January 30/31 Touring Car Club Event at Willow Springs
Start of the New 1999 Racing Season

tcc_jan31_nsx.jpg (31076 bytes)
Getting ready to run the final race on Sunday

Okay, it is now the first race of the season. Unfortunately, it is on Super Bowl Weekend and the same weekend as the 24 Hours of Daytona. So we could either go to a Super Bowl party, or try to fly to Daytona and watch the big boys race live, or we ourselves could go wheel-to-wheel racing at Willow Springs with the Touring Car Club……..and you know which option we picked……

Wayne has a problem sleeping before a track event, as he says he is like a little kid on Xmas Eve, who can’t go to sleep due to all the excitement. So, instead of waking up at 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning and getting a total of 2 hours of sleep and driving up with me and Doug Ota, he says he is going to drive up on Friday night to Willow Springs, and spend the night there, and try to get a decent night’s sleep.

I go to his shop late Friday afternoon to help pack up the trailer, and there are tires everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Comptech was selling about 12 Hoosier tires for 100 bucks each, never used, but sitting in their warehouse for 6+ months, so I snagged all of those, as the 245/40/17 can be used as my front tires, and used as front and rears for Wayne’s 944 Turbo, and as front and rears for Doug Ota’s M3. (note: the 245/40/17 barely fit on my NSX, it will ruin the plastic inserts in your wheel wells). I need 275/35/18 rears, and I am tired of Fedexing tires at the last minute from the Tire Rack in a panic to get tires for a track event, so I ordered 6 of those to store at Wayne’s Phone Guys USA shop. Plus I needed two Bridgestone S02’s for my street tires, so those are there also. (Note:  I bought all the tires using the profits generated from the stock market tips from this obscure market analyst.)And I also had my spare set of Comptech Technomagnesio wheels there with newly mounted Hoosiers on them. And I have about 8 used Hoosiers there that probably won’t last a full weekend, but will easily last one day. And I got some old 15/16 inch used R1 tires there also. So picture about 8 stacks of tires, each with about six tires in them, crowding the entrance of the garage door of the storeroom. Stacked on the attic above Wayne’s office is another 8 rims and another 25 or so used tires. So figure we got about 70+ tires lying around his shop. So the conversation kinda goes like this:

Wayne: You got too many fucking tires here at my work, my employees are complaining they can’t maneuver in the store room with all these tires. Look at this, this is ridiculous. I sell business phone systems, NOT tires!

Doug: Uhhhh…..wow dude, there are a LOT of tires here…..but at least we won’t run out of tires for a while. And hey, some of them were cheap, I had to get them.

Wayne: I gotta pick up my car at Emil’s on the way to Willow Springs. He said my fronts are almost corded. Are you going to ever use those used 225/45/17 Hoosiers that are here, there are only two of those.

Doug: No, they are too small, I want the bigger tires in front for racing.

Wayne: Then why did you buy them?

Doug: Because everyone was out of the 245/40/17, so all that was left were the 225’s. So this why I got pissed, and since these 245’s were finally available, I bought as many as I could, figuring in another couple of months, they will all be gone anyways….last event, you used two, Ota used two, and James used two.  You guys used SIX of my tires at that event because you all didn't order tires in advance.

Wayne: Give the 225’s to me for free, cause you will never use them.

Doug: Free? Ah….go ahead. But you will have less tire on the ground than the 245’s. And if you damage a 225, then what are you going to put on?  I don't have any extra 225's.   Plus you want to run used fronts the entire weekend, instead of the new 245’s? You don’t want to be slow this weekend, do you????

Wayne: Ahhhh…..well if I blow out a 225, then I will put on 245.

Doug: So we are loading 225’s and two 245’s for you as spares?

Wayne: Ahhhh……yes.

Doug: Okay, so if I blow out a tire, I will need at least one spare 275, and at least one spare 245. But if you cord the 225’s or ruin a 225, then you will use both 245’s, and then I won’t have a spare, so I need a 245. Or you might then need a 245 to replace one that you damage, especially if you decide when you get to the track that you want to put on the new 245’s instead of the used 225’s, especially if your car is going to be faster with less weight, you probably want as much traction as possible so you don’t wreck. Or you might need a 245 for a rear spare, if you blow out a rear(Normally Wayne runs a 275 17 inch rear tire, but he didn’t order and store any at his shop, so he is using the smaller 245’s for his rear tires)

Wayne: Okay, so we put on the trailer two used 225’s, two used 275’s, four new 245’s, and then your four new Hoosiers with the spare Techno rims?

