S2000 Club of America
Laguna Seca, January 16, 2002

"S2000 Club takes over Laguna Seca"

60 S2000's at Laguna.  Mine is on the far right, front row.  Click here for bigger
photo by Tedster

The Flamemobile is still in the shop.  Suspension parts still haven't come in.  Larry is working on fixing my gas gauge again (it had to be recalibrated, as one of the wires came loose).  Also looks like there is a problem with left rear axle, we have something that sheared off, and parts have to be ordered for that.  After that part finally comes in, it looks like the rear hub bearing was wiped out, so that had to be ordered and replaced, along with the hub.  But I am patient, as I set my own expectations that the Flamemobile will not come alive again until the end of February.  As soon as the suspension is done, we can start working on some minor brake stuff, and other secret mods to be ready for the Open Track Challenge in May. 

I get the F355 back from the 30,000 mile service.  The car runs great.  But it looks like shit.  The independent Ferrari mechanic apparently detailed my car with WD40 and sand paper.  There is a thin film of crap on my windshield, which drives me crazy, as I clean my windshield off everyone morning before I take a car out of the garage with a squeegee and Windex so the window is perfectly clean.  But now I can't even get the window clean, as it looks like there is some overspray of some kind on the window.  They had to take the rear bumper off the car to drop the motor for the 30,000 mile service, and when they put the bumper back, there is a big gap between the bumper and the rest of the car.  Usually the gap is about 1/4 of an inch, but now is it more than 1/2 an inch. It looks like someone rear ended me.  Wayne looks at the paint on the car, and recoils in horror.  He is meticulous about how his street car looks, to the point where he cleans his rims before he drives his car in the morning. 

So the Ferrari mechanic says bring the car back and he will fix all the details.   Hummm........what if it comes out worse?  I did save about $3000 on the service......so if I take it to Premier Motorsports in Los Angeles and pay them to fix the paint and the bumper, I am still way ahead.  Premier Motorsports has this uncanny ability to make your car look BRAND NEW.  I don't know how they do it, but it is absolutely phenomenal.  The price they charge is phenomenally high also.  I drop the car off there, and I also tell them the leather around the hand brake is ripping, and the leather on the seat belt mount is ripping.  Dave says, "No problem, I got a leather guy that will come in, take off the leather, dye some new leather and color match it, re-stitch it, and it will look brand new".  I look around his shop, and there is an F50 in there for some touch up work, a 360 Challenge car, and about 10 other Ferraris getting painted, detailed, fixed, etc.  My car is in good hands.  Dave said to give him about a week, and the car will be ready.

Aaron's rollbar on his S2000

I heard about the S2000 Club event at www.s2ki.com.  I email the coordinators of the event, and ask them if they need instructors, as I would be interested in running my S2000 at Laguna.  They reply that they could use me as an instructor, and they send me the information.  I look through the information, and notice that they do not want any timing equipment whatsoever at the event, as there will be lots of people on the track for the first time, and their theory is that timing will cause the rookies to spin more than they should, as everyone is going to be trying to faster each sessions.  Example:  "Let's see.......I ran a 1:59 out there last session, I think if I brake later in turn 2, and throw the car into turn 5, I could make it to 1:58".  And then they go out, and overdrive the car, and end up spinning and possibly damaging their car, someone else's car, or worse, hurting some human beings.  So I sorta ask them if instructors can setup their own timing equipment, as long as they aren't running around comparing lap times to each other, and they are not allowing their students to time their laps?  I get them to agree to letting me time myself with the Hot Lap Timer as long as I keep quiet about it at the track, as I need to figure out how to drive this car fast at the track, and I need instantaneous feedback as to what I need to do each lap.  Otherwise, I would probably decline to enter the event, and instead I would setup two Hot Lap beacons at various sections of Highway 1, and practice my own lap times going up and down the coast.  (just kidding, racing on the street is stupid.  More on that later.  Much more...)

Driver's meeting at Laguna

So, the question becomes, how do I get ready for the trip?  Do I take the Big Trailer, and tow the S2000 up there?  Wayne declines to go, as there is no race group to compete in.  He feels that Time Trials or lapping days are a waste of time, as there is no "Racing Buzz" that you get from the Go-Fast Crack Pipe like you do in an actual wheel-to-wheel race.  I could take the old, single car, open trailer.  But that is a pain in the ass also, plus it looks like it is on its last leg.  I decide to drive up to Laguna with the wife in the S2000, and we would take the scenic route, meaning we would head up the 405 freeway to the 101, and then blast up Highway 1, which is one of the world's great scenic roads.  Picture 30 mph to 45 mph turns, going up hill, with 1000 feet of cliff on one side that falls into the Pacific Ocean, and a big ass mountain on the other side.  And then going down hill.  And back up hill.  With very little traffic.  And no real room for CHP officers to park with radar. You get the picture...

