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Viewing all the posts from August 2015

The 7th weekend in the ICSCC schedule was this past weekend and it was also the 9th race of the year in the PRO3 championship.  This is an annual event held at Portland International Raceways, using the chicane configuration of the 1.97 mile circuit.  PIR is an awesome track, that is quite different than the rest of the pacific northwest tracks.  It is more short, little to no elevation changes and pretty smooth track surface.  It doesn’t use up tires or brakes much and is known for being easy to get to 90% of an optimal lap time but that last 10% is really, really tough to get through.  You have to really be precise and consistent.

Gama 3

Typically, it’s a really scenic and fan friendly circuit with great views of Mt. Hood in the background of pictures and big blue skies.  However, this past weekend, with all the forest fires going on in Oregon, Washington and California, there was a good amount of smoke in the air.  Going into the weekend, we felt really good after a 4th place finish at the Car Tender Challenge at Pacific Raceways.  We did regular maintenance on the car, put fresh front brake pads (Performance Friction) and felt good about the Toyo RR’s that only had 5 heat cycles on them from the last race.

Friday Test and Tune

Each race weekend, there is an Test and Tune, sometimes mixed with HPDE type drivers.  For this past Test and Tune, we were focused on getting the tire pressures dialed in as we would have similar weather each day, getting used to a hard mounted seat (got rid of the slider that had a bit too much slop) and as always, doing testing on Track Attack updates that are under development.

Overall, the day went really well with progress each session.  By the 3rd session, we were easily putting down lap times near personal bests and felt confident about being able to get into the 1:30.xxx mark.  On the last session, we did find out the hard way the importance of knowing where your fuel pickup is located and how the orientation of the track impacts when you run out of gas.  :)

Gama 7

Saturday Qualifying and 1 Hour Mini-Enduro

We had an AM practice, afternoon qualifying session 1 for the main Group 1 race, qualifying for the Saturday mini-enduro and the mini-enduro itself.  Practice went pretty well but just not able to put a full lap together, getting to 1:31.1xx mark.  So close!  In the mini-enduro qualifying, we had a solid showing with the temperatures rising and qualified 2nd in ME2 class.

The afternoon qualifying for the Group 1 race was quite eventful.  We made a big effort to get on grid early and make sure we were turning laps with some of the big hitters in the series to catch some drafts and try to learn some things.  This plan was working well as we got behind Chris Hart, the current PRO3 series points leader but as we approached the last turn on the out-lap, went to brakes and the pedal went to the floor.  As the car went off-track, was fortunate enough to catch the car, pump the brakes and get some pressure back.  A little frazzled, got the car back on track and tested the brakes – all good.  A bit perplexed, we carried on getting a flying start to the next lap but as we got past turn 7, black flags started waving and into the hot-pits we went.  Turns out several cars were crossing the blend line, resulting in black flag session for a reprimand.

A few minutes later, we got started again but we only had time for 4 or 5 laps and there was traffic everywhere.  Came away with a disappointing 1:32.1xx.

Gama 2

So we shifted focus to the mini-Enduro, estimating the necessary fuel and thinking through pit stop strategy.  We decided that I would start the race and pit about mid-way through the pit-window, handing the car over to Cody Smith of Code Red Racing and the 2013 PRO3 Series Champion.

Coming around for the green flag, we got a good start and was leading after the 1st lap. Started building a gap but traffic that was slow in the corners and fast in the straights held me up and Kevin Doyle from KD Motorsports took full advantage. He was on me and in my mirrors for the next 8 or so laps until when I went in too hot into turn 1, went sideways and decided to take the safe route out.  Ended up falling back about 8-10 seconds.

5 or 6 laps later, I handed the car over to Cody but during the pit stop, we couldn’t get the lap belt adjusted quickly enough so we lost a bunch of time, going down a lap. Cody still put down some awesome laps, putting pressure on the Bastos theme PRO3 car of Bruce Humberstone, eventually passing him. We ended up 4th in ME2 but still had a great time.  Watch the full race here on Trackattackapp.com.  

DashKidsEnduro

37 laps, 1 hour, 2 drivers and 4th place.

