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      08-02-2009, 10:01 PM   #1
Private First Class

Drives: 2008 M3 Sedan
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: San Jose, CA

iTrader: (0)

Track Report, Buttonwillow 8/1

Just got back from a trip to Buttonwillow for a track day with Speed Ventures. My usual caveats apply: I'm a novice driver, don't take anything I say as gospel, etc. etc. Just sharing my experiences, looking for feedback, etc.

I was testing out a few new toys I'd not had at the track before, specifically a set of Pagid RS-19 pads, high-temp brake fluid, a set of Advan RS (18x9.5 square), BFG R1 tires (my first r-comps ever) and the Dinan springs. Given the choice I would have rather had my first time with these mods at a circuit I'm familiar with, but I wasn't about to pass up a track day at BW BECAUSE I go mods. That's crazy talk.

Anyway. Saturday was a hot day although not really for the area, forecast highs were around 97 and I figure it got up to about that by noon. I'd tracked the M in 90+ degree temps before but never quite this hot; I was glad to have the high-temp brake fluid (read on).

First run of the day was at 8:30AM and went... Poorly. The track took a lot of getting used to; longer and more turns than I'm accustomed and short sight lines - I felt like every turn was on me just as I was finishing the last. I got (and gave, to my wide-eyed passenger) my first whirly ride coming down off Lost Hills at the end of the run, ended up backwards, four wheels off and ashamed after turning in too late and powering on when I thought I had more grip than I did. Luckily, said passenger was a good sport and just said she wouldn't tell her boyfriend (who thankfully slept in and didn't show up until later, after I was finished endangering her life for the day). Since the run was over I just pitted, checked the car over with nothing bad found except some dust and lingering humiliation.

Second run went much better. At this event there were long delays between runs (1.5 hours roughly) so there wasn't much heat left in the tires from the last run but the ambient & track temperatures had increased enough that I could feel the rubber getting nice and sticky by the second lap. I'm definitely in love with r-comps (unsurprisingly!) and 265's up front, they had insane amounts of grip and once the tires got up to temp it was really easy to feel when they were on the verge of breaking away. In fact, I'd have to say that was my favorite thing about them: Not that they held on so well, but that they're so responsive that the tiniest shudder let me know well in advance of when they wanted to let go on me, which gave me time to correct my dumbness. Once I learned to listen to what they were trying to tell me.

The RS-19's were *fantastic*, as was the high-temp brake fluid. It's been said before, but trust me: New pads and new fluid is a must if you want to track this car. Whereas every other time at the track I was accustomed to fade by the end of the runs (especially later in the day) that was *not* the case on Saturday. Not only were they grippier throughout the day, but they were 100% consistent from the middle-ish of the first run to the end of the last. It let me gauge my turns, especially the low-speed ones after straightaways (Sunset/Sunrise and first turn in Cotton Corners) much, much better; I'm used to having to be tentative towards the end of my runs when things started getting squishy. That was not a problem with this setup.

Springs, I have to admit, I couldn't really tell a difference. Now, that's not to say there wasn't any, but not having been at this track before I couldn't tell you what it felt like before/after. I wasn't really unhappy with the handling before and I'm still not unhappy, so that's good, but without before/after experience I have a hard time saying if there was any improvement. I can say I was gobbling up the Esses like they weren't even there, but this car's so balanced in that kind of right-left-right pattern that it's tough to tell if it was any better.

Overall I'm happy with the investments. The tires like I keep saying were sooo much fun, although I'll say one thing I wasn't anticipating: If you lock up one of your fronts and get a flat spot, prepare for an inevitable kind of kachunk, kachunk, kachunk feeling until it wears out again. First time I did that I thought something was wrong and was hunting for everything from loose lugs to rocks in the rims to gunk on the rotor before I realized what was wrong. A lap or two evened everything out, but had me confused for a little bit (like I said: novice).

Finally, saw some great cars there. Like I said I've never run with SV before and the crowd was a great mix of just cheapo racer enthusiasts and some crazier stuff (a couple GTRs, an M5 not even with plates yet and a full Brembo upgrade plus who knows what else, a couple race-prepped E30's that were stealing my lunch money but I had a great time following for as long as I could keep up, etc.). Very little attitude or aggro, just a bunch of guys having fun.

Overall a great track, a great group and a great day.