S2000's lined up at Laguna Seca Raceway

So that means I should probably run the Yoko A032R tires, and drive on them to Laguna, and use the same tires at the event.  Not optimal, but I can't drive up on Hoosiers, as they won't last.  Stock S02 tires would really suck at the track.  There isn't much luggage space in the S2000, so I used Fedex Ground to send my helmet, racing suit, tools, spare brake pads, brake fluid, a quart of oil, and Hot Lap Timing equipment, in a box from the 1-800-Phoneguys shipping department.  Now there is enough room for the luggage in the car.

Stopping at one of the many scenic sites on Highway 1

I don't know about you guys, but I can't get the wife to go with me to the track unless there is good shopping nearby.  Laguna Seca has Carmel, so the wife was very excited about this event.  I figure that since we are taking just one car up there, I might as well get a hotel room in Carmel, as she plans on spending the entire weekend in Carmel.  Most of the rooms there were already booked, but through the La Playa Hotel, I was able to get one of their private cottages for about half price from their summer rate.  Their summer rate is ridiculously expensive, but for half price, it ain't too bad.  So we had our own cottage, our own wood burning fireplace, kitchen, refrigerator, stove, etc for the weekend.  Highly recommended, for your spouse or spouse equivalent....

The Moon Gate cottage, home base for the weekend

Two days before our departure date, my Comptech fully adjustable front sway bar arrives at the shop.  I think about it.....hummm.....I could just have Larry bolt this on.....but two days before the event, if something goes wrong, like a bushing is missing, or we break something, it could be a disaster.  Plus I won't be able to put any street miles on the car before driving up to the event.  My new motto is no more fiascos where we are working on the car like an idiot until midnight before the event.  I decide to wait until after the event......

S2000's lined up in the pit area

We blast up Highway 1 at a high rate of speed, wearing my special $7 army surplus hats that look like the hats that Rocky and Bullwinkle used to wear.  The wife protests, saying that the hats have been sitting around in an Army surplus store for a decade, and they stink like old hats.  I tell her I will drive a little faster, so the smell doesn't have a chance to make it to her nose.......

I forced the wife to wear a Rocky and Bullwinkle hat for the drive up Highway 1

I hear that a lot of autocrossers will be at this event, and some of these autocrossers even make it to the Nationals Finals events, whatever its called.  One theory holds that autocrossing helps a person become a faster road racer, as the competition is fierce in autocrossing, and it is very important to be fast in turns in order to win an event.  PD Cunningham, and other famous road racers supposedly came up the ranks in autocrossing and successfully made the transition to road racing.  But there is also another theory, spouted by PMUM, when Mike the Vette guy told him that they are going to kick PMUM/BP's Viper ass on the Streets of Willow and at Pahrump in the Open Track Challenge, as both tracks are similar to a fast autocross course.   Mike is a four time DSCSS autocross champ.   PMUM replied with his usual sarcastic, quick wit:

"Listen here cone-dodger, why don't you save it and post your racing resume on Hot-Jobs.com? Maybe there's a Wal-Mart manager somewhere who'll need you to drive the golf-kart for parking lot security. They can use a guy like you to dodge the cones and shopping carts. In the mean time, I suggest you and Sofranas bring some cones and throw them on the track the night before to confuse the real drivers out there."

Wayne's comments about autocrossers are:
"Do those autocross guys ever go over 60 mph?"

My comments are the following, illustrated graphically via The Pyramid of Speed.  I just copyrighted that term, along with the Go-Fast Crack Pipe, so if any of you semi-non-creative types out there rip off my sayings and claim them for your own, I will sick the Zen Five Lawyers on you, like we did for that other group that believes in multiple track events.  (Note: Actually, I think BP was the originator of the "Go-Fast Crack Pipe", but I copyrighted it before he did).  PMUM gets the copyright for "Cone Dodger".  I may have talked about the "levels" of The Pyramid of Speed on this website somewhere in another story, but I can't find it right now through the 200 megabytes of files on this website , so I will repeat it. 
So here goes my theory:

The Bottom Level of the Pyramid of Speed

Street Racers:
These are the yahoos that you see trying to do smoky burnouts on city streets. They look around for deserted industrial areas so they can "Race"  each other in a straight line.  They think NOS is cool.  They think "Fast and Furious" is a shoe-in for an Oscar, both for best picture, best actor, and best documentary.  They post on various Internet BBS boards short stories talking about their "Kills", where they went 0-60 faster than some other car on busy city streets. 

