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      05-04-2011, 08:07 AM   #1
paradocs98
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Watkins Glen review

I did the May 2-3 Watkins Glen HPDE with NASA/PDA. What a great experience! Some thoughts:

1. Watkins Glen is obviously a legendary track. Beautiful setting. Nice facilities (new media center with classrooms and lunch room, big garage if you're lucky enough to secure a bay for the event). Long track with fast, sweeping turns, a lot of elevation changes, changes in surface from asphalt to concrete strips where you can feel differences in traction levels. And the blue Armco always making itself known.

2. NASA/PDA is a great group of people. They run things well. They're organized, friendly, and emphasize safety while encouraging you to have fun within your limits. My instructor was fantastic (I ran in the green/HPDE 1 group).

3. The majority of participants were well-behaved and friendly. Everyone is enthusiastic about their car and willing to chat about it. There were a few people you had to look out for, though--taking a bizarre line on the track despite having an instructor with them or giving ambivalent/wimpy point-bys. Just like out on public roads, you identify them and try to stay away from them.

4. There were only a couple of other E90/92 M3s among the various groups. In my green group there were the usual Evos, a modified R32 VW, a Mercedes C230 coupe/hatchback, two CTS-Vs, an S2000 with a huge wing, a Mini Cooper S convertible!, and a new 911 Turbo cabriolet. My car did very well. It felt solid and planted. The DCT was stupendous. I know some consider it cheating to not heel-toe and manage a manual transmission, but at least for now I want to work on my line, my smoothness, my braking, etc. The car really feels like it's in its element on the track. It didn't feel excessively heavy. There was a bit of noticeable understeer in some turns, but that's okay for now. I was using the stock ZCP wheels and PZeros, and I'm still learning.

5. My StopTech brakes that I had initially been worried about (getting used to the pedal feel, rebleeding after initial installation to get rid of some residual air) did very very well. They felt incredibly solid, with no fade, and I was able to brake as deep into corners as I feel comfortable with at this point. My instructor loved them and is probably going to fit a StopTech BBK to his new Boss 302 Mustang (at home he has a couple of Cobra Rs and a Ford GT).

6. I arrived at the track at the start of the day with a full tank of gas, and by the end of the 4th session that day I brought it in with a couple of laps to go because I was on fumes. 6 mpg? I haven't done the math.

7. As fun as it was, this is serious business and hopefully all participants realize that. Over the two days, incidents included a modified STi that broke the oil return pipe from the turbo to the block and had a small engine fire, a broken transmission on the Mini convertible, a Viper in one of the advanced groups that spun and smashed its rear into the Armco, and a new Z06 in the advanced group that spun, caught the grass at an angle, and barrel-rolled. Driver ok, but Z06 totaled.

All in all, a very worthwhile experience.
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      05-04-2011, 08:37 AM   #2
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I was there as well in my white E30 M3. The Z06 driver seems pretty lucky given his car wasn't caged, but I hear the roll over occurred after he made contact with the barrier and slowed down significantly, so it sounds like the car just kind of rolled over once and stopped. Either way, glad he walked away from it. As you experienced, the concrete patches at WGI are very slippery when it drizzles like that. Too bad the fog rolled in and ended our day.
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      05-04-2011, 08:46 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paradocs98 View Post
I did the May 2-3 Watkins Glen HPDE with NASA/PDA. What a great experience! Some thoughts:







5. My StopTech brakes that I had initially been worried about (getting used to the pedal feel, rebleeding after initial installation to get rid of some residual air) did very very well. They felt incredibly solid, with no fade, and I was able to brake as deep into corners as I feel comfortable with at this point. My instructor loved them and is probably going to fit a StopTech BBK to his new Boss 302 Mustang (at home he has a couple of Cobra Rs and a Ford GT).



All in all, a very worthwhile experience.
What pads were you running in the Stoptechs?I am there at the end of the month for a couple of days.
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      05-04-2011, 12:56 PM   #4
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lucid--I definitely saw your car driving around the garage at Watkins Glen. It's loud. I was sitting in my car on the iPad trying to stay warm between sessions and I looked up to see what was making the race car noises--a white E30 M3.
(Actually, I wasn't sitting ON my iPad, but I guess that would keep you warm...)

