October 26, 2005
Porsche in Grand Cayman
I'm on holiday in Grand Cayman right now and was happy to see two Porsches here. A silver 993 C2 and a red 928. I can't think of a worse place to own one than here given the roads the weather, and the salt spray. I have no idea where they get these cars serviced also. There is no dealer here. But, there are a lot of wealthy people here I guess, so why not.
Check engine light update
I'll get the car back next week. It has new valve lifters and a new engine management computer (DME). The dealer ran all the engine tests and everything passes. So, the mystery of why the check engine light comes on remains a mystery. The symptom is that when the engine revs to high RPMs, i.e. around 6k to 6.5k and then you move to even throttle thus holding the RPMS at that level. After a couple of seconds, the light comes on. Examples of scenarios where this happens would be entering a highway ramp in second and then accelerating to 50 and then lifting to enter traffic.
The current theory at the dealer is that Tiptronic has already initiated shifting and is delaying the engine timing in antipication of a shift. But, when I lift and move to steady throttle then something goes wrong and a check engine light comes on. I wouldn't mind finding a document describing exactly how Tiptronic works. Another anomoly was that the dealer reckons Tip should shift at 6.7k RPM but I know I saw 7k - 7.1k when driving it at the DE. The rev limiter is supposed to be at 7.2k
Suspect parts are now knock sensor or a misaligned drive train, we don't know. Porsche North America basically said to take the car home as is and wait for the problem to 'worsen' so that the cause will then be clearer. They don't think they can diagnose the problem 100% right now so I need to wait for the problem to fester. They are hoping that it'll be easier to diagnose at that point.
The current OBD II codes are misfires on 2 and 5 with an occasional misfire on 3 but while misfires are reported, you wouldn't know it from driving the car, no physical symptoms at all besides the light.
Right now, I guess the good news is the engine passes all tests with flying colors. Nothing appears to be wrong with it at all. At 37k miles, the car now has new revised lifters giving it a whopping 300bhp instead of 296bhp and a new DME.
October 19, 2005
Corvette Z06 arrives
65k bucks for one of the scariest rides there probably is. 507bhp, 470lb fts of torque. It's pretty nutty. Check out this review. Should be a GT3 killer at 40k off. I've no idea whether Porsche can pull off handling mods to keep up with 'only' 400bhp.
Only 400bhp, thats insane! 300bhp in my 996 makes a ridiculously fast car. The reporter in the article below made a point I can relate with. He said the problem with the car is that it's no fun blasting around normal roads because it's just too easy. The performance envelope on the car and most of these sports cars is such that to push the car on a public road would mean jail time, not a ticket. There is a road near my house, 61 east to Wabasa, which is very twisty and fun in my Windstar or Ford Explorer but it's boring in the 911. Rather, I won't drive fast enough on that road to make it exciting in the Porsche. Sometimes, you're better off with a Ford Focus, 50mph around a corner is fun in a Focus, you need a lot more speed in a 911 for the same feeling and having been to the track a couple of times now, the speeds possible on 61 if you were really pushing the car would indeed mean jail time or you'd kill someone, it's not a track, it's a public road with no runoff when you screw up and there are cars coming the other way and there are cars/bicycles/SUVs/pick ups on your side of the road. Suicide.
Despite the Z06 though, the 997S was able to stay with a normal C06 in a Car and Driver shoot out, .1 sec per lap in it despite losing 40 bhp and 100ft lbs of torque. 507/470 is a lot of power. Be interesting to see what magazines say now but I've a feeling it'll take a GT3++ or Turbo to stay with it at double the price.
October 18, 2005
Drivers education and speed
Talking with a guy today and mentioned that maybe I was going overboard with the harnesses/seats and roll bar to which he responded that I was completely wrong. I made the comment that it's only a DE, not racing. He responded that the cars are so fast today that if you do spin in a bad place that it's not going to matter, it's going to hurt, a lot...