Doug: Ah….yeah…….

Wayne: this is ridiculous….that is TWELVE tires for this weekend for the two of us.

Doug: Well......it is better than having no tires to take with us.  How did we ever do this without a trailer???

Wayne then drives down to Alhambra, to pick up his 944 Turbo in the early evening rush hour traffic. Emil’s shop by this extremely busy intersection, and all the lanes seems about two feet narrower than usual. Wayne is making a left hand turn in the Explorer with the empty trailer behind it, and next to him on his right is a city bus that is also trying to make a left hand turn in the 2nd left hand turn lane. Unfortunately, the bus cuts the turn too early, and hits the trailer. Now the trailer is wedged against the center divider. So Wayne can’t move forward or backwards, and the bus can’t move forward because it is hitting the trailer, and can’t move backwards as the traffic is right on the bus bumper. So Wayne is yelling at the female bus driver that she miscalculated and is driving like a bimbo. She hit our trailer that was right along side her. The bus driver is screaming that she has been making this turn for years and Wayne is at fault. Except Wayne’s Explorer is in FRONT of the bus, so we figure it’s just like racing, if you stick car out and if you are on the inside of the apex and are in front of the other vehicle who is on the outside of the apex, you got the right of way. Meantime, everyone else at the intersection is pissed that Wayne and the bus are blocking the entire intersection at rush hour, so they are all screaming and honking their horns at Wayne and the bus, along with some choice curse words. The people on the bus are screaming at Wayne and giving him the finger, but I assume they also need remedial racing lessons as to who has the right of way coming into a turn…….....perhaps the bus driver and the passengers on the bus should get their asses off that bus and head down to Willow Springs this weekend and take the TCC introductory class and learn how to correctly drive.

After blocking the intersection for ages and practically causing a Sig Alert, and filling out accident report, Wayne continues to Emil’s, picks up his car, and makes it to the Hotel without further incident….

So, it’s the New Year, and let’s see what everyone did to their car since last month. It was minor mods for me, as my car is running really strong and feels dialed in right now.  I added the Dali/Zublin Engineering shift light that is pretty cool. I set the indicator for 7200 RPMs, so at that RPM the red brake light on the NSX dashboard flashes at you at 7200 RPMs reminding you to shift. You can see it in your peripheral vision, so theoretically you don’t have to always be looking at the tach to see when to shift. I figure I will set it at 7200 RPMs, because by the time I see it flash and then start and complete my shift, the supercharger has pushed the engine to about 8000 RPMs.

Mike is trying out some Yoko A008RS II tires for his white Vette.

tcc_jan31_mike.jpg (15676 bytes)
Mike's Corvette is ready for the new season

Wayne had Emil’s shop throw out 300 lbs. He now has no interior, no air conditioning, no power steering, no stereo, no radio, no passenger/driver door windows, no windshield wipers, no carpeting, no headliner, and no door locks on his 944 Turbo. The rear window hatch was also replaced by Lexan, he now has a lime green Autopower cage in his car. 

tcc_jan31_wayne.jpg (26236 bytes)
Wayne's newly stripped down car with Wild Lime Green rollbar

Doug Ota put a new front spoiler splitter on his car. He added the big rear wing last year, but he felt he was getting too much downforce and while it was helping him stick in the sweeper turns, it was slowing him down too much in the straights. The splitter was supposed to help balance it out.

 

tcc_jan31_ota_splitter.jpg (19738 bytes)
Doug Ota's car with new yellow front splitter spoiler...

tcc_jan31_ota_wing.jpg (20114 bytes)
that matches his rear wing

Sean in his ZR-1 dropped 100 lbs, and also went to running 12 inch NASCAR-style slicks that he is able to get used for $90 bucks.

tcc_jan31_zr1_slick.jpg (25337 bytes)
Big meats for the track.  Note the cording of the tire.

