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      07-19-2011, 01:26 AM   #1
CobraR1339
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1st Track Day Impressions ZMC Big Willow

Did a few sessions at Big Willow recently. First time out in this car.

The car is well balanced with no push on this track using the single washer and the turner kit. Camber increase is mild compared to the auto X alignments. Toe is 1/16th in for this track and is very stable here. May want zero at Buttonwillow though.

Managed a series of low 1:38-1:40 runs depending on traffic. This was with the Hankook Z214 C51 compound on the stock rims. Tires worked as well as any Hoosier I have used on other cars, maybe even better. Never got greasy. Best hot temps were 40 psi, start at 34 cold then adjust accordingly after session 1. Tires wore fine. Ride height and the rest of the car is bone stock.

The car has more left in it, but I could not wring it out that day. The car is good enough and you can't use all the power in some spots and could use more in others. At this track it is not a brute, more of a strong momentum car.

The car will run with the best V8 M3's in stock form, even with drive to track Nitto NTO1 tires. It will ever so slightly get pulled on the back straight sometimes ....and the front straight depending how the drivers take turn 9.

Nothing to fear from an M3 or even a GT3 was my impression. The GT3's had good lap times for this day, but the M can hang. Their line was decent but, experience trumps power. The Coupe was able to drive a tighter faster line from turn one to over Monroe ridge ...most of the track, after that the good M3 drivers may have the edge depending on turn 8 entry and turn 9 exit. I know the M3 and GT3 are more powerful, but that does not always mean faster.

To tell you the truth it was the 2nd most awful track day drive in 20 years. The seat is simply not designed for this duty and offers zero lateral support at these G's. I drove an M3 that day that was much better in this respect. also drove the new LS Boss it has the best seats for this purpose with stock belts, but still needs comp belts. The LS Boss is a really fun ride. Feels really big at first, but more nimble than you would think.

Driving at this level with factory seat belts in the ZMC is a total joke. Yeah I tried the lock and seat move , but that does not do jack but pinch your neck. If most of you are really driving like this and serious about your track day you have no idea what you are missing.

I honestly could not do my best work with a heavy grip on the steering wheel just to stay in position through turns 1, 2, brake at 3 and very hard to heel toe while sliding in the seat. What a messy car to drive set up like this.

In a pro set up you don't move at all. You are at one with the seat and strapped in very tight. You can lightly grip the wheel and you feel everything the car is doing through your arse ,fingers and toes. Not easy to do when sliding or using the dead pedal to keep you in position.

The other thing that was questionable was the pedal feel of the brakes. Has Motul with a fresh flush, stock new pads and rotors around, but the pedal just goes down too far for reassurance. It will not fail, but is not confidence inspiring. It modulates fine. This is a super easy braking track, you really don't need other pads here. I just prefer a high hard pedal. Perhaps a different compound will improve the pedal feel, would love some suggestions that change the pedal feel different in this respect. I have some good references on a couple pads, but failed to ask about pedal feel.

The car never got hot enough oil temps to worry about, the water temp..well ignorance is bliss. Overall it performed very well mechanically. Never used any oil.

This Track uses 3,4,5? gears only. 5th you have to decide if the shift is better than holding the rpms to the braking zone at turn 1. You are at redline line in 4th about 200 yards early. A short shift to 5th might produce better results if you were properly belted in. Without it, it had no effect as you make an extra upshift and extra downshift. You use 3rd in turn 3 and hold it till over the ridge, this produced the best results. You are at redline as you crest the ridge, but it did not bump the rev limiter. Get over the ridge, let it settle and shift to 4th.

I had Fun anyway as a day at the track is better than a day at the office, but not sure I want to repeat without comp belts or a race seat.

Will have to remove the rear panels and figure something out. If you have done this already would love it if you have some pics or a time saver tip. Not sure we need a half or full cage to do this. Sure don't need the extra weight.

Thinking I may be able to weld some thread in support for a short bar or thread in eyelets.

A friend says a NASA guy is running some really nice times with a 07 ZMC named Brad, would sure like to connect if you you know him.

It is really a great car that just needs some minor adjustments for the driver to get the most out of it IMO.
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      07-19-2011, 02:37 AM   #2
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hehe, I already have the seat and harness ready. Going to look into fabbing up a custom harness bar with minimal intrusion (still being able to use the center storage console between the seats, etc. and not having to take out too many panels/parts of the car. I want to be able to keep the interior as stock as possible, or at least reversible and not permanent. Juuust in case.

Oh, and I agree with you on the otherwise stock brakes =/
They're great for what they are, but definitely don't FEEL confident at the pedal. For the record, I've not had it fail on me, but have able to turn it to mush and fade, especially with OE fluid and OE pads. (I've been making the best of BMW's maintenance warranty )

Last edited by mfanatic325; 07-19-2011 at 05:21 AM.
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      07-19-2011, 02:52 AM   #3
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The weakest link in the stock braking system is probably the pads. Get some proper track pads.