Sunday Group 1 Qualifying and Group 1 Race

Sunday morning, we had plenty of time to plan and attack in qualifying to improve in the grid.  Despite knowing that I had to tap the brakes a couple of times before the braking zones, I just didn’t have confidence of having the brakes reliably there going into turn 12 and I ended up going through turn 10, 11 and 12 slower than normal.  Ended up with a 1:31.285 – an improvement from Saturday but not the 1:30.5xx we knew the car was capable of and we were shooting for.  So we started the race 24th overall and 11th in PRO3.

Right after the qualifying, we took off the wheels to inspect everything and see if we could find a way to improve the pad knock-back.  We found that the passenger front locking collar on the coilover had come loose, resulting in movement that was equal to a bad wheel bearing.  We tightened it up and decided to do some testing during lunch time race car rides with kids.  Thankfully, w had that extra track time and determined that the issue persisted so we sourced a new set of calipers from Advanced Auto Fabrications (AAF Spokane, WA) and swapped them in.

Gama 5

During the warm up lap for the race, I drove on the curbing hard to see if we had fixed the issue and thankfully, we had!

Thanks to Reid Morris on the headset, I got a great start and was able to pass a handful of cars right away. By mid-way through the first lap, it became a battle with four other PRO3 cars. About a third of the way in, the #191 made a good move in turn 7 and got in front of me. Very quickly there after, I started feeling what felt like brake fade, usually going into a braking zone as I got closer to the #191. I thought the brake problems were continuing but then I saw the fuel spilling out of his car in left hand turns and realized I was too close, losing grip and getting it all over my windshield.

I decided to back off a little and see if I can get a run somewhere but a couple laps later he got the meatball and I was able to move forward to resume the chase after the Bastos #114. Early on I got close behind him but just not close enough or the right run to make an overtake stick, so I decided to stick to his rear as long as I could and see if he would give me an opening. It came with 3 or 4 laps left in the race as he got a little sideways in a couple of turns and then we hit the oil that a Datsun 510 put down on the track. I saw him wiggle, held off on full throttle until we got past it and got around him. After that, I just focused on putting down clean laps and not letting the yellow flags and traffic give up the gap I built (I almost overtook the Watson’s PRO3 car under yellow in the second to last lap, or so because I didn’t see the yellow until the last second – sorry Dave!!).

Overall, awesome race and we made the most of what we had going into the race and finished 5th. Was able to crack 1.30.xxx for the first time on Saturday during the mini-Enduro and feel confident that we could have done it during qualifying if we would have put the new calipers in earlier but it is what it is. Watch the full race here.  

Started 11th, Finished 5th!

Started 11th, Finished 5th!

Up next is the last round of the PRO3 championship at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA.  We’re shooting to make some improvements to the car, freshen it up and do some testing and coaching before the race weekend.

Lastly, enjoy some awesome photos taken by Austin from Flying Bye Photography – thanks Austin!

 

Getting ready for a track day/weekend: Recording a lap-based session

August 25, 2015

It’s Thursday and you’re looking forward to an awesome day or full weekend of on-track gloriousness! Whether you are doing a track day or a full wheel to wheel race, there’s a bunch of stuff on the list to prep.

One thing that you are probably thinking about but that is easy as 1, 2, 3 is how to record a session on Track Attack.  This article is intended to help get you and your phone ready to record a lap-based session (road racing, oval racing, rally-x or whatever other shenanigans you’re driving).

Before getting to the track:

  1. Make sure Track Attack is downloaded on your phone.  Track Attack is free to download and try 3 times before buying.
  2. Make sure you’re registered with a user name.
  3. Go to settings and pick your preferences:
    • Set the video quality you want for your sessions, if you’re recording video.  Check the amount of available storage you have on your phone and estimate how much space you’ll need based on the # of sessions you are going to run.
    • Decide if you want to use ‘Auto-Start’ feature.  This is super helpful in that it will initiate video and data recording automatically, once you hit the designated speed.  Note – you’ll still have to hit ‘Stop’ at the end of your session.
    • Download/update the Track Database!  Many tracks have shotty data connections because they are more remote, so when you download the Track Database, you will have everything you need to be able to record sessions without a data connection.
  4. For Windows and Android phones, you can ‘pin to start’ or create ‘widgets’ for the track you are going to drive so that you can initiate a session recording with one click from your home page!
  5. Double check connections to your accessories.  Some of  you are using external GPS devices for data sampling at 5 or 10hz and GoPro cameras (Windows Phone only right now).  Double check they have been paired and are showing the right status’ on the recording screens.