To figure out how we grid for the Saturday qualifying race, the Touring Car Club did some manual timing of the laps we are running in the race practice group. On my electronic timer, my fastest lap was a 1:31.29, which is about 8/10 of a second faster than I have ever run at Willow. I actually think that I can drop into the 1:29’s if I improve my driving a bit and get bigger balls to power through the turn 8 sweeper without lifting at 140+ mph. As it is now, I think I am hitting about 130 through turn 8, and my speedo error puts it faster than that.  I lift slightly when going into 8, as the supercharger is going full bore, and the car is wiggling from side to side through this turn.  Kinda feels like you are about to roll the car, which would not be good in a turn at 130 mph.   Although if the camera survived the wipeout, I bet it would look good on NSX-Files Volume IV.  I also ran a couple of mid 1:32’s. With about two laps left in the session, I break another supercharger belt, and I have to pit. I figure that either these Dayco replacement belts are cheap, or maybe one of the idler pulleys is going bad. Unfortunately, TCC only takes lap times of two random laps out of about 10 laps, and they have me clocked around 1:34. Sean in the Red Vette(He ran a 1:31 in qualifying) is gridded first, then Mike in the White Vette(1:33), then me, then Wayne(1:34's), then Doug Ota(1:34), and then about 15 other cars behind them. Hey, no biggie, that’s racing….especially when you don’t have a full time staff to time 20 drivers all at the same time.

tcc_jan31_944b.jpg (21689 bytes)
Another 944 entered in the race group

This time, I remember to bring the diagram of how the supercharger belt goes on, so now Wayne and I can change the belt in 20 minutes or so, instead of 2 hours. We put another Dayco belt on.

In the qualifying race, I am able to get by Mike, and am trying to chase down Sean in the red ZR-1. I try to get close enough to make a safe pass, but can’t quite seem to get right where I want to. I start cursing, as I realize I probably can’t overtake him. But on about lap 7 or so of the 10 lap race, Sean goes off the track for a couple of seconds off of turn 4, which gives me enough breathing room to take 1st place in the qualifying race. Mike’s power steering unit is leaking fluid, so he brings home a crippled car to at least finish the qualifying race. I take 1st, Sean in the ZR-1 takes 2nd, Wayne takes third, and Doug Ota 4th since Mike will be a DNS for the big race. There are a bunch of other cars behind us.


tcc_jan31_twocars.jpg (12164 bytes)
Two more competitors at the track

Sunday morning. It is pouring. Which sucks, as Wayne has no windows, no windshield wipers, and only Hoosiers with no tread on them. If he would have brought rain tires, then we would have had to pack 16 tires for the two of us. And get a bigger trailer. Pulled by a Kenworth Diesel. My street rims have S02’s on them, but one of them on the rear is pretty bald. I kiddingly try to convince the TCC organizers at breakfast to cancel the event and the race, and give the trophies out to the winners of the qualifying race…..but it doesn’t work. Wayne and I go to plan B, which is to open a casino at the race track if is it raining too hard to race.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put my clay poker chips on the "track checklist", so we don't have any chips.  We pull into the grocery store before the track, and I buy a big pack of Ritz Crackers to use as dollar ships to play blackjack.  Luckily for everyone at the track, it stop raining, and it is blue skies over the race track, but everywhere else it looks cloudy and rainy. The track dries out in about 90 minutes.  So much for blackjack today......but it looks like a good day for racing...



tcc_jan31_emil.jpg (7959 bytes)
Emil's immaculate Alfa

Wayne really likes his 944 Turbo now, he says it feels like a full on race car. It rattles like a tin can, and feels a lot faster. His car now sits up about a inch more off the tires, since all the weight is removed.

tcc_jan31_lineup.jpg (16190 bytes)
The starting grid for the race on Sunday.  Waynes' car is where it belongs...behind me!

In the final race on Sunday, as the green flag drops, I am able to stay a little bit ahead of Sean in the ZR-1 in the drag race down the straight and retain the lead going into the first turn. Over the next six laps or so, I am about 1-2 seconds ahead of him. However, on lap 7 of the 10 lap race, Sean turns up the heat and is right on my ass for laps 7 and 8. And I mean right on my bumper. I try to make my car as "wide" as possible, so he doesn’t get by me. I am late braking as much as I can, and taking the racing line away from him. However, I don’t think I can hold him off for two more laps like this. I try to lose him by dodging in and out of slower traffic, but he stays RIGHT on my butt. On lap 9, he starts dropping back, and I realize that I am in first place by at least 5-10 seconds, as the Red Vette starts dropping farther and farther back.

tcc_jan31_zr1_hood.jpg (17693 bytes)
Bummer.  Sean was making great run at me during the race, but ended up with engine problem

