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      05-24-2013, 04:50 PM   #1
Paddock
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2008 M3 kinda-sorta vs 2013 Mustang GT (experienced drag racers come in!)

Hello everyone! I'm hoping those with drag racing experience and know the fun of the quarter mile can come in and help me with encouraging words about the fun of the strip.

A good friend of mine who has an '08 M3 6speed (and is a member here... wassup hossinfuss? i told you i'd post this ) who thoroughly enjoys the car (as do I when I visit- riding shotgun in that car is a blast!) and I've been trying to get him to go to the track for a few years now to see what he can run, learn more about the potential of the car in a quantitative environment, and to have some fun. At first he seemed interested but after giving him the lowdown on running at a track so he can be prepared it made him a little nervous of looking "embarrassed" or like a n00b (or other irrational fears). I had him talked back into going when I come to visit (he lives in the US, I live in Canada) but now that I've traded up from a base model mustang to a GT and mentioned driving it down he took this "why bother I"m going to lose?" attitude.

That wasn't my point in driving the car down though.

My point was that this is my first time at the track with this car and I want to see what it can do and have some fun with a good friend at the same time. I don't have a track that is convenient to me (nearest one to me is about 5 hours away) and this is a great opportunity to go to a well prepped fast track. The one near my friend is a close to sea level track notorious for being a place where "hero runs" are made, so if I'm going to beat on my new car I might as well do it in a place where I have a shot at running the best time my driving skills are going to give me. If the stars align and we get to line up together I could care less who wins or loses (ok, that last sentence is BS, but you get my point ).

If we were to get the chance to line up those of you with track experience can testify when two cars in "magazine races" run 12's-low 13's but trap within 3-4mph of each other, that in the real world it can go either way depending on the driver. Yea I do have some track experience but I only have 30 or so passes at a couple of different tracks so it's not like I'm John Force for something. These things for me are beside the point.

My bottom line to him is that on the whole the strip is a supportive, encouraging place and welcomes new people trying their skills in a controlled environment. These skills can help you appreciate the car you have and make things that much more enjoyable especially if you are the kind of person who likes that "launch off the line" feeling that a car like the M3 can deliver (I cant tell you how many times I've seen him stop some jack*** who has a lane ending but thinks he can muscle in when the light turns). I simply want to go to a track to have some fun with long time friend who also happens to be an enthusiast (our friendship goes back 24 years and our serious car rivalry for about 9) and see what our car/driver combinations can do. It's a ton of fun to go to the track and I want him to experience the addiction firsthand.

If anyone can discuss their "first time at the track" experiences and/or experiences lining up with a GT to show how fun it can be please chime in. It would be something different for us to do when I come down and we can both get our need for speed addiction satisfied without risking tickets.

Thanks and have a good one!
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      05-25-2013, 12:39 PM   #2
bruce.augenstein@comcast.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddock View Post
Hello everyone! I'm hoping those with drag racing experience and know the fun of the quarter mile can come in and help me with encouraging words about the fun of the strip.

A good friend of mine who has an '08 M3 6speed (and is a member here... wassup hossinfuss? i told you i'd post this ) who thoroughly enjoys the car (as do I when I visit- riding shotgun in that car is a blast!) and I've been trying to get him to go to the track for a few years now to see what he can run, learn more about the potential of the car in a quantitative environment, and to have some fun. At first he seemed interested but after giving him the lowdown on running at a track so he can be prepared it made him a little nervous of looking "embarrassed" or like a n00b (or other irrational fears). I had him talked back into going when I come to visit (he lives in the US, I live in Canada) but now that I've traded up from a base model mustang to a GT and mentioned driving it down he took this "why bother I"m going to lose?" attitude.

That wasn't my point in driving the car down though.

My point was that this is my first time at the track with this car and I want to see what it can do and have some fun with a good friend at the same time. I don't have a track that is convenient to me (nearest one to me is about 5 hours away) and this is a great opportunity to go to a well prepped fast track. The one near my friend is a close to sea level track notorious for being a place where "hero runs" are made, so if I'm going to beat on my new car I might as well do it in a place where I have a shot at running the best time my driving skills are going to give me. If the stars align and we get to line up together I could care less who wins or loses (ok, that last sentence is BS, but you get my point ).

If we were to get the chance to line up those of you with track experience can testify when two cars in "magazine races" run 12's-low 13's but trap within 3-4mph of each other, that in the real world it can go either way depending on the driver. Yea I do have some track experience but I only have 30 or so passes at a couple of different tracks so it's not like I'm John Force for something. These things for me are beside the point.

