Almost all days at the track are great, but some are truly unique and outstanding. That’s what this past weekend was. The day was full, and a full registration of cars. We (Bruce and Robb) were there just to do instruction as part of the Hooked On Driving program, as Robb was doing private instruction for some of our customers, and we were working on some recent car developments to some of our customers cars.
We both love Thunderhill as a race track….but, the location often has its draw backs….mainly the heat. But, this day was amazing. It was sunny all day, about 75 degrees, with just a hint of a breeze. The track had recently been repaved, and was in great condition.
While we originally intended to do just instruction for the event, we ended up participating in almost every session of the day, from Group A thru Group D, and the coaches sessions and demo rides as well. We put a ton of miles and laps on the BMW 135i project car, as we were trying out the new UUC sway bar set, and indeed did reduce the std body roll, and were able to dial out a little bit of the understeer that the car has. We still have way too much understeer….and this is due to the undersized front tires. The balance of the car is great….much like the MINI Cooper, you can drive the car in deep if needed, and it will react just fine, you can enter late, and pitch the car, and it will respond without breaking loose…but you still end up with the understeer at the limit.
While the brakes on the 135i are the biggest yet for a stock BMW car, they still are not well suited to heavy track use. But, make no mistake, this is a very potent track car. We haven’t done the upgrades yet to the motor…..just the exhaust system, but this car can hang and play w the best of them out there. In July, when we first tried the new coilover suspension system, we could play and take on the Loti that are always there. But, this weekend, we were able to play w many of the Porsches and track ready Corvettes….and when we get to the next stage, this will be a track killer car….and for half the price of all others.
That’s one of the things that made this day so fun…driving the car at the absolute limit, tossing and playing with it, trying to take turn 8 nearly flat out, hitting over 130mph on the front straight….woo hoo….just fun. The MINI also got a full day of use…to such a point where we toasted the rear brake pads (completely gone..down to the backing plates), but the car is such a hoot to drive, and by a large margin, the easiest car to drive at speed that there is (and it really pisses off the high horsepower cars…how can this MINI be so fast).
Here are some of our other customers that were there with us playing and having fun –
Edwin Yang (BMW E46 M3 Dinan supercharged S3) – Edwin was driving great lines
Jack Gibbons (MINI R56 JCW) – a quick car, smooth, and sweet all over the track
Ryan Leask (BMW E46 M3 w recent drivetrain upgrades) – Ryan’s first time on the track, but man, by the end of the day, he was flying…and the car sounded so sweet as well
Chris Clay (BMW E60 M5) – who could believe that a big sedan could fly on the track…but it was right at home everywhere
Jeff McCormick (BMW E46 M3) – Jeff is one of our key auto-x competitors for the BRracing team, but was able to join us on the “big” track…and the recent suspension upgrades could be put to their full use. Jeff is a winner on the BMWCCA auto-x series, and looked easily at home on the big track
For more info, check out our gallery on our web site…and see some of the new pics from this great day.
We love track days, and we have another coming up at Laguna Seca on December 8th, 2008.