Favorite type of woman:  Any sixteen year old female who hangs out at those Import car shows and will show some skin, never mind that her skin is pimply.

Favorite  Magazine:  Import Tuner.  Sport Compact Car.  Turbo Digest.  NOS World.

Level 2 of the Pyramid of Speed

Freeway Racers:

Next to the bottom are these guys.  They frown upon Street Racers, thinking that Street Racers are 0-80 mph wimps.  Instead, Freeway Racers think that they are cool, as they go 120+ mph and weave in and out of traffic on the highway like a bunch of morons on crystal meth.  The problem is that these boneheads have spent money to make their car a little faster and a little noisier than usual, but they forgot one thing:  they are going at dangerously high speeds and they have itty bitty front brakes, small rear drum brakes, and they have never attended a go-fast driving school.  They forgot the Stop-Fast parts when they modified their cars.  Not good when Sally Homemaker in her 6000 lbs SUV makes a lane change at 55 mph without signaling and without looking for cars coming up on her at triple digit speeds.  They post on various BBS boards about their "Kills", where they passed some guy driving a more expensive car at 110 mph, saying that they knew that "Name_your_Car" drivers can't drive worth a crap.

Favorite type of woman:  Any female that is impressed by them driving 100 mph with a beer in their hand, a joint in the other, and no seat belt on.  Needless to say, these guys are usually dateless.

Favorite magazine:  High Times.  Mad Magazine. 

Level 3 of the Pyramid of Speed

1/4 Mile Drag Racers
Next up are the 1/4 mile drag racers.  These guys are at least smart enough to take their cars to a formal race track where there are rules, safety regulations, and ambulances for when they crash because they can't figure out how to drive in a straight line.  They look down upon the Freeway "Racers" and Street "Racers" as a bunch of immature folks who don't have enough sense to take their need for speed to their local 1/4 mile drag strip.  Instead, these 1/4 mile geeks spend their life trying to break the 12 second barrier in their souped up street cars.  Sometimes they might even get four runs in a day, and at 13 seconds a run, this means they spent the whole day at the track for 52 seconds of "racing" fun.  Kinda like spending $200 on a dinner date, and having premature ejaculation at the dinner table. 

Favorite type of woman:  Any female that has teeth. 

Favorite magazine:  Hot Rod, Car Craft, Hemi World.

Level 4 of the Pyramid of Speed

Next, we have the autocrossers, a special breed among themselves.  They frown on the illegal freeway and street racers as wreckless morons.  They laugh at the 1/4 mile Drag Racers, as those goons can only go fast in a straight line.  Hell, you can probably get a monkey or an 90 year old grandmother than can stomp on the gas and make three shifts in 12 seconds without crashing.  Reaction speed of drag racers on the start? Shit....reaction speed to autocrossers is learning a 15 turn autocross course the first time by driving out there and not hitting any freaking cones, and making some dramatic left-right-left turns without spinning out (despite the fact that they are going at a blazing 35 mph!) 

Favorite type of woman:  A female who has the whole day to burn, and can stand a safety cone upright, as they sucker them into being cone-corner workers. 

Favorite magazine:  The SCCA's SportsCar magazine and the SCCA FastTrack, so they can obey the Rule Nazi's and read and interpret drivel such as this.  These guys actually like reading a book of rules about how to go around cones at 35 mph! 


Level 5 of the Pyramid of Speed

Time Trialers
Next, we have the Time Trialers, meaning the people that who take their car to road racing courses.  Also known as "lapping days".  These people are thrown on a road racing track with about 20 other cars, and they are only allowed to pass in the straightaways.  They look down upon the illegal Street "Racers" and Freeway "Racers" for obvious reasons.  They laugh at the drag racers who can only go in the straight line.  They shake their head at the autocrossers, as why would someone want to spend all day in a parking lot to do five runs on a 15 turn course lined with safety cones, and each run only lasts 60 seconds and you never get out of 2nd gear?  Hell, at at Time Trial event or lapping day, you may get 60+ laps around a world famous road course, which is 30 times more "seat time" than you get in autocrossing!  Plus, in autocrossing, they may disallow your time because your tire is a quarter inch too wide, or you put a different brake pad on, or your springs on your car are a half inch too low.  Autocross is racing, but racing Taliban-style, with 1000's of rules of what you can do or not do. 

Favorite type of woman:  Females who think that their man is a "Racer", since his car actually made it to the pavement of a race track.  Never mind that the dude spun his car four times in one day and got dust all over the interior of the car.  She is convinced that she dates "Macho Racer".

