Monday, April 21, 2008

Time Trial!

I ran my first time trial this weekend with the NASA organization. A couple of weeks ago I went through their qualifying school and got licensed. That event was fun and laid back, and the NASA Texas folks are great.

The event this weekend was at TWS, which is good for me. It's the track I know best, meaning that I'd likely be consistent.

I've changed the car a little. Camber plates in the back push the rear wheels to 1.5 degrees of negative camber. Poly bushings now adorn all the control arms. I've got a new set of wheels, 18" all round so I can swap any corner to any other. On the new wheels are a set of Toyo Proxes RA-1 tires in 305mm width, which is the most I can run and stay in a sane division in time trial.

In the first session, I set the fastest lap of all 26 competitors, in a TTA (TTA == Time Trial A) division car. There are two divisions above that, who should be MUCH faster.

I got asked LOTS of questions, including what mods I had made to the engine. The car was weighed. Heads were scratched.

I've got nothing to hide. It's a stock 02 Z06 with suspension and tire mods to take it up to TTA standard. Even my air cleaner is stock.

That picked up the pace of the whole time trial! Folks started spending money on tires, redoing brakes, tinkering... I ran second through fourth the rest of the weekend, but I feel that that first run galvanized the group into better times. Indeed, I knocked two seconds off my previous best at TWS, and the fastest time of the weekend was a 1:55 set by Mike in his 2007 Z06, from the TTU class. He started the weekend at right at 2:00, so that's a vast improvement.

My best was 1:58.4 or so. Not great; I think the car has lots more potential. I just need to learn to drive it better. The best in my division ran a 1:56, so I have lots of ground to make up. Sean is a very, very good driver in a very well set up car.

Now the question is: What next? Maintenance is to replace the power steering pump on my car; it's finally starting to give up. Once that's done, I want to think about how to get faster.

Modification is limited. I don't want to bump up into TTS division, because that's a class governed by weight/horsepower ratio. That's a big money game, with engines, shocks, tires, brakes and so on all unlimited. Yet, TTA can be dominated by TTB cars that upclass.

The answer is to make ME better, I think. For that, I'm going to need a data acquisition system and more track time. I'm very happy with the car; it's running well. I could blueprint the engine, as long as I don't cross the line into TTS, but other than that, it's good.

Will ponder on it. Comments welcome.