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itsarebuild
itsarebuild New Reader
1/20/10 2:49 p.m.

i have decided to try an HPDE event this may and the only car i think i will be able to get together by then is the e30 we brought to the 2009 challenge. since it cant be registered where i live i havent driven it much at high speeds through turns and the like and i am wondering if any of the e-30 folks out there can give me some advice about what typical items should be looked at more closely than usual before i go out there. i am already replacing the timing belt, the leaky steering rack, and putting in stiffer rear springs (seems to be a typical recommendation on the e30 forum). also, i am just learning. HPDE 1. i have a decent set of street tires (high performance summer). but i also plan to autocross this car this summer so i have a set of R compounds too. which should i bring with me? i want to get the most out of the HPDE 1 class and the instruction so i dont want to have the tires hide for correctable driving issues, but i dont want to be slowing everyone down either. any advice?

ReverendDexter
ReverendDexter Dork
1/20/10 3:04 p.m.

I wouldn't worry about R-compounds. I'd just run your street tires your first time out.

One thing that I'd definitely look at is your brakes. If you haven't flushed the fluid recently, do so, and put the highest rated fluid you can find. Get good quality pads at least up front (Hawk, Porterfield, EBC). They WILL get hot. My brakes are STILL spongy from the last trackday I did, hahaha.

And remember, while you can't win an HPDE, you can definitely loose.

Have fun!

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
1/20/10 3:05 p.m.

First time out - bring the street tires, and an extra set of pads if they are under 50%. If you have upgraded pads - throw them in.

Check all the hoses, flush the brake fluid. Check the tie rods, ball joints, guibo, center support bearing, rear subframe bushings, motor mounts, fuel lines and wheel bearings.

Make sure your helmet has the right sticker for the org you are running with, bring a torque wrench & tire guage... case of bottled water and have fun.

You won't need much of anything until you get over the sensory overload - just go have fun until you are comfortable laying down consistent laps. Nothing you do to your car to make it faster will make your first HPDE more fun - it will just add something for you to worry about.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim HalfDork
1/20/10 3:06 p.m.

I'd leave the street tires on there, give the car a good once-over to ensure that you don't have any obvious issues or broken parts, then take it to the track.

Chances are that a day on the track will give you a good idea what you'd need to address next (my guess would be brakes followed by suspension). You put a lot more load on potentially worn parts with R compounds, plus I find it easier to get a feel for a car when the limits are lower.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
1/20/10 3:07 p.m.

I've done it twice with my regular every day street tires. I had fun. I think you'll have fun either way and I wouldn't worry about slowing other people down. There will be faster and slower cars either way. Them GT3 cup cars and Panoz's are gonna pass you regardless. I know E36 M3 about e30's, but I would recommend some good brake pads if there's any question. I put EBC yellowstuff on and I had zero fade with them, which is much better than the stock pads that had complete fade after about the 3rd or 4th stop from 100.

z31maniac
z31maniac Dork
1/20/10 5:12 p.m.

ALso make sure you have good motor and trans mounts! Paramount!

billy3esq
billy3esq SuperDork
1/20/10 5:23 p.m.

Everybody's pretty well covered it, but:

Street tires. Don't worry about slowing anybody down. Everyone in your group will be slow, some will just be slower than others. The HPDE solution to being the slower car is to give more passing signals. Watch your mirrors and be aware.

Check the condition of every wear item (including belts and hoses) and replace anything not in good condition. You'll want fresh, high quality brake fluid. I'd also carry extra brake fluid, engine oil, and coolant.

I'd recommend new pads if you have less than 50% remaining. I'd do the pads before the event, as your "spare time" at the track will likely be taken up with classroom instruction, braking exercises, instructor rides, etc.

I wouldn't worry about springs or any other performance modification, with the possible exception of better brake pads. Learn what the car does at speed and what you don't like about it before you start messing with it.

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
1/20/10 7:35 p.m.

Great advice here. I second it. Don't worry about slowing people down. You'll most likely be in a run group with other inexperienced track drivers, which means that the car everyone is driving is less important than how well they drive it. I did my first couple of track days in a Saturn SC2, and thanks to my autocross experience I was passing much faster cars that I had no right to be passing.

