I ran with Redline Time Attack this weekend in NJMP Lightning track and placed 1st in the Enthusiast class clocking in a time of 1:17.638. The closest car in my class was 3 seconds behind and the 1st place in a class above mine (Street Tire RWD) clocked in 1:17.4. I had one of the best experiences on track this weekend and RTA did an amazing job organizing it. The turnout for the event was very good but I heard it is still nothing compared to the California events. Below I will do a short write-up on the experience I had, how I got there and an unbiased, unsponsored view of the products I installed.
I chanced upon a Redline Time Attack flier this past Monday in VAC Motorsports in Philadelphia while purchasing some studs and nuts for my wheels. Later that day, I went online to get a little more information on the event and I was surprised that it was open to public and enthusiast with no race license are allowed to participate in it. I made the decision that night that I was going to prep the car for the weekend; I figure this is going to be my closest opportunity to any real competitive racing.
Modifications for the Track
Other than my typical bolt-on mods (filter, tune, exhaust, x-pipes, differential), I knew to be competitive I had to step it up a notch to get it prepped for the track. I read up the rule book and they limited tires to the wear rating above 140 as well as 285 for RWD cars. I went ahead with the Yokohama AD08s 265/35/18s and 285/30/18s. With all the buzz about Apex’s track wheels, I decided to give them a call to attempt to get some sort of “sponsorship” or discount. They deferred stating that sponsorships are only given at the beginning of the year so I went ahead to VAC to see whether they had any in stock. They had a set of 18x9.5 wheels and I had to overnight a pair of 18x10 from Cali which wasn’t pretty on the wallet. I also ordered a set of Hawk HP+ with Motul Fluids and Stoptech SS lines from Jonathan at Miller Performance Group. Lastly, I went ahead with a set of Recaro Profi SPG from EAS including their mounts and sliders; these also had to be overnighted from Cali. All in all after many phone calls – the items came in on Friday and it was installation time in the mechanic throughout the day.
Individual Parts Review:
Apex wheels and AD08 Tires
The wheels were as light as they advertised and they performed as they should on the track. The finishing was good and I was quite pleased with them. However, one of the Apex 18 x 9.5 wheels that I purchase from VAC had some balancing issues, after closer inspection the wheels were slightly bent towards the air valves and this was causing the balancing issue. Thankfully VAC gladly replaced them with a new one they had in stock. The AD08s from TireRack performed very well on the track and gave me very good grip. Turn ins were very crisp and not once did they feel greasy even after 12-13 hot laps pushing the car to its limit. The back end was a little loose under limit braking but it settled a bit after I played around with the tire pressure. I ran 33psi front and 30psi rear cold and it worked best for me. Since it is still a street tire, they also gave plenty of noise screeching at the limit giving you warning before it slips. All in all, very happy with the wheels and tires.
Hawk HP + / SS Lines / Motul RBF600
The mechanic finished with my car at 10pm and I could only pick it up at 11pm after my dinner on Friday night. I went ahead for an hour or so trying to find a good place to bed the pads in. They had noticeably better grip and less noise after some good bedding in, I recommend people to do so everytime they get new pads. This setup worked pretty well for me on the track. I had no issues with brake fade and stopping power was sufficient. It may sound unrealistic but I was out braking some of the track prepped S2000 on the front straight leading to Turn 1 in Lightning NJMP, this is a 155mph to 65mph blind turn that crests over a hill. The only issue I had was the rotor vibrating after a hard day of practice session on Saturday. The vibration went away after you do some 60mph – 5mph stops. I am keeping these pads on the street as well, they do squeal a bit when you are driving on the regular roads but that is something I can live with. All in all, I still can’t justify a $5000-$8000 investment on BBK unless you are doing 40 minute long track sessions. If you are doing 20 – 25mins session and cool your brakes down on an inlap, you shouldn’t be warping your rotors. The street/track pad was slightly harsher on the rotors but it is always a tradeoff with these kinds of pads.
Recaro Profi SPG
The seats were the “most fun” mod I made. They fit nicely snug for me (170lbs 5’ 10”) and gave plenty of side support. I think they are superior over the Recaro Pole Position in terms of support and as a track seat. They are also used as stock seats for the track prepped M3 GTS. The Macht Snell mounts were also nicely designed and very thin thus allowing the seat to be mounted slightly lower (compared to VAC mounts). However the slider handle they gave me was a little too wide thus my mechanic had to cut down and weld them back to shorten it. I am assuming that the slider handles were made for the Pole Positions. EAS was very nice to deal with and they have really good deals on Recaro. It is also very rare that aftermarket vendors keep these seats on stock so I was very impressed with them.
On the street, they are quite livable so far. I might switch them out to stock seats when winter comes around. The only concern I have is when the valet drives my car when I park in center city Philadelphia. It would be interesting to see how a bigger guy tries to fit into the seat.
Redline Time Attack Event
The event was very well organized and highly sponsored by big companies. Cobb Tuning, Buddy Club, Nissan and a few other large companies were prominent sponsors. With sponsorships, it also allowed them to spend a bigger budget to maintain a large team of organizers (50+ people) to keep things professional. I only paid $450 for the whole weekend including the race ($250 1st day, $250 2nd day, $25 membership fee with $75 discount for new attendees). RTA also had tremendous amount of media coverage with over 40 photographers covering the track vents, show and shine competition, beauty contest, etc.
Time keeping was an amazing thing for them, they had 3 beacons laid out on the track to give us lap times as well as section times so you are able to know which sector of the lap are you losing time on. The “transponder” was small magnetic strips that were the size of a Wrigley’s chewing gum that are stickered onto your side windows. That is definitely some high-tech stuff. (You can see it in the picture below, it is left of the VAC Motorsport decal) Tech inspection for the Timeattack event was also very strict and kept true to the Grand-am standards.
The modified class brings forth some crazy cars. There was a Cobb tuned widebody R35 GTR pushed 1000hp. It ran a 1:06 lap on the track, 4 seconds faster that anyone on the track. It later had some electrical issues and couldn’t put down the lap during time trials. Thankfully, they crew managed to get it back up to speed and it posted another 1:06 lap on the last Timeattack session.
There was also a close-to-stock Viper parked right next to me. It ran with the modified class – needless to say it wasn’t very competitive. The driver was also new to tracking (3rd session on the track).
I would definitely be running with RTA again when I get a chance. They by far exceed my expectations. I am still curious as to why there are not as many BMWs coming out for the event. At that price, it is very difficult to beat. As you can see the nose dive - my next step for the car would be a nice set of coilovers. The body roll is manageable but evident while driving on the track.
Undoubtedly one of the best weekends on the track so far. I learned a lot about the car and had a fantastic time meeting great people. The award ceremony was a nice icing on top of the cake.
I wished there were more BMWs that came out to race with RTA, it would have made things a lot more fun. I also think that aftermarket tuners for M3s (vendors included) should participate in these events to show their tuning skills instead of posting 60-130mph time. I think tracking the car and posting quick laps brings out the true spirit of owning our M3s instead of jamming on the accelerator pedal, trying to get traction at 60mph; the winner is always going to be the guy that has the most money to drop on wider rear tires and more HP from forced induction.
Below are videos of my 1:17.638 lap. The GoPro was mounted on the front bumper while my other video camera was mounted to a suction cup on the rear window. Enjoy!
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All pictures were taken by Chris Phung (email@example.com) and Bob MacMillan (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are great photographers based in Philadelphia area. I would like to thank them very much for sharing these photos and coming out to the track. Please feel free to get in touch with them if you want a photoshoot, etc.