deal with the heat generated by continued track usage, and this combines poorly with the stock car's tendency to understeer. When your front wheels are skidding through most of the turns, they build up heat FAST, and eventually the street compound starts to lose friction, which means they skid even more, which keeps them hot, which...

I too would be pretty impressed with a stock WRX doing 120 down the front straight, considering that the best I've ever seen a Honda S2000 do is about 110, and it's got more power and less weight.

As for me, if I can get to 95, I know I've done turns 14 and 15 right.

Last edited by hoche; 11-20-2002 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 11-19-2002, 11:35 PM   #10
mityVR6
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Certainly as you get faster and gain experience you'll start to eat up resources more quickly, but I don't see this happening on a track day newbie's first outing. If you're driving smoothly and focusing on learning the track the speed will come later. I think you can deal with car wear later on when it's a real issue. Who knows? He may decide he wants nothing to do with track days afterward. If he loves it, he can come back and ask for advice on more extensive car prep. For now, just making sure the care is safe and solid should provide the original poster with a fun, safe day.
-Adam
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Old 11-19-2002, 11:53 PM   #11
hoche
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Fair enough. And he'll get a good idea of what the car feels like when pushed to the edge of its stock form.

Take my last post not as a "you have to do this before you hit the track" message, but as a "this is something to consider when you hit the track".

One thing I'm in the habit of doing is taking a cool-down lap before returning to the pits, a lap where I run the whole course at a much-reduced speed without touching my brakes.
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Old 11-20-2002, 12:06 AM   #12
mityVR6
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Absolutely. When the checkered comes out, chill out, let the car and your nerves cool down. Think about how your session went and what you'll try differently next time. Don't pass anyone on the final lap, either, as they might not expect it (this has happened to me and it isn't pleasant.)
-Adam
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