He's right, of course, even not pushing it at Brainerd means speeds of 130mph+ on the straights (into turn 1 and turn 3) and even turn 10 has a braking zone speed of 110. If you figure out the amount of kinetic energy you're carrying, it's a shitload! While 130 may not sound very fast in a car that can do 170+, try hitting something at that speed... I've seen charts showing that a delta V of 60mph is 2.5/3x over the fatal neck strain. A Hans or R3 brings it down to 60% of fatal and survivable but it's still a huge whack and what the Hans/R3 won't stop is your brain slamming in to your skull now that the R3 is supporting the weight of your head+helmet. A delta V of 60 means hitting a wall at say 110 and then bouncing off at 50mph or hitting at 80 and bouncing at 20. You just shed 60 mph, a delta in velocity of 60mph. And now you hit the other side of the track :(
So, project for the winter is still to install the harnesses and that will likely mean holes in the car to mount the belts with eye bolts rather than the clips which bolt to the side of the chair. I need to figure a way to make the holes in such a way that they look fine and won't cause any rust problems etc.
I guess for me, what is continually being reinforced here is that even attempting to push the car is pretty dangerous. Better to stay back at 70-80% and leave a lot of margin (especially braking/corners) for screwing up. Being able to early apex and extend braking is a must for DE, at least for me now and that means you can't entering the corner at the limit. Pushing harder than this in a DE is just cutting it too fine for comfort, at least for me. My friend made the point that racing may actually be safer than a DE because everyone in a PCA race has a lot of track time to even make it to the race. Everybody more of less knows what they are doing. A DE, especially when solo, is not the same at all so take a lot of care yourself as well as keep your distance with the other drivers.
No matter, once the project is done then we're planning on doing Brainerd, Road America, MAM, Mid Ohio and BlackHawk farms next year.
October 16, 2005
Roll bar and seats
Heres a shot of my roll bar and harness guide prior to installation. The little X frame attaches to the rear strut wells on the car and the top of the roll bar. The little gadgets currently bolted to the top of the rollbar actually act as seats for the bottom two tubes of the roll bar. They bolt to the lower seat belt bolt and optionally through the floor.
October 12, 2005
Porsche at Cirque du Soleil
The family went to Minneapolis last night to see Corteo, the new Cirque du Soleil show. The show was excellent as usual. Porsche are a sponsor and they had a pretty bad ass Cayenne on display there. It was a Cayenne Turbo and looked really good, almost like a car. Very sporty looking. I'll have to get a drive of one when I can.
October 11, 2005
Good PSM explanation
October 06, 2005
Photos from Brainerd DE
Lot of turn 3 and one of turn 1.
October 05, 2005
Bought roll bar and seats
Drove through an amazing thunder storm last night to pick up the roll bar and seats. The rollbar is like a BK one except that it just bolts to the rear struts and bottom seat belt points. It has hardware to also bolt it to the floor.
The seats are Sparco Evo 3s, they are maybe 3/8 inch too wide for me but I'm going to buy one of those Sparco bolster kits to sort that. The seats have all the sliding hardware and a submarine belt mount.
It cost me 950 in total for everything, rollbar, two Evo 3 seats, sliding seat mount kits and he threw in the harnesses (4 year old 5 pt Sparco nylon ones) but I'm going to buy a set of 6 pt polyester harnesses from JimB at Apex anyway (500 bucks). It's a deal. The advice here is ask at the local PCA if anyone is selling their kit or in Panorama.
So, it's looking nice. I'll get it installed over the winter. My buddy and me were thinking of putting Michelin Pilot Cup tires on next season but I'm not going to now. Various instructors have said it'd be a mistake as they would just mask the many problems with my driving as they'd have a lot more grip so I'd get away with it (for a while anyway...). So, no cups for me.
