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Old 07-31-2001, 07:39 AM   #1
Patrick Olsen
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QuickSilver Metallic

Cool Subie + 2 days of rain = I kick ass at VIR! (long recap)

I got back last night from VIR. All in all a very successfull weekend - no speeding tickets, no damage to the car (well, maybe...more on that later), and as the sole Subaru in attendance I think I do an excellent job representin', yo!

As the title of the thread says, it was a rainy two days. On the one hand, that sucked, since we were never really able to run flat out. Hence, I had no opportunity to compare lap times with the last time I was there. On the other hand, as one of only two AWD cars in attendance (there was a black S4 there, too - I passed him ), I definitely had an advantage over the 2WD vehicles.

I got down to Danville Friday afternoon and prepped the car - swapped over to the Brembos and Porterfield pads, put the Kumhos on the car, and set up the video camera. (By the way, no Bumper Cam footage due to the wet weather ). Checked the Weather Channel that night and things were looking good for Saturday - rain farther west in VA, and farther south in NC, but it looked like south/central VA (where the track is) was going to be OK. Alas, it was not to be...

Got to the track Saturday morning, got the car through tech, and got registered in the Green group. There were Green, Yellow, Blue, and White groups, so I'm figuring Green is the lower middle group. Wrong, Green is beginners. Huh?! No worries, though, my instructor, Larry, tells me during our orientation lap around the track that as long as the first Green session goes all right, he'll get me bumped up to Yellow. Meanwhile, I empty the car out under very grey, low hanging clouds. First couple of run groups (instructor and white) go out on a damp/drying track, but after that it starts to rain. Fortunately, it never rained hard on either day, but there was never a break in the clouds, and there was some sort of mist or light rain falling probably 60% of the time.

Note: See the Full Course link at http://www.virclub.com/pages/track_info.htm to see the track with turn numbers.

OK, so we go out on a wet track for the first session. Sure enough, the first session goes fine (albeit very slow, only a couple somewhat open laps to show him I know what I'm doing) and Larry immediately gets me a yellow sticker for the windshield when we complete the session. Cool!

Second session was much more fun, as the Yellow group was moving along quite a bit better than the Green group. I think the session was actually a bit wetter than the first. All the sessions kinda blur together, so I don't remember any details at this point (I'll have to review my tapes), but I do know I was picking people off left and right and there was never anyone even close to passing me. I immediately felt very comfortable with my line around the track, with really only one "scary" part, that being coming down the hill through 16, 17, and 17A out onto the front straight. In the dry I never had any worries about those corners, but in the wet, coming down the hill at around 60mph (guessing) and taking a turn that starts out a teeny bit off-camber, I found myself holding my breath every time. I was really having to force myself to stay on the gas, which was very important to keep the rear end loaded and planted on the track.

After that session Larry and I drove over to meet my instructor for Sunday, Dave. (Larry was cutting out a day early). Larry had nothing but positive things to say about me, and told Dave that he was "going to have a great time, it's quite a ride" or words to that effect. He also hinted that he thought I could be in the Blue group, definitely for the next event.

The third session on Saturday was a bit more interesting. It had stopped raining a bit earlier, but the track was definitely wet still. Strangely enough, though, it seemed like the track was at its slickest as it was just starting to dry, and that combined with the complacency of the last session of the day led to some problems. The session went just fine for me for about the first 20min or so. I picked off a couple cars, including an older (mid- or late-80s?) 911. After he let me by, he was hanging with me for a few laps. Coming down the hill through 16 and 17, the rear got a bit loose on me, and as I gathered the car between turns 17 and 17A I quickly glanced in the mirror to see where the 911 was. Big mistake. I looked back in front of me and found I was much closer to the outside edge of the track than I expected to be, which startled me for just an instant. Hindsight being 20/20, I still easily could have made the turn, but I opted for the conservative approach, said, "Oh sh**!", straightened the wheel and went off the track. No harm done, waited for a few cars to go by, then got back on track and pulled into the pits to check the car out. Went back out for the last few minutes of the session and passed two Miatas that had gone off on two consecutive laps, one at turn 6/6A (into the tire wall), and one at turn 10.

Watching the tape of my "off" later in the hotel room I really couldn't believe how stupid it was. I'll probably post it later once I've captured it, but there's really not much to see - it just looks like I drove right off the track. If you watch carefully, though, you can see my helmet bob up real quick (you can't see my eyes in the rearview mirror, just the helmet), and I'm pretty sure that's when I was checking the mirror. Oh well, better safe than sorry. Larry and I agreed it was a dumb mistake, but I erred on the side of safety, so it was an OK mistake to make.