My bottom line to him is that on the whole the strip is a supportive, encouraging place and welcomes new people trying their skills in a controlled environment. These skills can help you appreciate the car you have and make things that much more enjoyable especially if you are the kind of person who likes that "launch off the line" feeling that a car like the M3 can deliver (I cant tell you how many times I've seen him stop some jack*** who has a lane ending but thinks he can muscle in when the light turns). I simply want to go to a track to have some fun with long time friend who also happens to be an enthusiast (our friendship goes back 24 years and our serious car rivalry for about 9) and see what our car/driver combinations can do. It's a ton of fun to go to the track and I want him to experience the addiction firsthand.

If anyone can discuss their "first time at the track" experiences and/or experiences lining up with a GT to show how fun it can be please chime in. It would be something different for us to do when I come down and we can both get our need for speed addiction satisfied without risking tickets.

Thanks and have a good one!
I have previously posted a "how-to" article in these pages but I'll post it here again, because parts of it are "calm your fears" words.

First of all, you're looking for a session labelled "test session", "test and tune", "grudge night", or something of the sort. These are held on, say, Wednesday or Friday nights, or Saturdays. You don't want a normal Sunday schedule, because you're not interested in a formal drag race session. You want a show-up-and-make-some-passes session, where the guy in the other lane may be in diesel pickup or a big-block '60s Vette running in the eights - and it just doesn't matter.

Incidentally, the guy in the diesel pickup may kick your ass, but don't worry about that, either. You're there to ask questions, have fun and learn what your car can do.

When you show up early, pay your money (probably between $15 and $25), and follow somebody to the tech check. This will be straightforward and uncomplicated in your case (because you're stock and late model), but probably thorough as well. They'll number your car with shoe polish on your windows, and you're done. Note that you're going to need a helmet because of your car's performance, and they may check it at this point. Also note that you want to show up unencumbered with gum wrappers, anvils, etc. in the car, as that makes life less complicated at this point, any way you look at it. Just show up with everything stock (including air pressure), pretty much the way you run it on those early Sunday morning runs in the twisties.
Ordinarily, I'd say find a good spot in the pits to park, but since you're not going to be claiming that spot (with, say, your spare tire or whatever) and you're early, just park somewhere and wander around to get the lay of the land.

Sometime during the session, you should absolutely go to the grandstands just to watch the show. I recommend you do this after getting at least a couple of passes under your belt, because you'll be smarter about what you're watching. In the stands, watch the starts closely, as it'll give you a good feel about when you can launch, what works, etc. You'll also get a good feel for just how often a slower car can beat a faster car, and how a higher finishing speed (and often a lower elapsed time) mean nothing in a drag race. It's who gets to the finish line first.

When they're available (you're early, right?), get to the staging lanes - an area of six or eight or whatever number of paved lanes near the starting line - and get in line in one of them. They're there to control traffic out onto the track itself, and track workers will direct you and others out onto the track in a controlled and orderly fashion.

Note that you want to run your engine as little as possible during all of this, and when stopped for any length of time, shut off and pop the hood, as heat soak is not a good thing in any performance venue.

When you're directed out onto the track (from and to whichever lane), the first thing to remember is to avoid any and all water as if you were the wicked witch. Only cars with competition slicks can benefit from a burnout, so drive around any and all moisture as you move up toward the starting line as you await your turn. You'll see other cars do burnouts just before they are waved to the starting line, but don't bother. Instead, when you get to that area and are waved forward (driving around the water), just rev it a bit and pop the clutch with a stick, or punch it quick with an automatic, just enough in either case to clean the tires of any pebbles, etc. Nothing spectacular. Just turn the tires once or twice, more or less in place.

As you move up toward the start, you'll notice "the Christmas tree", a short tower between the two lanes, several car-lengths down track. It's topped (for each lane) with a pair of small amber lights, followed by three larger amber lights, followed by a green light, followed by a red light at the bottom of the stack.*(see note below about alternative pre-stage and staged lighting)

The top light is the "pre-stage" light, which illuminates when you break an infrared beam with your front tires, and it's there to tell you that you're a few inches away from the actual starting line. Just crawl forward until the "staged" (second) light comes on, and stop instantly. Your front tires have just broken the starting line beam, and you are now good to go.

OK, your heart is now pumping hard, so just try and relax. It's only time trials, and there's nothing at stake. When both cars are staged, just ignore whatever is in the other lane, bring your revs up (or whatever it is you do when you want to make a strong launch on the street), and wait for the three amber lights to begin counting down, a half second between lights, and another half second after the last amber for the green light to pop on.
Because your front tires have just barely broken the staged beam, you can roll about a foot before you leave the beam and the clocks start, so you can basically launch as soon as the last amber light flares. If you wait for the green, your track-savvy evil twin in the other lane in an identical car will beat you to the finish line by about five car lengths- with the exact same ET and speed. No big deal. Just launch on the last amber instead of the green. Even if you leave early (and thus foul, lighting the red light), no problem. Just keep going and complete the run. Your ET and speed will be unaffected, so you just lose the race. You'll still get your timeslip, and that's what you're here for, right?.

