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Old 09-02-2003, 01:44 PM   #1
rbahr
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Default A day at Watkins Glen

Hi All,

I want to share some impressions on my first track day at Watkins Glen with the STi. I run in the open run group and have been to this track a couple of times this year with an E36 M3:

The weather was raining with no real standing water but a fair ammount of running water.

In the rain with the OEM tires - I was hitting 115-120 at the end of the back straight - I was pretty much in 4th and 5th for the entire track - had a couple of butt puckering moments - put other than that I was at 8.5/10ths. No real times though! I was either at the rev limiter or shifting into 5th at the end of the front straight, the back straight, the up hill. I passed pretty much anybody I wanted except a Porsche GT3 that had amazing rain tires - made it look like (s)he was on dry track! The gear ratios are poorly chosen for this track

The seats SUCK - need to install the Recarro's - after 6 hours of driving my back was sore. The controls in general are much to light - the clutch, throttle, steering. The spring rate is sub-optimal - the car NEEDS to be lower, and tends to bounce a bit. Transitions between understeer, oversteer and neutral happens quickly and with sensitive controls can be interesting I suspect that there is to much compliance in parts of the suspension and not enough in other parts. Suspension setting are unknown - tire pressures are 30 front, 32 rear. Definitely needs work...

Shifter is lousy - 1 and 3 get confused as do 2 and 4 - I had a couple of close calls.

This car has only had the brake pads and fluid changed - used the new Ferrado 3000 in the front and 2500 in the rear. Not sure what I think about these pads - I am used to the Hawk Blues which just seem to work at the expense of Rotors!

The tuners are getting ~ 350-375 hp with few mods - retuned computer, exhaust, air intake - I wonder if the car can handle this?

I am struggling with if I want to stay normally aspirated or turboed on the track. the M3 spoiled me. All in all the STi is a fast car but I am not WOW'ed with it! There is always the Z06...

Ray
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
Suspension setting are unknown - tire pressures are 30 front, 32 rear. Definitely needs work...
this is probably a big part of your sketchy handling problem.

I'd at least make it 32F 30R. Maybe even a little more up front.

then again, what do I know
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:02 PM   #3
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Your tire pressures seem way too low for stock tires on a recetrack,even in the wet. I would have thought at least 40psi front, maybe 38 rear....could have affected handling significantly.
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:12 PM   #4
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at least the fronts should be higher than the rears, I think.

40F 36R was a little high for autocross, but may have worked out better on the track. 32F 30R was nice for autocross.
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
There is always the Z06...

Ray
Yep, but for those of us will rarely see a race track I still pick the STi. If a track car is all you want it for I would suggest something else unless you are just a diehard subie fan (like a lot of us on these boards). And for the seats, being 6'5" and 270lbs, they do seem to fit nicely for me

offset
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:33 PM   #6
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Good input - I did not take the time to play with the tire preassures I should have - I thought I had read that these were good starting preassures - 40 psi cold is way to much to start with (for most tires I have used).

I am 6'2" @ 175 - these seat don't work well for me - I have bad knees and need good thigh support.
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:36 PM   #7
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Default So, you passed everyone but...

You didn't like it???
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:39 PM   #8
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I am not sure - plenty of power - just need to get used to it I guess - I come from a nicely set up M3 so it is very different - turbo vs normally asperated, rwd vs awd...

Ray
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Old 09-02-2003, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: Tire pressures. A good rule of thumb is to add about 5psi to street pressure when you go to the track on street tires (with most R-rated street legal tires it's usually(depending on the construction of the tire) the opposite-you drop about 5psi from street). When I took my WRX to the track I ran 40/37 cold and it worked great (S-03s)--without that the car would have damaged the stree tires as the sidewalls tend to roll over. True, the STI has less body roll than a WRX, but the same general rules would apply. When the stock tires heat up , you can expect about a 5 psi gain if you check them right when you come in from the track--45psi on a high performance "hot" street tire is just about right IMHO.
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Old 09-02-2003, 04:23 PM   #10
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Yea, I still use the old shoe polish trick - But I am starting to use a pyrometer more and more...

