July 12 and August 2, 2002
SpeedVentures at Willow Springs
"Less Brake, More Gas"
Getting a Little Faster Each Time

Will's and Cthree's S2000s getting ready to duke it out with the Vipers

So the next S2000 Challenge was at Willow Springs on Friday, July 12th.  Most tracks are now booked many months in advance, so trying to reserve track time on a weekend is extremely difficult.  So most of us ditch work and take a hit on the Go-Fast Crack Pipe whenever SpeedVentures has their Friday events.  F work, we gotta learn to get faster.

Honda Hall of Fame Update
A lot of S2000 drivers all over the country are updating the Honda Hall of Fame with their lap times. (click on icon on the left hand frame to see the lap times at the various tracks).  We are getting faster, due to the fact that we are using timing equipment and friendly, smack-talking competition among ourselves.  I mentioned how much faster the S2000 drivers are getting in the last Thunderhill Chapter, with six S2000 drivers under 2:12, and I mentioned that I doubt you can find six "stock" cars of another make with just race tires that get under 2:12 at the same event.  A bunch of Viper guys emailed me and mentioned that at the last Viper days at Thunder Hill there were about twelve "street Vipers" that made it below 2:12 on either street tires or race tires.  So I stand corrected, and it seems like the Viper guys are whupping on everyone.  But then again, if my S2000 engine was increased from 120 cubic inches to a Viper-like 480 cubic engines, I might be whupping on everyone also......

Viper guys are whupping on everyone at Thunderhill.  And Willow.

The Viper drivers have been doing their "Timed Events" for around four years...so the S2000 guys have a couple of more years of practice to catch up to them.  But until I see some other car club claiming that have more than 12 street cars below 2:12 at Thunderhill, I guess the Viper guys rule at T-Hill.  With the S2000 guys next......and the rest of you guys behind us......until I get some verifiable lap times that can beat us.  So if you want to get on the podium with your make of car at Thunderhill with the Viper drivers and the S2000 drivers, you have to meet the following criteria:

1.  Your car must be streetable, relatively stock car.  No stripped down race cars.  Virtually all the S2000's that went below 2:12 have stock shocks and springs, and just added brake pads and race tires.

2.  It must be the same event at Thunderhill where your group of cars beat the 2:12 lap time.

3.  You must use AMB-type of transponder systems, as we want computerized printouts showing that you are fast.  None of that "My buddy got it on a stop watch" crap, or "Take my word for it" BS.

4.  Make it to the podium with the Viper drivers (12) and S2000 drivers (6), and I will blatantly advertise  your success on this website. 

If you think the rules suck, then put your own "Thunderhill Challenge" on your own damn website!  And let's see you get below 2:12 at Thunderhill....

Z-Car ready to have fun at the track. 

Miscellaneous S2000 Street Stuff
I have been driving around town with a big "Open Track Challenge" windshield banner on the car, as well as the two big "55" numbers on the doors.  Wayne says I look ridiculous driving around the city with stickers on the car, and he is embarrassed for me.   But since the S2000 seems to be doing a track event once a month or so, it doesn't seem to make sense to rip off the stickers, and then three weeks later put new ones on.  Surprisingly, it isn't other "ricer" cars or American Iron cars that seem provoked by the stickers when driving around town.  Instead, it is people driving Mercedes, big BMW sedans, and SUVs that seem like they have to "race me" around the city streets.  I don't race on the city streets, nor do I dart in and out of traffic. 

Picture of car with windshield banner and number

But I love it when those morons start tailgating me around turns, and then I blow through the 90 degree turns without hitting my brakes.  They start to do the same, but then realize they are in over their head in terms of trying to get their car through the corner properly, and I see their car jerking as they wildly stab the brake pedal.  After that maneuver, they stop tailgating me......amateurs.