October 04, 2005
Good Map of Brainerd
October 03, 2005
Drivers education insurance policy text
This is the insurance policy covering my car at drivers education events. It cost me 600 dollars for 40k in coverage. The insurance lasts a full year for an unlimited number of events. If you're interested in exactly whats covered then this is useful.
Here is a link to the insurance companies web site (American Collectors Insurance).
Drivers Education Checklist
Dont spend a dime modding the car except for safety equipment.
Roll cage, cool. 6 pt harness, cool, better brake pads, cool. Stop there. You will definitely be the weakest link. A stock 996 is absolutely super fast car. It is not the limiting factor. Better suspension/tires etc will only mask problems with your driving. Stay stock and spend the money on drivers education or a school like Skip Barber. Plus, I can't think of a more dangerous scenario than driving poorly at faster speeds due to more horse power, better suspension and tires. When you screw up in that case, you're probably walking home if you're lucky... I've also been reading that many instructors are thinking of switching back to non R rubber/tires because it's harder and is better for technique than running racing rubber all the time.
- Get the car teched and safe
My dealer did it.
- Change your oil before and after the event.
The cheapest insurance for your engine there is.
- Change your brake fluid before the event
I use ATE brake fluid, better safe than sorry...
- Bring a big plastic box with a water tight lid for your stuff in case it rains or is windy
The car has to be empty on the track so usually your stuff is in front of your parking slot.
- Have a good tire gauge.
I bought one from Apex SPG for 80 bucks. Big guage, easy to read, automatically corrects for atmospheric pressure variations, half pound accuracy. 80 bucks sound a lot? Your tires will cost you 1200 bucks every year, 80 bucks is peanuts. Buy a good one.
- Cordless Compressor for tire inflation.
I have a Campbell Hausfield one I bought at Walmart for 50 bucks. It's a cordless 230PSI compressor thats about as but as a cordless drill. I wouldn't bother with one with an air tank. This does the job and it's a lot smaller.
- Have a torque wrench to check your wheel lugs
I have a sears one which was like 90 bucks.
- Bug/Tar removal wipes and squeegee, keep your windscreen clean
You'll observe bugs doing unnatural things striking your windows at large speeds.
- Wheel Cleaner wipes
There will be a lot of brake dust, I just like to clean em at the end of each day.
- Bottles of water.
You'll sweat a lot.
- 4 quarts or Mobil 1 0W40 or whatever your car needs.
I couldn't find any around the track. Bring it with you. Why 4? Just to be safe. Put it in a plastic bag as I've have new bottles leak on me. Try to keep the oil level at 3/4s or better. I used 750ml (3/4 quarts ish) in 3 days.
- Driving gloves especially if you have leather steering wheel
My hands sweated a lot and it's uncomfortable. Gloves fixed that. I have Sparco gloves that I bought from Apex SPG for 120 bucks.
- Helmet and neck restraint.
Get a good helmet and buy a neck restraint, my R3 is a 1000 bucks. The R3 seems better than Hans in a sedan car from people I've talked with even ones with 6 pt harnesses. Your tires are 1200 bucks, think about it. A lighter helmet (Bell M2 Pro) is a very good idea if you don't have an R3.
- Insulating tape in a contrasting color to your paint to make numbers on the car
- Towels are nice to wipe up after the session
- Figure out the FM frequency of the track announcements for your radio
You can listen to these easily when on the track then.
- Turn off air conditioning on the track (16bhp in a 996)
Plus, it doesn't like being spun at 6k+ RPMs.
- Don't wear red/yellow or black sweaters/t-shirts
These are flag colors and you won't be allowed on corners wearing them. Try white or blue.
- Make your first lap a medium one with generous braking.
Make sure everything is working. Start slow, speed up as the session goes on, small steps in terms of increasing speed.
- Drive slow and first and stay slow for a few sessions.
If you whack your car then you aren't getting any better. Drive within your ability focusing on line, turn in, braking etc. Don't give in to speed up until the last day. The fastest people seem to be the ones going slowest for longest.
