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      07-11-2012, 08:32 AM   #1
paradocs98
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Few laps of Watkins Glen

Just got back from a two-day event at Watkins Glen with SCDA yesterday. It's my third time at the Glen, but each time I marvel at what an amazing place it is. It's one of the most historically significant North American road courses, it's fast and flowing, and it's in a beautiful setting in New York's Finger Lakes region, not too far from Cornell University/Ithaca.

The weather was great--80s and sunny. My previous times at the Glen have been in the spring and fall, when rain/fog and temps in the 40s are not uncommon. It was definitely the right call to hit the track in July this year.

SCDA, as usual, was a friendly, well-run group, with a good mix of cars. A couple of other E9X M3s, a few stripped-out E36 and E46 M3s, two '70s Datsun 510 race cars!, numerous Z06s, a few GTRs, a fast Golf R32, a few Lotuses, 911s of various types, and three retired NASCAR-type racers--two stock cars and an ARCA truck.

I ran in Intermediate the first day. Even though I've been running solo for a while, I ran across a guy I know from prior events who was instructing. He offered to ride with me for a couple of sessions--fantastic idea. He gave me some invaluable suggestions and tips for an improved line at the Glen. He was very impressed with the abilities of the StopTech ST60/ST40 setup with Pagid RS29s. I also rode with him for one of his sessions. He has a 135i that he has modified. The engine is basically stock, but he has stripped about 400lbs of weight out of the car. The interior is gutted, he has a half-cage, race seats and harnesses, coilovers, and a BBK on the front. He also removed and blanked out the sunroof, changed the hood to carbon fiber, and replaced the front fenders with a wide-body kit so he can run a 275/35-18 Nitto NT01 square setup. Very fast and fun car to ride in.

I bumped up to Advanced the second day and did well, but the speed of some of the other cars was pretty insane. There were two GT3s that were in various stages of race prep. One had the usual cage and suspension upgrades, but the other one started as a stock GT3RS and now looks like an ALMS GT car. The closing speeds were amazing as he rocketed up behind me. In the video at about 1:40 you can see him pass me as we come out of the toe of the boot. It was a bit nerve-wracking. I was coming up fast on the red Corvette as we approached the toe, while the GT3RS was coming up fast on me. There's obviously no passing in the turn, so as soon as we came out of the toe, the Corvette pointed me by and then I immediately pointed the 911 by. We were basically three-wide and as he passes you can see him stick his hand out the window--not sure if he was saying thanks or giving me the two-finger salute... In an earlier session that day he took a late pass on me as we approached the bus stop at 125+mph--he was following a GTR as they came up behind me. I gave the GTR the point-by, but there wasn't enough room for the GT3RS to make the pass as well as we came into the bus stop, so I didn't point him by yet. Nevertheless, he dive-bombed me on the inside. I'm glad I was aware that he was in my mirrors one second, and then had disappeared into my blind spot the next, because otherwise I would have swept to the right and collected him as we came into the bus stop.

Anyway, enjoy. Comments welcome.


Last edited by paradocs98; 07-11-2012 at 08:40 AM.
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      07-11-2012, 07:50 PM   #2
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After 6 days of driving and instructing at WGI I think I can offer some useful comments from what I saw on your video.The 1st thing that surprised me is how low an RPM that you are shifting at if the video is accurate.I found that in the past that short shifting by 1000 rpm made me about 7 mph slower up a 3/4 mile uphill straight.

The lap.

