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Rest in peace, Coach
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My digital camera died (dead battery) right before the event so I've got no pictures. :(

First of all, I'm still mentally drained from a long day of driving. Physically I'm holding up well (drank a lot of fluids during the day). Let me preface the entire report by first saying, if you've never been to a high performance driving school, GO. If you've never been to a school and you think you're a good driver? YOU ARE NOT. For the longest time I thought I was a pretty good driver, always alert, can handle my car...etc. OMG did I find out on the track how crappy a driver I was. Those of you racing on the street, snapping photos of your car doing 180 (yes, I'm talking about you Jimmy) and stuff...Do yourself and everyone else around you a favor and TAKE A FEW CLASSES.

I've always thought these schools and track events will be a good opportunity to find out the limits of my car. WRONG. It's a good opportunity to findout the limits of your driving skill. In the entire session, not once did the car push the limit of it's handing capabilities...When the tires squealled, when the tail wigged out...It's not the car, it's my lack of driving skill that made the mistake. It probably will take a few more track events before my skills catch up with my car's limit.

Anyway, we ran Buttonwillow counterclockwise and through the bus stop if you're familiar with the track. It is a fairly slow track, my top speed on the front straight was ~85-90. I bounced off my rev limiter at 7,000 rpm in third once. In the counterclockwise formation, you come out of the front straight into a series of esses, brake hard after the last esse into a long, sweeper. Come out of the sweeper onto what they called "Magic Mountain", a decent sized hill with an off camber left turn right past the crest, followed by a quick right hand and another long, left hand sweeper. At the end of the sweeper you enter the "bus stop", with several alternating corners (left turn connected right after with a right hander AND a left hander) and also alternating hills into the last passing zone, then the "Button hook", a hair-pin like turn that leads onto a short acceleration zone and runs right onto the front straight. The course presents you with every technical turns you'll see in a lot of tracks, with elevation change, off camber turns, sweepers, hairpins...etc.

I have no pretenses before coming to the track of being able to master it on the first few runs...And I was right. Fortunately, in the morning I had Larry Thompson as my instructor. He was very patient with me, letting me choose the lines and learn to control the car through corners at my own pace. That really helped build my confidence, because after the first lap my confidence in my ability to drive was completely shot...I was entering each corner way too early, missing each apex, late breaking each time, and just about making EVERY mistake you can possibly make. Larry calmly pointed out to me that most of his rookie students make the same mistakes, told me what I did right and sure enough, with each successive lap I started to get closer and closer to the apex. In the afternoon I had Tom Wong as my instructor and he was methodical in pointing out my mistakes and done a wonderful job in correcting a lot of the bad habits that I picked up in daily driving. Such as my tendency to fight the car and wanting to steer it where I want it to go, not where the car tells me I need to go. I tend to give too much steering input, and was timid in using the accelerator to steer the car. Toward the end of the day I was getting better at powering right out of the corner and holding the throttle through corners, and was beginning to understand more and more of the racing terms I through about here and see on T.V.

It truely was a learning experience. You can read all you want about stuff like this on the internet, on TV, in books...Whatever. Real application on a real track was a real eye opener for me. Lesson number 1: Don't fight the car. 2: Be as smooth as possible 3: It doesn't matter how fast you go into a corner. It's how fast you come out of a corner that matters. 4: Look ahead, drive in the future.

A couple of things I noticed. I drove Raffi's 330Ci shod with 18" Michelins for the last lap, right after his run. The Michelins were nice and HOT. The electronic throttle took some getting used to, simply because it's a little bit lighter than my throttle. My instructor had to constantly remind me NOT to mash the pedals. The Schroth Harness held my posterior to the seat so much better than the regular seat belt, and allow me to experience with opening it up a lot more. 330 brakes are so much more impressive than 328/325 brakes, but Raffi needs stainless steel brake lines...They felt mushy compared to my car.

The S-03s were UNGODLY on the track. They stick much better cold than hot though, in the afternoon in the sweltering Bakersfield heat, was when my rear tire lost traction and forced a massive OVERSTEER when I went over Magic Mountain...The worst of all the combinations, an off camber turn, going down hill with all the weight on the front of the car, and I was dumb enough to panic and tap the brakes when I was going too fast into the corner. Fortunately I counter steered and eased in some gas and that brought the car right back on track. As a quick comparison, I'd say the Bridgeston S-03s grip better than the Michelins but tend to get slippery when hot, and the Michelins perform surprisingly well when hot.

