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      09-21-2010, 07:22 PM   #1
Shipkiller
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New East Coast Track in North Carolina - NCCAR

This last weekend, I had the pleasure to be with the Asphalt Ventures group at the new track at NCCAR, in Roanoke Rapids, NC. This was my first event with the new tires and suspension alignment settings.

First things first, I am not associated in any way with NCCAR.

NCCAR is not a race track and is not being built or billed as one. It is a automotive testing/proving track for testing automotive chassis and components by automotive industry. The whole complex is not finished and more track is being laid out and built.

The track as currently up and operating is a 2.03 mile ride and handling course with a 0.5 mile straight (flat), 15 feet of elevation change and 100' runout buffers. The course is 40 feet wide to provide for lane-change maneuvers, and to allow the use of cones and variations to corner geometry. The course may be traveled in either direction.

If you look at the track map, the first half of the track is mostly constant radius turns. This turned out to be very beneficial to me to really 'feel' how the car behaves and learn just wear the limit really was... It also teaches you smoothness.........especially transition management.

The track has only been up and in use since June or July so there is very little rubber on the track. Track surface is very smooth and consistent with very little in visual reference points can be had immediately on track, but since the whole track is open, it really trains you to get your eye's 'up and out' . You can see almost all the track when driving around. I had to start to use distant reference points, like water/antenna towers and things..

The surface was laid out in three ribbons of asphalt along the length of the course. The seams between each ribbon across the track were very smooth and you could not feel them, but they became the occasional reference point, especially on turn six which we started to call the 'skid pad'.
Because of the 'virgin' service, your tires scream at you on all of the turns. At first this was a little unnerving, but turned out to be very beneficial as I will explain later.

No one in either run group or any of the Asphalt Ventures staff had ever been on this track. NO ONE knew the proper line to take, plus the apex cones were only in a general area of the apex. Many were way off. The Asphalt Ventures staff pulled the apex cones off the course the second day. This made it really fun. Find your own line... Find one that works. The lines we were using on day one were different than that ones we ended up using on day two. And faster.

Recap on changes to the car:
Front camber: -2.4
Front toe: .05
Rear camber: -2.0
New tires and size: Continental Extreme Contact DW
235/40 18
265/35 18

Three run groups: intermediate/advanced, solo and instructors with four 30-40 minute sessions a day for each run group.

My first session scared the crap out of me.

I really thought I screwed up my car. The car was really tail happy.
Track temp of 85', cold pressures were front 34 and rear of 31 made the rear of the car scary skittish. Because I am a dumb A@@, forgot to check temps/pressures when I came off.
Second session is now hotter and track temps are up and the car does not have a tendency to oversteer as much. Tires need heat I think or it's just the nut behind the wheel.
Checked pressures and they were 43 front and 41 rear. Brought them down 2 psi each.

Mental note: when you have your tire pressures set to help reduce understeer because of the stock alignment, be SURE to change this when you change your alignment settings for a more neutral car.......
I think that was my main issue on the first session and I have different tires. Due to the delta in temps between the center and outer parts of the tires, I brought the front tire pressures down one more PSI. I had a delta of 13 degrees....

By the third session of day one, the car really felt good. Little to no understeer. The car just goes where you point it.

Course Rundown.
One issue with the course is that you enter the track 'on the race line' down by turn 12 (the Y on the left). Much coordination was required to keep an individual from entering the track when someone was on the power coming out of turn 12.

All of the first day and half of the second I ran the track in third gear and only shifting to fourth on the straight. The max speed I could get at the braking point at turn one was about 129MPH, (more when I started to shift into second gear at turn 12) but my normal speed was 110 with a entrance speed of 70 MPH. 70 was the best speed for me because I could get a smooth power transfer at the down shift after braking at that speed.

This is due to me not knowing how to heal/toe. If I went faster the shift would be more abrupt and the rear end of the car would get loose. I would have to brake, complete the braking maneuver, wait a heartbeat then shift and start the turn in. Now I really understand why heal/toe'ing is so important. I will rectify this....