Big Willow is all about being on the correct line and carrying as much speed as possible through each corners. There is plenty of time left in your car by just driver improvement. I find big willow to be the scariest and hardest track in Southern California to get right. It looks simple but its hard to squeeze real low lap times.
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      07-19-2011, 10:33 AM   #4
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If your only complaint is the stock pads and the stock seat belt, I'd say the car did pretty well.

I had my first track day with the Z4MC last week at Watkins Glen. I'd been tracking an '05 Cooper S, so there was a bit of a learning curve involved (lesson one: don't trail brake at Turn One until you're completely intimate with the chassis dynamics). I had a bit of a problem with the brakes - new Cool Carbon pads weren't agressive enough to scrub the rotor clean of the OEM dust, so the right front would squeal and shudder a bit after a few laps. Of course, I left my new, in-the-box Carbotechs at home. Once I get the brakes dialed in, this thing is going to be a monster.

Last edited by Claymore; 07-19-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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      07-19-2011, 12:56 PM   #5
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Good post Cobra. I'll second your observations on seats and brakes. I prefer a higher harder pedal as well (like the 06 STi), but like others have said the brakes themselves aren't bad, it's just not confidence inspiring or optimal.

I'm no where near your level of experience (or that of most of you track guys here), but as I've gone from total noob to being able to turn a decent lap or two the seats are really becoming an issue. Even with the CG lock (and grippy drawer liner) I'm having to hold on using the wheel and the dead pedal to keep my *** in the seat. The CG lock helps (on braking in particular) and is better than nothing, but it still leaves a lot to be desired as the lateral support is insufficient.

This really messes with me on turns 11, 13, 14, and to a lesser degree the transistion of 3-4 and 5a (3 and 5a are off camber, which just makes matters worse) at Thunderhill. There are other corners where it's an issue too, but not as much. I find it's no coincidence that those are the corners I find the most difficulty with in terms of consistency. There's just no feel for the car when you're holding on like you're rock-climbing or trying to pull 400 off the floor. I think it's going to end up being a limiting factor in improvement at some point as feeling the balance of the car is so important.

Lon, I'm curious to see what you end up doing. I'd like to address this but not at the expense of making it a "track only" car with a cage and etc.
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      07-19-2011, 04:12 PM   #6
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glad to hear you finally had a chance to take it out! what was your z06 lapping out at big willow, and more importantly how'd you like the boss 302? was it pretty responsive and how was the overall experience for you? I'm a fan as you can tell...
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      07-19-2011, 11:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finnegan View Post
Lon, I'm curious to see what you end up doing. I'd like to address this but not at the expense of making it a "track only" car with a cage and etc.
hehe, I did some research, and was able to find a legit one-off harness bar from years back, put into an M coupe.

I'm currently having Performance Technic in Pleasanton, CA. (my preferred BMW indy shop) look into this project for me. They already know of my interest in building such an item
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      07-20-2011, 04:41 AM   #8
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The C5 Zo5 on Nittos runs 1:33's on Hoosiers 1:29's - 1;31, at Big WIllow a friend who has more guts than me , turned a 28 the same day in crappy tires and has run a 26 in a c5 Zo6.

The Boss was has such a cushy seat it like getting a massage. What a nice package. Fake alcantra steering wheel actually feels soo good. The car however feels real big at first, then you realize you can toss it around. Gets smaller the more you drive it. Would easily buy it as a track car over and M3 at $20k more. The Ford guys planned for a of track junkie stuff vs. BMW. So its easier and cheaper to mod to go faster.Not as pretty though. I only did half a session in it. You get comfortable quick. No track key yet so time will tell. I will do laps with track key tuning when available.

I did not drive the Boss as hard so a 1:39 is not nearly what the car can do. Google top lap times motor trend at Laguna Seca, it speaks for itself, out runs and Audi R8 there.It is listed as the 6th fast car motor trend ever tested at LS. I ran faster than the Mags did at LS in my C5Z on stock tires and was .67 secs slower than the reported Boss times. The Boss had really good tires and the test driver this round I know kicks my butt.

The problem with Mag data is not the same driver and not the same conditions. Andy Pilgrim ( Le Mans C5R driver) got pissed over a 1:40 lap time for a stock C5 Z06 at Willow. So he rented the track and did a bone stock time of 1:29ish, On crap goodyear eagles, same car as the test car. Caesar was a bit miffed. That says a lot for drivers. I still can't figure out how the heck he did that. He must have zero fear in 8-9. Other than that , I pedal the thing all out everywhere else. Every 1 mph exit speed is worth .20 per lap here , from what i hear.

I would not magazine race a car too much.

I still like the M Coupe, but at Big Willow it becomes a momentum car. Was in the 5 fastest cars of the day out of 35 or so, not bad at all. At Button willow it should shine in So cal tracks. I really like that track, normally the S2000 and Evo AWD rules here. But I think the M will hang and surprise if i can get strapped in.

