BR Racing Blog

New PCA DE Rule Coming

The number one priority of PCA’s HPDE (High Performance Driving Experience) Program is track safety. A core belief in the DE program is that a person can purchase a stock Porsche and take it to the track for an HPDE weekend, after an appropriate tech inspection of course.

Some people choose to modify their cars to increase performance and others to increase safety. A popular modification made to track cars is the addition of a multi-point harness system. Starting January 1, 2019, the PCA DE Minimum Standards will be expanded to state that if a driver uses a harness system, he or she will ALSO be required to utilize a head and neck restraint system, commonly referred to as a HANS device.

A head and neck restraint device is an integral part of the harness system. Because the rule of equal restraint always applies, if a driver uses a harness system there must also be a harness system available and used by the passenger. Thus, both the driver and passenger will be required to use a HANS device. We highly encourage all DE participants to not wait until 2019 to comply with this new minimum standard. Head and neck restraint system devices are now more affordable and easily purchased online.

The DE Committee’s decision was made over the course of two years after careful review of options, conversations with DE participants and discussion of a variety of perspectives. Please pass on this information to your DE drivers and instructors as soon as possible to avoid any confusion.

How To Manage Your Car During A Track Day

How To Manage Your Car During A Track Day

We have likely had more discussions on how to manage your car at a track day than any other track day discussion.  There is a lot that is just not known by the first time or occasional track day participant. Managing these elements will ensure a safer track day, and extend the life of your tires, car.

The items are fairly simple…but do take attention and some work.  You need to ensure that your car has been prepped for your first track day (see our other blog article), and that you bring the basic tools (see our other blog article).

TIRES

This is probably the most mis-understood element.  There are two cases here, the participant who drove their car to the track (and intends on driving it home as well), and the one who has trailered their car to / from the event.  We will focus most of our discussion on the participant who drives to / from the event, but the other elements of this discussion will apply to the participant who trailers their car as well.

The main topic here is TIRE PRESSURES.  What tire pressures should be run, when, and how to manage them.  Almost all cars for the North American market have a sticker on the drivers inner door jam that specify what tire pressures are best for that car.  Those pressures are for street, freeway driving, and are usually measured or defined for “COLD” tire temperatures.  You need to know that, and will need to use it when you are preparing to travel home after the event, or even after the day if you are doing multiple day events.  BUT, that pressure is NOT to be used on the track.  (We can have a separate discussion on how those pressures on the door jam sticker are determined so that you can understand those as well, but that is a separate discussion).  Again, the street pressures are NOT the target pressures, neither cold or hot…ignore them.  For MOST DOT approved tires (tires like Michelin SuperSport, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, Bridgestone S04, Bridgestone RE71R, Nitto NT01, Toyo R888, Toyo R1R, Hankook RS3, Continental ExtremeContact Sport, Pirelli PZero, and more, the target HOT tire pressure is 35 – 36psi.  Remember that, record it somewhere, memorize, subscribe to it!  However, that does not mean that is where we set the tires for the beginning of your session….that is where we want the tire to end up at the end of the session.

Now, there are several factors that need to be considered to determine the best starting tire pressure.  Weather, temperature, humidity, the track being driven, the group you are running with, how long the session will be, and finally, how aggressive you will be during your session.  For first time participants, they likely have a different first session experience than all others.  They may even have an instructor drive their car for the first two or three laps, then they may come in, switch seats, and go back out.

Tire pressures will grow significantly during a session.  The key parameters (friction, slip, weather or ambient temperature, and  humidity) will have a dramatic impact on how much your tire pressures change. You also need to be aware of what your tire is mainly filled with (ambient air, or Nitrogen).  Even if filled w Nitrogen, and purged of almost all humidity, the tire pressures will grow during a track session, just not as much as a tire mainly filled with air.

So, how much will a tire pressure GROW during a session or for the day?  Let’s take a likely scenario, and run through a couple of examples.  CASE “A” is a customer with a 2005 BMW E46 M3.  Case “B” is a customer with a 2011 Porsche Cayman S.  These are both likely or possible first time track cars.  The info here will apply to any car, you just need to factor in the already mentioned variables.

CASE A (BMW E46 M3)
– Time of day for first session = 8:15am
– Track = Thunderhill East course
– Weather temperature = 55 degrees F
– Humidity = 30%
– Tires = Michelin SuperSport
– True first time track session / experience
– Organization = Hooked On Driving (HOD)

Session 1 tire pressures
– Before session, set tire pressures to about 32-33 psi
– At the end of the session, after you roll off the track, and park at your spot, immediately check your tire pressures…if we guessed our starting point right, we should end up at about 35-36psi…we’ll call this our HOT pressure.

Session 2 tire pressures
If we guessed right for Session 1, then, we need to drop our tire pressures by about 1 psi BEFORE we go out for our second session.  For education purposes, it would be good to document your tire pressure management for the day (Session #, cold / starting pressure, hot / finishing  pressures, adjustment made)
If we guessed right for Session 1, and made the adjustment DOWN by 1 psi before the start of session 2, then, at the end of session 2, we should come in at the end of your session, measure HOT tire pressures, and they should be around 35-36psi again.  That is where we want to end up at the end of each session.  If we did end up at 35 psi at the end of session 2, then we will want to want to drop another 1 psi before the start of session 3.  Each session, the temperature of the day is likely rising, your comfort with the track grows, and your speed will likely increase.  All of these combine to increase the friction / heat generated in the tire, and as a result, the tire pressures will continue to grow.
Now, don’t pay a lot of attention to the tire as it cools between sessions…other than to educate yourself on what is going on.
So…what happens if the numbers don’t match to the target ending pressures?  Then, you make an adjustment…it’s like a simple math equation or “if / then” decision matrix statement.
Let’s say you are comfortable w the track, you came up to speed more quickly in Session 2 than we had estimated, and the temperature of the day also got hotter faster than we had estimated.  Then, at the end of session 2, our HOT tire pressures could have been 39 psi instead of the target 35-36psi.  If we wanted to be at 35psi HOT at the end of the session, and we were at 39psi, and we were going to drop the tire pressure by 1 psi, then we need to alter our adjustment, and relieve the tire pressure by 5 psi prior to the start of the next session.

Session 3 tire pressures
Assuming that we stay w the facts and variables of our first session, we should have ended Session 2 at 25-36psi, and we would need to adjust down yet again our tire pressures by another 1 psi.  If we end up above or below the HOT target pressures at the end of the session, then we would factor that into our adjustment equation.

Session 4 tire pressures
The same will hold true for session 4.  At the end of session 3, we need to adjust down again our tire pressures by 1 psi.

Session 5 tire pressures
Normally, for session 5, we will NOT need to make any adjustments, as the tires, the weather, your level of driving, the track, the humidity, do not change, and we won’t need to make any change for the last session of the day, or if you have even more sessions, it is likely you will be fine…..but, measure to verify no matter what.

CASE B (Porsche Cayman S, 987, 2011)
– Time of day for first session = 8:15am
– Track = Thunderhill East course
– Weather temperature = 55 degrees F
– Humidity = 30%
– Tires = Michelin Pilot 4S
– 1st track event of the year, has done over 20 track days before
– Organization = Hooked On Driving (HOD)
– Run Group B (running without an instructor)

The main facts that have changed are the experience of the driver, and the speed of the car.

Session 1 tire pressures
– Before session, set tire pressures to about 29 psi
– At the end of the session, after you roll off the track, and park at your spot, immediately check your tire pressures…if we guessed our starting point right, we should end up at about 35-36psi…we’ll call this our HOT pressure.