For me turn two teaches you patience. Hard, hard brake into two, then maintenance throttle until you get to the soon to be completed section (grayed out section of track) then bend the car in to the apex. If you screw this one up, it makes three, four and five much harder.

Heading out of two apply power then maintenance throttle around until apex then slowly apply power through four and five. Smoothness and proper managing of the transitions is key here. Turn six gets kinda boring once you figure it out but you really have a long time to get the feel of your car and wear the edge really is.

Coming off of turn five, power out to the right side third of the track. I would follow that seam around until it was time to bend it a little left for the entrance into seven. I would just set the steering wheel and use throttle to balance the car. As I said before, the tires are screaming at you. I knew I was getting too hot when the screaming started to get a lower frequency growl. Now just back off the power (a width of a credit card) and continue around, then back off the power a very small amount just to give the front tires a little help for the bend left... then power.....brush the brakes to set and turn right into seven.

Turns eight and nine are very fast. You are really building energy here...

Turn 10 is the hard one. Heavy straight line braking making sure I was off the brakes before I would turn into 10. If not, the rear end got really squirrely again. Several spins happened here.

11 is easy if you do 10 properly. Halfway between 11 and 12 the elevation drops about 8ft but starts back up directly in the middle of 12. You really have tremendous amount of grip for power coming out of 12. In second gear, you really launch yourself out... the feeling is awesome.

I think this track is great if you really want to feel where the cornering limits of your car is and spend some time at that limit experimenting with the nuance of dynamics. We will do this track twice a year.

Things for me to work on.
Heal/Toe'ing and braking. I have an issue with heavy braking and not sure how to correct this. My brakes never got soft or spongy and are very strong. I come on and off the brakes very smoothly with no abruptness to upset things, but when I get into the really heavy portion of braking, the tail end of the car get squirrely so I am nervous when I do this. Not sure if this is a car issue, a driver issue or both. I am not experienced enough to know yet.

On stock suspension the car rolls in the turns and nose dives under braking more than I would like. I understand that getting rid of my stock progressive springs will help this but I am not willing to commit to Coil-Over's yet. Doing this might retard my learning ability a bit. Maybe just a set of new Dinan springs. The same can be said with stiffer anti-roll bars.
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      09-24-2010, 02:11 PM   #2
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Nice review and comments on handing. Good read. I don't think keeping at it with stock suspension will do you any harm, in fact it might be the better way to do things so that you can really appreciate and utilize the benefits of upgrades. This is a place I have to try being so close to me as well. Glad it was a good time!
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      09-24-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebluemcm View Post
Nice review and comments on handing. Good read. I don't think keeping at it with stock suspension will do you any harm, in fact it might be the better way to do things so that you can really appreciate and utilize the benefits of upgrades. This is a place I have to try being so close to me as well. Glad it was a good time!
From Va Beach the drive to NCCAR was only about an hour and a half... For you, straight down 95.. It's 18 miles from the Va boarder to the exit on 95.
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      10-09-2010, 02:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shipkiller View Post
I have an issue with heavy braking and not sure how to correct this. My brakes never got soft or spongy and are very strong. I come on and off the brakes very smoothly with no abruptness to upset things, but when I get into the really heavy portion of braking, the tail end of the car get squirrely so I am nervous when I do this. Not sure if this is a car issue, a driver issue or both. I am not experienced enough to know yet.
What tires are you running?

At Putnam Park at the end of the front straight I experienced some similar skittishness from the rear end under heavy breaking. I chalked it up to tires not being grippy enough (I was still on the stock Contis) so I'd be interested in hearing some other more experienced voices chime in as to how to correct for this. It is quite confidence sapping.
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      10-09-2010, 11:54 AM   #5
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Continental ExtremeContact DW, which are much better than the stock Continentals that came on the car.
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