This was one of our largest customer events ever, and the first time to Buttonwillow in 2012. We had over 9 cars in total at the event, and 6 cars under full track support. We even had a broad mix of cars, levels of track preparedness or development, and car manufacturers (Porsche 997.2 GT3, Porsche 997.1 GT3, Porsche 997.2 GT3, Porsche 997.2 GT3, Porsche 987.1 Cayman S, BMW E46 M3 2004, Porsche 997.2 Carrera, BMW E46 M3 2006, Porsche 997.2 GT3-RS,).
To support that many customers, we had to bring almost everything and everybody we have, and this was the first time we used our SEMI trailer w the hospitality section added. This gave us a canopy length of over 75′ long….it stuck out in front of the truck, and went all the way to the back, and was over 20′ deep from front to back. This allowed us to put most of the cars under the canopy, and still use the hospitality area for the chairs, food, snacks , tables, and yes, even the satelite TV. We had a GREAT time…..plus, our customer set has to be the greatest around as well, not only do we have fun on the track, but we have fun together when we’re not driving. Can’t get any better than this.
This was a PCA event, and we were there from Friday thru Sunday, putting a lot of time on the track. We’re always a little concerned about the weather, but again, we seem to have great results, as the weather was just about right all weekend long (but ask many of our customers about their new great “cool suits”……they would say the single greatest enhancement to their track cars.). It was still warm, but not too hot, but one of the first times our customers encountered a “greasy” track, that becomes very slippery when hot.
Here is a rundown on some of the customers and how the event unfolded for them -most of the news and info is all good, but there was one situation that occurred on Friday that was a very serious issue, and a safety issue, and has caused us to take pause w Porsche’s that have center lock street wheels. The issue was that one of our customers Porsches (997.2 GT3 w stock center locks), had a right rear hub shear at the center lock assembly. This occurred exiting the “esses” at Buttonwillow, at about 120mph. No wheel had been dropped, no curbs hit, just driving and exiting the turn when this failure occurred. The car went off the track to the right and sailed through the dirt and partially launched airborne when crossing an access road as they tried to bring the car to a stop. Besides the right rear hub, brake assembly all being torn off the car, when the wheel exited, it took part of the right rear corner of the car. The great news is that the incident ended safely, although the car was heavily damaged. This failure, which is not unique to this one incident, and has been occurring w a higher level of frequency than anyone would expect from a major manufacturer. Look to our blog for a more detailed description of this issue, and for the alternative we are switching to for Porsche track cars w center locks.
Next….we had David O’Rourke and Tracy O’Rourke w their beautiful blue 997.2 GT3. They should charge for pictures and spectator views of their car, as no matter where we go, this car attracts more attention than any other car in the paddock. Not only is it a beautiful car, but it is fast.
What made this weekend more fun for them, was that they were both driving the car. David would run in the fast group, and Tracy would run in another group as she was learning this track.
If you chat w them, the two things they will tell you about that they love on their car are the brakes (both of them can plant the car on its nose….even at the end of the straights when most are more timid or earlier on the brakes given the speed, but not them….they wait and wait and wait, and then just plant the car on its nose….and it just stays as straight, steady and confidence inspiring as you could hope, and they rush forward to the next turn so they can do it again) and the new coolsuit system. As soon as they plug their shirt into the system, you can hear an audible “ahhhhhhhh”. It really does change your whole perspective of running a fast car on warm days…..just plug in, relax and go.? Air conditioning for the body. They had a great weekend, Tracy picked up speed and confidence on every lap and every turn. David has improved his speed at every event this year, and is the quiet impressive one in our group.
Jussi was with us, driving his grey bullet (Porsche 997.1 GT3 w 3.9L motor). If given the chance, Jussi will run whenever he can, and in every session possible. He is always having fun, and honing his driving skill. If you want to see what smooth driving is like, ask to ride w him sometime. He is typical Finish, being cool, solid, steady….and he carries this approach into his driving as well. No sawing at the wheel, no inconsistencies….he attacks the course, and is just as smooth with this hands as is possible. With every session, he is carving out that little piece of time, going faster and faster. Not only does he carry that approach out on the track, but then he comes in, downloads his data, and analyzes each section, session, line, approach, braking points, turn in, RPM entry and exit, and different approaches and lines, and then sets out a plan for the next session. When Jussi comes though, you need another support truck just to haul all his camera and data gear. You better have a SEMI truck, w power, batteries, etc. ? He comes w his own protective gear boxes….sets up his table, unloads all his stuff, and then sets up NASA central and installs more cameras and gear than you have ever seen. Just to get him out on track takes a couple of minutes to turn on all the cameras and a full crew. The cameras aren’t necessarily in the same place each time either….want a front bumper view…yep, got that. Want an inside view, yep got that. Want a rear view, yep, got that. Want a low angle behind the front wheel view…yep, got that. We love the footage. Jussi trimmed time on his laps on every session. This also provided some good learning points, as the afternoons got hot, and the track got greasy, so learning how to adapt to the changing track provided very useful, and the loss of grip and sliding also improved overall car control. Jussi has had an interesting experience w this car….as his speed was immediately there when he got the car, but when he would aggressively brake, the car would go into an “ice brake”….basically a short period where you would get NO braking whatsoever. Whoa horse….whoa, please stop, please…Oh My Goodness. When this would happen, you have to get off the brakes completely for just a fraction of a second, and then could get right back on. The good news is that the brakes would still be there, the bad news was that in that fraction of a second, when you are under threshold braking on a critical braking point….that time without brakes makes you go very deep, and you wonder for a brief moment whether you will even keep the car on the track. This car had the stock 997.1 ABS system, and if you add the component of great threshold braking by the driver, better brakes and pads w higher stopping power (see our notes on David’s car above, and almost all our track customers are running w StopTech BBKs w Endless brake pads…and these things will definitely stop fast…all day long), and grippier tires, and you can induce “ice brake” mode w the ABS system. There are ways to tune this out….less grippy tires, less grippy pads, stock brakes (although some others have reported ICE MODE w stock brakes and tires too), but all the ways to tune this out make you slower. So, now the driver has a confidence robbing moment at every hard braking situation on the track….will he or won’t he have brakes. This is NOT the prescription for FUN on the track. So, we had tried a couple of approaches to solving the problem, but not any of them were completely successful. Some others would mumur, “just drive thru it”, but, until you have been in the car and in the moment, don’t be so quick to say this. It is a frightening element…and NO FUN. So, this was the first full event where we had replaced the stock 997.1 ABS system w the 997.2 GT3-RS 4.0 ABS system. This is not a perfect solution, there are some side affects, but it DOES solve the ICE BRAKE issue. So, at this event, Jussi had full use of his brakes again, and was on a tear, reducing his lap times in every session.
What a GREAT event, what a GREAT set of customers, and what a great set of cars. Come on out and join us…see our schedule in the blog here.
BRracing – the JOY of having fun together.