S2000 with roll cage

Book of the Decade Club
I heard about a couple of books that I wanted to read.  Which is unusual for me, as I read a book every 10 years or so.  But I do read about 10 magazines every three days.  Anyways, the books are:
Carnival Games:  How They Work and How to Win, and the other is The Secrets of Amusement Park Games...Revealed.  I decided that I would get these books, learn the secrets of the carnival games, and then I would go to the Orange County Fair and kick ass on the carnys.  You know, the carnys are the people who staff the carnival games where you pay a couple of bucks to shoot a basketball, throw a softball, shoot out the star with the bb gun, etc.   Apparently there are various "tricks" to beating these games.  I figure that I have spent quite a bit of money over the past years on these stupid carnival games, and this year I plan to go to the fair and clean those bastards out.  I am planning on walking out with all those five foot high stuffed animals, etc.   The fair runs from July 12th to July 28th.  I order the books from Amazon.com, and I have them fedexed over night, so I can use some cheating bastard techniques on the carnys.  In three more days the fair starts.  Heh heh heh....

Cheating Bastards tricks to kick ass on the carnys!

Back to S2000 Challenge Update
For this weekend, I decide to take the big trailer to the track.  I feel like I need the security of a gazillion tools, fans, ice chests, timing equipment, extra tires/rims, brake fluid, etc., when I go to the track.  There isn't a lot of prep to do for this event, other than new brake pads, bleed the brakes, and then I should be ready to go.  I drop the car off at Erik's so he can do a quick alignment.  I tell Erik that I am leaving on Thursday at 12:00 p.m., so I can beat the notorious Los Angeles traffic, and get to Willow Springs before 5:00 p.m.  This way I can lay claim to one of the four garages at the track, since they are on a first come, first served basis on the weekdays.  Erik is of course late, so I don't leave LA until 2:00 p.m.   Which means it takes a good 3.5 hours to make it to Willow, instead of 2.5 hours.

Picture of Erik's car in the EMI Racing Shop

I asked Erik to aligned the according to some specs that I picked out from S2ki.com.

Front Camber:    L=-1.5* R=-1.5*

Front Toe OUT:   0.06" 

Front Caster:    6*00' +/- 15' =  6.0* +/- .25*

Rear Camber:    L=-2.5* R=-2.5*

Rear Toe-in:    0.5"

Erik set it up this way, but after his test drive around his shop in an industrial area, he disagreed with these numbers, and said that he aligned the car for more of a "right hand sweeper track".   Okay, sounds good to me.  I won't argue with a guy who has a full die-scale model of his race car that people can buy.  Now that is cool.  I wonder if I can get someone to build a scale model of the Flamemobile so I can sell them from the Pulp Store.  I wonder how many I could sell?  10,000 models?  Nah...probably 10....all bought by myself.   Erik and his sponsor just got their Viper motor rebuilt.  $24,000 for a rebuild.  He got a little more HP out of it.  Something like 823 HP and 780 ft lbs of torque.  Let's just say that when they take that car out for some club racing, it's gonna be embarrassing for the rest of us....

Someone made scale model of Erik's car.  That's the COOLEST thing!

So I get to the track the night before, and secure a garage so I will not have to bake in the heat.  I unload the S2000, the tires, some tools, fans, chairs, tables, etc.  Then off to the hotel to relax and get some sleep.

Z06 at the track.  Bring your car to the track!

July 12:
About 12 S2000's show up, along with about 6 or 7 Vipers, and a bunch of other cars.  Jason R. is there with his S2000 and Aaron is sharing Cthree's S2000.  Rylan couldn't make it, as his company is trying to ship a software product that allows you to build digital images from scratch that look like this.  My goal for the day is to dip into the 1:39.x, which will be about two seconds faster than the last time I was here with the Touring Car Racing Association back in early January of this year. 

I feel like I am getting the hang of driving this car.  It is like driving a single speed go kart, especially like the ones you find at those indoor karting places.  Meaning that you need to brake less, be on the gas as fast as possible, sometimes way before the actual apex of a turn, so you can gain more speed on the exit.  Most of those so called "Performance Driving Schools", emphasize the correct line, braking in a straight line, get back on the throttle slowly once you get to the apex.  Instead, with the S2000 it seems to be, "Brake as little as possible.  Tap brake while turning to kinda trail brake towards the apex, and get on the gas WAY before the apex, as the S2000 has no torque.  Each millisecond you stay on the brake kills your lap time, as you can never make up for it with HP.  "Less Brake, More Gas" is a tagline I grabbed from Terry's story on his Spec Miata race at Laguna Seca.  There were 70 Miatas entered in the race which ran after CART ran their race. 