Session 2 tire pressures
If we guessed right for Session 1, then, we need to drop our tire pressures by about 2 psi BEFORE we go out for our second session.  If we guessed right for Session 1, and made the adjustment DOWN by 2 psi before the start of session 2, then, at the end of session 2, we should come in at the end of your session, measure HOT tire pressures, and they should be around 35-36psi again.  That is where we want to end up at the end of each session.  If we did end up at 35 psi at the end of session 2, then we will want to want to drop another 1 1/2 psi before the start of session 3.  Each session, the temperature of the day is likely rising, your comfort with the track grows, and your speed will likely increase.  All of these combine to increase the friction / heat generated in the tire, and as a result, the tire pressures will continue to grow. We are adjusting more in Case B than in Case A mainly due to the speed of the car, and the aggressiveness of the driver.

So…what happens if the numbers don’t match to the target ending pressures?  Then, you make an adjustment just like in Case A…it’s like a simple math equation or “if / then” decision matrix statement.
Let’s say you are comfortable w the track, you came up to speed more quickly in Session 2 than we had estimated, and the temperature of the day also got hotter faster than we had estimated.  Then, at the end of session 2, our HOT tire pressures could have been 39 psi instead of the target 35-36psi.  If we wanted to be at 35psi HOT at the end of the session, and we were at 39psi, and we were going to drop the tire pressure by 1 1/2 psi, then we need to alter our adjustment, and relieve the tire pressure by 5 1/2 psi prior to the start of the next session.

Session 3 tire pressures
Assuming that we stay w the facts and variables of our first session, we should have ended Session 2 at 25-36psi, and we would need to adjust down yet again our tire pressures by another 1 psi.  If we end up above or below the HOT target pressures at the end of the session, then we would factor that into our adjustment equation.

Session 4 tire pressures
The same will hold true for session 4.  At the end of session 3, we need to adjust down again our tire pressures by just 1/2 psi.  Due to the agressiveness of the driver, and the speed of the laps, the tires will have normalized more quickly.

Session 5 tire pressures
Normally, for session 5, we will NOT need to make any adjustments, as the tires, the weather, your level of driving, the track, the humidity, do not change, and we won’t need to make any change for the last session of the day, or if you have even more sessions, it is likely you will be fine…..but, measure to verify no matter what.

Going Home or to the Hotel For the Night (either Case A or Case B)
Look back on what we have done….we started the tire pressures very low at the start of the day, and continued to relieve pressures…if we do the math, the effective COLD pressures could now be in the 23-25psi range…no where near where the door jam recommends.  Therefore, we need to INFLATE the tires to get them to near the door jam pressures.

One other KEY point…in all our references for track pressure, we are targeting the SAME tire pressures for all four tires, front and rear (or symmetrical).  It is very likely that your car does NOT specify that the front and rear tire pressures be the same for street driving.  That is correct….we want our track HOT pressures to be around 35-36psi HOT for all four tires, front and rear, but for street driving, we want our front and rear tire pressures to match those COLD tire pressures the manufacturer has defined and posted on the door jam.

FUEL
Just a couple of points on fuel.  This is guidance for a new track user…not a long time, aggressive or time trialer. We would suggest that you never let your fuel load get before 1/4 tank.  If it looks like you are going to start the session at 1/4 tank, then we would suggest that you add fuel before your session.

We have seen cases, under “G-loading” in the corners, where street cars can starve when the fuel load is at 1/4 tank or less.  Most people will consume about 3-5 gallons a session (assuming a normal 20-25 minute session).

At the same time, we would suggest running your fuel load at about the 3/4 full level.  We do not know of any issue of running the tank full, but if your car is older, and the fuel caps not quite as strong, you can get some leakage or fuel bypass.

Check your fuel load right after each session….not right before the start of your session.

WHEELS / Lug Bolts / Center Locks
Two items here….too many users don’t check their wheel lug bolts / wheel nuts / wheel studs / center lock nuts at all.  WRONG!  You need to check them before every session.

However, we have also seen many, almost everyone, who does follow the above rule, abuse the car or equipment…as most do not understand the basic principal of “torquing” a fastener, whatever type it is.

Let’s say you were going to check your wheel lug bolts before the start of the day and then after every session.  You DO NOT go an just put the torque wrench on the lug bolt, and test it. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG…if you do that, in a couple of track days, you will SHEAR the lug bolts, and induce a severe safety issue.  You also do NOT want to test the torque right after your car has come off the track….the wheels, brakes, etc are very hot, and you can over torque a fastener when it is hot. Wait till the car and systems have cooled, or right before the start of your next session. To check the wheel lug torque (and first, you must know what the proper wheel lug bolt, wheel nut /stud, or center lock nut torque value is), you first LOOSEN the wheel fastener slightly, and then proceed to torque the fastener to the proper value.

If you have a car with any version of “center lock” wheels…check with your manufacturer, and get their procedure for how this is to be performed (when Porsche came out w their center lock hubs / wheels / nuts on the 997.2 911 GT3 or GT3RS, they wrote a 5 page article on how to torque the center locks…and we have watched almost ALL Porsche owners not follow the proper procedure….and we have seen where a wheel hub on multiple Porsche GT3’s / GT3RS’s has been sheared off during a track session…not what you want to happen to your car).  Be aware of the proper tools needed to do this, and the torque values.

Realize wheel STUDS / nuts have different torque values than lug bolts when installed on the same car.  The defined torque is determined by the metal type, strength, and size.

Yourself
The  simple rule here is do not ignore the driver…keep yourself hydrated, visit the bathroom often, wear the proper clothes, and bring sunscreen.

Hope these thoughts have helped prepare you for your events, whether you are a first time participant or an aged track junkie.  It should be fun, safe, and exhilarating.

Let us know if you have any questions about any of our info or articles.

BRracing – expertise at your finger tips

What To Expect At Your Track Day

What To Expect At Your Track Day

There is nothing more exciting than to take your car to the track, and drive it at speed on the track.  The anticipation, eagerness, anxiety build as the day / event approaches.  So, to help you feel a little better about the experience, we are writing this article to let you know what to expect. (We wrote the first article about what to take to your track day, and we will follow this up with how to manage your car at your track day).

There are lots of track organizations in our area (PCA (Porsche Club of America), BMWCCA (BMW Car Club of America), Ferrari Club, Hooked On Driving (HOD), NASA, SCCA, SpeedSF, My Private Track Day, NCRC, and many more).  Each runs the day a little different, and some in our view, run a much better track day than the others (we prefer PCA, BMWCCA, HOD).

We’ll assume for the purposes of this article that you had done either none, or very few track days. The first item to understand then is the schedule, and we’ll cover not only the day, but leading up to the event as well.