Anyway, sorry for the massive brain dump...I had so much fun and learned so much that I've barely posted 1/10th of what I learned on the track yesterday. One final thing: If you don't go to a high performance driving school, you are missing out big time. And everyone can drive and learn at their own pace...A guy in a white E46 M3 SMG was there with his wife, who's never driven the SMG before...And eventhough she was being passed regularly, she was still having a blast and learning a lot...In fact she probably knows the line around the track much better than I do. There was even a guy in a silver Z8 driving the BMW like it's meant to be driven.
 

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Good write up, Hack! Can't wait for the pictures!

I think this comment might provoke some folks out there. But frankly, after the track event, those money invested in angel eyes, or similar mods could be well-spent in track schools. I think my mod plans (not like I have much left) will be on hold for a while. For $395, it's not cheap. But the joy and fun we had were worth more than that. Which reminded me of those E46 M3s at BimmerFest which flamboyantly parked in front of me with showing off their Recaro seats, 19", 4pot 14" Brembos, huge wings and matching painted engine covers. Don't torture the BMWs! Take them out to the tracks! Bleh!
 

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The HACK said:

The S-03s were UNGODLY on the track. They stick much better cold than hot though, in the afternoon in the sweltering Bakersfield heat, was when my rear tire lost traction and forced a massive OVERSTEER when I went over Magic Mountain...The worst of all the combinations, an off camber turn, going down hill with all the weight on the front of the car, and I was dumb enough to panic and tap the brakes when I was going too fast into the corner. Fortunately I counter steered and eased in some gas and that brought the car right back on track. As a quick comparison, I'd say the Bridgeston S-03s grip better than the Michelins but tend to get slippery when hot, and the Michelins perform surprisingly well when hot.
Disagree about the heat fade on the S-03s, I find them to be very good heated up. Others have as well.

When you say your rear (singular) tire lost traction, this seems to be an open differential problem, not a tire problem. Don't lift off! especially with no LSD! especially off camber!

Anyway, it souds like you had fun, that's all that matters :p

and yes, 330s have better brakes. My only 330 track experience was in a cabrio loaded with two people to probably near 4100 lbs. The brakes faded pretty badly, I don't think as bad as my brakes would have though. You have Brembo 328 brakes though, right? What kind of pad? feedback?
 

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Very cool. :thumbup:

I look forward to doing this someday. :)
 

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driving schools....

.....is the place where the 3 series in any permutation shine really well.

these cars are so well balanced they do amazing things. and since most of it is pure skill (except for the top group), you can run a 323/325 and keep up with most people on anyplace except the straights, where, as someone once said, is just a dollar per HP spent thing. rich guys spend lots of money on superfast cars they more often than not drive like crap but pull you on the straights and then you reel 'em in all over again on the curves and chicanes.

:D

dunno if it's all that necessary to get crazy on the brakes. moved to slotted rotors up front with marginally street/mostly track pads, stainless, and superblue on the blue pig (325xiT) and it brakes really, really well.
 

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Rest in peace, Coach
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
___lk___ said:
anyone else sicka how preachy every noob gets about cajoling others into taking driving school? :rolleyes:
It's like a cult...You won't understand it unless you try.
 

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Rest in peace, Coach
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Re: Buttonwillow track report (very, very long)

nate328Ci said:


Disagree about the heat fade on the S-03s, I find them to be very good heated up. Others have as well.

When you say your rear (singular) tire lost traction, this seems to be an open differential problem, not a tire problem. Don't lift off! especially with no LSD! especially off camber!

Anyway, it souds like you had fun, that's all that matters :p

and yes, 330s have better brakes. My only 330 track experience was in a cabrio loaded with two people to probably near 4100 lbs. The brakes faded pretty badly, I don't think as bad as my brakes would have though. You have Brembo 328 brakes though, right? What kind of pad? feedback?
I had pagid street pads...They performed admirably on track but wasn't nearly as grabby as the Porterfields that Raffi was running. And despite a long, very hot day at the track, the brakes held up, NO fade whatsoever.

Also, the drilled brembo's seem to have less problem with pad deposits.
 

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Re: Re: Buttonwillow track report (very, very long)

After 2 long runs in the afternoon, HACK was like "Man! I am drained, I think I will pass on this run (third run)". Moments later, he appeared in his helmet and zoomed he was off to the pits! :lmao:

nate328Ci said:


Anyway, it souds like you had fun, that's all that matters :p

 

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Re: Re: Re: Buttonwillow track report (very, very long)

The HACK said:


I had pagid street pads...They performed admirably on track but wasn't nearly as grabby as the Porterfields that Raffi was running. And despite a long, very hot day at the track, the brakes held up, NO fade whatsoever.

