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Driving the Track

1st Lead and Follow Session

The S2000s line up behind the 3 pace cars.

In the first lead and follow session, we lined up behind three pace cars, a Viper GTS, a Chevy Camaro SS, and a Mazda MX3 with race tires/wheels. Jack Farr was driving the Viper GTS. Since this was a paced lapping session and we didn't have to wear helmets, there were many cars with passengers. The three groups of cars each got out onto the track in intervals so that each group was separated by a good margin. Everyone had their radio tuned to 88.9FM to listen to Jack's driving instructions as we tail-gated one another around the race track. The pace was leisurely but speeds were still up to 50mph in some turns. This session was just to learn the proper racing line for this track and to slowly build up confidence in the persons with little or no track experience.

Following the first group of S2000s.

My first impression, was that the track was quite challenging and fun. The many off camber turns and uphill, blind approaches definitely got my attention, even at a slower pace. The track also felt very smooth with no bumps or dips in the driving line. There was plenty of run-off room and the entrance onto the track from pit-row was very safe. The track had corner entrance, apex, and exit cones which helped tremendously in learning a new track. At the end of the longer straights were also braking cones to help you gauge your braking points.

2nd Lead and Follow Session

In the second session, I decided to ride shotgun with Paul Dippel in his S2000. This time, the pace picked up significantly. I've ridden as passengers in many race prepared autocross cars and yet I was still impressed with the amount of grip the Potenzas provided the S2000. I could also tell that the car was quite stiff and responded remarkably well to the high cornering forces we were experiencing. The sounds from the engine and exhaust were quite intoxicating as Paul accelerated hard through some of the turns. I must commend Paul for his very smooth driving style. I felt very at ease as Paul was very closely following the car in front of him. After finishing the session, we headed back to the pit area and the smiles on people's faces said that this crowd likes the higher speed.

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Everyone keeps the formation nice and tight.

Notice the cones which serve to mark the turn in point. You can also barely see the apex cone in the far left.

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The three groups are lapping the track

1st Open Lapping Session

The 3rd driving session is our first open session with no pace car. Each car would start at short intervals to avoid a traffic jam. It worked out quite well as people were very well spaced out. For this session, many drivers were confirming that their speeds were reaching up to 102mph at the end of the front straight. There were some spinouts of course, but all was still safe.

This car was doing some hard braking as evidenced by the brake dust.

This session can't be described without my telling you about my time behind the wheel. Taking off onto the track and approaching the first turn, the rear of my car was feeling very loose. At the first turn, I made a quick 360 spin on the track and continued on. I had forgotten that my BFG R1 race tires were dead cold and that the race tires take a few laps to warm up compared to street tires. It was a rookie mistake indeed. So I started to take it easy for the next two laps, but at each corner I felt the rear of my car wanting to step out. I just thought to myself that the tires were still cold. After they got warmer, I started to charge harder. The S2000 in front of me waved me on as I was approaching turn 3. I did a little bit of late braking, but definitely not pushing my car to its limits. I started to turn in towards the apex, but then the rear end started to swing out. I countered-steered and even gave some more throttle to tuck the rear back in, but it was too late. I must have spun about 3 times as I slid into the infield grass and dirt. It all happened so quickly. I hear that the S2000s behind me got quite a show and I'm always glad to give them one! :-) I then headed back to the pits to ponder the suspension changes I needed to make. I had severely under-estimated the setup changes I needed to bring my car from its autocross setup to a race track setup! My only regret was that no one was able to get a picture or a video of my spin. :-)

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The drivers get their first chance at an open lapping session.

2nd Open Lapping Session

This was to be the last open session, so I knew I had to get the proper suspension setup. I lowered the rear tires by 5PSI down to 27PSI to enhance traction in the rear. (Remember that changing tire pressures work differently on race tires.) I kept the fronts at 32PSI. I then softened the rear GAB shocks down to its softest setting of 1. I originally had it on 3, with 4 being the stiffest. I also softened the front shocks from 4 down to 3.

This time out we did not have as long a wait as before, so my tires were still slightly warm. I didn't take any chances though and made sure I took the turns at a more mild pace to warm up the tires. The car already felt more stable through the turns. After 3 laps, I was ready to start charging harder to try to catch up with the car in front of me. I approached the turn that I spun out on and proceeded to apex it as before. This time, the car stuck like glue, as it should. With each new turn, the tires warmed up and I was able to take the turns at very high speeds. I was able to get up to an indicated 102MPH. The fast S2000s were showing an indicated 104MPH as their top speed. I was definitely not able to keep up with the S2000s on the straight away. My only hope was to take advantage of my race tires and carry more speed through the turns and get on the throttle a little bit earlier. Also, taking advantage of my Porterfield R4S brake pads, I was braking much later in order to keep up with the S2000s.

I think this shows a very good example of the excellent Honda engineering built into the S2000. A completely stock S2000 is completely at home and stable on the race track. Many people commented on the forgiving nature of the car and its excellent handling feel and communication. Whereas, my modified Integra autocrosser is very much unforgiving. I had to make many adjustments to get the car handling correctly, while the S2000 is already correctly tuned for the track. As always, I recorded my suspension, tire, track, and environment settings in my racing log. This enables me to more quickly have the right setup when I go back to a particular track.

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I'm sure everyone is coming in with great big smiles.

What a Great Event!

This club has great potential, national potential. I feel that with this club serving as the central backbone, a national S2000 Club can be formed. The club members are many and they are very enthusiastic, which are essential ingredients. Honda/Acura should fully support this organization with at least the level of support that they provide the NSX Club.

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Candid shots of club members and their guests

There was well over 3/4 of a million dollars worth of S2000s at this event. The amount of organization and logistics to pull of this track event is quite impressive and I commend the club for being able to pull it off so smoothly. I met lots of great people and I hope to join the club in the future when my S2000 arrives.

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