  • 4+ weeks before the event:
    • Sign up for the event, get your registration verification (do not assume that there will be capacity for the event just days before the event, most events fill up weeks in advance….there are a LOT of people doing this).
    • If your event is at a track like Thunderhill, Buttonwillow, Willow Springs, Spring Mountain or farther away, make your travel plans and hotel plans, or if you are doing a multiple day event
    • Go online, find some in car videos of the track, watch them as many times as you can (doesn’t need to be in a car like yours or a speed like yours)
  • A week + before the event:
    • Have your car fully inspected (either by yourself, or by a professional shop). You need to have more than 50% remaining on your brake pads, your brake rotors need to be above minimum thickness, your tires need to be in good condition (depending on whether your track day will be wet or dry will determine how much tread remaining you need to have), get an oil change, get the transmission / differential fluid changed, check all fluids, ensure there is no evidence of any cooling system leaks or other fluid leaks, make sure there are no loose items anywhere, check all other fluid levels, make sure there are no active “codes /errors” in any of the systems in your car, make sure all wheel lug bolts or wheel studs are in good condition, make sure your car alignment is in good condition or correct
    • Get your brake fluid changed, and upgraded (do not go to your first event with stock brake fluid or brake fluid that has not been changed in less than 2 years)
    • Gather and pack all your stuff (see our other article on what to bring to your track day)
    • Get the Tech Form for the event, print it out
    • Get the Schedule for the event, print it out
    • Get a MAP of the track, print it out, memorize it, and bring it with you to the event
    • Pick a car “NUMBER” for your car, with some options
    • Get car numbers printed, or use tape, and put the numbers on your car (all groups require numbers on the sides, and most require the numbers to be at least 8″ tall for the sides), some groups require numbers on the front and rear of the car as well, make sure you know in advance
  • 2 Days before the event
    • Pack your car
  • Day Of The Event
    • Get to the track between 6:30 and 7am
    • Determine where you want to park your car for the event
      • Find your spot, park
      • Lay out your tarp or blanket, unload all your stuff onto the tarp
      • Get everything you can out of the car, leave no coins, bottles, papers…there should be nothing inside your car, inside your trunk
      • Lay out your tools for ready access
      • If you haven’t already put the numbers on your car, put them on
    • Go to registration, make sure you are registered
    • Submit your tech inspection form, signed by you
    • Confirm the schedule for the day, verify if any changes
    • Confirm where the initial event meeting is to take place
    • Get the understanding of where “pre-grid” is (where you go in your car before you get released onto the track), where track entrance is
    • Go relax, get some fluids in your body
    • Go to the first meeting (required for all participants)
    • Understand when your first session is, you want to be ready 30 mins in advance (if you are the first group of the day, this means you needed to have your car ready before the first main meeting of the day)
  • 15 + minutes before your session
    • Get in your car, have your helmet / gear w you in the car
    • Drive to the “pre-grid” area
    • If you are having an instructor, let them know, and get introduced to your instructor
    • Review w your instructor how the two of you are going to communicate (in car “chat” system, or vocal / hand communication)
    • Get your helmet on, seat belt or belts on, gear on
    • Start your car, ensure its warmed up
    • If you are running cameras….turn them on, start the recording
  • Session
    • Use the first lap out to warm up the brakes, warm up your brain, warm up the tires (do not try to go out quickly)
    • Many track groups, if this truly your first time at that track or with that organization, will have the instructor drive the first 2 or 3 laps with you in the passenger seat to allow you to gain familiarity with the track, scenery, layout, then will pull into the “hot” pits, and swap seats.
    • Get your self situated, comfortable, mirrors adjusted, and go back onto the track, and have FUN
  • Last Lap
    • Once the checkered flag has been thrown, use the last lap as your “cool down” lap…to cool the brakes, cool the tires, and get your heart rate and breathing back to normal
    • Some track throw the checkered flag at two locations…if you get the short checkered (like at Laguna Seca, they often throw the checkered flag at start/finish, AND between Turn 6 and Turn 7, at Thunderhill they often will also throw the checkered flag at Turn 11)
    • IF you get a “short” cool down lap, when you come into the pits, drive your car around the pits and do a LAP in the pits to allow your car and items to cool down
    • You do not want to park your car immediately after coming off the track with your brakes incredibly hot…and if you get out of your car, and hear the brakes singing to you (ting, ting, ting), then you did not do an adequate job of cooling your car on the cool down lap….take note.
  • After the session
    • Drop your instructor off at the designated area
    • Park your car in your spot
    • Turn off your cameras
    • Get out of your car, get all your gear off
    • Get some fluids in you
    • If possible, get some immediate points from your instructor on key items to work on
    • Go to the “download” group meeting
    • Relax….enjoy, smile….review the session in your mind, set your objectives on the few items (pick one or two) that you want to focus on for your next session
  • At the end of the day
    • Pack up all your stuff
    • Check your car over for the drive home
    • Check and raise your tire pressures for the drive home (the drive home will cool the tires, and they will lose a lot of air pressure…make sure you are set…plus, track tire pressures and road tire pressures are drastically different….see our next blog article on how to manage your car once at the track)

Have FUN.  There is nothing like it…but, be fore warned…it is addictive, and habit forming.

BRracing – providing the expertise when ever you need it – proven, leaders, your friends

What To Take To Your Next Track Day

What To Take To Your Next Track Day

We have a LOT of customers who participate in track days (meaning the chance to take your car, and drive at speed on one of our regional race tracks).  But we often are asked many questions about the day, the experience, how it will go, what do they need to do to their car, and what to take.  We will attempt to answer those questions in these next three blog articles (what to take, what to expect on your track day, and how to get the most from your track day).

With the freeways and backroads becoming more and more congested, and yet, at the same time, the cars becoming ever so amazing to drive, where is the opportunity to get out and really drive?  That is one of the many reasons track days are exploding…there are track days at our local tracks every day of the week, all year long (Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway, Thunderhill Raceway, Buttonwillow Raceway are the tracks within easy driving distance).

Participating in a track day in your own car may open up a whole new world to you (and, as we tell everyone, this is a very slippery slope, and for many of us, turns into an addiction…an addiction of the best kind, but it can also be a slippery slope into a more expensive endeavor).  The track day may seen a stretch…but for those that venture into this SPORT, driving on a track is an experience they won’t soon forget….and will want to repeat as often as possible (time and money determining the frequency).

First things first, there are a number of things that you need to do BEFORE you go, and a number of things you need to take with you when you do go to ensure the probability of success.

PREPARING YOUR CAR TO GO

There are many track day organizations (Porsche Club of America (PCA), Audi Club, BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA), Hooked On Driving (HOD), Shelby Club, SpeedSF, NCRC, Speed District, NASA (National Auto Sport Association), SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), Pacific Track Time…and the list goes on.  Some of these are really good for first time track events (PCA, HOD, BMWCCA), some better suited to the experienced event participant (NCRC, SpeedSF, Pacific Track Time, Speed District, NASA, SCCA).  Each track organization has their own rules and regulations, and track tech inspection requirements.  Regardless of what they require, make sure you get a thorough car inspection done by a shop.  Nothing ruins a track day faster, and the whole experience for you, than to have some go wrong that could have been prevented by simple car maintenance.

The main thing…you want your tires to have sufficient tread, you want your brake pads to have OVER 50% pad life remaining, you want your brake rotors to not have any serious thermal or stress cracks, be above minimum thickness, you want your brake lines to be in excellent condition, you want NO LEAKS or evidence of possible leaks, you want all your fluids to be the right level, and you want your fluids to be clean, clear, and without any corrosion.

Brake fluid is a subject into itself…but to make this easy, ensure you have your brake fluid changed, and UPGRADED before your first track day…no questions here.  We supply six different grades / levels / quality of brake fluid for our customers, and all are better than stock DOT 4 fluid.  The better the fluid you install, the better your experience will be, and the more duress your braking system will be able to take.  (Examples: StopTech 600, Motul 600, StopTech 660, Motul 660, Brembo HTC 64t, Endless 650….we are not a big fan of the Castrol synthetic brake fluid).  Just because you upgraded your brake fluid also does not mean it doesn’t need to be bled and changed regularly.  We normally use the rule of thumb that every track mile is equivalent to 10 street miles, the same applies to age or time.  If you had a racing car, we bleed and flush the brake fluid EVERY DAY.  For frequent and aggressive track day participants…flushing the brake fluid every 6 track days is a fair approach.

There is also a misconception…many of our customers think that driving their car on the track is no different in terms of wear on their car than normal street driving…..this is NOT the case.  We see customers start to take their cars to the track, and do several events, and everything is fine…so, they continue the experience, about after a year…all of a sudden, things start to go wrong on their car, and their comment is, “the car has run perfect for over a year, what’s going on?”….well, they haven’t done the ongoing maintenance to their car that the track abuse will induce…and things will wear out or break.  So, be forewarned and prepared.  It’s not a big deal, but the track use does change the whole maintenance program and schedule.

Other fluids to consider upgrading or changing before your first track day – transmission fluid (manual transmissions), differential fluid, and have an oil change performed.