Could be a lot tighter on c1 with a lot more speed as you use the curb on exit without upsetting the car at all which allows more speed into C2 which should only be short lift with maybe a little dab of the brakes to help the car turn in with a little less sliding.Once you are going uphill you should be flat until the braking area for the bus stop.I grab 5th gear exiting the last S over the bridge and touch the limiter in 5th at about the 500 brake marker,so I hold the limiter till the 300 marker where I brake.
I have found that I can use 4th gear through the bus stop and make a pile of time up on other people by placing the car completely over the 1st turtle and braking lightly to the 2nd turtle which you use a lot of also,where you start turning the car to the left and balance the car with the throttle till the last turtle where you are already on full throttle into a tighter line in 5 where I use a lift & a little brake to get the car turning to keep a tight line going downhill to the apex.From there to 6 I am at full throttle where I use a tighter line than you do.Going wider there seems to be slower than using the inside on entry.
Corner 7 I keep the car mostly inside the concrete where there is a lot more grip and you can brake quite late there with no problems with getting a great exit.C8 is just a standard apex corner and I touch the limiter in 3rd on the run to C9 which is tighter line to keep you inside the sealer as much as possible.Corner 10 is a 4th gear corner with mild braking and tracking right out to the curbing and swinging out to the left and 3rd for corner 11 to have another fun lap.I love this track
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      07-11-2012, 07:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
I don't know if you're looking for tips. About a car length of trailbraking into 1 will point the car better and allow throttle much earlier down into that compression. That is a ton of speed/time to be gained leading onto the back straight. Bus stop can be taken with a more speed, a lot more is my guess, in small bites of course. Should be able to turn into the carousel flat or close to it and then breath back throttle to get down to apex by the flag stand, so more entry speed available there and a good chunk of time. In the toe, use the compression after turn in and drive the car in deeper on the brakes. Open your hands more on the exit and let the car run. A good marker there is to have your right front tire right inside the point of that concrete patch. Stay inside of the sealant they put down on 9 that stuff doesn't have as much grip, even if the line isn't as good otherwise, and you'll just have to wait for the car to point on it. Turn in earlier with a dab of trailbraking in 11 and try to be back to some power by the concrete patch. I hope I haven't said too much. What set up are you running?
Comments much appreciated. What you're saying makes sense. Anything that allows you to safely get back on the power sooner coming onto one of the straights is a big plus. I'd imagine you have to try some of this in a gradual manner, because it requires faith that the car will track through without an issue.

I seem to be coming out of the esses onto the back straight at about 110mph, and the car gets to just about 130mph (accurate, by GPS--probably mid- to high-130s on speedo) before I feel I need to start braking for the bus stop. I might be able to gradually push the braking zone a bit deeper, but the way you hop over the curbs going into the bus stop, it feels like the car is briefly unsettled until it regains composure just in time to come out of the bus stop. The M3 is an amazing car, but I can definitely see where it would be advantageous to have a Z06 or something with a similar power-to-weight ratio in picking up better top-end acceleration coming out of the esses onto the back straight.

My M3 sedan has a Dinan Stage III suspension (about -2.4 camber front, -2.0 rear), StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes with Pagid RS29 pads, and a couple of stray Cheerios on the floor. Kid car seats removed for the track, though.
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      07-11-2012, 08:06 PM   #4
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Nice footage and info. The Glen is my favorite track. I've driven Lime Rock, Sebring, PBIR, and Homestead and The Glen has it all.
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      07-11-2012, 08:35 PM   #5
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Thanks much for posting! I am relocating to Seattle next month, and will miss my favorite track so much.

As others have mentioned, you are pretty smooth, but can tighten corner one, which would allow you to carry more speed thru the esses, and carry more speed into the back straight. In my 135i, I was braking at 151mph indicated (prob ~140 actual), and I know the M3 could at least equal that.

At higher speeds, be careful feathering the throttle thru 3 & 4, as your car can get very unweighted there, and trust the amazing amounts of extra grip the concrete strips give you. The further inside you are, the more camber on the road there is. (you know what I mean, if you've done a track walk before)

Gonna sorely miss WGI & LCMT out on the left coast.
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      07-11-2012, 09:26 PM   #6
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How do you like the feel of the stoptechs? Sometimes I feel like mine bite too soon and too hard making finite modulation more of a chore. Not so much of a issue on track where more pedal pressure is needed but smooth street driving is compromised since the pedal bites immediately in the travel.
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      07-11-2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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That looks like one fun and scary track. Those railings are Nice video and driving and sounds like some excellent advice coming from the crowd
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      07-11-2012, 10:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by larryn View Post
Gonna sorely miss WGI & LCMT out on the left coast.
OT

Where are you moving on the left coast? I'm also planning a move there this fall.
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      07-12-2012, 06:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by turugara View Post
OT

Where are you moving on the left coast? I'm also planning a move there this fall.
Seattle. There are tracks up there, but none with the history of WGI. At least I won't have to drive 6-9 hrs to get to them though.
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      07-12-2012, 08:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gearhead999s View Post
After 6 days of driving and instructing at WGI I think I can offer some useful comments from what I saw on your video.The 1st thing that surprised me is how low an RPM that you are shifting at if the video is accurate.I found that in the past that short shifting by 1000 rpm made me about 7 mph slower up a 3/4 mile uphill straight.

