September 30, 2005
Drivers Education with Nordstern at Brainerd
Finished novice day today. Nodstern organized the day. When we saw the schedule on arrival I didn't think I'd enjoy the braking and slalom but was pleasantly surprised when we started. It was a lot of fun.
We did the usual classroom sessions and the morning was a couple of slow sessions with threshold braking exercises and slalom runs with cones. The slalom was great fun. You can really throw the car around and the trick with the C4 is don't lift, keep on the gas. If you lift, you rotate. So, I'd start pretty fast and then increase my speed continuously through the cones. I was trying to spin the car but unless you lift when it's getting out there then the car is absolutely amazing. PSM didn't even come on. Course, the trick is timing the rate you increase speed and how long the course is but it was fun and I got some cheers and killed a couple of cones. I wouldn't have minded more slalom work to tell the truth, it's a lot of fun.
The afternoon was more classroom sessions and then 4 x 30 minute lap sessions with the instructor. I was blowing a lot of the corners and getting the odd one right every now and then. I was turning in way too early and when I turned in nice and late, I wasn't turning in sharply enough and the missed the apex anyway. It's going to take a long time to get 'good' at this. Brainerd can be a scary circuit, turn 1 is nuts and the right guy (i.e. Gary Curtis from DonnyBrook) can go in at 155 and exit at 165 but not this Irish man. I got it up to around 140 (why not faster? I messed up the turn before the straight) just before turn 1 but then braked to enter it at around 115 and exit at 108/109 which is plenty fast for me given the consequences of screwing up, i.e. go airborne and exit the park!
Turn 2 needs a lot of respect and I gave it plenty. I went around 95-100 through that and again, you can't screw it up as there's nowhere to go. John on his 3rd school here so he's at 145 on turn 1 and about 110 on turn 2 but I can't make myself do that yet, it's way above where I'm comfortable. Overall, it's a fun track and the C4 is a pretty safe car handling wise to go around. I'd make the point, this track is as dangerous as YOU want to make it. Slow down and try moving up in 5mph increments on corners to find your comfort point and then stay there until you can do 5 more but it's going to take a lot of laps.
The EBC RedStuff Ceramic pads work great on the track but as usual, on the way home they turn to crap when they have cooled after the day. My explorer brakes better than my 996 after a track day until I shock em again and wear them a little. They seem to stay crap on the road for a while until you wear them a little when they improve again. This is a real problem with the pads now so if you use em then be VERY careful when driving around after tracking them. A lot of dust today but thats expected.
Overall, enjoyed today, stayed within my limits, only managed to get the back out on a turn once but caught it. Car is awesome.
If you haven't done a drivers ed day then you're missing out. It's a very enjoyable way to learn to drive in a safe environment.
September 29, 2005
Car is ready
The dealer (Maplewood imports) called today to say the car is now ready. It's cost me around 1370 for the part the warranty company refused to pay for so it could be worse. I'll post the cost breakdown tonight when I get it.
September 27, 2005
Nissan 350z cooked
That 350z that was at the Donnybrook track day we liked so much. Once we got it home, we got some bad news once it sat for a while. The brakes if you remember, we said were weak. Well, it's worse. The fluid (ATE) actually boiled, the pads burned through and we think the rotors warped. So, a day at BIR basically trashed the brakes completely. Then a bunch of lights came on for the engine which is worrying the owner something fierce right now. Meanwhile, the Ferrari is still ready to battle another 3 day track school this coming Friday and my 911 should be ready also. Hopefully, I won't be writing something like this for our cars next Monday...
September 25, 2005
Does normal insurance covers drivers ed?
It doesn't look like normal insurances covers drivers education events or schools. Check this link out.
Photos of the DE day in MAM August 2005
These are some photos of the drivers education weekend John and I did at MAM in Iowa. The great plains Porsche club hosted the event and it's a great place to learn to drive a car. Click here for the photos.
Photos from Donnybrook Driving school posted
I made a photo album showing my pictures from this day. You can see them here.
Advice on what suspension upgrades to do first...
I spoke with Paul from the racers group and here is what he recommends:
- Upgrade the sway bar. They sell one for 1050 front and rear. This will flatten the car through bends and can be installed pretty easily. Noone will notice this upgrade when the car is being driven normally. You don't need to align the car after this. TRG supply everything in their kit including modified drop links to connect the suspension to the sway bar.