So, now you’ve had your brake fluid done, an oil change performed, your car inspected, your ready to go.

So, what should you take to the track?

Here is the list…some items are more optional, but we will list them all to be fully inclusive (and to some degree, after our decades of doing this, we never seem to have everything we need) –

  • glass / window cleaner
  • paper towels, clean rags
  • at least one liter of engine oil
  • some brake fluid (same type as you just had flushed into the car)
  • tire guage
  • wheel lug bolt socket, or center lock socket
  • your car’s “TOW HOOK” (install before event)
  • socket set, some socket wrenches
  • screw driver set
  • torque wrench (for normal 5-lug wheels, or the special type for center lock hubs)
  • tarp or blanket (to set all the stuff on when you unload your car at the event)
  • helmet (has to be a race car helmet, not a motorcycle helmet, SNELL 2015 or newer)
  • duct tape, blue painters tape (1/2″ size, 3″ size)
  • work gloves
  • car cleaner solutions, other cleaners
  • camera, Go-Pro type devices (can never have too many cameras)
  • car jack, jack stands
  • cordless impact wrench (that matches to your socket set and wheel lug socket)
  • extra brake pads (and the knowledge how to change your own pads at the track)
  • extra car numbers (usually each car is required to have car numbers on both sides of the car, front, and some the rear too)…have to be the size required by the organization you are running with
  • water, snacks, a chair to sit on between events
  • proper clothing for the event, type of weather (see also the organizations requirements for types of clothes allowed to be worn in the car when on the track)…proper shoes for driving

There is still more…you can never have enough, and why many of our customers have us transport their cars. Example of all the extra stuff we normally bring / carry in our trailers for track events (race events go way beyond this as well):  spare wheels / tires, all the fluids you could possibly imagine, a rolling large tool chest, nitrogen tanks, air hoses, double up jacks, lifts, air tools, hardware, fasteners, die grinders, nibblers, spare parts (body parts, brake rotors, brake pads, brake hoses), EZups or trailer canopies, chairs, tables, snacks, food, drinks, coolers, and more.

Most customers will get a container of some type that fits perfect in their car to put most of the above into.  That’s why you arrive early on your track day, unload your car, prep your car, and be ready prior to the first orientation meeting.  Also makes it easier to clean up, pack up at the end of the day when you are worn out.

Next…check out our article on what to expect on your first track day.

BRracing – experience and expertise to make your lives so much better

 

MINI Cooper S F56 – SINISTER

MINI Cooper S F56 – Sinister

There is a common evolution happening with the newer cars. In an effort to gain market share, each manufacturer is making their cars better and better, and with more enthusiast options available.  BMW has probably gone the farthest…you can now order your new BMW w full coil-overs, adjustable shocks, different suspension bushings, carbon fiber bits, sport exhaust, different wheels…all the normal after market parts can now be had from the dealer / manufacturer, with the full manufacturer warranty.

So, there is less and less that “needs” to be done to the car to enhance it…..but there is indeed, still room for improvement.  Just because the manufacturer has upgrade options, does not mean they either match your objectives / desires, or they are the best.

Hence, we continue with project cars that customers desire to upgrade and make their own, put their personal touch on their car.  Here is another example on the recent, Gen 3 MINI Cooper. This generation is the first “all BMW” designed and parts sourced MINI.  Both Gen 1 and Gen 2 had motors sourced from other manufacturers, and, as a result, the first to incorporate all BMW ideas. Sometimes we see cars when they are very used, some with low miles, but on multiple occassions, we get them like this project, where the car basically came straight from the dealership to BRracing for the upgrades to be installed.

Nick was going to tackle his upgrades in several phases, and this is the first phase (suspension, wheels, tires).  Next up will be “tuning” of the engine performance.  If you haven’t driven the new F56 model MINI, it is quite different from the early gen MINIs….in all areas.  Interior, exterior, power (much more), suspension (not the harsh ride of the early MINIs), and exhaust.

SUSPENSION

When it comes to upgrading suspension, first, obviously, we need to understand the needs and uses.  But the pieces to be changed / altered are almost always the same (springs, sway bars, struts / shocks, bushings, camber plates, control arms)….which are done, and in what order just depends on the needs.  For this customer, we were going about half way down the slippery slope….coil-overs (springs, struts), adjustable, rear sway bar.  But not camber plates, nor control arms or bushings.

This customer selected BC Racing coil-overs.  Simple, very inexpensive, and available (not many kits available at this time for the new MINI).

Besides getting adjustable struts…with true coil-overs, you gain a wide range of height adjustment with the threaded spring collars on the strut bodies (front, rear is by adjustable spring perches on the control arm).  Some coil-overs only provide a small amount of height adjustment range…but w these BC units, we had a huge range of adjustment.  Once we had the height and “rake” set, we just needed to update the alignment w a more aggressive set of values, and the suspension was set.

For the MINI, we normally only need to do the rear sway bar, not the front.  We would prefer not to have to do sway bars at all…but for the MINI, we just need to increase the rear roll rate, which helps in initial turn in, and dials out the slight understeer for the car.  With an adjustable rear bar, you can dial into the car the amount of rear end responsiveness.  Since the bar is already stiffer than stock, usually the softer setting of the stiffer rear bar is sufficient.  The bar implemented is a NM Engineering bar, with adjustable sway bar end links and bushings.

BRAKES

For brakes, the pieces are the same, but the options within those pieces are not (rotors, calipers, pads, stainless steel brake lines, brake fluid).  One of the determining factors is the wheels that the brake solution needs to fit within.  For MINIs…if you consider a true BBK (Big Brake Kit), then you have to start with 18″ diameter wheels.  If you want to stay within the normal 17″ wheels, then you can consider the MINI JCW brake upgrade option.

We could detail a long dialogue on brake pads…and you really have four options: stock, ceramic, street performance, or track.  Within those pad options, you need to consider three features (noise, bite or friction, and dust). You get to pick two of the three, but rarely can you get the best of all worlds in all three elements ……you can’t get no noise, high bite, and no dust.  If you pick ceramic…you get no dust, you get no noise, but bite / friction is less than stock.  If you pick track, then you get noise, almost no dust, and great bite.  Street / Performance is where most street cars land….less dust, most of the time no noise, and better bite than stock (about 10% better than stock).

The complete JCW (John Cooper Works) solution, for both front and rear includes all the following: front vented, slotted, dimpled rotors (larger), front four piston calipers, street / performance pad set, new dust backing plates, rear single piston calipers, larger rear solid rotors, rear caliper mounts, stainless steel brake lines (front and rear)…..both JCW calipers painted red.

Just what the customer wanted…. a sinister looking, riding, handling new MINI.

 

WHEELS

The “go to” solution with MINI Coopers is the NM Engineering wheel set….for this car, it is the NM Engr RSe11 in 18″ x 7.5″ and black.

With the new wheels and tires as well….this MINI wants to carve up some mountain roads.  LET’s MOTOR!

MINI Cooper S JCW F56 – TWEAKED

MINI Cooper S JCW F56 – TWEAKED

There’s an ongoing evolution in the upgrades of cars…..for the most part, there is less and less “modding” going on, as the cars now come from the manufacturer either well equipped, or the manufacturer offers performance upgrades / options, at the time of order.

This has gone so far as to now produce what was unthinkable even 10 years ago…..options like “coil-overs” and custom exhausts, track features, being made, supported, warranted by the manufacturers themselves.  But, where the manufacturer doesn’t fill in the holes, or if a customer buys a car, and now wants to add those features…that’s where project cars come in.

James’ MINI is just such a case in point.  The MINI has evolved a tremendous amount from the first new generation (2002 – 2006)…and has gained in many areas (including weight and girth).  The sporty feel is still there, but the edges have been rounded, smoothed, made subtle…and we’re not just talking the design.  The good news is that they have continued to add power / HP to the car, to continue to make it one quick, snappy, driving machine.  But, can we get more?  You bet!