Ray
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Old 09-02-2003, 05:12 PM   #11
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Yeah, I used a pyrometer for awhile, especially when I raced. But you really need a pit crew or someone who can check the temps right in the pits before any chance for the tires to cool down to make a pyrometer much use. Main use I found for the pyrometer was to get an idea of the temperature spread across the tire and to try to even that out. You can still learn quite a bit by a simple tire gauge, and the chalk method is still very useful. Good luck. I think the STI, with its differentials and DCCD would take quite a bit of getting used to on the track, but the rewards should be huge. If I had one I'd probably stick some of those super new Michelin R-rated street tires on it for the track, along with some negative camber in front. The STI has so much potential I think it would overwhelm most any street tire after a few hard laps--with state of the art R-rubber and a little practice and a good alignment it should be an awesome track car.
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Old 09-02-2003, 09:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
I run in the open run group and have been to this track a couple of times this year with an E36 M3:
In the rain with the OEM tires - I was hitting 115-120 at the end of the back straight
What sort of speeds do you hit at the end of the back straight with your M3?


Bill
Going to the Glen the end of September
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:12 PM   #13
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Default Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
Suspension setting are unknown - tire pressures are 30 front, 32 rear. Definitely needs work...

Shifter is lousy - 1 and 3 get confused as do 2 and 4 - I had a couple of close calls.

The tuners are getting ~ 350-375 hp with few mods - retuned computer, exhaust, air intake - I wonder if the car can handle this?

Ray
Well, as has been mentioned, your tire pressures are way low. I've had good luck with 40f/38r in two autocrosses and numerous mountain back roads--I didn't even bother changing it back to normal afterwards this last time, I like the feel a bit better with the higher pressures.

As far as the shifter goes, I think you just need to get used to it. In the last autox I had a chance to use 3rd in the rain on one relatively straight portion and all it took was split-second thought "3rd?" and it was done. With 4K miles on the car, the shifting is basically transparent for me now. Just let it center briefly and it is smooooooth and it eats up fast shifts.

Good luck.

TRS

Last edited by ToddStratton; 09-02-2003 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 09-03-2003, 10:59 AM   #14
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Hi All,

As I implied, I am sure some of my issues are all part of the learning curve - I was in a new car - ~1500 miles, in less than ideal conditions - raining. The shifter will probably get better over time. I am still not content with the suspension feel - I need to look into bushings and springs - There are some STi springs that are a bit lower and stiffer than the OEM STi springs that someone mentioned as well as the STi rear locating members both seem like a good way to start - I am not sure what exists for the front of the car... Then there are TIRES - but, I need to continue with the street tires until I have a better feel for the car - it is fast enough to get me into serious trouble right now :-)

I am going to NHIS in a month or so and perhaps back to the Glen so my saga will continue.


I generally use the pyrometer to get a relative reading across the tire to see how the tire pressures/suspension settings are doing - I usually have it with me in the car, pull into pit lane - out of the way and jump out and do some quick check

A the Glen in my M3, I was around 130+- at the end of the back straight - Well into 5th. I am sure that it can be done much faster...

Ray
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Old 09-03-2003, 11:07 AM   #15
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That's cranking along in the M3. I could maybe hit 120 in my 328is, but I wasn't quite flat out thru the esses. Not enough cajones yet.

In dry conditions, the STi should be faster than the E36 M3 I'd think. The handling and steering feel is quite a bit different from the BMW, but I think the trick will be learning to trust the diffs to pull the car where you tell it to go. It's a pretty amazing car.

Porterfield can make up Hawk Blues for the STi. I hope to have a set before going to the Glen.


Bill
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Old 09-03-2003, 11:19 AM   #16
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I agree that the STi will be faster - there is the small difference in HP that will help :-) I agree that I need to learn what the car will do for me. I spoke with Porterfield the day after I spent $10e6 to 'next day' the Ferrado's, and found that they will give me any brake material I want. I also need to figure out the brake rotor thing - with the OEM parts running $800 for the front pair... I guess DBA has them for a lot less...

Enjoy the Glen - It continues to be my favorite track.

Ray
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Old 09-03-2003, 11:50 AM   #17
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Thumbs up

All you guys who play on the Glen should put a posting out in the Tri-State forum when you're going to be in the area. There's a couple of us up in Ithaca and the surrounding areas pretty close by, might be neat to get together with some of you guys.

I'm ashamed to say I live like 20min from the track and have yet to take my car out on it... I'm too scared I'll wreck it, which I can't afford if the insurance decides not to cover it.
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Old 09-03-2003, 12:47 PM   #18
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$800 bucks for the rotors! Gack! I thought the pads were bad! I have to check with my dealer & see what they want for 'em.

If you drive using your head, the track is safer than the street IMO. Everyone's focused on what they're doing, no intersections, and no wife nagging at you to slow down.