Could be a lot tighter on c1 with a lot more speed as you use the curb on exit without upsetting the car at all which allows more speed into C2
More good advice--thanks. I'm wondering if my RaceKeeper system isn't entirely accurate in its RPM readings. I say this because I know from the shift lights and the soft cut-out that I was hitting the rev limiter at certain points on the track, and this isn't reflected in the video/data. The data I get on my computer is much more detailed than what I include on the YouTube posting--it records and graphs intake temps, oil temps, coolant temps, engine load calc, rpm, etc. from the OBD port, inline/lateral/vertical G's from the unit's accelerometer, and speed and position/track mapping from the GPS antenna. I've found, though, that the system reads throttle position as 75% when it is in fact wide open. That's why the green throttle bar on the video only goes 3/4 of the way up and stays there when I'm flat on the gas. So the RPM readings off of the OBD port may be similarly inaccurate. I try to wait until at least 7500 rpm or so before shifting, and yet the video data would indicate I'm short-shifting as low as the 6000s at times...

Have you been to the Glen in recent months? Our event organizers warned us to stay off of the exit curbing in turn 1 because they said it was recently raised and would upset the car. Maybe it can still be used partially, though?

I'll refer back to this thread when I go up to the Glen next time so I can employ some of the tips. So I have a reference, what are your typical lap times there for an E9X M3? Thanks again.
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      07-12-2012, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larryn View Post
At higher speeds, be careful feathering the throttle thru 3 & 4, as your car can get very unweighted there, and trust the amazing amounts of extra grip the concrete strips give you. The further inside you are, the more camber on the road there is. (you know what I mean, if you've done a track walk before)

Gonna sorely miss WGI & LCMT out on the left coast.
Good tips--thanks. It definitely is a process of building up slowly, having faith that the track's camber will carry you through. We went for a track walk at the end of the first day--amazing experience. You don't really appreciate how dramatic the elevation changes and banking are at various points on the track until you walk it. It was wild to stand at the toe of the boot, looking down at the entrance and straight coming into it, and then up at the exit.
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      07-12-2012, 08:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyBobby View Post
How do you like the feel of the stoptechs? Sometimes I feel like mine bite too soon and too hard making finite modulation more of a chore. Not so much of a issue on track where more pedal pressure is needed but smooth street driving is compromised since the pedal bites immediately in the travel.
I do notice that they can be a bit grabby at low speeds in town, but once you're at moderate speed (and certainly on the track) they're phenomenal.
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      07-12-2012, 09:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paradocs98 View Post
More good advice--thanks. I'm wondering if my RaceKeeper system isn't entirely accurate in its RPM readings. I say this because I know from the shift lights and the soft cut-out that I was hitting the rev limiter at certain points on the track, and this isn't reflected in the video/data. The data I get on my computer is much more detailed than what I include on the YouTube posting--it records and graphs intake temps, oil temps, coolant temps, engine load calc, rpm, etc. from the OBD port, inline/lateral/vertical G's from the unit's accelerometer, and speed and position/track mapping from the GPS antenna. I've found, though, that the system reads throttle position as 75% when it is in fact wide open. That's why the green throttle bar on the video only goes 3/4 of the way up and stays there when I'm flat on the gas. So the RPM readings off of the OBD port may be similarly inaccurate. I try to wait until at least 7500 rpm or so before shifting, and yet the video data would indicate I'm short-shifting as low as the 6000s at times...

Have you been to the Glen in recent months? Our event organizers warned us to stay off of the exit curbing in turn 1 because they said it was recently raised and would upset the car. Maybe it can still be used partially, though?

I'll refer back to this thread when I go up to the Glen next time so I can employ some of the tips. So I have a reference, what are your typical lap times there for an E9X M3? Thanks again.
I was there at the end of June and will be there again on July 30 & 31st with Phoenix CMR whom are a great group to run with I find the curbing from 1-2 to be quite useful.I saw a lot of the fast guys using it even in setting up for 2!We would get blackflagged if you had more than 2 wheels off the track at that point.I was running 2.16-2.17s when I was alone in the car which was rare as I usually end up with students in the car which seems to result in times in the high teens .I am running on a 275 square NT05 setup with the same Stoptech 380/355 RS29 setup as you which is great though I seem to have some pad knockback after the bus stop.
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      07-12-2012, 09:30 PM   #14
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That looks like one fun and scary track. Those railings are Nice video and driving and sounds like some excellent advice coming from the crowd
The railings were what originally kept me away from the Glen. After having been there (and been a passenger on flying laps with Gearhead999s himself), I can't get this track out of my head. Most of the areas with railings are well cambered, so unless you really get out of shape, they don't factor in at all. Going up through the esses, the video makes things look pretty narrow, but there's a lot of room. The Glen is a must for any track junkie!