James’ wanted to get more…in every area…..engine, exhaust, suspension, brakes, looks, handling….check off all the boxes.  So, if the cars are indeed so well equipped, what can be done?

ENGINE

The base car here is at the top of the food chain for MINI….not only is it a MINI Cooper S…but a JCW (John Cooper Works) version….which means it has all the factory go fast parts for the engine are already installed….turbo boost enhanced, intake, exhaust manifold upgraded, timing…all the right steps.  But, we wanted to take it just a little farther, to the boundaries of what the engine was designed to do.  Enter the “tune” from NM Engineering.  Simple, effective, cheap, easy to install, and it just perks up the engine just a little more.

SUSPENSION

Here James tossed and turned….do we go full hard core, and do “coil-overs”, but lose the current EDC, or stay within the boundaries, and keep the EDC but tweak it?  This is traditionally the hard question on suspension…do we want ultimate handling, or do we want a car that will serve dual duties (daily driver / commuter vs mountain driving / aggressive driving, even track? ) To date, there is no perfect solution.  The nice part of having the EDC dual mode shock settings ruled the day, and we went w sport springs (NM Engineering) more aggressive (but not too stiff), adjustable rear sway bar (NM Engineering), front strut tower brace, and rear adjustable lower control arms to allow us to get the alignment settings we wanted all around (NM Engineering), and provide some safety value as well (the stock arms can fold, snap, under hard driving or autocross type activity).

Notice that MINI is paying attention.  The early model MINI’s had problems if you upgraded the suspension, with the front upper strut tower “hat” mushrooming.  The new MINI, like James’s here, you can see that they upgraded the size, breadth, width, and thickness of the front upper strut mount.

EXHAUST

The one thing almost every car can use….is a better exhaust.  Not better in terms of performance, as almost all exhausts these days flows well. But better in terms of sound. Normally, we have to turn to the aftermarket to find the solution.  But not now, again, as the times have changed, manufacturers have gotten into the game, and are producing some good options.   Such is the case w MINI….they now offer a “valvetronic” exhaust, w remote.  Great fit, choice of sound level (with the valvetronic remote control), comes with a warranty….its amazing.  The exhaust even works w the ECU (ECU has to be coded for the upgrade, which we did), to enhance the performance, and to work w the automatic mode of the valvetronic as well.  The other suprising element about the exhaust was the price….you would think an OEM sport exhaust would be more expensive than the aftermarket alternatives, but not so.

WHEELS / TIRES

An area where there is still more choice, and more options, and better looking options is wheels.  The manufacturers are coming along in this area too, but for the most part, the aftermarket still produces the best looking, best performing, best fitting wheels for any car.  Our first choice for MINI’s is NM Engineering.  Their wheels fit perfect, look great (several styles to choose from), are strong and light, and come in several color options.  If we’re going to put better wheels on the car, then we need new tires.  The answer here is simple…you get Michelin tires (either the go to version, the “Super Sport”, or the new kid on the block, the “Pilot 4S”.  They didn’t make the new tire in the size we needed, so we went w the Super Sports.

BRAKES

For the most part, we’re never satisfied with stock brakes.  However, James’s car is a JCW version, and MINI makes a completely different brake solution for the JCW than the rest of the MINI lineup.  These brakes are great…bigger, more pistons, more pad surface area, better vented rotors, and they work.  So no upgrade needed here, just a set of stainless steel braided brake lines, and a brake fluid flush / upgrade.

ALIGNMENT

The one piece that almost all cars need is a change to the alignment settings.  This is guaranteed if you have upgraded the suspension, changed the ride height.  We’re not sure why manufacturers are producing or shipping cars w such poor alignments, if its just safety sakes (to produce more understeer to make them safer to drive at the limit), or some other reason.  But, this MINI could use it to further dial in the handling and responsiveness.

The final product is just crazy good…..we love the new transmission (and just wait for the next version from MINI…Wow), love the response, the ride is dual purpose perfect, the sound intoxicating, and the smiles HUGE.

Oil – It’s all the same isn’t it?

Engine oil – when its synthetic…its all the same isn’t it?

For the longest time…BRracing prided itself on offering the same engine oil that the dealership offered for their customers.  We carried the same oil as the BMW dealership for BMWs, the same oil as the MINI dealership for MINI’s, the same oil as the dealership for Audi’s…you get the idea.

Then, we noticed that the local Audi dealership offered Pennzoil for their Audi customers….cause the local dealership is owned by the Penske Group.  We talked to the local dealership, and asked if they had done a comparison of the Pennzoil to the Mobil1 5w40 normally used in the Audi’s…..NOPE.  They just wanted to use the core, same fluids that the Penske Group used.

Next, we would have lots of customers with BMWs and MINIs…and we would see high rates of oil consumption.  They all asked us, “why?”.  We didn’t see any direct reason…no oil leaks, no bad valve seals, no turbo seal leaks, no bad compression or piston ring “blow by” present…yet, they all had higher than expected oil consumption.

For the Audi’s, we evaluated several oils, and after a long test period (1 year), we saw better results in our Audi customers cars, when we used Motul 8100x-cess 5w40 full synthetic engine oil.

On Porsche’s…we didn’t really see any issue…we used either Mobil1 0w40, or for our track customers, we occasionally used Motul Trophy 300V 0w40…a much newer, and different synthetic engine oil (this oil, and Joe Gibb’s Racing Driven racing oil use a new synthetic base stock)(more on this oil a little later).

But, it was on the BMWs and MINIs that we found a difference.

This is what the current BMW / MINI OEM synthetic oil is:

The BMW 5W30 motor oil is the factory engine oil approved for almost all BMW engines, except for BMW Diesel and some M3/M5/M6 engines. It’s the first oil approved in the US for BMW’s turbo N20 N54 N55 engines, including the S55 engine in the 2015+ F80 M3/F82 M4. This oil can also be used in E39 M5 and Z8 with the S62 engine, per the label inside the engine compartment. It can also be used in most MINI engines. Replaces the previous part number of 07510017866 (07-51-0-017-866).

This oil was especially formulated for the USA market to meet compatibility requirements with the high sulfur content in our fuels. It meets BMW LL01 and API SL specs for gasoline engines from 1997 up through today as well as ACEA A3/B3 requirements. This is the current oil used in BMW dealerships.

In January 2015 BMW changed official oil suppliers from Castrol to Shell. The new oils are designed to meet requirements of both the newer engines as well as older BMWs. This oil can be used in cars with either normally aspirated and or turbocharged engines…..and here’s the real irony….the Shell synthetic oil and the Pennzoil synthetic oil are almost one and the same! Since Shell is the producer on Pennzoil® motor oils, that makes Pennzoil the recommended oil for BMW engines…hmmm.

Beginning with July 2015 car production, new BMW models came with 0W20 or 0W30 BMW oil. However, BMW dealerships continued to sell 5W30 until that stock was depleted. The 5W30 is an acceptable alternative to the 0W20 and 0W30 BMW oil per BMW’s service bulletin.