Boston BMW CCA gives a special warning to HPDE participants about ball joints on E30s and E36s (http://www.boston-bmwcca.org/EventDescription/SampleDayofEvent.pdf , page 7). In addition to all the other track day prep, make sure these are in good shape. Make sure you have fresh, clean brake fluid. I'd recommend better brake pads, too, if you can. I did my first few track days on stock pads, and got away with it OK. Then I wore out my front brakes partway through the day, went off in the grass, and had to sit out my last session - then get home!

Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
1/20/10 8:44 p.m.

All good advice. I'll +1 on the Street Tires, brake fluid (DOT4, I think), and pads.

Slow down. Shut up. Listen to your instructor. If you're not holding up some traffic your first day out, you're pushing too hard. Keep the car at 7/10s or less. Focus on training yourself to pay attention to whats around you (cars and flags) and to put the car exactly on the line you want. Speed comes last.

Have fun. And don't forget to listen to everything your instructor tells you.

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard SonDork
1/20/10 9:15 p.m.

Good advice above.

I recently did my first HPDE 1 in my E30. Keep your street tires, and make sure you have good brakes. I'd also recommend a full tank of gas, as E30s starve on track below about half a tank. If you can, put the car up on the lift before, and nut and bolt every part. Stuff is under a lot more stress on track then on the Auto X course.

Oh, and motor mounts. I ripped all 4 drivetrain mounts out the day before my HPDE, they're a weak spot on the E30s.

ZOO
ZOO Dork
1/21/10 5:23 a.m.

Bring lots of water. Re-torque your wheels after every session. Do a visual inspection after every session as you learn your car and what it does after extended periods on track. Don't use your parking brake after a session.

Watch your mirrors, and remember that out-dragging the Miata down the straightaway doesn't make you the faster car

Have fun!

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
1/21/10 5:40 a.m.

Agree with most of them. Street tires, good brakes. New poly motor mounts if yours are the least bit aged (trans mounts aren't so important). Make sure the driveshaft guibo is in good shape. It should not starve for fuel under a half tank of the in-tank pump is working, but many are not, and you don't want to find that out with a Viper on your butt. Like I did. Excellent school car. You'll have a blast.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim HalfDork
1/21/10 7:04 a.m.
ZOO wrote: Bring lots of water. Re-torque your wheels after every session. Do a visual inspection after every session as you learn your car and what it does after extended periods on track. Don't use your parking brake after a session.

Very good points, also make sure that you check tires and tire pressures after every session. You might be surprised how quickly tires can wear on the track...

dj06482
dj06482 Reader
1/21/10 7:50 a.m.

In addition to what everyone else is saying (fresh brake fluid, new pads, good rotors, etc.) I'd add the following:

  • Make sure your cooling system is in tip-top shape. You'll be running in May, and on-track temps can be very hot.
  • Change your oil before you go so you have fresh oil in there. If you can, drain it and refill with fresh stuff when you get back.
  • Double-check your oil level before your first session on the track
  • Come on track with a full tank of gas. Gas at (or around) tracks is very expensive, and you'll go through it much quicker than you expect to. When in doubt, fill it up!
  • Check your oil level, tire pressure, coolant level, and lug-nut torque after each session
  • Rotate your tires at least once during the day
  • If you can, have some real (not dampened) gauges so you can accurately monitor your coolant temp, oil temp, and oil pressure

And most importantly - have fun!

7pilot
7pilot New Reader
1/21/10 8:11 a.m.

Try to get an instructor who uses the Front engine rear drive layout . Listen to the instructor. Don't worry about holding people up. If you do, you'll feel cheated at the end of the day. You cannot learn the track looking out your mirrors. The faster the car goes, the more it will tend to oversteer...Bear that in mind. Avoid following the lines of noobies in mega buck machines, especially 50+ men in bright coloured Six pot "Beetles" and Cayman/boxter twins Try to memorize the track layout and then start making yourself look further ahead than you do in solo events.

m

Armitage
Armitage Reader
1/21/10 8:18 a.m.

Agreed on the street tires. R Comps will just cover up your mistakes and interfere with the learning process. Too many people raise the limit of their cars before first raising the limit of the driver.

Some other suggestions:

Make a checklist of things to pack before you go (food, lots of drinks, folding chair, tools, oil, brake fluid, spare pads, etc. as stated above) so you aren't scrambling to remember what you've forgot. The fewer thing you have to worry about the more you can focus on learning/driving.