You think Miatas are girly cars?  I used to think like that.  Until I heard that pole for Laguna Seca was a 1:48.xx!  Shit.....most people are happy if they can get their NSX or M3 or third gen RX-7 or Vette or Viper below 1:50 at Laguna Seca!!  Lot of people are buying Miatas to race in this spec series, as the cost is cheap, parts are cheap, the race groups are huge, and you go fast enough to scare yourself!  Kinda makes you go hummmmm......

Boxster at the track

In the first session, I run a 1:37.899 on used Hoosiers!  Yeah.  I call Erik and jokingly complain, "Hey, your alignment was messed up, the car isn't as good as it could be, as I only dropped 4 seconds."  Anytime you get to the track and can drop one second in your laptime is a huge achievement.  4 seconds quicker you might as well pack up the car and go home, because you never expected to get to be this fast.  The next session, someone dumps fluid and rocks on the track. For the next session, I throw on a new set of rear Hoosiers, hoping to get below 1:37.899, but now the track surface is hot and greasy, the air temperature is around 103 degrees or so....so I wasted the best part of my new tires, as I didn't get any faster.  Oh well.  When the track gets hotter, I blow by Dearing and Wasserman, both of them running their Vipers, despite the fact that they have an engine about 4 times the size of my itty bitty S2000 engine.  (Never mind the fact that the Vipers were overheating after about 6 laps, so they had to start waving cars by, or their motors will explode.  I will consider it, "Blowing by them" on the straightaways.)  <grin>

Dennis's NSX.  MC in the background, PT was there also. 
Where are the rest of you NSX drivers?

Later in the day, Jason R with his Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires is doing a good job following me, but he then loses it in turn 9 at about 90-100 mph.  I am watching my rear view mirror, and I see Jason's car almost get two wheels into the dirt on the exit, but Jason catches it and jerks the car to the right.  But now the car looks like it is going to fly off the inside of the track, but right before he gets two wheels in the dirt, he catches it again, and jerks the car to the left.   Now he almost goes flying off the left hand side, but catches it yet again, and keeps the car going straight.  Spectacular save, didn't get any wheels off into the dirt!

Matt is there with his RSX with new Kumhos on the car.  However, he said his car feels like the front wheels are going to fall off going down the straight, as there is severe shaking and chattering.  We check his car to see if there is anything wrong with the axle or axle nuts (not that we really know what to look for, or could fix it if we found a problem).  Bummer for Matt, as he took a day off from work, drove 2.5 hours to get to the track, and his car is sucking.  My front tires are shaking a bit also down the straightaway.  The next day, it turns out that we both had our tires balanced at the same place, and they must have some rookie balancing our race tires improperly.  Their wheel balancing was so far off, we thought the wheels were going to come off the car.  Morons! 

Greico crushes everyone with this Viper, and Top Time of the Day

Jason runs a 1:40.x in his first time on the big track at Willow.  Not bad at all.  Aaron B runs a 1:39.4, for 2nd fastest S2000 there.  Top time of the day is by John Greico with this stripped down racing Viper with a 1:29.  John is also an ex-NSX owner.  Dearing runs 1:34 for 2nd fastest time, Wasserman runs 1:36, and I am 4th.  Out of the top nine fastest times, five are Vipers, and the other four are S2000s.  Formal results are here.

July 19th.
The Orange County Fair is going into its second week.  My damn cheating bastard books haven't arrived yet.  Those carny's ain't gonna know what hit them once I get there!

Nice Mustang at the track

July 25th.
I stop by my favorite muffler shop in Newport Beach, Customer Muffler, and ask them to build me a straight pipe.  The shop is run by two guys that look like Hell's Angels, but they are actually very religious, and have Jesus type of tattoos all over their body.  Erik said that when he experimented on another S2000, it was best to put the straight pipe on after the resonator, otherwise it was so loud it was unbearable.  I leave the car there, and I tell them to wait a day while I figure out how to do the straight pipe.  I tell them I want it as light as possible.

July 26th.
The call me and said that the straight pipe is done.  Huh?  I wanted to find out more about where Erik cut the muffler off.  I wonder how they did with the bends on the pipe, to make sure it exits out the existing hole in the bumper.  I get there.....and there are no bends.  It is a true straight pipe that sticks out about 2/3rds of the way from the driver's side.  It ah....misses the exit hole in the bumper, as they just made a STRAIGHT PIPE, and it kinda hangs funny since it isn't centered with anything.  Weighs about 5 lbs.  Kinda loud.  But it will do....my main goal was saving weight, if I get any extra HP out of it, that's a bonus.

