Saturday, July 25, 2020

[Focus] Cooking brakes with the Real Track Cars of Silicon Valley

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

On July 25th I returned to Laguna Seca for one of the first rebooted track days since Covid struck. It was the most crowded track day I've ever attended, I think as a result of two factors: first, pent-up demand; second, 103 dB limit, which is 10-12 dB higher than usual. This was supposed to be the Ferrari Corsa Clienti weekend, but that was nixed, so I think we inherited the higher sound limit. As a result - race cars. For reference, a stock 911 GT3 fails sound on a normal 93 dB day.

Things were familiar, but different. No guests, and temperature checks at the entrance to the paddock. Unless you had your helmet on, you needed to have your mask on. The driver's meeting was outdoors and spread wide. There were multiple run groups, with duplicates of the same levels, and each one was full at 35 cars. We had 4x 20-minute sessions on the day and a whopping 2 hours between each session. I thought I had accidentally signed up for an autocross with all the waiting.

The paddock never fails to impress in Silicon Valley's backyard.

First session of the day got off to a rocky start. Ferrari 328 managed one out lap before pulling over on the front straight. Gave me some time to see who was going to be chasing me on the restart:

I didn't shell out for any track action glamor shots this time. I ran the whole day in track mode, and the car ran very well overall. Despite the 35-car crowd, for all four sessions I managed to fall into some lucky little pocket without any traffic. The group-mates were courteous, and point-byes were given and received quickly. It's always nice when everyone checks their ego at the door and just focuses on accommodating each other.

If you've been following along my problem is always cooking the brakes. I made an effort in my sessions to back off when I started to get fade, and as a result they were stronger longer across the day. Not as good as fresh, but they dropped down to maybe 70% across the day rather than ~40% other days. I'm sure the 2 hours between sessions helped as well to bring all the temperatures back down. I remembered my R/C infrared thermometer this time, the readings for the front rotors basically summed it all up:

Aside from the brakes, the car was flawless. It returned a fantastic 6.3 mpg on the track. The tires and brakes are wearing well (slowly), and while I don't use a lap timer, I felt fast. Using the whole width of the track and carrying more speed through the corners.

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