Seeing that almost all of the oils meet all the European car North American synthetic oil standards (here is the list of synthetic oil standards for BMW):

BMW Oil Specifications

BMW Longlife-98 (BMW LL-98)
Special long-life engine oil, approved by BMW. Also meets ACEA A3/B3, API SJ/CD, EC SAE 5W-40. Usually required for BMWs manufactured before MY 2002. Obsolete since 2009.
BMW Longlife-01 (BMW LL-01)
Special BMW approval for fully synthetic long-life oil. Product meets ACEA A3/B3 and API: SJ/CD EC-II. Usually required for BMWs built after MY 2002. Can also be used where a BMW Longlife-98 oil is recommended.
BMW Longlife-01 FE (BMW LL-01 FE)
Fully synthetic long-life oil with fuel economy properties. Oils meeting this specifications must have a low HTHS viscosity to meet the manufacturer’s fuel economy requirements. These oils are only suitable for the following engines: N1x, N2x, N54, N55, N63, N74.
BMW Longlife-04 (BMW LL-04)
Special BMW approval for fully synthetic long-life oil. Viscosities are SAE 0W-30, 0W-40, 5W-30 and 5W-40. Usually required for BMWs equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Can also be used where a BMW Longlife-98 or BMW Longlife-01 oil is recommended.
BMW Longlife-12 (BMW LL-12)
Special motor oil for certain approved gasoline engines and the following diesel engines only: Nx7K1, Nx7U1, Nx7O1 from model year 2013. Not suitable for engines with 2 or 3 turbos.
BMW Longlife-14+ (BMW LL-14+)
Special motor oil for the following gasoline engines only: N20, Bx8 from model year 2014. Not allowed for diesel engines.

With that being said, what are the standards for some of the common oils:

Motul 8100x-cess
ACEA Standards: ACEA A3/B4
API STANDARDS: API SN/CF
OEM APPROVALS: BMW LL-01 ; MB-APPROVAL 229.5 / 226.5 ; PORSCHE A40 ; RENAULT RN0700 – RN0710 ; VW 502 00 – 505 00; GM-OPEL LL B-025 (DIESEL) ; FIAT 9.55535-H2 /M2/N2 ; PSA B71 2296

Motul 8100x-clean
ACEA Standards: ACEA C3
API STANDARDS: API SN/CF
OEM APPROVALS: BMW LL-04 ; FORD WSS M2C 917 A ; GM-OPEL DEXOS2TM ; MB-APPROVAL 229.51 ; PORSCHE A40 ; RENAULT RN0710 – RN0700 ; VW 502 00 – 505 00 – 505 01; FIAT 9.55535-S2

Mobil1
ACEA Standards: ACEA A3/B3, A3/B4
API STANDARDS: API SN, SM, SL, SJ
OEM APPROVALS:  MB-Approval 229.3 , MB-Approval 229.5 , VW 502 00/505 00, PORSCHE A40

Pennzoil / Shell
ACEA Standards: ACEA A1/B1-10, A1/B1-12 (SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, SAE 10W-30*), ACEA A5/B5-10, A5/B5-12 (SAE 5W-30, SAE 10W-30*)
API STANDARDS: API SN, SM, SL and SJ, ILSAC GF-5
OEM APPROVALS: OEM specifications:
Chrysler MS-6395 (SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, SAE 10W-30)
Chrysler MS12633 (SRT) (SAE 0W-40)
GM dexos1™ Certification (SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30)
GM 4718M (Corvette and Cadillac) (SAE 5W-30, SAE 10W-30)
GM 6094M (SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, SAE 10W-30)
Ford WSS-M2C930-A and WSS-M2C945-A (SAE 5W-20)
Ford WSS-M2C929-A and WSS-M2C946-A (SAE 5W-30)
Ford WSS-M2C947-A (SAE 0W-20)
Honda/Acura HTO-06 (SAE 5W-30)

So, armed with the above data….we also set out on our own informal test.  We had seen the issues in MINIs and BMWs…so, what would happen if we changed the oil?  We tried the Motul 8100xcess for gas engined BMWs and MINIs, and the 8100xclean for diesels.

Oil consumption dropped by over HALF.  Test results showed less wear.

While this is not a conclusive test….in our view, this says that there is indeed a difference, and we want nothing but the best for our customers (and since the Motul is the same cost as the BMW / MINI / Shell / Pennzoil), this is a WIN-WIN in our view.

BRracing – protecting your car

BMW E46 330i – Never Too Old

BMW E46 330i – Never Too Old

Normally, our customer projects come to us early in the car’s life…either right after being purchased, and the customer wants to make some changes, or later in life, as the objectives and use of the car change.    This project was quite the opposite.  This is Alex’s car, a daily driver, used for long commutes.  When we first started servicing the car, the car had about 130k miles on it.  When we then started the slippery slope of the upgrades, the car had over 230k miles on it. These 100k miles have been put on in just the last 4 years.

We had done the normal services and repairs..and the car was great.  Very reliable, comfortable, just want you want from a car. Then Alex got bit by the track bug.  He has been a great customer for many years, and kept seeing all the other cars at our shop, and started asking the question, “what do all these other guys do with their cars?”  They take them to the track.  “What is that, what is that all about?  Can anyone do that?  Can you do it with normal street cars, or do you have to have a special track car?”  The answers opened the door to the slippery slope of going to the track.  So, Alex took his high mileage, normal daily driver, to the track (went w Hooked On Driving (HOD) for his first track experience, a great group to start with).  No upgrades, no changes, no special tires, notihing was changed.  He thoroughly enjoyed the experience….way too much so.

So, this started the next phase of the slippery slope.  Heh…my tires seem to be making a lot of noise, and are starting to overheat, and “chunk” in some locations.  Can I get some better tires that will work well w both my commute and my occassional track day?  Yep…can do.  He had been running on Continental DWS06, our preferred tire of choice for our commuter customers, but definitely not the tire of choice for track use.  We then upgraded his tires from the Conti DWS06 to the new Conti ExtremeSport.  A good, solid value, and one that can endure both normal street driving (no noise, wears well, great all around traction), and can be abused at the track……but, this opened the question….Heh…if we are going to change tires, can we fit a slightly larger tire on the car, and are there other things we should consider if we do that?

Yep…we can fit bigger tires, and can change the symmetry of the tires as well….and there are other considerations that we should think about if we are going to make this change.  It would be great to get a set of wheels that are strong (for track use), light weight, optimized for fitment to your BMW, and can accomodate bigger brakes if added in the future.   Great…lets do that.

That led us to get a set of APEX ARC8 wheels, in a slightly larger size, in 18″ diameter, and we could now run both larger tires in the front and the rear, but also allow us to increase the tire size in the front even more than the rear, to get to a near “square” setup.  Perfect.

Alex immediately noticed the difference in feel, “turn in”, handling and grip at his next track day.  Wow…the grip was amazing….but, now the car really rolls in the turns, and the nose and tail dip under hard braking.  Is there something we should consider suspension wise?  Yep….we need to slightly lower the center of gravity of the car, we need to firm up the shocks….yet, we want to ensure that this can still work well for your daily commute.  That brought us to the long discussion about shocks, springs, ride height…and dual purpose use.

Our “go to” solution for the dual purpose user is the Bilstein PSS9 coil-over system (adjustable front strut, front springs, rear adjustable shocks, rear adjustable spring perches, rear springs).  Great value, EASY to adjust, adjustable ride height, right spring rates for this car.  We have tons of customers who regularly use these on their track cars, so we know the shock valving can achieve the desired results there, but you can also QUICKLY change the setting to provide even a more comfortable ride than stock for daily driving.  This is by far the greatest attribute of this setup…the ease of changing the setup (takes about 10 mins, no special tools, can be done by anyone).  There are far more expensive and sophisticated coil-over setups, and they certainly produce a great track system, but for dual duty, we don’t believe there is a better solution that achieves the objectives for both daily driving and track use.

Next round of track days comes and goes.  Alex loves the new better handing…but asks, ” the car still is a little delayed on turn in, and the rear feels like it has a mind of its own under hard cornering…..is there something wrong?”  Nope….just more changes needed.  The front lower control arm bushings and rear trailing arm bushings are worn out, cracked, torn, and these are allowing the car to move under load.  They need to be replaced….and if we are going to replace them, we should upgrade them.  Don’t want to bring in any downside, just improve the solution.  Enter our other “go to” element for BMW suspensions….bushings.  We use Powerflex polyurethane bushings….come in multiple “durameters” for the right fitment, and have a lifetime warranty.  On this BMW, it will need the front lower control arm bushings (often referred to as LCABs or FCABs), and the rear trailing arm bushings (RTABs).