Bill
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Old 09-03-2003, 12:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
I want to share some impressions on my first track day at Watkins Glen with the STi. I run in the open run group and have been to this track a couple of times this year with an E36 M3
Thanks for sharing. I've never been to WG and probably won't given the distance. So far all my driving has been in the dry since it just hasn't rained all summer out here.

Quote:
The seats SUCK - need to install the Recarro's - after 6 hours of driving my back was sore.
Interesting. I haven't had any problems with mine, especially once I put the 6-point harnesses on (though the 3" shoulders kind of dig in with the narrow opening in the stock seat). I was thinking of the Sparco Evo or Pro2000 seats, but I'm not sure I want to lose the side airbag and the ability to fit wider people in the car. The 50 pounds of weight savings from two seat replacements, plus the lowering wouldn't hurt.

Quote:
The controls in general are much to light - the clutch, throttle, steering. The spring rate is sub-optimal - the car NEEDS to be lower, and tends to bounce a bit. Transitions between understeer, oversteer and neutral happens quickly and with sensitive controls can be interesting.
I bow to your judgement on this. I'm torn as to whether I want to go whole hog and do a complete suspension overhaul (Ohlins, Leda, Cobb, JRZ, etc. plus bushings) or just stay stock for a while (maybe do a Cobb double adjustable strut with stock springs) and hope we get a S203 or some special edition which I could then trade in for and tune.

Quote:
tire pressures are 30 front, 32 rear. Definitely needs work...
As others have said, this seems awfully low. I've been running about 38/36 hot. Best? Who knows. I need a good test and tune day with 30+ runs/laps and timing.

Quote:
Shifter is lousy - 1 and 3 get confused as do 2 and 4 - I had a couple of close calls.
I've never had 1/3 confusion, but I get 4/6 a lot. Less now that I'm getting used to the car. At my lapping days, I didn't have many problems -- only when I had a slow car in front of me for a corner that forced me to have a much slower speed than normal (or they'd brake hard in the middle of the corner, doh!). Then I'd get some issues.

On the hillclimb, I did lots of 2->3->4->2 sets, and there was only one corner that gave me problems. For some reason, 3 out of 5 runs I had problems going from 2 to 3. On one I just gave up and went to 4th (ended up at 4k rpm, so it wasn't a huge loss). Only on that one corner, and only that one shift. I'm guessing it is me more than the shifter.

Quote:
This car has only had the brake pads and fluid changed - used the new Ferrado 3000 in the front and 2500 in the rear. Not sure what I think about these pads - I am used to the Hawk Blues which just seem to work at the expense of Rotors!
I'm running the stock pads and Motul 600. I was thinking of going to Porterfield R4S pads after these wear some more. On the track the brakes worked fine, but I wasn't overly pushing the car. At the autocross and hillclimb, I have had issues. The ABS sucks bigtime. If I just get right on the brakes, the whole car just skitters over the tarmac as it locks and unlocks the tires at a really slow rate. Horrible stopping ability. If I get on it progressively to let the car settle down, then stomp on it, it is much better. Still not as good as threshold braking, I think, so that's what I tried to do at the hillclimb. Someone in an RX7tt said that was really weird, and he just stops by hitting the brake pedal as hard as he can. From experience, I know his car stops really well (big Hoosiers can't hurt).

Quote:
I am struggling with if I want to stay normally aspirated or turboed on the track. the M3 spoiled me. All in all the STi is a fast car but I am not WOW'ed with it! There is always the Z06...
From everything I've read, the STi is much more linear than most turbos, without as much of a night/day difference between on and off power. While it certainly isn't a linear powerband and has a huge difference between 2.5k and 4.5k, supposedly it is much better than the WRX or Evo. Interesting. No question the Z06 is a champ. Personally I'd save for a 911 SuperCup, GT3RS, or something, but that's just me.

Here's some in-car video from my hill climb. Stock STi on stock tires (with 4500 total miles, 2 road course days, and about 75 autocross runs on them). Beat all the Porsches, but lost to an AS C4 Corvette and ESP Camaro (both on big Hoosiers and prepared for their classes, and probably better drivers too). About 1 second faster than the other 2 STis. All videos are the same, just different format/quality. Top speed is about 90mph during the right hander that slides the car toward the edge. Shift indicator is at about 6300rpm.