Note that you don't have to start when the green comes on, so if something isn't right, make it right and launch as soon as you can after that. Again, your ET and speed will be unaffected - you'll just lose the race.

As to the actual race, the launch is all-important, so you clearly want to work on getting that right. You're on stock sneakers, so there are two issues. The first is that the rubber is optimized for fairly low slip rates. Today's high-performance tires will show the best grip when slipping by somewhere in the eight to ten percent area (meaning perhaps a very little bit of squeal at most - no screech), and grip fades severely as slip rates go up. So if you light 'em up, you're done for, ET and speed wise.

The second thing is, don't get brutal off the line. You basically have Michelin paint on your rims, and there's not enough sidewall to cushion any shocks. I tell people the same thing at the drag strip as I do during track days:

"Go fast slowly."

Launch hard, but absolutely as smoothly as possible. I'll leave M-DCT techniques to others, but with a stick, pick your rpm (I'd start with, say, 3000 or so), and launch pretty much the same way you'd do a normal, in-traffic start on the street - except on steroids. Use as much throttle as you can get away with, but just feather the clutch to hold the revs at 3000 for as long as it takes car speed to catch up with engine speed. Say, a second and a half at most, at which point the clutch is all the way out and you're on the floor.

Then, after you've done all that gear-banging (of whatever nature) and such, make sure you race for the full quarter mile. You'll know you're done when your ET and speed come up on a down-track tower on your side, and you can let off and coast for a little, because you have at least three-eighths of a mile before you'll need to make a U turn and come back down toward the starting line on the return road. Somewhere along there (varies by track), will be the timing shack where you can pick up your time slip. Watch the other cars ahead of you on the return road for an indication of where the timing shack is.

Then it's back to the staging lanes for your next pass. If you get there early, you'll probably be able to make several passes fairly quickly before everything slows down with more and more cars joining the fray. Then go find a spot to park with hood up and sit in the stands for awhile, analyzing techniques in the light of your recent experience before rejoining the fray. You'll also have the opportunity to observe some fairly spectacular machinery from time to time.

Also some crap, of course. It's only a practice session, and anybody can play if they pass tech - but you can learn from pretty much any kind of pass involving pretty much any kind of car.

That's pretty much it. Have fun, ask questions in the staging lanes of people who seem to know what they're doing, and don't let the Red Mist rise, even if there's a C63 in the other lane. You'll just blow the pass.

Bruce

* Note that many tracks have adopted the newer NHRA standard for pre-stage and staged lighting. A blue pictogram will illuminate when you break the pre-stage beam, and will change the pictogram when you break the staged beam.
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      05-25-2013, 12:47 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! This is very similar to what I sent him in email, just kind of a "here's what to expect and what different things are and what they mean" at the track. Glad someone posted up some confirmation of this from another source.

Curiously, have you had a chance to go up against an 11+ GT? How did you fare? Does your anecdotal evidence regarding times/traps agree with mine?

EDIT - I see you're in manheim, pa. I guess you can confirm the "hero time" potential of Cecil in October?
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      05-25-2013, 03:00 PM   #4
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Check this video, it shows the action from pit to pit at Mission Raceway Park (NHRA Division 6):



Basically, pay good attention to the guy waving your pair onto the track, then pay good attention to the guy controlling the water box area, then pay good attention to the guy controlling the start line, finally pay good attention to the "tree." This way you won't hold up the action and good times will be had by all.

The first time I was out there I had to learn about staging quite quickly (otherwise, like I said, you'll hold up the action). Those 2 lights on top of the tree shows where your front wheels are supposed to be:

No light, you're too far forward or too far back so you're not even tripping the laser beam.

Top light only, you're just a bit too far back, so creep forward until the bottom light lights up as well.

Bottom light only, you're just a bit too far forward, so creep backwards until the top light lights up as well.

Both lights are on, you're in the right position, so get ready to launch, as the starting line guy hits the switch pretty quickly once both guys are staged.
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      05-26-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddock View Post
Thanks for the reply! This is very similar to what I sent him in email, just kind of a "here's what to expect and what different things are and what they mean" at the track. Glad someone posted up some confirmation of this from another source.

Curiously, have you had a chance to go up against an 11+ GT? How did you fare? Does your anecdotal evidence regarding times/traps agree with mine?

EDIT - I see you're in manheim, pa. I guess you can confirm the "hero time" potential of Cecil in October?
At a guess, a current automatic M3 might be a hair quicker than a Mustang GT. Stick to stick, pick 'em. In other words, they're very close.

Never been to the Cecil County track. Maple Grove is a good deal closer, and it's a very good facility. The current ET records in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle have all been set at Maple Grove.

Bruce
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      05-26-2013, 06:56 PM   #6
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I wanted to go to maple grove. I liked that track. Unfortunately when I am able to come down with the car they have no test and tunes
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