On Sunday I ended up doing just two of the three sessions, skipping the last one. The first session was kinda short, as someone went off about 10min into the session, so we were pulled back in to the false grid while they pulled them out of the tire wall. The second session was the fastest and most fun of the weekend. Once again, it hadn't rained it a bit, and the line was actually starting to dry out. I would say by the end of the session about 75% of the line was dry. I spent most of the session following an S2000 - at the start of the session, with the line not quite as dry, I was able to hang with him. As the line dried out, though, and he and I got free of traffic he gradually began to pull away - probably about 50-100yds per lap. Basically it was all straightaway speed, I would have overtaken him if I had WRX power under the hood, but....I don't.

At the end of the session I took Dave back over to his car and we were sitting in my car talking with the engine still running. After a couple minutes of talking I looked over and my temperature gauge was just above 3/4. Ruh-roh, Raggy! So, I told Dave I needed to get the car moving, and sure enough by the time I had gone 50yds the temperature was back down to just below 1/2 (normal). I did a couple laps of the paddock, then parked the car, popped the hood and turned on the A/C to get the fans running. The overflow bottle was nearly full, but did not appear to have puked any coolant out the top. Nonetheless, with my past head gasket history, and the knowledge that I had a 650 mile drive home ahead of me the next day, I elected to skip the last session. By the time I got the car back to the hotel it was about time for me to be on the track, and I was so itching to go, but I think giving the car a break was definitely the smart thing to do. In the next few days I'll have to take it out and beat the snot out of it and see if I can make it overheat again - if so, back to the dealership it goes to get the head gaskets checked. I kinda hope they are bad - that way I'll know I skipped the last session for a good reason.

So, that's the recap. Next event, October 1-2, Summit Point.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Old 07-31-2001, 12:44 PM   #2
BoomerRS
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good job representin!
in my go kart experience i have found it best to "bump" the tail end of slower karts in front of me into turns to get them to spin out so i can pass them. did they teach this technique there?
how much did the school cost?
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Old 07-31-2001, 12:55 PM   #3
Fitz
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Any race day you can drive the car home from is a good race day in my book. I think we should get some
Quote:
Yes, this is my daily driver....
stickers made up for a few of us.

Fitz
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Old 07-31-2001, 02:22 PM   #4
Ru fan
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I love your racing stories! One day, it will be me....*sigh*

Later,
Seth E.
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Old 07-31-2001, 02:40 PM   #5
RyanC
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Pat, remind me *not* to run in your run groups if we are ever on the track together
Ryan

ps- I spun at the left hander going into the hog pen, I was as smart as you were and watched traffic instead of my line. My car started to overheat too... well, Larry's car did heheh mine was at home When the grass is wet you slide a *looooong* way!
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Old 07-31-2001, 03:13 PM   #6
Patrick Olsen
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A few more notable memories:

- My first instructor, Larry, telling me as we lined up for the 3rd session on Saturday, "Better get in line early, no point in humiliating everybody too many times."

- A bit of a chuckle from my second instructor, Dave, as I came into a corner too hot, then dropped the throttle to bring the tail around. (Mind you, this was in turn #4, one of the slowest corners on the track. It's fun to play with drop throttle oversteer at an auto-x, but at track speeds I generally don't try to get the tail out - I've seen what happens if you're not careful with that).

- The usual comments from people in the paddock, who have been awakened to the track prowess of Subarus:
.....A Sentra driver: "My friend, Tom, told me there was a silver Subaru out there that was flyin'. I checked my mirrors and alluva sudden there you were and I was like, 'Man! Where did he come from?!'"
.....One of the S2000 drivers, when my car was sitting with the hood up overheating: "Letting the turbo cool, huh?" (Ahhh, I wish!)

Pat
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Old 07-31-2001, 05:32 PM   #7
Greg Sharpe
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Quote:
.....One of the S2000 drivers, when my car was sitting with the hood up overheating: "Letting the turbo cool, huh?" (Ahhh, I wish!)
The S2000 owner obivously didn't know a damn thing about imaginary turbos. Those don't need to be cooled off!
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Old 07-31-2001, 06:04 PM   #8
Mike2000GT
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Ahhh, Pat, you kill me.

Great review, sorry you didnt have better luck with the weather. So is the Subie coming to Summit Point? You mentioned about taking the Stang.... sniffle.

Save up your money for the turbo pal... I know I am.
We need to get Steve to give us rides to subside some of the turbo envy.