My instructor and I walked over to the Z06 after the wrecker brought it back to the paddock area. Just as you said, it didn't have a roll bar or cage, but it did have a 5-point harness. On Tuesday in the classroom I brought this up to see what Enrique the group MD thought about using a harness without a cage. I was surprised that he didn't agree that it's a bad idea. We talked about how theoretically with a standard 3-point seatbelt you can lean down out of the way of the roof in a rollover if you don't have a cage, but he poo-pooed this idea. He thinks that a 5-point harness is inherently safer regardless. One of the other instructors agreed with me, though, so the debate continues...

Gearhead--I'm using the fairly new StopTech Street Performance pads that are now shipping with their BBKs. They did really well. We'll see how they hold up. Have fun.
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      05-04-2011, 01:55 PM   #5
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Yep, that's my car.

The car got pretty loud after we got rid of the muffled OEM airbox and trap door-like AFM. Exhaust is next, which will most likely make the car undrivable at Lime Rock unless I short shift on the straight; they have strict sound limits. We'll see. I'll be at LRP in June. You must be driving the IB M3 then? I was instructing in the black Z4M in your group. You went by us a couple of times I think; you seemed to be doing well.

Yes, people disagree on the usage of 3 vs 5 point belts in an uncaged car. I guess it depends on if the roof collapses completely or not. I didn't see that Z06, but I imagine the B pillars were still intact?
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      05-04-2011, 02:02 PM   #6
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Great review of Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen was actually the very first track I have been on and I have gone back a few times over the last 12 years with various different cars. It's an awesome track and I can't wait to go back (maybe sometime next year). I usually sign up with the local club there, BMW GVC CCA, also a great bunch of guys with a very high safety record.

I've been on Watkins Glen in the wet also, you definately need to be careful on the concrete patches. The reason they have those patches there is because of Nascar. Those Nascar cars used to tear up the track so they put those patches there.

Thanks for sharing your review.
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      05-04-2011, 02:38 PM   #7
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[tangent]

Our cars have a restraint system associated with impacts. We have pre-tensioners that tighten the seat belt and pyrotechnic charges in the catch that go off when the air bag deploys. These are designed to hold you upright in the seat during an impact for the deployment of the airbags, and I am guessing the statistically safest position to be in a crash. If you have the core strength and reactions to overcome this system and slide to one side during a roll over, you probably have the reactions to avoid the roll in the first place! Go quickly around a corner, or brake hard to trigger the pre-tensioners and see how much wiggle room you have to duck down - when you get to decide when you need to do it!

I also wonder if this is a carry-over from older car models where there was not the same legislation about roll-over protection for newly produced cars?

I asked Scroth about this when hearing the latest tale about the E9X M3 harness, and they said that they were happy to install/sell harnesses in non-roll-cage cars.

However, saying, this, I am still on the fence. I thought about getting mounting points for a clip-in 4 pt harness, but I am not sure. Currently, I have a CG-lock which makes a big difference to how tight you need to hang on. I am also going to try a grip mat in the seat used for kiddie seats and see how that works out.

There is a huge lack of real data out there, and when that happens, the vaccuum gets filled with bullshit and conjecture, and it is tough to know what is and isn't real

[/tangent]
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      05-04-2011, 02:48 PM   #8
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I think it is not as much a matter of one intentionally avoiding contact with a collapsing roof by sliding to the side as a reaction, which, as you say, is probably not possible given how quickly such a scenario would play itself out, but more a matter of when the roof makes contact with you (your helmet initially), is your body free to move to the side (assuming you somehow survive the impact), or will it be somewhat restrained and crushed in the process...
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      05-04-2011, 02:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paradocs98 View Post

Gearhead--I'm using the fairly new StopTech Street Performance pads that are now shipping with their BBKs. They did really well. We'll see how they hold up. Have fun.
That is what I wanted to hear as my Pagid RS 14 & 29's are still a few weeks away and I have 3 trackdays in the meantime that I will use the Stoptech supplied pads for these.
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      05-04-2011, 02:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
I think it is not as much a matter of one intentionally avoiding contact with a collapsing roof by sliding to the side as a reaction, which, as you say, is probably not possible given how quickly such a scenario would play itself out, but more a matter of when the roof makes contact with you (your helmet initially), is your body free to move to the side, or will it be somewhat restrained and crushed in the process...
I hear you.