The result?  All things are better….even daily driving feels better.  Steering input and reaction is much improved, car feels much more stable in the turns, even on just freeway on and off ramps. But, improvements at the track usually result in more things coming to light.  Alex could feel the improved handling, the crisp reaction to his inputs…this allowed Alex to continue to drive the car harder and harder…he had far more confidence in the car, its placement, his control.  Alex indeed drove the car harder….even deeper into the corners.  However, as a result of this confidence boost, he also started braking much harder, more aggressively.  The brakes were not up to the task anymore….the pedal would go soft, long travel, brakes starting to overheat.  What can be done?  Some think that changing the rotor type, stainless steel lines might be a good next step….NOPE.  Those things will not help.  Stainless steel brake lines are a good safety step, and will produce a more solid pedal feel, but they won’t solve the bigger brake issue.  Alex needs bigger brakes…bigger rotors, bigger calipers, more stopping power, and a caliper that provides other pad choices for the future.

We can debate the brake choices…but our two favorites are either Brembo or StopTech.  For Alex, we went w the StopTech front big brake kit.  Four piston calipers, stianless steel lines, 2-piece rotors, and their “street / performance” pad set….we love this pad choice for daily drivers…as that is really what this cars main duty is, to provide a comfortable, reliable, car for his long daily commute.  We could go w a more aggressive pad…but all more aggressive pads will likely result in horrible brake squeal….these do not.

While addressing the continued need for upgrades…..we have also addressed the other normal wear and tear items on the car…things like the cooling system (complete new radiator, all hoses, water pump, thermostat), changed brake fluid type (to a much more suitable track type….we have five different grades of brake fluid to choose from), frequent oil changes and sampling, differential / transmisison fluid upgrades…..and the car has been a champ.  Who would have thought a 230k+ mileage car would make such a great dual duty solution, and still be going so strong!  The way the car has been working, you would think it had only 40k miles on it….WOW.

Careful of that slippery slope…..but, if you want JOY in driving, then come over to the dark side.

Making cars AWESOME….BRracing

Porsche GT4 – ALL IN

Porsche GT4 Acid Green – ALL IN

Its not very often we get one of these projects, but oh what fun it is. At BRracing, we always want to ensure that we match the objectives / target / results, with the enhancements that are to be implemented.  Not all cars need all the enhancements possible, and one of those objectives that we have to work wihtin is making the most with the budget we have.

But, in this case…we were given free reign.  The objective, just make it the best car possible for both street driving and track use.  We had some unusual requirements, as the customer is very tall, and has very long legs.  This would mean a different approach relative to seat / steering wheel fitment, even though the base car has some adjustment, they were not sufficient to allow a comfortable driving position.

As we have mentioned in our other write ups about the GT4, the base platform is very good….but not perfect. There were lots of small enhancements implemented by Porsche in the GT4 platform, but some areas were left wanting.  We know also that Porsche purposedly took some power away, to preent the performance of the GT4 to encroach too much on the 911 territory, so that is an easy target.  Plus…we wanted to create some excitement, make people go “oh wow” when they see the car.

– Engine

– Software tune

– Suspension

– Body / Graphics / Protection

– Brakes

– Safety

– Drivetrain

ENGINE

The good news, great news is that Porsche put the 911 3.8L engine in the GT4. However, to ensure the proper marketing position, Porsche “de-tuned” the 3.8L engine when put into the GT4. What did they do?  Simple exterior changes…changed the intake, changed the tune, and changed the exhaust.  By limiting the engine in these areas, Porsche took some grunt away…but, the great news is that those are all easy changes to make, and we can restore the lost power. When we raced the GT4 Clubsport in its first year of racing (2016), we found that Porsche had restricted the intake, exhaust, and software tune.  Therefore, for street cars, we don’t have to follow the rules, we can unleash the beast hiding within. The first step then was to alter the intake system (intake plenum, throttle body).  IPD has the pieces, and on some other Porsche engines, they don’t have that big of an impact, but on the GT4, they are just what we needed.

The throttle body is the other element of the intake that needs to be upgraded…and the parts bin of Porsche provides us the solution in the stock GT3 throttle body.  It’s a perfect fitment, and mates well w the new silicon hose of the IPD plenum.

So, we have enhanced the intake side, to allow the bigger engine to breathe better, but that’s only half the equation.  If we make the engine breathe better, then we also need to let it exhale better. That would be the logical response, but there is also a factual response.  Again, with the racing experience we had w the Porsche GT4 Clubsport in 2016, and the chance to work directly with Porsche Motorsport at all the events, we had several discussions about the exhaust system of the GT4. We encountered some issues during the year, and to the point that Porsche Motorsport issued a change in the engine exhaust system mid-season. Taking this into consideration, we reviewed the exhaust systems out there, and also those designed by the same people we played with on the Pirelli Cup series, GMG fully understood what needed to be done, and provided the solution in their exhaust header system for the GT4.  it flows better, protects the ignition coils better, protects some of the suspension / drivetrain better…..a win / win / win solution. Oh, and by the way, it sounds AWESOME as well.

SOFTWARE TUNE

We believe there is a little misconception in the market….with the thinking that a software tune will unlock some hidden power in the engine.  For the most part, that is NOT true.  The normal stock elements of the DME / ECU, the thermal sensors, the O2 sensors, the cam sensors, the variable valve timing and the knock sensors allow the engine to manage itself within a relatively wide range of conditions, fuel trims.  The stock engine can fully detect what “octane” rating the fuel is, and adjust appropriately for the cam timing and the ignition timing.  If you push ignition timing forward (one of the normal “tune” parameters), the knock sensor will detect the change, and often retard the timing automatically, and therefore, take away any power a “tune” tries to implement.

However…if you make sizeable performance changes, then the stock engine performance window will be different than the target, and you need a tune to take full advantage of the changes.  Hence, if it is a turbo engine, and you dramatically change the boost, then a tune will be needed to unlock the power.

With the addition of the intake plenum, intake hose, and throttle body…plus the exhaust to be talked about later, a tune was what the doctor ordered.  If we are going to implement a tune, then the tune we like more than any other is the Cobb Tuning solution….its a hand held “access point” device, that offers a lot of features besides just being a hand held tuner.  No tune is ever perfect, and no project is ever done, and the Cobb unit allows you to alter, change, update, and upload a different tune at any time, and also to restore to stock at any time.  Many other tune solutions, require the ECU to be pulled, “flashed” and then installed….that’s often a three day experience…whereas the Cobb is a five minute effort.

SUSPENSION

The stock suspension in the stock GT4, is, for the most part, just fine.  Other than the attroxious alignment.  We have written about the horrible stock alignment…and the variety of setup options (Phase 1 to Phase 4) that we have defined depending on the specific needs, type of tires being run, and aggressiveness of the customer.  To achieve anthing beyond the Phase 1 settings, you need to replace some of the suspension pieces….and to do it optimally, you want to replace the front upper strut mount with the Porsche Motorsport unit.  The other piece is the rear toe link, as there is not enough adjustment range in the stock unit to achieve the toe setting in the rear, once rear negative camber is set in the target range.  One of the other pieces that goes a little beyond this is the ride height itself.  Most don’t know of the change needed, or the reason needed, but the ride height and rake of the car can be changed (great news here is that the stock GT4 comes with adjustable height coil-overs…so making this change can be done with the stock suspension), and should be changed to optimize the handling of the car.