Favorite Magazine:  Road and Track, Car and Driver, Automobile, Motor Trend.

The Top Level of the Pyramid of Speed

Wheel-to-Wheel Racers
The Wheel-to-Wheel racers are at the top of the pyramid.  They have big heads, big egos, they think they are cool, and they can be tremendously condescending.  Some even have the gall to have their own website touting their latest "racing adventures".  They think Street Racers are ricockulous, and that the Fast and The Furious is the second stupidest movie they ever seen, with Driven being the stupidest.  Freeway racers are viewed as unskilled morons, but Wheel-to-Wheel racers have been known to occasionally "bait" the Freeway Racers into following them through an offramp at triple digits speeds, and when the Freeway Racer suddenly realizes that he can't control his car that fast in a turn, the Freeway Racer panics, hits the brakes hard while turning, and ends up spinning and crashing into the guard rail, while the Wheel-to-Wheel racer looks in his rear view mirror, and calmly puts another mark on his dashboard, keeping score of "reverse-kills".  1/4 Mile Drag racers are viewed as unskilled folks who can only shift up, and cannot figure out how to master a proper heel-and-toe downshift without grinding the tranny.  

Autocrossers are viewed as crossdressers who think that danger and excitement is narrowly missing a plastic safety cone by two inches at 35 mph, and live by a rule book about their car specs that is bigger than the Bible.  There is a lot of risk and danger in autocrossing.....hell, if you screw up,  you could end up with a couple of plastic safety cones tangled up in  your front grill.  Does Michael Schumacher autocross?  Would he ever spend time dodging safety cones?  Did Kimi Raikonen make it to Formula One as a nineteen year old by driving solo in a parking lot?  Hell no, Kimi made the leap to Formula One because he was the karting champ of Finland, doing wheel-to-wheel shifter karts, not by driving around stationary cones.  If autocross was really exciting, you would see the Cone Dodger's National Championships on ESPN or Speedvision.  But no use having an autocross on TV because, uh...quite frankly, no one cares.....

Time trialers are viewed as chumps that can't figure out how to control their car well enough to maneuver in between two other cars at 100 mph in a turn without causing a three car wreck.  For it is only the Wheel-To-Wheel racer that put their car within inches of an apex at 110 mph, can brake within inches of their target braking point at 140 mph at the last possible instant without locking up the brakes into ABS or flat spotting tires, that can be within inches of another car's door going into a 100+ mph turn and fighting for position on the pavement, and can control understeer or oversteer with the pedal to the metal coming out of an apex and using the last inch of pavement exiting out of a turn to keep the car from spinning off into the dirt or into surrounding cement walls.  If a wheel-to-wheel racer makes a mistake, his car will probably be severely wrecked, other cars could be wrecked, and he could potentially take out half the cars entered in the event with him going into Turn 1 at the start of a race.

Favorite type of women:  Hot, sexy women who know that all the other "racers" in the lower levels of the Pyramid of Speed are all really just "wanna-be-wheel-to-wheel racers".  A woman with a good stock portfolio is highly desirable, because Wheel-to-Wheel racing is ahhh.....about five times more expensive than any other level on the Pyramid, as your car will break down more, the parts you need to go fast are more expensive, you blow through rear tires every weekend, you probably have to have a truck and trailer to tow the car, you need an extensive pit crew help to keep the car running that that you over modified in your thermonuclear war with other people to get to the top of the podium.

Favorite Magazine:  Autoweek, as each week they have in depth coverage of the only true sport left in the world, which is Formula One wheel-to-wheel racing.  Everything else in life is just a game......

So the question remains:  Where do you fit on the Pyramid of Speed?  For all you people who are already hooked on "Go-Fast Crack Pipe", just bite the bullet, throw a roll cage in your car, learn how to control your car a little better, and let's battle it out on the top level of the Pyramid, and let's look down upon all the other "pseudo-racers" from our perch in the Pyramid.....

Not sure how I got onto that rant.

Jerry's car, advertising his S2000 Porn CD of his adventures.  Car Driving Adventures.

Monday morning, January 16th.
All the S2000's gather at Laguna Seca for the event.  Quite a few people have never been on the track before, and the weather is cloudy and a little damp.  Which is bad news at Laguna Seca, as the concrete walls are much closer to the track than at the other California tracks like Willow Springs, Buttonwillow, etc.  There are about four different run groups, and the instructors are kept pretty busy helping out all the people who want some tips and tricks about driving on this track.  A couple of guys end up doing some damage to their cars, but that is to be expected at a track like Laguna Seca.  Every event that I have ever been to at Laguna (and I have probably been there 10 times) has at least two wrecks from people going a little faster than they should be going on this track. 