- Abuse your instructor.
Use them as much as you can. Listen to them, ask questions, slow down when they tell you to, they really are better than you. There is a reason that they are in the right seat and you aren't.
- Ride with the instructor.
Very good for the line and how the car feels when the line is right. Ask questions (at appropriate times) as you complete lap after lap.
- OBD II reader.
I bought mine at Walmart. It's handy if the light does come on just to see what it is. Goto renntech.org and get the code to text page so you'll know what the codes mean.
- Find an auto shop with a racer.
I use Apex SPG when I can. Jim Bryant is great and gives very good advice. It's worth paying a little more for that advice and knowing you got the right stuff the first time.
- Get track insurance just in case.
Your normal insurance may cover you but I got explicit track only insurance which covers me on the track and the paddock for non timed, non competitive drivers education events only. It cost me 600 bucks for 40k agreed value for a year, unlimited events. Deductible is 20%. Money well spend if something happens. It won't cover legal/liability etc, just the car.
October 02, 2005
Drivers Education Day #3 at Brainerd with PCA
Today began wonderfully. Nice weather, cloudy, not a lot of sun and a dry track. Car went well, was faster than yesterday but was still blowing turn 4 and PSM saved my ass twice. Did I say not to switch PSM off? It'll save you a fortune... It only cuts in when you screw up royally. It didn't interfere with me driving smoothly at all.
The brakes (EBC RedStuff Ceramic) are awesome on the track with no fade for me at all. But, I'd now say that with their horrible cold performance, it's hard to recommend them for the street and I'm changing back to stock pads for the winter.
Today was supposed to be 2 sessions in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.
During session two, my buddies Ferrari wouldn't engage in gear coming out of turn 3. So, he stopped the car on the side of the track just before turn 4. Yellow flag time. Still, at least now I can say I lapped him twice :) His transmission had failed and he couldn't select a gear. It was leaking tranny fluid so we thought it might just be empty. A quick trip to Walmart. I bought jack stands and an OBD II reader but no fluid. We went to NAPA then and bought the fluid for the car. We then drained his tranny and all the fluid was there but looked awful. Plus, a lot of metal around the magnetic drain plug. Not looking good at all. We refilled the tranny but 4/5 and R weren't working. 20k for a new tranny, 7k for a rebuild. Ouch. So, that scuppered the day. I didn't go out again. Jim Bryant from Apex SPG was awesome as usual as we put the Ferrari in his trailer and he brought it to the Ferrari garage. I also bought a tire pressure gauge and Sparco driving shoes from him. Once again, he's just an awesome dude.
Car status after the weekend
It's looking fine. I found it hard to read how much oil was left and the electronic oil level guage is a waste of time. It's not accurate at all. I also couldn't find ANY Mobil 1 0W40 oil around Brainerd. It was killing me that I have 6 quarts in my home. When I got home, I washed the car at the garage and it looks great. Couple of new nicks/scratches but thats life. My oil level was in the middle on the oil stick when I arrived so its 1.5 liters between levels so I added 750ml of oil to the engine. I'd changed the oil just before going so it used 750ml in 3 days of tracking, maybe 2 hours a day. Couple of rubber marks on the rims which I'll remove tomorrow with cleaner.
You have to do this as many times as you can. The car is just awesome, very safe, sticks to the road and brakes really well again and again and again, no fade. It's plenty fast, I could have gotten up to 145 ish through turn 1 if I was better but lifted at 135 to enter at 115 and exit at 115 on my last session. I had done turn 1 at 120 with the instructor but he looked nervous and so was I so back off 5mph. It's amazing the difference 5mph can make.
I ended up doing turn 2 at 100mph and exited at 110 and entered turn 3 at almost 130 before wicked braking to 40 and 2nd for turn 3.