I turn down the speed, as now I just want to complete the race without spinning out and jeopardizing my lead. I can pretty much cruise in and take the my first official checkered flag!! On the last lap, Wayne was trying to hold off another stripped down 944 Turbo piloted by Diego, and as Diego is making his pass around Wayne turn 6, he loses control of the car for a split second, and goes off the track. Wayne ends up taking 2nd in the race(a good ways behind me!), and Doug Ota fights off all kinds of traffic to come in third!

tcc_jan31_944w.jpg (18725 bytes)
The 944 Turbo that almost chased Wayne down

Our stupid lap timers didn’t work during the race, so we don’t know what times we ran in the race, but we all felt we were going pretty fast. Earlier in the day, we clocked Wayne at a low 1:34. So we figure in the race Wayne probably dropped another second or so, which means that for $3000 to lighten up his car, Wayne dropped one second for every $1000 he spent over the winter. That’s not too bad a return!! I felt like I dropped a second or so off my lap time in the race also, but we have no way of verifying it….oh well……..


tcc_jan31_mazda.jpg (18834 bytes)
Nice looking Mazda Super Touring Car

Most of the cars in the race group were trailered to the track.  After the event, I threw on the street tires, put the race tires on the trailer, and drove home in the NSX!   Now that is pretty cool........win the race group, and drive the same car home with the stereo cranking........take advantage of all the mods you put on for the race, and take advantage of them for the drive home.......I tell ya, that would make a good NSX commercial......

 tcc_jan31_bmw_crash.jpg (25201 bytes)
BMW that apexed a little too early out of the difficult turn 9 in the driver's school

Okay, so I got my first win under my belt........next is off to Laguna Seca in a couple of weeks, to do the Alfa Romeo Club of Southern California track event.   Ota can't believe that Wayne is a lot faster than him......so now Ota is negotiating with an aftermarket tuner guy to see if he can throw a supercharger on his M3.   Mike made the comment that all of us are in "escalation mode" with our cars.    It used to be that we were happy running 1:36/1:37 at these events, but now between every event, everyone is modifying their car so they can comu out on top, and it looks like you need to at least be in the 1:31's to come out on top at Willow Springs.

Some other notes:
I think these club events are gettting more and more popular.  This is Super Bowl weekend, and there were probably 50-60 cars here for the weekend, which is a lot of people that don't care about football, and instead gotta test out their skill and go-fast parts against everyone else's skills and go-fast parts... 

I currently have about 17,000 miles on the Supercharger.  The Brembos worked great again at this event, I had no fade at all.  In a straight line, I can pull away from Mike's white Vette who added go-fast to his engine.  I can still pull on Wayne's 944 Turbo.  I can blow by Ota's M3, and I am about even with the ZR-1 in power, but I can outbrake him.   Only mods I can think I need for my car at the moment is try to figure out how to get some cigar-sized video cameras mounted on my car, so I can get better video of passing all these guys.....heh heh heh.....

Two miles down the street, a new store is opening in 10 days.  They will be selling used F355's, F50's, F40's, 550's, 911 Turbos, Lotus's,  etc.   Just what I don't need.....more temptation..........it is like a crack house opening next door to a cocaine addict......

This company was at the race track called Public Imaging,  (805)-577-0178.  They have this little trailer.  What they do is pretty cool.  They use a digital camera to take pictures of cars ripping around the track at the best photo spots.   After shooting for a couple of hours, they then run back to their trailer, and throw all the pictures on their computers by moving the flashcard from the camera to the computer.  Then, the drivers who are driving on the track can walk into their trailer, look at all the pictures on the monitor, and then they can print out 8 x 11 glossies on photo quality paper, or print out a T-Shirt, mouse pad, etc, instantly.   They will also give you the pictures on a diskette for $5 each so you can take them home and manipulate them on your computer.  Or, if they run out of diskettes, just give them the $5 and they can email the picture to you.   Think about how cool this is.....they don't have to buy film.....they don't have to develop pictures....and they print/make product only after someone points on the computer screen what picture they want, and they do it while you wait.   Now that is pretty cool.....below are four pictures that they took of my car coming down from turn 4 at Willow Springs:

tcc_p55_nsx_speed.jpg (54677 bytes)
Photo by Public Imaging  (805)-577-0178

tcc_p55_nsx_speed2.jpg (48738 bytes)
Photo by Public Imaging  (805)-577-0178

tcc_p55_nsx_bud.jpg (51942 bytes)
Photo by Public Imaging  (805)-577-0178

tcc_p55_nsx_blue.jpg (44782 bytes)
Snow on your local racetrack?  Then move your ass to sunny California!

Click here for bigger picture(95k)