Brad the guy i mentioned, is turning some really good times at both track with NASA in a 07 MC. That gives me some real inspiration. I bought the car to fill a void and it is a fantastic car. Really fun to out run the GT3's and all but a couple M3's , a Zo6 and a GTR with mods. But a large part of that is experience. Have never driver either of those cars on a track. Will get a stock GTR ride soon though,.

You don't have to be the big dog to have a good time. PTW and seat time are king IMO. Drivers being equal PTW wins every time. Everyone is different. The MC and MR are just plain fun to drive cars. Real man's sports cars. Solid lifter sound, notchy gearbox, great torque for the chassis. What's not to like. Buy one for $30ish today and make guys spending $70-$100 re think their purchase, now that is interesting.

The M is still a pure classic, cross between a mini Daytona couple and X type Jag. I really do see these on the grass at Pebble Beach in 25-30years. Nothing will ever look like it again. We are driving a car Steve Mc Queen would have in his stable. God rest his soul. This will be Bangle's reprise IMO.
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      07-23-2011, 12:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfanatic325 View Post
hehe, I did some research, and was able to find a legit one-off harness bar from years back, put into an M coupe.

I'm currently having Performance Technic in Pleasanton, CA. (my preferred BMW indy shop) look into this project for me. They already know of my interest in building such an item
Cool, keep me posted. BTW, sent Iphone your way to round out the Dyno day.

Cobra, great additional info/review.
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      07-23-2011, 12:57 PM   #10
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I had the same issues with the stock seat belts. I (mostly) fixed this with a CG Lock and the belt lock trick. It's a 100% improvement. No, it's not the same or as good as a set of harness's, but it will do until my harness bar is ready.
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      07-23-2011, 03:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CobraR1339 View Post
The C5 Zo5 on Nittos runs 1:33's on Hoosiers 1:29's - 1;31, at Big WIllow a friend who has more guts than me , turned a 28 the same day in crappy tires and has run a 26 in a c5 Zo6.

The Boss was has such a cushy seat it like getting a massage. What a nice package. Fake alcantra steering wheel actually feels soo good. The car however feels real big at first, then you realize you can toss it around. Gets smaller the more you drive it. Would easily buy it as a track car over and M3 at $20k more. The Ford guys planned for a of track junkie stuff vs. BMW. So its easier and cheaper to mod to go faster.Not as pretty though. I only did half a session in it. You get comfortable quick. No track key yet so time will tell. I will do laps with track key tuning when available.

I did not drive the Boss as hard so a 1:39 is not nearly what the car can do. Google top lap times motor trend at Laguna Seca, it speaks for itself, out runs and Audi R8 there.It is listed as the 6th fast car motor trend ever tested at LS. I ran faster than the Mags did at LS in my C5Z on stock tires and was .67 secs slower than the reported Boss times. The Boss had really good tires and the test driver this round I know kicks my butt.

The problem with Mag data is not the same driver and not the same conditions. Andy Pilgrim ( Le Mans C5R driver) got pissed over a 1:40 lap time for a stock C5 Z06 at Willow. So he rented the track and did a bone stock time of 1:29ish, On crap goodyear eagles, same car as the test car. Caesar was a bit miffed. That says a lot for drivers. I still can't figure out how the heck he did that. He must have zero fear in 8-9. Other than that , I pedal the thing all out everywhere else. Every 1 mph exit speed is worth .20 per lap here , from what i hear.

I would not magazine race a car too much.

I still like the M Coupe, but at Big Willow it becomes a momentum car. Was in the 5 fastest cars of the day out of 35 or so, not bad at all. At Button willow it should shine in So cal tracks. I really like that track, normally the S2000 and Evo AWD rules here. But I think the M will hang and surprise if i can get strapped in.

Brad the guy i mentioned, is turning some really good times at both track with NASA in a 07 MC. That gives me some real inspiration. I bought the car to fill a void and it is a fantastic car. Really fun to out run the GT3's and all but a couple M3's , a Zo6 and a GTR with mods. But a large part of that is experience. Have never driver either of those cars on a track. Will get a stock GTR ride soon though,.

You don't have to be the big dog to have a good time. PTW and seat time are king IMO. Drivers being equal PTW wins every time. Everyone is different. The MC and MR are just plain fun to drive cars. Real man's sports cars. Solid lifter sound, notchy gearbox, great torque for the chassis. What's not to like. Buy one for $30ish today and make guys spending $70-$100 re think their purchase, now that is interesting.

The M is still a pure classic, cross between a mini Daytona couple and X type Jag. I really do see these on the grass at Pebble Beach in 25-30years. Nothing will ever look like it again. We are driving a car Steve Mc Queen would have in his stable. God rest his soul. This will be Bangle's reprise IMO.
awesome feedback and comparison! any pointers on buttonwillow? it will be my first time out next week
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