That’s it!  To be honest, we personally do #4 for all the tracks we typically race and #5 each morning.  Sometimes, the external GPS lose the pairing relationship with the phone (not the app) and need to be re-paired.  This appears to happen maybe once a month or so.

Before heading out to pre-grid:

You’re at the track and ready to head out to your session.  Here’s what you should do to get your session started:

  1. GPS check – we rely on GPS signals to accurately tell you what tracks are nearby and record data.  To jump start the accuracy of your GPS, launch your default mapping app and hit the button to center on your current location.
  2. Launch Track Attack.
  3. Select your session type (Road Course in this example).
  4. Select your race track.
  5. Hit Start AFTER the GPS accuracy turns green OR have your ‘Auto-Start’ feature turned on.
  6. As soon as you hit the designated speed (if Auto-start is on) and cross the start/finish line, lap timing will reset.
  7. Each time you pass the start/finish line, your lap time will flash for 5 seconds.
  8. Hit stop when you get off track or pass through the checkered flag.

That’s it!  TA will take you to the session summary page for that session.  If you recorded video, you can immediately playback any of the laps you drove.

 

 

As we’ve mentioned previously, in the Pacific Northwest, there are two main motorsports competition organizations for road racing; Northwest Region of SCCA and the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC).  Despite the more regional focus of the ICSCC (conducting races only in Washington, Oregon and Vancouver, BC), it by far ends up with larger fields across the classes.

Most classes are the same as those found in the SCCA and NASA, such as Spec Miata, the new Spec E46, Formula V, Formula Ford, etc… but PRO3 is unique to ICSCC (they are more powerful and slightly more capable Spec E30’s).  So, this was Round 5 of the calendar, held at the challenging and dangerous, Pacific Raceways.

Mid-season updates!

A couple races ago, at Spokane County Raceway, we ended the weekend on a high, getting the electrical demons from a bad MAF mostly sorted out and a strong run on the final points race.  The downer was that we noticed one of the front Koni yellow shocks had started leaking mid-way through the weekend and by the time we got home, the shock had dumped all of the remaining fluid in the trailer.  While the Koni’s perform well and are double-adjustable, we had been looking to move to something different because of non-clicking adjust knob nature of the shocks.  Unlike most modern coilover setups, when you wanted to adjust compression or rebound, the knobs didn’t click so you never really knew how much to ‘turn’ the knob and it was difficult to feel the difference – making set up changes pretty challenging.

So we turned to Fortune Auto and their 510 road-race only series coilover setup.  These coilovers are all custom made-to-order.  You cannot buy them off the shelf.  We contacted Fortune Auto, talked to them about our series, the car and the types of tracks we run and ended up with a setup made just for the Track Attack #209!

 

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

We go them installed with the help of our Crew Chief, Bryce Allen from Southlake European, we partnered with local hot-shoe, ex-pro driver and instructor/coach, Ted Anthony Jr. for testing day at Pacific Raceways.  After a full day of running, twisting knobs, tire pressure/temperature checks and changing drivers, we felt the car was dialed in and ready to turn some competitive laps for the weekend.

Thanks to Fortune Auto and Vivid Racing (who we purchased them through) for the great quality product and support!  Despite the 510’s being only single adjustable for both compression and rebound, they did everything we needed them to do and for half the price of the super-high end product.  The performance, quality and value is unmatched!

Qualifying

First, we decided to run the Track Attack PRO3 #209 in two groups (or two races); Group 1 is the main venue for the PRO3 class championship and Group 8, the venue for the Northwest Endurance Championship.  The endurance championship holds an endurance race each race weekend, with longer races to book end the start and end of the season (2, 6, and 8 hour races).  For the second time, we partnered with Ted Anthony Jr to co-drive in the endure after previously winning the PIR and Spokane rounds.

For Group 1 qualifying, the goal was take the 1:35.3xx lap times we had been able to clock and stick with the top 3 current runners, to catch a draft and punch our ticket into the mid to low 1:37.xxx lap times.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get out to pre-grid on time and despite putting down solid and consistent mid-1:38’s, we were stuck in no-mans land, too far from the next front runner and too far ahead of the next front runner.  We ended up qualifying 9th in PRO3 but feeling good about the race pace. Click here to watch the session (open in new tab or window).