Last edited by sawzall; 07-12-2012 at 09:35 PM.
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      07-13-2012, 10:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shizzle View Post
The railings were what originally kept me away from the Glen. After having been there (and been a passenger on flying laps with Gearhead999s himself), I can't get this track out of my head. Most of the areas with railings are well cambered, so unless you really get out of shape, they don't factor in at all. Going up through the esses, the video makes things look pretty narrow, but there's a lot of room. The Glen is a must for any track junkie!
There are areas of the track where you are literally just feet off of the Armco. But you're right, the camber of the track carries you through. Going up through the esses does seem like a bit of a tunnel, especially in the wet--that's when you feel like you're on tiptoes.
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      07-13-2012, 10:21 PM   #16
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How does the car handle. What tires are you running? A tight car is no good and will kill your ability to get the car pointed. I know you said the car gets unsettled if you run over the bus stop curbing too much but going fast is about getting comfortable with an uncomfortable car. I think you could cary like 10 mph more thru the bus stop which you'd carry all the way down into the laces. That is huge amounts of time. Maybe not something you want to play with in your daily driver though I don't blame you. If the car feels hooked up through a turn, there is more speed available. It should feel like it is floating and skating a bit, ideally induced at turn in with a smooth brake release.
I assume by "tight" car you mean one that understeers. I'm running 275/35-18 Nitto NT01s all around. In slower corners I can definitely feel the car moving around and responding to trail braking. I understand what you mean about needing to maintain a certain degree of slip.
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      07-13-2012, 11:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Derple
How does the car handle. What tires are you running? A tight car is no good and will kill your ability to get the car pointed. I know you said the car gets unsettled if you run over the bus stop curbing too much but going fast is about getting comfortable with an uncomfortable car. I think you could cary like 10 mph more thru the bus stop which you'd carry all the way down into the laces. That is huge amounts of time. Maybe not something you want to play with in your daily driver though I don't blame you. If the car feels hooked up through a turn, there is more speed available. It should feel like it is floating and skating a bit, ideally induced at turn in with a smooth brake release.
Am glad to hear this as feel like I never have real "grip" anymore and am moving/sliding around quite a bit and playing that balance game now more than worried about line and braking points. Will get to the glen one of these days
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      07-18-2012, 10:48 AM   #18
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well this helps explain why I was so much faster through the "Busstop"this year.

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am a little confused. I was there in May and at the end of June as well and the rumble strips going into the Bus Stop are quite a bit lower than before. When I did a track walk after last year's cup race you could see how the cup cars were riding all the way up on top of the highest part of the strips and carrying their braking to about half way through the bus stop. I remember thinking that would pound the hell out of my Z if I did that intentionally lap after lap. But this year the tops of the entry strips have been lowered and they don't seem to be as rough (less vibration). I can put the whole car on the strips not just one side and can now consistently use them to really straighten corner entry. I get more vibration in the car from hitting the lane marker rumble strips along the interstates than I do going over the ones at the entry to the bus stop. The exit strips are still the same and I run on them but not to the top level.

Not sure any of those changes will affect the Cup cars as they didn't seem to mind the taller strips and a lot of times it seems like the pavement is only a guide through the bus stop area and a fair amount of time some of them have their wheels in the grass so they can really straighten out the turn. I guess you can do that with a 3500 lb purpose built race car that is almost as tough as a tank.
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      07-18-2012, 11:46 AM   #19
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well this helps explain why I was so much faster through the "Busstop"this year.
Apparently they also brought the Armco closer to the track at the entrance of the Bus Stop. My instructor noted this--he typically runs over the entire curbing on entry, but flinched a bit when he saw how close those baby blue rails are now...
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      07-18-2012, 12:01 PM   #20
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Apparently they also brought the Armco closer to the track at the entrance of the Bus Stop. My instructor noted this--he typically runs over the entire curbing on entry, but flinched a bit when he saw how close those baby blue rails are now...
A few feet at 100 mph is not going to mean the difference between hitting the baby blues or not
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      07-26-2012, 07:19 AM   #21
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Fun video - I signed up to go to Watkins Glen with BMW CCA Genesee Valley on September 22 and 23. So far I've only done 1 event (NJMP) and I'll have done one more (again at NJMP) before this one, so I'll be in the novice group. Can't wait! Will I see any of you there? I will definitely watch this video a lot before 9/22.
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      07-28-2012, 10:44 AM   #22
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Fun video - I signed up to go to Watkins Glen with BMW CCA Genesee Valley on September 22 and 23. So far I've only done 1 event (NJMP) and I'll have done one more (again at NJMP) before this one, so I'll be in the novice group. Can't wait! Will I see any of you there? I will definitely watch this video a lot before 9/22.
Have fun. It's an epic track.
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