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S197 3V Apex3v's Road Race Build Thread Build Thread Profile - S197 Mustangs

Apex3V

Heel-n-Toe Enthusiast
Weekend Rundown: Virginia International Raceway NASA MA October 2019

When I started this year off at Road Atlanta in March, I honestly didn't know how far I would go this year. Somehow I have ended up at the beautiful VIR before the years end and have the lovely fall colors to accompany a very picturesque racetrack. Prior to the event I was having difficulties getting my car running which was frustrating but also educational and wasn't a big deal in the end though A theme would be set from this. My lovely crew chief and I made the trip up the morning of the event which I always hate doing but to save some dough I'm fine with, once there we are greeted by the familiar face of @Duane Black and know we are going to be in for a good time. This is my first time at a non southeastern nasa event so some differences in administration were to be expected.
I performed some final checks on the car to ensure it was fine and I'd also made sure to take it easy for the first couple of laps and feel out the car. My first session on track was very mediocre to put it bluntly and I found myself not being very excited to drive it and experience it. I believe some of this was coming from a lack of rest prior to this event and the way that the car was handling on the continentals. For the next session I didn't hesitate to throw on the toyo's and I have no doubt that it was the right decision. Once I could actually feel a bit more in control and put the car more where it needed to be I found myself in an increasingly better mood.
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Guys just want grip...

As the day progressed I did get better and I was getting more comfortable behind the wheel and figuring out what I needed to do. In the last session of the day starting the first lap I was coming into the braking zone and halfway through had the pedal go straight to the floor. I immediately got it pumped with pressure and got slowed down and limped it back into the pits to check out what was going on. Duane noticed some fluid around the spokes of the LF wheel so I pulled it off and found that the Brake Line bolt had come loose from the caliper and could be turned with little effort with your fingers. I tightened it back up and bled the brakes which did the trick. After doing this I went outside the track to get gas and picked up a nail along the way and came back the next morning to a flat RR tire. Luckily for me I know a bit too much about patching tires so I wasn't really phased but was a little annoyed that I would miss my first session (In the wet nonetheless).
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Lots of Brake Dive...Cool!

During this weekend Duane would be instructing me and a quarter of the DE1 field as well and of course driving his car to the absolute limit in-between this. My lady and I both rode along with him this weekend and doing so really puts an exclamation mark on how to drive an s197 around this track. He shows the very large potential that these cars have and explains it in a very good way and has definitely made me a better driver whenever he's my co-pilot.
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Fast man on the move in the rain

After getting my car squared away after the mornings mishaps and a monsoon coming over the track and almost being dried up already it was time for me to go out again finally. Duane recommended I put the toyo's on rather than the conti's so I obliged though still being skeptical. Going out it was clear that the track was drying rapidly and after every lap it would be dryer and dryer but in the beginning required me to be smarter about where I put the car for it to grip and to feel out what was happening.
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I love this turn for photos!

In-between sessions we would walk around and explore either the facility or the paddock and see what the mid-Atlantic had this weekend and to no surprise there was a decent amount of stangs. I saw some cars I've seen posted in other groups as well as new ones, I ran into a handful of southeast guys which is always nice for familiarity sake. I was really impressed with the facility with its pit-road suites and garages, the villas and the son of oak tree. this weekend was a triple-header of sorts with NASA on the full course, a bunch of e30 BMW's on the skidpad and a bunch of motorcycles on the patriot course. I was imagining all this x10 during hyperfest with everything I had already heard and seen about it.
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I think I've got this in the bag

During my last two sessions is when the most learning and progress was made. I was starting to find the limits of grip in certain corners and made huge improvements in my overall braking ability and knowledge thanks to some good info and pushing. My last session was a combined DE1/2 session so I unplugged the data and went with video assuming it would just be a train and hoping for some cool video of me passing people to make me at-least feel fast. This session was my best driving on this track and led to some good fun with a former student of Duane's in a c5 vette and me trying to get around with a power deficit. I got passed a bunch of cars I could't pass at the begging of the weekend and more which was nice.
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painters tape vs. not painters tape

Overall this weekend had some up's and downs (Mostly up's!)and taught me a lot about the car, the track and what to expect from both. I know I cant expect for every weekend to go perfect and that as you get faster these things are more likely to happen. After the event my perspective changed on the track than I had originally and I found myself liking it way more than I anticipated and loved the challenges it presented and the speeds it brought. I am signed off for HPDE 3 now so I get to look forward to even more learning and hopefully a quicker pace in sessions with more freedom in passing. I'm looking forward to stepping up further and getting more advanced in my driving but from what I gathered this weekend there is still a lot to learn and plenty of opportunities to do it.
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Now onto the next weekend...​
 

Duane Black

Curbs go brrrppp
492
322
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Durham, NC
Your driving before and after that "damp but drying" session was quite sensational really. Maybe it was putting together everything from the past day and getting a good night sleep since it was the first, but your driving improved quite a lot after the damp track experience. For my money, that was your best session of the day due to the challenges presented and learning to overcome them. It would have been the perfect "RE71R" track condition too.