 

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying - where is a draft?!?!?

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying – where is a draft?!?!?

For Group 8 qualifying, Ted took the wheel and battled with 2013 PRO3 champion, Cody Smith for pole position in the ME2 class of the enduro.  In the end, he edged Cody by .10 seconds to put us on pole for the race!  Cody would be partnering with Hank Moore, owner/operator of Advanced Auto Fabrication (who refreshed the #209 over the previous off-season).

Check out Ted’s qualifying fast lap here – using an iPhone 5, Optrix wide angle lens and a Ram Mount Claw holder/mount! Click here to watch the fast lap!

1:37.043 - one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

1:37.043 – one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

Race Day!

Group 8 1 Hour endurance race – ME2 class on Saturday afternoon

For the race, we decided to have me (Gama Aguilar) start the race with the objective of staying up front, creating the biggest gap possible to the next contenders (Hank in the AAF PRO3 2013 Champion car) and Bruce Humberstone (solidly fast driver in the Basto’s DTM era livery car) so I can hand over the car to Ted in 1st position and have him close the race.

Thankfully, we had our comm’s in great shape and got a good start, temporarily getting in front of faster class cars that Hank and Bruce would have to deal with and putting a gap.  A few laps in, there was a healthy enough gap to Bruce in 2nd place that I could start running qualifying style lines but suddenly, the waving white flag came out in 2, indicating a slow emergency vehicle on track (which ended up being near the turn 5a entry – killing a lot of my momentum).  I had to slow to respect the white flag and that let Bruce close the gap.  From then on, the gap would widen and shrink from lapping traffic, my own mistakes and good runs.  A couple laps after the pit window opened, feeling I had a good gap to Bruce, we pitted for the driver change.

During the pit/driver change, there was confusion about the minimum time required for the pit (1 minute stopped or 1 minute total).  We took the conservative approach, assuming the 1 minute pit requirement started after you came to a full stop but our closest competitor took only a 1 minute pit/driver change total – putting them in front after the pit stop.  Instead of arguing, Ted put his head down ate up the lead.  With about 10 minutes left in the race, Ted got close enough to go for the lead and in lap 26, he and Kevin Doyle exchanged leads a couple times with Ted ending up with the lead at the end of the lap.  From then on, he steadily built on the lead and with a late race off by the Basto’s car, we ended up with a win by 30+ seconds!

Check out the full race here – shot with a Lumia 640 phone, GoPro Hero 4 and QSTARZ 818XT.

Group 8 - 1 Hour Endurance Race.  We start on pole and come out with a win!

Group 8 – 1 Hour Endurance Race. We start on pole and come out with a win! Click on the link above and open in new window.

Group 1 Race – Sunday mid-afternoon

Finally!  The big race!  The race was run mid-afternoon, in about 80-85 degree weather.  Starting 9th in PRO3 and 14th overall put us in row 7 of the grid, close enough to make charge with a good start.  Historically, we’ve had decent starts with most improving race after race.  Thankfully again, we had our comm’s down really well, got a good start, positioned the car well and coming out of turns 3b and 6 was able to take advantage of the traction that would wear out as the race went on due to the heat.  By the end of lap 1, we were in 7th place, getting ready to overtake for 6th place on the main straight.  After getting into 6th, the race settled down for the most part, just outside the draft distance from the next car and just far enough from the trailing car and the pack that was battling hard for 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place.

At some point the 4th place car retired, putting us in 5th place and though we were cutting the lead to 4th, we finished the race in 5th after a tough wreck ended the race under full course yellow.

The 5th place finish was a solid performance and with Ted’s help, showed the car has the capabilities to fight for podium positions every race.

Check out the full race here – click here and open in a new tab or browser window.

Making a charge on the first lap!

Making a charge on the first lap!

What’s next?

We have a few weeks of a break before the next race at Portland International Raceway, the weekend of August 22/23.  We plan on doing routine maintenance, prepping some new sticker tires and hoping for continued sunshine.  We will be running the same groups and this time, partnering with Cody Smith from Code Red Racing on the 1 hour endurance race and he might run the #209 in the Group 5 race.

 

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Winning!

Winning!

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Waiting for a driver change.

Waiting for a driver change.

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