July 29th.
The books arrive from Amazons' "next day" delivery.  Dammit, the fair ended YESTERDAY.  Score another for the carnys.  Those bastards must have inside contacts at Amazon.  "Don't ship any of these books until the big fairs run through the town".  Just wait....next year, I am kicking your carny ass all over the county.

August 2, 2002
Speedventures has another event at Willow Springs on a Friday.  So a bunch of us ditch work again....

There are less people here this time, probably 35 cars or so.  There are about 10 S2000s, and about 7 Viper drivers.  Top Time of the Day gets a free entry to the Speedventures event at Buttonwillow on September 20th.   Dearing is there with his Viper, and he has Hoosiers this time.  Wasserman is there with his Viper.   From our experience at the track last time,  we know that you have to get your fastest laptimes before 11:00 a.m. or so, as the track will start to get real hot and greasy by then.

Last time I ran a 1:37.8, this time I want to get to 1:36.1 or so.  My first session out, I drop another second off my fastest lap and get it to 1:36.9.  I keep thinking and repeating to myself, "Less Brake, More Gas".   Aaron comes out cranking and beats that with a 1:36.8x.

Next session out, I follow Mumford's S2000 on the track, and he is scorching the track with Penske triple adjustable shocks, Brembo front and rear brakes, monoballed suspension from EMI Racing, and shredded 245/285 Hoosiers that are just about corded.  I try to pitch the car into Turn 2 without hitting the brakes at 100 mph, but I wuss out and I do a little tap.  On the 2nd half of turn 2, I got the pedal to the metal and I am jamming through there at a steady 95 mph until I hit the exit apex.  I try to just tap the brakes quickly before getting into Turn 3, and then hop right back on the gas.  Turn 5, I brake early, and then try to get on the gas way before the apex.  Turns 6,7, and 8 are full throttle, no lift whatsoever.  I am hitting 125 mph before slowing for Turn 9, or about 2 mph faster than last trip out to Willow.   In Turn 9, I keep decreasing my braking and increasing my throttle each time, trying to ensure I walk the fine line without wiping out.  The feeling of a "hooked up" car is awesome.  I run a 1:35.939 trying to chase down the other S2000.  Mumford cranks a 1:34.734, which is smoking for an S2000 on crappy tires, and now currently holds the record for the fastest S2000 lap at Willow Springs.  With good tires, you figure Mumford can probably run low 1:33's.

The Big Boys make it to the podium again

So by now, the track is getting hot, and we ain't gonna get any faster.  Dearing cranks out a 1:29 with Hoosiers on his Viper.  Pmum is next fastest with his 1:34, then Wasserman with his Viper at 1:35.806.  I get 4th fastest time of the day with 1:35.939, and my second win in a row in the S2000 MOD-R class.  The top seven slots are occupied by three Vipers and four S2000s.  The top 4 spots are held by OTC drivers.   Formal results are here.  Next time at Willow......I am targeting Wasserman as my next victim, in an effort to get to the podium for top time of the day!  He's beaten me out of 3rd fastest time of the day two events in a row!  <grin>  Kudos to Len, who cruised his streetable Miata to a 1:39!  Next S2000 Challenge event is at Buttonwillow on September 20th....and it looks like I am going for the hat trick in the MOD-R class.  Bring your S2000 out to Buttonwillow and let's see whatcha got!

For the rest of the day, I throw on my old tires, and continue to buzz around the track and have fun with it.  I do not have any spins, nor do I get any wheels off in this event or the previous event.  Step aside, I am a professional!  <grin> Matt O. in his RSX turns a 1:41, with his "correctly balanced wheels".  Not bad for a a first timer at this track!