I love a wet track. Jeff Braun once said all tracks are more fun when wet....

I was worried you'd flat refuse to go Toyo's. I'd have taken you out on Toyo's even if you were first session after lunch. They'd have sucked for 3-4 laps but start coming around. After that session, you were suddenly ready to start challenging limits and grip.
 

Apex3V

Heel-n-Toe Enthusiast
Your driving before and after that "damp but drying" session was quite sensational really. Maybe it was putting together everything from the past day and getting a good night sleep since it was the first, but your driving improved quite a lot after the damp track experience. For my money, that was your best session of the day due to the challenges presented and learning to overcome them. It would have been the perfect "RE71R" track condition too.

I love a wet track. Jeff Braun once said all tracks are more fun when wet....

I was worried you'd flat refuse to go Toyo's. I'd have taken you out on Toyo's even if you were first session after lunch. They'd have sucked for 3-4 laps but start coming around. After that session, you were suddenly ready to start challenging limits and grip.
Good observation I definitely questioned the call since at lunch it had barley stopped raining and everything was still very wet in the paddock. It was the right call for sure and would have loved to go out in the rain but I guess I will have to wait for another opportunity to come up.
 

Apex3V

Heel-n-Toe Enthusiast
Weekend Rundown: Carolina Motorsports Park NASA SE November 2019

Carolina Motorsports Park is my home track and at this point I have the most experience here than anywhere else, After being here earlier this year it is time to wrap up my 2019 HPDE season with some familiarity and good times. I was joined this weekend by @Duane Black again and our bud in a C5 corvette. I was also joined by my lovely lady as always who keeps all of us on time and where we need to be with timing and takes some pics for us and everyone on here to enjoy. Prior to this event nothing changed to the car at all besides flipping my tires to get a bit more life out of them as I knew this track would eat them up.
On the first morning I was assigned an instructor randomly for a check-ride to move myself from HPDE2 to DE3 in the region which ended up being a confidence inspiring session after my not so good times here back in the spring. I started at the front of the class and tried to implement everything I had learned since then into this session which worked beautifully. I got around with ease and at a great pace which got me caught-up to the tail end of the field witch had about a 6 car train. I patiently and methodically moved through the traffic and showed great awareness to my surroundings during this. I got a big thumbs up after the session had ended and was on my way to the next step in the journey by participating in DE3 for this weekend.
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Dang ol' get me out of here man
After this session I would have a combined DE3/4 session which would be my first time with either grouping of cars and passing anywhere with a point by. just the thought of getting around people in the corners excited me greatly and I was very excited about this session. I hop in the car griding in the middle and found myself passing lots of cars at a great pace once we had hit the track. I was having an absolute blast this session and was getting pointed by all around the track which gave me a lot of chances to pass in the turns which was a whole lot more fun than waiting and stalking a guy throughout the corners waiting for a straight. After getting out of the car after this session I was overcome with joy and was thrilled at the driving I was finally starting to be apart of. That session I had thrown the toyo's on and obliterated my old pb of 1:59.35 and set a new one of 1:51.85!
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Better, Harder, Faster, Stronger!
The next session was also a combined session and ended up with a trusty white 3.7 mustang behind me getting a checkride for time-trialing and knew I'd have to pick up the pace to stay in-front of him. I came out of the gates swinging and created a sizable gap and maintained it until he pulled off to drop off his observer who had a session right after us. after this session was over I had a class session where we discussed the drills we would be doing at the end of today and the beginning of the next. after I had gotten back from class I was excited to see some new tape added to the white stang displaying TTU proudly and deserving.
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Gotta go FAST!
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New Time-Trialer!
For the last session DE3 did drills which was to be side-by-side around the whole track and alternating sides at the front stretch each lap. This drill showed me a couple of things I could pay attention to while not seeing the car. I was able to hear the car next to me and use my peripheral vision to see where the car was and if it was still there. I had to use the track differently than I normally would on the school line and was able to find speed under the constraints of having a car on either side of me.
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Bet you wont give me a donut...
Beginning the next day we did some more drills but this time it would be to drive the left/right side of the track then a lap where you don't brake at all. the left and right were interesting and I was able to find ways to put down some speed that I wouldn't have found doing the same old school line. the no brake lap was an interesting challenge, Throughout the corner sections I was able to scrub speed aggressively using elevation changes and curbing to my advantage but on the straights I had to be really patient and scrub speed from side to side a bit for certain low speed corners. Its a very different way to drive and reinforces the need to know the limits of grip and the car to will it through some of the corners without the brakes.
After the drills were done it was back to the combined DE3/4 sessions for the day but this time with DE4 rules and no point by's required which made me even more excited than before. I gridded towards the middle like I had been before and was trying to build some heat on the front stretch when I noticed the flagger waving the green...it was go time! I closed the gap that was made between me and the front group within a lap and started picking them off one by one. It was by far my best performance driving to this point and displayed the very best of what I could do right now. I methodically moved around and positioned myself accordingly to get around people quickly and efficiently. This was by far the most fun I had ever had in the car and finally felt I was beginning to implement some of the racing knowledge I have had stored for so long which really inspired me to keep digging the more and more I'd drive. This session I best my PB again with a 1:50.98 which was about a second off of where most Spec Iron cars were running that weekend which really made me feel good.
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Getting kinky at the kink
After that session I would get more and more comfortable with my car and the run group and was gridding more aggressively. I started towards the front next time and had to let a couple of guys passed and had some pretty nice open track for the first time this weekend. I was driving the car pretty aggressively and was testing the how much speed I could carry into some of the corners. The track was behaving like it normally did after it had gotten some heat and use and would become messy and slippery. this led to a lot of fun behind the wheel but nothing great to be expected from a timing POV.
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Guy just wanting to drive
For my last session of the day a SpecIron racer was staring at the front to warm-up for the race after our session and I started a couple spots behind him. An SI car would later come between us and another one would start behind me, I knew right here that this was my first actual exposure to driving with this group of cars though of the group mine was the only one not completed thus making me an underdog of sorts. We go out under green and its to to go immediately, within the first 4 corners I let the guy behind me take the inside line since I couldn't hold it down low at speed yet and quickly tucked in behind him and both of us got to work on the next car. The SI driver was already 1/8th mile ahead of us and was displaying some great driving down the road(He also would win the race FYI). Once the guy ahead of me had gotten passed the other SI car I started to get to work on him also and wanted to see if I could keep up r even get passed. We worth both driving at full tilt boogie with the back ends hanging out from corner to corner looking like formula drift guys warming up. He eventually made a mistake which allowed me to move to his inside a couple corners later and take him going onto the front stretch. I then got into a rhythm and started to gain some ground on the previous guy I had let go but began to experience some fade in the brakes and had to back it down a bit.
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Keeping him at bay!
This session was very informative for me and taught me a bunch about myself and about the car and where it stands against the others. I felt good knowing that I could hang with a built car and run the same pace as a car I had thought was going to blow me away. It was by far the most realistic thing I've done that's comparable to spec iron so far and has got me itching for more. I got to meet a handful of new guys who had SI cars this weekend and also reconnected with some familiar faces in the SI camp and only reinforced what I was doing on track.
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"Tow hook was swangin" ~ Me
Overall this weekend couldn't have gone any better for me, I had supportive people all around, learned a bunch of new stuff and had an awesome performance on track. It was sad packing up and leaving cause I honestly never wanted it to end but sadly like everything good it has to. I know that next year is going to be even better with some stuff already lined up for 2020 and most likely adding more to it. Next year I should have a unit to pull the car with which would alleviate the burden of driving the car to and from the track and having to worry about the legality of the car with the state. Next year should be even better than this one which was already great and I am slowly but surely building support at the track. Hopefully in the middle of next year TMO can be introduced to a new momentum racing companion to my car as well but we'll just have to wait and find out what happens. It's been a great year and I want to close this post out with a pic of the small group of us at CMP, Notice the crew chief and driver to the left.
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The Lady and I, Duane and josh, James with C5 Vette.