23MB MPEG1 / 10MB DIVX / 80MB DIVX
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Old 09-03-2003, 01:15 PM   #20
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Hi WRX_Mundi,

What are you using to brace the 6 points with - I was looking at the Speedware bar - I used this one in the M3 and thought it was well built - I would need to move the downward locating arms to the rear seat belt locations so I can move the seat back far enough

Thanks for posting the video - It looked great! I don't wish a drought on anyone - but the last 2 track events - WGI and Mount Tremblant had mostly rain... So I could use some nice weather to start getting a real sense of my car.

I am partial to the Porsches myself and think the GT3 is a great car - but I would have some concerns of taking a $100k car and tracking it...

I need to decide haw far to take the suspensin thing myself - I need to keep the car streetable for the winter.

I like the Recarro SRD's and have a set that I pulled out of my last car - works well for me - I don't mind loosing the side air bags or the excess weight - but that is just a risk I am willing to take...
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Old 09-03-2003, 01:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by rbahr
What are you using to brace the 6 points with - I was looking at the Speedware bar - I used this one in the M3 and thought it was well built - I would need to move the downward locating arms to the rear seat belt locations so I can move the seat back far enough.
I'm using the Speedware bar. They installed it, and also made brackets for the bottom of the seat to anchor the ASM part. The seat position is fine for me, but some people like to sit way back or have the seat reclined more and it does limit the seat travel and the angle. You'd have to talk to them about how the struts might work.

I'd really like a real cage, but I need to keep the back seat usable. Tradeoffs of a daily driver / race car.

Quote:
Thanks for posting the video - It looked great!
Thanks! It was a blast. I can pick out various mistakes, but like I mentioned to the other corner worker after I was commenting on people's lines and throttle amounts, "It sure is easier to drive the cars from the outside, isn't it?" Unlike a road track, we don't get too many runs, and I never got really relaxed and able to tweak the little things. That right hander facing the open sky and tree tops really gets the adrenaline going too.

Quote:
I am partial to the Porsches myself and think the GT3 is a great car - but I would have some concerns of taking a $100k car and tracking it...
True.. I'm getting a bit annoyed with the daily driver / race car thing. What I ought to do is leave my car alone and get a shifter kart, Ralt, Formula Ford, or other race car that doesn't cost a fortune. But the lure of a real car keeps calling me...
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Old 09-03-2003, 04:15 PM   #22
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Default Re: Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by WRX_Mundi

Here's some in-car video from my hill climb. Stock STi on stock tires (with 4500 total miles, 2 road course days, and about 75 autocross runs on them). Beat all the Porsches, but lost to an AS C4 Corvette and ESP Camaro (both on big Hoosiers and prepared for their classes, and probably better drivers too). About 1 second faster than the other 2 STis. All videos are the same, just different format/quality. Top speed is about 90mph during the right hander that slides the car toward the edge. Shift indicator is at about 6300rpm.

23MB MPEG1 / 10MB DIVX / 80MB DIVX
Geez, what I got out of that was:
1) the guardrails looked awfully low.
2)some places did not have guardrails!!

Thanks for posting, great video. You guys in the high altitudes make it look easy. I had a difficult time driving up/down Pikes Peak at 5 mph!!
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Old 09-03-2003, 04:47 PM   #23
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Default Re: Re: Re: A day at Watkins Glen

Quote:
Originally posted by mx_9


Geez, what I got out of that was:
1) the guardrails looked awfully low.
2)some places did not have guardrails!!
In terms of going off the mountain, "Sky Corner" right before turn 5 is pretty scary, and if you completely screwed up turn 7 you could get a tumble. Actually someone this weekend did something really strange and ended up flying over the edge at the finish -- he just kept accelerating right through the cones, clipped a motorhome, and went over. He's fine, but the car has some major front end issues. Could have been worse.

Most of the danger is more hitting the mountain on this course -- turn 2 ("The Wall") got one car this weekend and after (unintentionally) late braking into the corner I learned some respect. The concrete barrier on 5 has managed to catch some cars (thank goodness since that's a big drop). Apparently turn 6 ("The Rocks") gets some cars (I didn't push it very hard -- having the car sliding a bit at 60 mph is fun enough). Turn 8 right before the finish often gets cars to slide into the side of the road -- I've seen one go onto its door. I didn't feel like I was pushing it too hard except at Sky corner where I really was trying not to lift -- I was using every bit of track on the left going in and trying to touch the road edge at the apex. That is definately a pucker factor corner.

There are much worse places for hillclimbs. I think I'll stick with just this one. Road courses seem much safer for both drivers and cars. Besides, with lapping days / driving schools, they're probably covered by insurance as well, where it is clear the hillclimb is not (at least for car damage).
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