August 6th. 
The straight pipe is too damn loud for the street.  I notice that I don't take the car to the redline anymore, as I am afraid I will get busted for sound, or pop some old lady's ear drums.   So I swap out the straight pipe for the stock exhaust, so I can continue to rev the engine to 9000 RPMs around town.  Someones asks me if I am worried that I might blow up the engine revving the car to 9000 RPMs, but I tell them I heard a rumor that when Honda tested the S2000 pre-production motors, they put the motors on a dyno, and they revved it to 9000 RPMs.  For 24 straight hours.  No problems.  They revved it to 10,000 RPMs, and the motor still held together.   However, once you get to 10,700, shit start breaking and failing......so I figure if I am shifting at 9000 RPMs, I still got another 1600 revs to go before I get myself into trouble......now you know why Honda is a world renown engine builder.....not many people can make a street motor that revs to 9000 RPMS and also qualifies as a Low Emissions Vehicle.

Can you beat this stock Miata at the track?  1:39.931 at Willow!

August 13th - The Dromo One Enduro
Wayne, Dave, and I enter in the Dromo One 90 minute enduro that is held once every couple of months.  It is the indoor, single speed karts.  Each driver goes for 30 minutes.  We were here three days earlier, and I cranked out a lap that is 8/10ths off the track record.  We got to Dromo about 2 hours before the enduro for some Cheating Bastard practice, and I crank out a lap that is only 7/100ths off the track record.  heh heh heh.  Wayne is only a couple of clicks behind me, and Dave a click or so behind him.  We are looking good! 

Dave is a pilot, and he was flying an airliner from Hawaii to San Francisco the day before when the "FIRE" warning light came on in the cockpit, indicating that something was burning in the lower rear luggage compartment.  You can't see that part of the plane, so some fighter jets were scrambled to see if there was any smoke or flames coming from the bottom of the plane.  They were about 600 miles from San Francisco when this happened, and Dave starts thinking about how he is going to land the plane in the Pacific Ocean.  Turns out to be a false alarm.  I told Dave he should of flown 20 feet off the ocean, and "dipped" the rear tail section in the water, thus putting out any potential fires....

Terry, Evan, and Andrew form a team, as well as Paul, Heidi, and Dennis.  A total of 9 teams are entered.  We do a random pea pick, and unfortunately, we end up 7th on the grid.  Race starts, and I dive and bump my way to 2nd place, before getting mixed up in a big bumping match, and drop down to 5th.  Wayne signals me to pit, and I go to the pits, but apparently you have to take turns pitting, and it wasn't our turn.  CRAP.  I am signaled to go back out.  Damn.  We lost two laps.  Four laps later I head to the pits.  CRAP.  I am supposed to wait for the flag man to signal when I should come in.  Now I am stuck behind someone who is supposed to be pitting.  And then I have to go back out.  Now we are down FIVE laps.  We end up 6th out of 9 teams, due to our stupidity in pit stops.  No problem, next time there is an enduro, we are kicking some ass.  Terry's team win the enduro!  If we had some good pit stops, we could have been duking it out with them. 

During the race, most of the teams were running in the 23 second range!  We also find out that the more driving on the track means more bumping which means the track gets out of shape, and actually gets faster.  So the only real way to judge how fast you are to each other is to be in the same race you are in, not by times run in other sessions on other days, as someone may have bumped the barriers to make it easier to get around the turns.  After the enduro, they brought out the forklifts to "rearrange" the track to normal specifications.  So since my 24.550 was done before all the bashing of the barriers earlier in the day, that is the time I think you should see if you can beat!  20 bucks for 22 laps during the weekday, $25 at night and on weekends.

The NSX is still sitting in the shop, wait for a heart transplant.  The next event for us will probably be TCRA at Willow August 24/25.  I will run the S2000 in the 2.2 liter and below race group, and Wayne the 944 in the 2.2 liter and above race group.  Last time I got spanked in the race group with the S2000 back in January, but now I got this car figured out, and I plan to wreak some havoc and revenge on all those 2.2 liter and below race cars.....<grin>

 Open Track Challenge!  Can you be King of your Class in 2003?

Some announcements about the OTC 2003 should be coming in the next couple of weeks.  It looks like Ryan's has come up with a great looking track schedule.  You only have 8 months to get your car, your team, and your driving skills ready to duke it out with some of the finest club racers and professional drivers around.  Remember how much we all scrambled last year......start sorting out your car now!!!   The buzz about this event is quite high, and I am certain it will sell out this year, because everyone that entered this year seems to be entering again, and they are bringing friends!