Part of this is that I have no concept of the forces involved and the rate they are applied, and how long the seatbelt "holds" you.

Interesting point - when you have an instructor on board, there is less room to move around! Perhaps one should have a pre-collision agreement?

"after you..."
"no, after you, I insist"
"but you have an open faced helmet"
"oh, okay, but it is a little damp down there now"
"at least it is warm"
"asparagus last night?"
"yep, with a chicken alfredo"

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      05-04-2011, 03:14 PM   #11
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      05-04-2011, 05:47 PM   #12
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Great review and wish I caught you before I left early on the second day. I walked up to the car when you drove it into the garage but didn't have a chance to talk to you. Beautiful ride bro. It was my second HPDE event and agree with you that it was very well put together and informative. Definitely learned a lot driving in the rain. That wet line definitely works lol.

Lucid - Saw your E30 as well. Sick and loud! lol
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      05-04-2011, 08:38 PM   #13
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that track consumes fuel.
agree on the writeup, cant forget about the amazingly fast left hander, love it!
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      05-05-2011, 07:31 AM   #14
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lucid--yep, that was me in the IB E90 M3. I had a great time. I spent time talking with your student Nick in the Z4M coupe. He's a nice guy, also from Long Island.

LiM3y--you mention the possibility of a clip-in 4-point harness. Enrique from NASA specifically stated during our classroom session that he did not recommend 4-point harnesses because of the lack of an anti-submarine strap. He said that forces in an accident can be as high as 50G!

Bx Tpr--Maybe I'll see you at another HPDE. Come by and say hi.

Thanks for the comments everybody.
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      05-05-2011, 07:32 AM   #15
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LiM3y--LOL on the asparagus/chicken alfredo
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      05-05-2011, 07:41 AM   #16
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Yeah, Nick is a good guy, and made a ton of progress.

I also would like to learn more about how 4-point harnesses behave in a crash. Belts can stretch considerably in a crash, and some folks think it is possible to slide under the lap straps or even out through the shoulder straps of a 4 point system. The former possibility is somewhat established I think, but not so sure about the latter. As Lim3y said, there doesn't seem to be much data on this stuff, or maybe there are, and I just haven't ran into them...
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      05-05-2011, 08:08 AM   #17
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Schroth have a patented anti-submarine system where the inner belt stretches a little more than the outer. They have film of it on their web-site.

I am going to chat with a race mechanic/installer on Tuesday at LRP during a track day and get his two pence worth (he is English too!).

I have to be honest, if I was convinced, I would have already installed one.
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      05-05-2011, 10:11 AM   #18
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You must be referring to the video at the end of this page on ASM:

http://www.schrothracing.com/store/T...ick-fit/qf-bmw

I had not seen that. Thanks for the reference.

I must conclude that somebody needs to develop a "groin airbag" packaged into the seat as an anti-submarine feature for 3-point systems.
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      05-05-2011, 11:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
You must be referring to the video at the end of this page on ASM:

http://www.schrothracing.com/store/T...ick-fit/qf-bmw

I had not seen that. Thanks for the reference.

I must conclude that somebody needs to develop a "groin airbag" packaged into the seat as an anti-submarine feature for 3-point systems.
Something like this?



This was a cartoon character in a Newcastle based comic when I was growing up.
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      05-05-2011, 11:51 AM   #20
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Yeah, buster ain't submarinin' in any crash for sure.

Wow, you and I really did this thread in, didn't we? It all started so properly with a good review!
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      05-05-2011, 12:00 PM   #21
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Great writeup Jason. Sounds like it was a good event!
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      05-05-2011, 02:38 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Bx Tpr--Maybe I'll see you at another HPDE. Come by and say hi.

Thanks for the comments everybody.
For sure.
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