Fitz, If you can get those stickers or lisence place surrounds, sign me up for one.

Mike2000GT
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Old 07-31-2001, 06:25 PM   #9
Deacon
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Yeah Boomer... or you could teach him another signature move of yours the:

"don't yeild to an overtaking driver at the start of the main straight and squeeze him into the corner move"

Just joking man... when are we going back to the kart track?
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Old 07-31-2001, 09:14 PM   #10
Patrick Olsen
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By the way, Boomer, I missed your questions earlier. Needless to say, car-to-car contact at one of these events earns you a speedy departure out of the event. It's extremely rare - one of the Car Guys instructors said he only knows of two instances in the 15 years they've been running events. At the very first event I ever attended two instructors got together when the overtaking guy tried to pass without a signal from the lead car. Minimal damage to either car, but the overtaking guy was sent packing. Anyway, I know you were just kidding....

As for cost, this was actually an expensive event. Unfortunately I can't find the entry in my check book, so I don't remember what I paid. Their website says it was $675 for all three days, and I vaguely recall it was $550 for two days, plus I got a 15% discount through an open track mailing list I subscribe to. So, $475 was my final tally (I think). In comparison, the TracQuest event at Watkins Glen was $400 for three days (although that, too, was discounted because they were having trouble getting people to sign up). The Quattro Club event I'll be doing in October at Summit Point is $280 for 2 days - basically, it varies a lot depending on the track and the club. I think the VIR events will generally be more expensive than events at other tracks because word is quickly getting out in the East that it's an awesome track, probably the best in the East, and one of the top two or three in the country. (And that's not based on my limited experience, that's what I've heard from some very experienced instructors).

On a completely different subject, VIR will most likely be extending the track this fall. If you look at http://www.virclub.com/pages/trackInfo/main_course.htm you can see between the North and South Course crossing sections there's a dashed section marked "Proposed Grand Prix Course Connector". That suggestion is Proposal #1 on my crude drawing below. Proposal #2 is currently the more likely option (and the shape of the addition is just for demonstration sake, I have no idea what the topography is there and what the connector will actually look like).

Imagine that image stuck into the middle of the Full Course map I linked to above (which happens to be made up of a bunch of little chunks, and I don't feel like trying to cut and paste them all together). Anyway, #2 is favored because it would maintain the climbing Esses (turns 7, 8, and 9 on the Full Course), whereas option #1 would dump you out right at the start of the Esses at low speed as you came out of Fishhook. Whichever option they decide to use, and whatever shape it takes, the Grand Prix version of the track will be, without a doubt, at all costs, greater than 4 miles long - that way VIR will take the title of "Longest Road Course in North America" away from Road Atlanta. The current plan is to lay the pavement this fall and allow it to cure over the winter, which is what they did (with great success) for the rest of the track. 4.1+ miles! How fun with that be?!

Pat
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Old 08-01-2001, 04:44 PM   #11
Mike2000GT
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Thumbs up

Oh yeah! #2 would be a much better addition. That back straight is okay, but much better to keep the climbing esses high speed. Thats probably some of the best parts of the track!

EDIT: oh, but I remember from being there and Pat's video of the North course that #7 on the North course is an uphill. That addition will take some power to get up #7 now eh?

Guess I'll have to save up for the quattro club event in April if they follow suit with last year.

4.1 miles... wow.

Mike2000GT

Last edited by Mike2000GT; 08-01-2001 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 08-01-2001, 09:34 PM   #12
Patrick Olsen
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Actually, if proposal #2 is used, I don't think you'll hit North Course turn 7. You'll go zipping by that turn, up through the Esses, around Oak Tree, and halfway down the back straight. You'll then turn right at The Bitch, go almost all the way across the South Course connector, and then turn left somewhere around Fishhook to cross over the new section to get over to the North Course connector. My guess would be that the new addition would join into the North Course connector at the top of the Uphill turn, otherwise the left hand turn from the addition onto the North Course connector would be a very nasty, very off-camber turn. Just my guess, of course.

Pat
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Old 08-02-2001, 11:56 AM   #13
Mike2000GT
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Default Ooops...

Yeah Pat, thats sorta what I meant; that it would be a nasty uphill turn. I thought the hill was longer than that... lasting into the following turns... uh NC 8 I think... yeah.

Anyway, it should be killer if they do move with one. Makes total sense as the back straight is rather sucky haveing that hill and all.

Where do we send our encouraging letters?

Mike

Pat! Is it the subie or the stang that you are taking to Summit Point!?! Whichever one... I'll have to get you in my car to hand out some pointers... I'll need em.
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