- Upgrade the springs to H & R springs. These will lower the car by around an inch and this will improve the handling and braking also but because they are progressive springs, he says people won't notice this at all under normal conditions so they don't impact the ride on normal driving. You need to align the car after this.
- Use coilovers. You'll notice this upgrade, the ride will be a lot stiffer, stiffer than most people are comfortable with. My wife complains the ride on my stock car is stiff, these would probably scare the death out of her. You'd be throwing away the springs if you did option 2 already. These are expensive. The Bilstein ones are around 2400, H&R are a little cheaper and they also offer an RSS club sport version which is very stiff. Then, there are the expensive ones like Moton etc which start around 6k plus installation. These are basically track only suspension.
Vivid racing seem to offer very good prices on suspension (the H&R RSS are around 2100 with them) but I haven't dealt with them personally.
September 24, 2005
Getting used seats and cage.
I found a local PCA racer who is getting out of racing. Bruce from Maplewood put me on to him. He has a Porsche GT3 roll over cage (meets PCA racing standards) that can be mounted in the car without drilling and Sparco EVO 3 seats with the mounting hardware. I got a good deal on them so I'm going with those. It's a lot cheaper than buying everything new. Everything new was going to be 5.5k which is more than I thought it was going to be to tell the truth.
I'm now getting the rollcage and the seats with mounting hardware for 950. The seats are 3/4 inch wider that the ones I had ordered but it's like 3/8 inch on each side so it's not a lot. My dealer said he can install it all for 400 bucks. He has 5 pt harnesses also but given he crashed with the car, I'm not sure reusing his belts is a good idea or not so I may still buy my own belts but even so, thats like 600 bucks for top quality ones new so I'd still have gotten all the hardware for 1550 which is about the price of just the seats alone, still a deal.
Now that I've a little extra cash, I'm probably also going to order a set of sway bars from the racer group. It comes with drop links etc and is just a bolt in with no alignment needed. It costs 1050 plus shipping. That should eliminate a lot of roll. My next mod is probably lowering springs which will drop the car around an inch without compromising ride quality much.
September 22, 2005
Pictures arrived from Bert Frichot
THe photos I'd ordered from MAM DE day arrived today and they are awesome. Bert has done a great job. Looks really nice. I got a 10 x 20 print and it's got PCA borders and decals, with a zoomed but crisp image of myself and Chuck in my car. It's going in a frame as soon as I can get one.
September 20, 2005
Here is the story. The lifters need to be replaced. Porsche changed the lifter design and I also need to replace the assembly holding the lifters. The warranty company has now agreed to pay for the lifters, labor, gaskets which is about 2800 bucks but they won't pay for the assembly which is 1500 bucks. This is just nuts. You can't get the older lifters from Porsche now, you gotta get the assembly.
The parts are ordered and I'm wondering what to do about the warranty company. The dealer argued for an hour with them to no avail. I'm not sure what me calling them would do here besides let me vent. So, the parts are coming and we'll see.
This misfire thing has been happening all year now I think. I can remember it happening when I'm accelerating on to a highway in second. It happened back in March, again in May and then at the school. It happens infrequently because mostly I don't drive my car especially hard. It's in D pottering around at 2.5k rpm. It's only when you get on it hard that it occurs and I just don't do that very often in normal conditions. So this has been happening for the last 10k miles and before my 30k service which I did in May.
Pretty awesome car. Relatively low cost to buy. Upgrades are very reasonable, easy to drive. One of the guys had one with about 2k of upgrades and it was doing around 2:04 around the track which was among the better times on the day in 'normal' cars. The brakes were poor but everything else was pretty good and the brakes can be fixed pretty easily and cheaply. Makes me wonder about my car. Granted the new 997S is a better car but it's triple the cost once tricked out. A Z with 10K of mods would be a seriously capable car also and a used one with those mods would probably be around 35k all in. Not bad. It's not a Porsche but it'd be a lot of fun without the expensive brand name.
Ferrari F430 at BIR
This is a 16 second video of a Ferrari F430 accelerating down the straight out of turn 10 at Brainerd. He's probably doing maybe 80 coming out of turn 10 and accelerating tomaybe 150-160 mph down the straight towards turn 1.
