Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
6/14/06 5:20 a.m.

In order to get a first-hand look at the new Solo Nationals site at Heartland Park, the Solo Events Board (of which I am a member) very handily scheduled its spring face-to-face meeting for a double-event weekend there. Kansas Region held a two-day regional solo event on the south paddock pad, while the road racers took to the track itself. Unlike Nationals sites of the most recent past (Forbes, Salina Municipal Airport, & Salina Crawford Rec Area) have all been concrete, but now we will be racing on asphalt. Today's short installment talks about our first impressions and how we altered our setup (or not) to compensate.

The surface itself is very new racetrack grade asphalt. Unlike most parking lots, it has very little exposed aggregate which gives it a very smooth and consistent breakaway characteristic. That said, once you do start the tires sliding, there is very little for them to dig into so they do not scrub speed very quickly at all. The result is a much finer line between too slow in a turn and too fast, with a larger penalty in the latter case. This should really help to separate the men from the boys come September!

Our last events were on the grippy concrete of Peru, so before we even started we went back to our stock 12mm rear sway bar. Shocks were left where they were (rebound 4/8, compression 8/8 F and 6/8 rear, as were air pressures. With this setup, the car was awesome right out of the box. Balance was superb in all phase of cornering, and was easily modulated with the throttle. In the end, we made no setup changes at all to the car the whole weekend and focused on our driving technique on that surface.

The only major issue was braking. With the lower grip, our front lock-up problem once again reared its ugly head. We just could not brake deep and hard into a sweeper, and this course had lots of them. Each of our drivers learned to brake earlier and less to avoid this, but both concurred that the car could be faster if this tendency was overcome. We will work to improve this in the coming months. In fact, on the drive home came the realization that we should have tried reducing the front compression since we were likely "shocking" the tire with sudden braking. We'll try that next time for sure.

Next up: A recap of where we are now and ideas for a budget STS2 build.

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