It might not hurt to make a checklist of things to do between sessions as well. Always check your lug nuts before going out on track. Check your tire pressures as soon as you return from a session (remember, it's not unusual to gain +10 or more PSI when the tires heat up, you may need to bleed them down while hot to get them back to the sweet spot). Check vital fluids several times throughout the weekend.

Check the driver - dehydration is a big issue on a track weekend, even if it's not hot out. The sayings goes "if you don't have to pee, you're not drinking enough". Dehydration and cause lack of concentration and mental fatigue that can result in mistakes/crashes. Speaking of which, mental fatigue can happen later on in the weekend. As you find yourself more and more comfortable and pushing the car harder and harder, it's around the same time your mind and body are at their most tired point of the weekend and everyone's driving more aggressively trying to make the most of that last Sunday session. Ease off at this point and keep it clean. You want to be able to drive it home after all.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! There's a lot to learn, a lot to concentrate on, but it will be one of the most exhilarating things you've ever done!

sachilles
sachilles HalfDork
1/21/10 9:26 a.m.

All good advice. Just to reinforce. Flush your brake fluid completely. Pads should be 50% or more. Always bring a spare. Fluid should not be over full.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
1/21/10 9:31 a.m.

Depending on your motor (again, I know E36 M3 about e30's), having the oil level right at the F line or even a tad over is a good idea. I recall a 944 that you could look through the block and see pavement. Oil starvation on a sweeper.

From my last track day:

Vigo
Vigo Reader
1/21/10 9:45 a.m.

^ diggin the lotus

sachilles
sachilles HalfDork
1/21/10 10:15 a.m.

There is an espirit for sale locally for 20k. Wish I had that kind of money laying around....I find them damn sexy.

GR40RACER
GR40RACER New Reader
1/21/10 12:38 p.m.

Learn the flags B4 you go.

Wear gloves, most HPDE sponsors won't let you on the track w/o them, all leather or SFI rated driving gloves, avoid non-SFI rated synthetic gloves.

Wear cotton clothing and leather shoes, avoid synthetic clothing materials. Most HPDE sponsors will require that you wear a long sleeve shirt.

If possible, talk with your instructor before and after your on-track sessions, especially your first couple of sessions.

Drink a lot of water.

Have fun

docwyte
docwyte Reader
1/21/10 1:37 p.m.

Most track organizations don't care about whether you wear gloves or not...

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
1/21/10 4:31 p.m.

Excellent point on the oil. How could I forget? After an off an a brake scare, I forgot to check my oil before autocrossing the following weekend. Spun a rod bearing due to low oil, needed a replacement motor, and to add insult to injury I lost my chance at a season trophy due to being unable to run while my close competitor walked away with it.

Check your oil between EVERY session. Doesn't matter if your car has never drank a drop of oil in its life. Neither did mine before all this happened. :)

GR40RACER
GR40RACER New Reader
1/21/10 6:06 p.m.
docwyte wrote: Most track organizations don't care about whether you wear gloves or not...

In Northern California NCRC, NASA, SCCA does, and in a fire gloves buy you time to unhook and get out.

Speaking of fire, a fire extinguisher within arms reach is good to have in any car, on track or not.

You can never be too safe out there...

dj06482
dj06482 Reader
1/21/10 7:40 p.m.
White_and_Nerdy wrote: Excellent point on the oil. How could I forget? After an off an a brake scare, I forgot to check my oil before autocrossing the following weekend. Spun a rod bearing due to low oil, needed a replacement motor, and to add insult to injury I lost my chance at a season trophy due to being unable to run while my close competitor walked away with it. Check your oil between EVERY session. Doesn't matter if your car has never drank a drop of oil in its life. Neither did mine before all this happened. :)

I attended the SR-20 Convention Track day at Roebling Road this past March, which really drove the point of watching your oil levels home. I saw more blown engines on that single day than I'd seen in my life up until that point. SR-20s are very sensitive to oil temps and oil levels (capacity is only something like 3.5qts), and if the oil pan is even slightly dinged on the bottom, there's a good chance the pickup was crunched. That was a somber day, too many hurt engines, some of which could have been avoided. And the crazy thing was, it was only in the low 70s and pretty overcast for a good chunk of the day.

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