The F430 is a better looking car in person than in the magazines. It looks like a simpler 360 and looks great. The inside is very nicely done and there are lots of nice touches around the car. Pretty cool and 490bhp also.
Drivers School - Brainerd International Speedway
John, Conon and I went to Brainerd this Monday (19 Sept 05) to attend the Donnybrooke driving school. I was watching unfortunately as my car is in the shop. Heres a slow tour of Brainerd International Speedway in an Audi in the morning that day. The track was wet at the time but it's a slow lap. This is the ONLY video showing the track that I know of.
The day was a lot of fun once the track dried off and the guys got a lot of lapping in.
September 15, 2005
#$%$# warranty companies
The inspector for my 3rd party extended warranty comes to my dealer to approve the lifter replacement. And, of course, the CEL doesn't occur while he drives the car for 21 miles. "Never happened, car is fine". The dealer showed the computer printouts. "But, no serial number, those could be from any car!". So, he called the dealer a liar. Unfrigging believeable. I'm astounded. Yes, we're imagining things. The cars really fine!
So, I'm leaving the car with the dealer until it happens again and we'll call the bugger back. We'll keep calling him back to he decides we're not lying.
Porsche, if you're reading this. Please sell your extended warranties through your dealers. Why do your own dealers have to sell 3rd party warranties on your cars!
September 14, 2005
Bad lifters may be the problem
The dealers says it's a bad lifter(s) in the engine. They say the lifter is sticking and this is causing the misfire. They want to replace the lifters in the engine now. This is going to cost around 2k to 3k labor included. The problem now is getting my extended warranty to pay but the dealer is optimistic.
I checked around on the web and found the following for BMW engines:
Binding HVA (hydraulic valve adjuster) element.
An HVA element which is binding (element stuck in the extended position) will not allow a valve (intake or exhaust) to seat properly causing valve seat leakage.
This type of HVA failure may not cause a tapping / rattling noise but the customer complaint may be: "engine runs rough during the warm up phase and runs good when warmed up" and/or the "Check Engine" lamp is on.
If the "Check Engine" lamp is illuminated due to a binding HVA element(s) one or more misfire fault codes may be set in the Engine Control Module (ECM/DME).
Note: Basic troubleshooting should be performed first before checking for a binding HVA element to
eliminate all other possible factors / components which could set the misfire faults such as low fuel level, a faulty spark plug, etc.
This pretty much describes exactly whats happening to me so I think the dealer is probably right. They are saying 10 days now.
Someone else said that an oil flush might do the trick also. I asked the dealer if they had considered this but no answer yet.
September 09, 2005
So, started down this road. I ordered my seats (Sparco EVO 2) from SpeedWare in WA. 659 a piece and 70 bucks shipping. Jim from Apex is getting the rest of the stuff from bk.
September 08, 2005
Balls of dog food and news on CEL
First bizarre news today was the dealer found lots of little dog food balls back where the DME is in the car. I can't explain this, probably because I don't have a DOG! All I can think is the previous owner had one. No dog, no dog food, can't be me, thats my logic anyway. Dealers reckons it was a mouse but luckily he didn't chew anything. Anyway, BIZARRE.
Anyway, the current theory is to try another DME assuming it's a computer fault. Porsche are overnighting a loaner DME to try out and I guess I'll know Monday/Tuesday. The dealer was optimistic that I'd get the car back next week.
Back in shop with CEL
The CEL issue at high rpm is still there. The injector cleaner didn't fix it. The dealer has it reproducing 100% when the engine hits 6250rpm and right now has a call in with Porsche to try and figure out what it is. The computer logs the CEL as a cylinder misfire in 2 and 5. Main worry now is getting the car back for BIR which is Monday week (6 business days).
September 07, 2005
Buying seats and harness
Decided yesterday to take the plunge and buy a harness truss (BK) and Sparco EvoL seats with detachable 6 pt harnesses and a back brace. Going to be pricey but better safe than sorry. I'm using Apex SPG (Jim Bryant) to do it. I'll get the back brace, truss and seat mounting kits from BK.
I'll post photos when I'm done. I'm getting the EvoL rather than Evo because Jim reckons the Evo is unlivable day to day, too narrow. I can always bolster with velcro inserts the EvoL regardless.