Also, the drilled brembo's seem to have less problem with pad deposits.
HACK,

Great write-up. :thumbup:

I DO have SS brake lines - but I had driven the car so hard just before you took it out to the track, the pads were glowing red and the fluid was probably close to boiling too. Anyway, when I come back from my Alaska trip, I will need to bleed the brake fluid and put in some more Ate Super Blue. You've got the brake bleeder pump, right? :D :D

I am also thinking of getting Porterfield R4 pads for track use only, as opposed to the R4S pads which I run on the street and track.

BTW, the guy with the Z8 was also at the LA CCA's Willow Springs school a couple of months ago. That really is how BMWs were build to be driven.

You now need permission with the missus for the September buttonwillow school!

Later.
 

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The HACK said:

A couple of things I noticed. I drove Raffi's 330Ci shod with 18" Michelins for the last lap, right after his run. The Michelins were nice and HOT. The electronic throttle took some getting used to, simply because it's a little bit lighter than my throttle. My instructor had to constantly remind me NOT to mash the pedals. The Schroth Harness held my posterior to the seat so much better than the regular seat belt, and allow me to experience with opening it up a lot more. 330 brakes are so much more impressive than 328/325 brakes, but Raffi needs stainless steel brake lines...They felt mushy compared to my car.

The S-03s were UNGODLY on the track. They stick much better cold than hot though, in the afternoon in the sweltering Bakersfield heat, was when my rear tire lost traction and forced a massive OVERSTEER when I went over Magic Mountain...The worst of all the combinations, an off camber turn, going down hill with all the weight on the front of the car, and I was dumb enough to panic and tap the brakes when I was going too fast into the corner. Fortunately I counter steered and eased in some gas and that brought the car right back on track. As a quick comparison, I'd say the Bridgeston S-03s grip better than the Michelins but tend to get slippery when hot, and the Michelins perform surprisingly well when hot.

HACK, you HAVE to get the Schroth harness - I told you it was awesome.

What tire pressures were you running HOT during the day? You may have had too much air in there, thus leading to lots of squealing and less grip. I was running 38 HOT all around - which translated to 33-34 cold this morning, so I had to pump some more air in my tires. You most likely were running your tires too hot. As for the oversteer, I would disagree with you (concerning the S-03s) and think that the oversteer problems were due to panick moves on the track. You will get used to it; you are absolutely right to say that there is a massive learning curve, but it will get smoother with each passing school. See you at the next one (assuming the missus approves, right?) :bigpimp:

Later.
 

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Rest in peace, Coach
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re: Re: Buttonwillow track report (very, very long)

Raffi said:


HACK, you HAVE to get the Schroth harness - I told you it was awesome.

What tire pressures were you running HOT during the day? You may have had too much air in there, thus leading to lots of squealing and less grip. I was running 38 HOT all around - which translated to 33-34 cold this morning, so I had to pump some more air in my tires. You most likely were running your tires too hot. As for the oversteer, I would disagree with you (concerning the S-03s) and think that the oversteer problems were due to panick moves on the track. You will get used to it; you are absolutely right to say that there is a massive learning curve, but it will get smoother with each passing school. See you at the next one (assuming the missus approves, right?) :bigpimp:

Later.
You were right, I was running 43-44 all around HOT. I had inflated all my tires up to ~38 psi the night before.

The Schroth harness was AWESOME on the track...Dale had Simpson 5 point restraints that was even better. A little snug but not uncomfortable.

Of course, you know I HAD to blame something rather than driver's skill for the oversteer. :D

Just my luck, I picked up a nail in the rear driver's tire AFTER the track event. ;)
 

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Re: Re: Buttonwillow track report (very, very long)

nate328Ci said:


Disagree about the heat fade on the S-03s, I find them to be very good heated up. Others have as well.

When you say your rear (singular) tire lost traction, this seems to be an open differential problem, not a tire problem. Don't lift off! especially with no LSD! especially off camber!

HACK, did you pay attention to your tire pressure? If they were over inflated they get greasy. As the heat up your pressure will increase. I check mine every run. I don't take mine over 40
 
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HACK-

Welcome to the gang of newbie track junkies. I know you've seen me post countless times about how driving school makes you aware of just how poor of a driver you really are. I'm glad you had this experience to bring you over to this side. Amazing, isn't it?

You'll never look at a performance mod the same way again.
 
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