Thanks to everybody on here and for the support I've received so far! Now onto 2020! :)
 
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Duane Black

Curbs go brrrppp
492
322
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Durham, NC
I guess I'm about to hijack the thread with my own story, but I also taught Chandler how to change a rear brake rotor in 5 minutes too (the one I'm holding is cracked)

They used to do no brakes drill in DE2 (I thought) and it taught me more about carrying speed than any other drill I've ever done. It made me faster in a single lap than any other single trick. Occasionally I do it in a video game for practice and every in lap after a session.

Side by side certainly taught me a lot about traffic and using the whole track as necessary.


You're also doing something I've done for the last 2 years - you're fastest on that cool track in the morning! I lost .6 of a second over just 2 hrs between tt sessions. if it's a track I'm familiar with, I'm almost always fastest in the morning and lose about a second in the afternoon. I usually attribute it to track losing grip, not my own fatigue (always blame something else, I'm perfect ;)

You're driving the car and the tires, not the track now!
 
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Apex3V

Heel-n-Toe Enthusiast
Story Time
Around august of this year me and my girlfriend dubbed a name for our "Race Team" which is Red Hot Brake Rotors which is a play on the red hot chili peppers since we both love them. She has always been my crew chief per say by keeping me on track throughout the day and essentially managing my poor time keeping and offering different viewpoint to issues that may arise. She's been my track side photographer and sat in every HPDE classroom I've been in and has accumulated some nice info but has no real way to use it. Luckily for me she's just as crazy as I am and joined in on the fun and picked up a project car that she wants to take to the track and learn to drive fast with.

The car is a 1990 Mazda Miata with a 1.6L and a 5 speed, it was bought at a borderline lemons price tag and only needs a handful of things to become track legal (Battery tie-down, Roll Bar, Brakes). To say I'm excited is an understatement as I get to watch her go through the same process I'm going through and help guide her along the way. I never thought I would be so happy to see a miata in all my life but I am and there is no going back now :)
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