New Porsche Motorsport unit on the left, stock unit on the right (below) – front upper strut mount

Now, for this customer…he wanted to go beyond, to get the best.  We have to keep in mind that this is still a street car, daily driven, on the freeways in our local area.  If this were being made into a ClubSport, we would take a different approach.  Therefore, we replaced the stock coil-overs w KW Clubsport units.  To do this, we would need to eliminate / defeat the EDC system as well (electronic dampening control that comes with the car, and the selectable shock setting from the centner consule).  Along w the KW  Clubsport, we also implemented KW’s EDC delete kit.

Body / Graphics / Protection

This is one of the fun areas of the project. We wanted to make a tasteful statement, an “oh wow” type of statement with the body and graphics, and yet look perfectly wtihin the normal Porsche design methods and styles. We have loved the Porsche Acid Green color, and the silver color of this car is the perfect match, so we designed some graphic elements, additions to add to the style, and we would use the “acid green” (from the Porsche 918 hybrid).  The customer also wanted full body protection….so, how do you combine both full body protection and graphics? We did the full body / clear bra to every surface of the car first (and we mean every surface), and then had the graphics installed / applied.

Now, with the body and style elements addressed, we turned out attention to the rear wing. There are a couple of approaches to dealing with the rear wiing (Vorsteiner, SalterAero), and we have implemented both.  The pricing and methods are a little different, but the results nearly the same. Both will raise the rear wing, get the wing into cleaner air, and make the rear wing more efficient (you don’t really need more rear wing, but the rear tends to feel unstable at very high speed sweepers…and this helps).  For this customer, we went with the Salter Aero replacement rear wind uprights.  Very well made, and they get the wing up, and also out of the rear view mirror obstruction.

BRAKES

The stock brakes are just fine, for either street driving or track events.  But, if the car has the Porsche Carbon Ceramic brakes (PCCB), we are still seeing too much degradation and wear to warrant long term track use.  The PCCBs, once up to temp, offer great braking results and feel…but the cost to replace is just too high.  So, for almost all our track junkies w PCCBs, we recommend replacing the PCCBs w steel.

For this customer, the current brakes were steel, not PCCB, so they offered another benefit to the overall design….we could make them AID GREEN just like Porsche’s hybrid cars….and that would match exactly to the current project color scheme.  We pulled the brake calipers, had them completely cleaned, prepped, then powder coated ACID GREEN to match the color scheme of the car, and then added the stock Porsche brake caliper decal to resemble the stock hybrid brake calipers.  Sweet!

SAFETY

Often when customers come in, and talk to us about their cars about track use, the first thing on their mind is performance, but the first thing on our mind is safety. In this case, the good news was that the customer ordered the car with the Porsche Carbon Fiber Sport Bucket Seats, with integrated airbags, shoulder harness seat back openings (and multiple height options), center submarine hole, and deeper side cutouts for the waist seatbelt elements.

We have written about the various approaches to the rear harness bar / roll bar for the GT4.  This customer is very tall, so we needed to ensure that the rear roll bar would not inhibit, or limit the full movement to the rear of the seat.  That further reinforced our decision to go with the GMG bar solution, and we would use our traditional approach of putting the shoulder harness mounts on the rear firewall (ensuring proper location, angle, strength, and prevents us from having to cut up th interior pieces like many of the other bar solutions do…and the GMG bar has better rear view mirror view (or less obstruction).  The GMG bar also, we believe, is stronger due to the angles of the downbars, cross bars.

DRIVETRAIN

There is one item in the drivetrain that most would like to change…the 1st / 2nd gear ratio.  They are too long, or too tall.  However, the stock 1/2nd gears, in the transmission, are a once piece assemlby, and can not be changed.  We contemplated having a custom, billet new transmission shaft built w a new 1st / 2nd gear, but the time and expense was too great.  Some companies out there are changing the 3rd gear, which can be changed, but for street and track use, we don’t believe that is a smart move, we think that actually makes the current 1st / 2nd gear even worse.

But, a piece that can be upgraded is the stock rear differential.  Not many have taken a look at this, and few know of the supplier of these units, but this is another track soft spot for the GT4. We grabbed a Drexler racing rear diff, and implemented that for better traction, on throttle, for corner exits.

There you have it….a complete project upgrade in every way.  Just what the customer wanted.

What can we build for you?

BRracing – bringing JOY to our customers

Mercedes ABC Filter?

MERCEDES ABC Fluid / Filter – Service?

So many of the car manufacturers these days are specifying “lifetime” fluids.  An example is the Mercedes ABC (Automatic Body Control) suspension system, which uses normal hydraulic fluid, like power steering fluid.  What is the normal service interval for changing the ABC fluid?  There is NONE…it is lifetime.  Yet, on the other hand, we see LOTS of Mercedes in the shop that have ABC system failures, of several components, and these elements are not cheap to repair or replace.

So, are we to just accept this, or is this just an attempt by the manufacturers to push to the side some of the normal maintenance procedures to help “pretend” that the overall maintenance costs of the car are less, to demonstrate to potential car buyers that the cars are not very expensive to maintain?  We have seen that with BMW / MINI, where they changed the normal oil change service interval from 7.5k / 10k miles, to 15k miles, just because they wanted to show the public that the cost to maintain the BMW over the initial 5 years of ownership was less, only to have it come back and bite them.  In 2013, BMW  and MINI changed their position, and reverted to where the car should have its oil changed every 7.5k / 10k miles.  Is this what Mercedes is doing w the ABC system as well?  How would we know?  How could we find out?  Well….inquiring minds want to know.

So, just like back in high school science class, if you have a hypothesis, you set up a test plan, and set about to see if your hypothesis is proven to be true.  If the hypothesis in this case is the Mercedes ABC system needs to be serviced regularly, rather than run as a “lifetime” fluid, then we need two cars, and two samples, to conduct side by side tests.  Due to the size of the BRracing customer base, this is possible….and, this takes time, years in fact.

We would have one car that has run with the normal ABC system, w no changes, no fluid flushes.  The other car, we would …..put a special filter assembly into the ABC system, and run it, and then perform the ABC fluid changes regularly.

What has the filter got to do w the test?  Part of the reasoning in the hypothesis is that the fluid accumulates particles, and these particles are the reason for the wear in the ABC system, ultimately causing the failures and damage to the ABC system components.  We have also seen this in many of the transmissions that have “lifetime” fluid, like the early BMW and MINI transmissions.  To further prove the point w the ABC system, the filter would have a spherical magnet, in position in the filter to draw away from the flow the particles, rather than just have a filter to try to separate them from the fluid flow.  The filter would also have a serviceable element, to allow us to further clean and purify the system on a regular basis, or constant basis. Finally, the filter would have a “window” to where we could examine the color and state of the fluid all the time, or whenever desired.  We know we have seen the dark, dirty hydraulic fluid, and when you subject that fluid to a magnet, particles can be drawn out of it.

Finally, as part of the test, after the subject test time / mileage, the suspension parts would be dismantled and examined, and determined if any change occurred in the wear, along w the documentation if any change was noted in the failure rates of the parts.  While the test sample is small, the test results could prove the hypothesis none the less.

Results

We indeed found, very quickly, that the hydraulic fluid indeed captured metal particles. We could see the area around the magnet capture and hold the metal particles.  We could also see that the fluid color was staying clearer than the other test vehicle (w no filter, and no fluid changes).  Finally, over a long period of time, we pulled the suspension elements of the ABC system (shocks, pump, solenoids) and compared the two.  The results are clear, the system w the filter and fluid changes were in dramatically better condition, and had no failures, while the baseline car had wear, and had ABC suspension failures.

Its simple….we need to service all fluids…there does not appear to be a case of “lifetime” fluids, at least not relative to the ABC Mercedes suspension system.

Don’t neglect your car, ensure it gets the service it needs….you can pay now, or pay much more later.

BRracing – providing better care for our customers cars