Then turn 4 which I messed up pretty reliably (no doubt entertaining the corner workers something fierce), then turn 5 where I thought I was ok, 6/7/8 were cool, 7 is one of my favorites as you can carry a lot of speed through that, 9 I can manage at 80 now and exit at 95, turn 10 I get up to 110 before braking but only carry maybe 65-70 through it and then I'm doing about 65-70 beginning the long straight to turn 1 again.
I felt comfortable at the end at these speeds. Tires were good, I have Michelin PS/2s, they started getting greasy at about 4 laps but were still fine. Looking worn now but I have 5 track days on them now. I may put shaved Michelin Pilot Cups on my 17s next year and save the PS/2s.
All in all, both of us had a great time despite the mecanical problems the Ferrari had. A hoot of a weekend and we're doing a bunch of these next year.
October 01, 2005
Drivers education day #2 at Brainerd with PCA/Nordstern
Excitment in the morning
3 or 4 offs today. A 944 rolled coming out of turn 3 when he get his wheels over the outside gator and they caught in the hole there. Nasty looking, car is toast. A 996C4 brakes faded in to 3 also and he get very lucky in not doing damage. The others were turn 3 issues also. A Cadillac CTS-V ran out of fuel on the track, not once but TWO times. Note to self, fill the tank when it gets to half. It's embarissing running out one time in your life, but twice in one day...
Personally, I feel comfortable on the track. I'm in my zone and occasionally try to push it a little, raising my comfort zone. I figure, it's not about speed right now, improving technique and line is more interesting and speed just interferes and is probably dangerous but my ability anyway. I like the track now. It's a lot of fun and is only as dangerous as YOU want to make it.
Finished the second day at Brainerd with PCA today. I had 4 x 25 minute sessions today and generally went slower than yesterday on the first 3. I went with the instructor in the right seat on my third and was still turning in way too early and wasn't really hitting the apexs also. I then went out with him driving his car and man you can just feel the difference. His car is just way over with all the weight on the outside around the corners. My last session was pretty good I though as I was trying to get the same feel I had when in the instructor car. It's pretty amazing once you start getting the hang of late turn ins and getting the inside wheels over the inside rumble strips. The inside wheels don't really bump at all as only the outside wheels are carrying the weight of the car, it's weird but feels great. I'm slowly getting braver on turn 1 (now entering at 120 and exiting at 110 and entering turn 2 at 100 and holding to accelerate to over 120 before turn 3).
PSM came on for the first time today on turn 4 when I tried to tighten the turn to get ready for 5 and it went wobbly. I'm pretty happy this is the only time it's come on including the slalom stuff where I was really hauling the car through the cones. My advice is leave PSM ON. It doesn't interfere with smooth driving, it only corrects when you really screw up and hopefully thats not often.
First lap out, take it easy coming in to corners. Make sure they are working. Look at what happened to the C4 today. Make sure the bloody things are working before entering a corner at speed.
The car is braking awesomely. No fade and great stopping power. I can really gain time on the others in my group because of late breaking and braking in to 3 is pretty cool. The EBC RedStuff Ceramic pads are awesome on the track but they will glaze over when they get cold on the street following a day. Once I heated them up again on the track today then they were awesome again.
Air conditioner a bad idea.
No air conditioner for me today as a mechanic said it costs me 16 bhp and plus running it at over 6krpm is going to kill it so I turned it off. As I'm now lapping solo, I can lower the right hand window a little to let air in the car. It gets pretty hot inside the car when you're out.
Tomorrow should be cool as most people will leave early and we have 2 x 25 minutes sessions and then 4 x 30 minute sessions. There should be fewer people on the track so it'll make the track more open. But, I had a blast today and traffic wasn't a big problem. It was cool catching the other cars in my group.
My buddy in the Ferrari is still kicking my ass big time. He's entering turn 1 at about 135 now which is just way above my comfort level and he's quicker through turn 2 and turn 9 and 10 so until I get those down, he'll cream me here.