Targa Miata
April 1, 2013 - Track day test!
I headed over the mountains to High Plains Raceway for an open lapping day. This was a chance to check out the aero at high speed and sharpen up my high-speed skills in preparation for a couple of days at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a few weeks.
It was a nice day with a wide variety of cars in attendance. I was sharing the track with everything from Formula B cars (one step down from Formula Atlantic!) to a McLaren MP4-12c that was still on temporary tags. Cool.
During the first session, I was mostly feeling my way around. The car was understeering, particularly on long lefts. I pulled into the pits and checked tire pressures - oops. Heading back out with about an extra 4 psi, the car felt better but was still pushing more than I liked. I'm on a new spring set that wasn't quite balanced right. I decided to keep the sway bars where they were and see if I could sort it out with other aspects.
Otherwise, the car felt good. Very strong, hitting 4th gear on the back straight pushed me back into my seat and I was topping out at around 126 mph before braking for the end of the straight. A couple of fast Porsches gave me someone to chase and - more importantly - learn from.
On my second session, I was dodging through the quick left-right-light chicane of the "Prairie Corkscrew" and felt a bang through the steering and the wheel went off-center. That's a front alignment cam slipping. So I headed back into the pits to sort that out.
entry 1076 - tags: aero, testing
July 8, 2014 - High speed track testing.
The recent track test at the local track was fun, but the car felt a bit like a caged animal. So I trekked out to High Plains Raceway to run with the Z Car Club of Colorado. These guys always put on a smoothly run day, with the opportunity for lots and lots of track time. I had new H compound brake pads and was ready.
How was it? Spectacular. I had a ridiculous amount of fun. The first session was one a mismatched set of tires, RA1s on three corners and a Nitto NT01 on the other. The Nitto wasn't working as well as the Toyos so the car had uneven handling left and right.
I then swapped on a set of new Toyo RRs on 9" wheels. Wow, what a difference. The chassis now had the grip to match the power, and I was able to go into full rampage mode. The chassis setup was perfect and I was able to just drive. I spent the rest of the day chasing down a variety of cars, including another LS3-powered Miata. The one car I never got to play with was a Viper with race rubber - he started one session right behind me, but pulled off after a single lap. Top speed was about 135 mph into a headwind. At the end of that straight there was a fairly intense braking zone which had me hanging off the harnesses and giggling.


Unfortunately, the car wasn't perfect. The speed and the braking zones (five major braking events per lap) meant I was putting a lot of heat into the brakes, and the fluid started to boil. I was using ATE Super Blue which is pretty good stuff, so I'm going to take a look at improving the ducting further and run something that runs a bit hotter. I could manage the heat in the brakes by being a bit cautious on braking. The coolant temperature was good - even on the very hot day and running for 30 minutes, I never got into a problem zone.

At the end of the day, I bailed early. This group starts combining run groups near the end of the day and extends the length, which meant that I had the chance to run for a full hour with a bunch of poor B, C and D drivers getting blown into the weeds by the Targa Miata. With the brakes soft, I decided there was nothing to be gained so I packed up after the end of the regular sessions. Still, it was a good day. So much fun.
entry 1124 - tags: high plains, track, testing, brakes