Since I am sorta new to the S2000 Club, I am kinda laying low and observing what is going on.  For example, out of all the cars that are here at Laguna, almost everyone runs with the top down.  Yet, I know from previous experience two weeks ago at Willow Springs, the car is definitely faster if the top is up.  Some people mention that their theory is that with the top up, it acts like a parachute, and it slows you down.  Something tells me that some of these S2000 guys didn't get a master's degree in Wind Tunnel Theory.  Otherwise, if this were true, all homologated street cars would probably cut off the roof of their car and run it as a convertible to avoid the "parachute effect".

A bunch of guys apparently were able to enter their car in the Saturday NASA event that was there two days ago, so they feel pretty good about the track.  There is an S2000 with lots of Mugen/King parts from back east that is heavily modified, and looks pretty fast, and is staffed by drivers from Over6Racing.  Lots of people are talking about the autocross dudes that are here, as I guess the S2000 is a highly competitive crossdresser, I mean autocross car at the national level.  Other than the Mugen/King car, I don't see any super fast cars there, although I hear there are a couple of Comptech supercharged S2000's here at the track.  I set my goal for lap times to be a 1:49 for the day.  And try to be 2nd fastest behind the Mugen car, as I can tell just by looking at them, that they are going to have timing setup for their car. 

Mugen car was running 1:44/1:45 lap times

My first session, I am running about 1:57, and getting used to the S2000 around Laguna Seca.   Humm.....I gotta trim eight seconds to get to 1:49, and that's gonna be tough.  I take out a bunch of students around the track, which slows me down to about 2:00, so a passenger is worth about 3 seconds or so.  Next couple of sessions, I get it down to 1:56 with a passenger, and do it with no braking into turn 4, and waiting until I crest the hill prior to the corkscrew before I slam on the brakes, blip and downshift, get the car pointed at the tree, and back on the gas.  Turn 5 is totally baffling me, as I know I can get faster through that turn, but I have problems with pitching the car into the turn.  In Turn 9, I have lots of body roll with the stock suspension, and I don't think I want to wipe out and spin in front of all these students.  I decide that it must be because the damn A032R's are too soft in the sidewalls for some of these higher speed turns.  Damn.  Shoulda brought some Hoosiers.  The car still doesn't feel right, maybe I shoulda threw the Comptech bar in before I left town.  Oh well......I figure I might as spend most of my time giving students rides and being a passenger in their car to help them with the driving line.  My students are doing pretty good, as they are picking up the correct race line very quickly.  S2000 drivers seem to be smarter than Vette drivers.

Wing, carbon fiber top, power top removed for weight reasons, etc.

I get my lap times down to 1:52, and I figure that the next session I can make it down to 1:51 without a problem, but I ain't gonna pick up 3 seconds anytime soon with the car like this.  In the meantime, I hear that the Mugen car is running 1:44's with their set of drivers, which is pretty damn fast for a normally aspirated car, but they also have big Hoosiers, suspension, threw out some weight, and some aerodynamic parts that definitely help them to go faster.  Another instructor is reportedly driving one of the student's supercharged car in the 1:47/1:48 range, and another auto crosser is also running well below 1:50.  Oh well, I will be better prepared next time.  But I had a good time, and I think just about everyone else who went had fun at the event.

Screwed up twenty self portraits with the camera in Carmel

Before driving home, the wife and I took a walk down by Carmel's beaches.  Forget the 17 mile drive, or Highway 1, the best scenic drive is this little stretch of road at the bottom of Carmel.  Spectacular ocean scene, big waves crashing, and probably some of the best real estate in America (and probably most expensive).  Not a fast drive, you have to creep along at 20 mph in a car, and it is only a couple miles long, but it is something to see if you are there.  I took a bunch of shots with our digital camera using the trusty Hot Lap Timer tripod and the 10 second self timer button on the camera to snap some pictures.  The camera flashes a red light for about 10 seconds, and then snaps the pictures.  Unfortunately for Loser me, as soon as the red light stopped flashing, I jumped out of the pose to move the camera to find another shot, and I guess you have to wait for 3 seconds AFTER the light stops flashing, so all of our self portraits have me jumping at the camera, instead of taking romantic duet pictures of both of us.  Oh well, next time.  We then blasted home, cruising off into the sunset, looking for some Freeway Racers on Highway 1......wearing our Rocky and Bullwinkle hats......

7 Tracks in 7 Days! Do you have what it takes to be the OTC King?