PCA Rolling Thunder weekend (with some new shoes)
This was really something to see. The paddock was packed! There were Porsche race teams from all over the country. I saw New Jersey, Missouri, Virginia, Utah, California. The rigs were amazing -- $1 million each, some of them. Huge trucks w sleep quarters, kitchens, double-decker car ports, and they'd be pulling another trailer with the shop gear. They set up huge tents and awnings. Some teams had a 7+ easy ups placed together. Propane BBQ grills. I wish I took more pictures. Porsche Club racers from all over the country. Only 3 of us non-Porsches in attendance (all BMWs).
This was also something to do: Advanced DE. No beginners this time.
I confess I was a tad nervous.
New tires = different car
My car got some new shoes: Continental tires, which I'm told are actually made by Hoosier for the Continental-sponsored GT races. They're longer lasting than the Hoosier R6. The 275/30R18 square setup is what the M3 teams in GT class are running.
But with the square setup, different compound and slick tread, they're a whole different world from the Yokohama Advan Neova AD08s I have for street driving.
First time out I hit turn 3 and it was like I was on rails. I laughed out loud, giggling while driving the back straight.
But there the handling was a bit wobbly. Was this tramlining from the negative camber, square setup and new tires? I hit turn 4 and it wasn't so sticky. Turn 5 was fine but turn 6 was a mess. Finally I pitted out and went for the tire gauge.
The left front tire was down to 7 pounds!!!
I jacked up the car, pulled off the wheel and rolled it over to On-Site Tires, a full-service tire company set up there in a truck. (PCA is great in working to have tire service available on their track weekends.)
"My tire is flat. Can you tell me what's wrong?"
Chris there touched his finger to the TPMS valve stem and air hissed out! He could unscrew the stem with his hand! OMG! He torqued it down, added some air and the tire seemed fine. I rolled the wheel back and mounted it. Then I drove the car over and he checked all the other TPMS valves -- all of them were loose! It seems they were never torqued down. (He recommended 110 inch-pounds.) At least I didn't wreck.
So the first run of the weekend was gone with only a couple of limping laps. Now, though, I was ready. The next challenge was finding the right tire pressures.
The second round was better, but still a bit weird. A quick check after revealed a 2-pound hot pressure mismatch between the fronts. Round 3 felt much better, and hot pressures were right at 36. Round 4 I was finally able to focus just on driving without obsessing about that left front tire.
What was clear from Day 1 is that I had to re-learn several corners. The combination of less understeer plus more oversteer plus slip-stick of the tires made it an entirely different car.
Warm up? We don't need no stinkin' warm-up!
Day 2 was fun as I started to get used to the car's new feel. The odd thing about running with such a homogenous group of cars like Porsches (mostly all either 911s or 944s) is that they all tend to take similar lines on the track. And that means unless you follow the Porsche line, you end up in the marbles. I was picking up marbles, gravel and dirt on a few turns that normally would not have the cruft where it was.
Also interesting was when the run groups would grid up, all idling their engines. The sound reverberated with harmonic resonance. This doesn't happen at other events with more diverse cars and engines.
In the last run I was gridded among several Porsche GT3s. On the warm-up lap they just took off. They didn't seem to believe in warm-up laps, so I ended up pointing by the ones behind me, while the tires warmed up to pressure. Lap 2 though my tires heated up and I was able to keep up with some of them. (Some were just much better drivers.)
At the end of the day, I was happy to see my fastest laps drop 4 seconds, to 2:10.
I am still a bit tentative on the slip curve of the tires. With the AD08s, I could confidently power through corners and control the drift. With these I get more of the feeling that drifting could become spinning in a snap.
It was a very fun weekend. I was looking forward to the NASA weekend that followed.