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      10-14-2011, 07:02 AM   #1
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VIR PCA Write-up

I'm admittedly making this post more out of self interest than anything else, so feel free to ignore this post if it bores you.

Last Sunday, I drove down to take a spin on VIR for the first time. The drive down was interesting, to say the least. It included the world's slowest hand car wash (45 minutes to wash an M3? Really?!) and at least half a dozen people commenting on my incredibly loud Hawk HP+ brake pads. More on the pads later, but I really regret that they sound louder than a New York City Dump Truck. There's something unnerving about driving through a quiet town on a Sunday sounding like the world's biggest car crash every time you tap the brakes.

Thanks to my carpenter, who showed up at my apartment late (AGAIN) to do some work, I did not leave NYC until 11 am. Big mistake. By the time I got off of I-81, it was pitch dark, and I was at least 150 miles from the track. I ended up driving back and forth past the "Welcome to NC" and the "Welcome to VA...RADAR DETECTORS ARE ILLEGAL" signs a few times until I found the VIR sign. I popped into bed, caught part of the Japanese Grand Prix, and then passed out.

Monday turned out to be absolutely incredible. There is no better feeling than opening your window to the early dawn light cascading over a beautiful, green track. Is that poetic enough for you?

Now for the actual track day. The track was simply phenomenal. I am completely out of superlatives. The best way I can describe it is as a quicker version of Monticello; the esses certainly conjure up images of some of the greatest race tracks in Europe. Thanks to obsessively watching some of the VIR videos on this forum, I was fairly comfortable from the first lap, and settled into a decent-ish line. The car was incredibly solid throughout the day, with engine temps remaining normal despite the long straights. The Hawk HP+ pads, despite squealing louder than a pig headed for the butcher's knife, exceeded my expectations. I experienced no fade whatsoever, and the added stopping power was well worth it.

Final verdict? It was absolutely worth heading to VIR. The only negative was the group I ran with (PCA). Some of the guys, including the instructors were pretty nice and friendly, but a lot of them seemed to be compensating for something, and had poor manners, both on and off the track. A shout-out goes to the idiot that cut across the track after exiting the pits, forcing me to dive to the inside while I was already on the brakes. And let's not forget the guy who decided to pass me in the intermediate group by outbraking me into turn 3. Not cool, man, not cool.

Some videos are included - please forgive my incredible lack of smoothness, I am working on it! And if I may interject another excuse, these were taken at the end of a 6-session day.


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      10-14-2011, 08:42 AM   #2
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Nice writeup. I really love that feeling of driving into the paddock area early in the morning.

I used the HP+ pads on a previous car, and had the exact same experience. They held up well on track at VIR, but they were WAY too loud around town.

I was just at VIR two weeks ago with the BMW CCA. I mixed it up this time and tried the Stoptech Street performance pads for the stock calipers. They didn't have quite as much stopping power as the HP+, but they never started to fade either. We pushed the tires/brakes pretty hard, with back to back A/B group sessions every time. At the very end of the second day, they started to lose a bit of the pedal feel, but I could still brake at the same brake points.

Oddly enough, the pedal feel did come back by the next morning.

Here's one of the laps from my last session of the weekend:

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      10-14-2011, 09:05 AM   #3
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Nice write up. I've never been to VIR before. I found out last month that a company that makes the Aerial Atom here in the states was doing track days with the car there. Unfortunately, all of them are sold out. Hopefully they'll have another season next year. Interesting read about PCA, I haven't heard much about them, but not good to hear of your experiences with the other drivers there. I've only been to BMWCCA events so far. Awesome vids.
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      10-14-2011, 09:13 AM   #4
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VIR is an awesome track and just like you my first time there I couldn't find it. Well worth the drive. There are plenty of other groups that run track days there, just ask Martin D or von zoom, they both live there and they can tell you which groups are cool and which ones are not. Hopefully I will see you there next year.
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      10-14-2011, 09:38 AM   #5
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bummer i couldn't run this day with you. i had a clutch seal problem so I was towed home...

With PCA each region is different. It is hit or miss. Live and learn....
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      10-17-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
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pman10 - Happy to see you made it down to VIR, and sorry you had some issues in the group you participated with. Normally, events at VIR are well managed. I suggest you email the organizer of the group you just ran with and report your opinion. If they don't know, then they cannot react correctly.

Hope that you will make another trip to VIR . would like to meet you.
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      10-18-2011, 01:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the kind comments, everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J!M View Post
Nice writeup. I really love that feeling of driving into the paddock area early in the morning.

I used the HP+ pads on a previous car, and had the exact same experience. They held up well on track at VIR, but they were WAY too loud around town.

I was just at VIR two weeks ago with the BMW CCA. I mixed it up this time and tried the Stoptech Street performance pads for the stock calipers. They didn't have quite as much stopping power as the HP+, but they never started to fade either. We pushed the tires/brakes pretty hard, with back to back A/B group sessions every time. At the very end of the second day, they started to lose a bit of the pedal feel, but I could still brake at the same brake points.

Oddly enough, the pedal feel did come back by the next morning.

Here's one of the laps from my last session of the weekend:

Good stuff! I believe losing brake pedal pressure is associated with a fluid issue (you probably cooked your brake fluid!), especially since you didn't have any real brake fade. I flushed my fluid before going on track, and didn't have any issues.

The entire circuit is just beautiful, it makes for a great experience and is a great way to convince friends/family along.

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Originally Posted by JDy80 View Post
Nice write up. I've never been to VIR before. I found out last month that a company that makes the Aerial Atom here in the states was doing track days with the car there. Unfortunately, all of them are sold out. Hopefully they'll have another season next year. Interesting read about PCA, I haven't heard much about them, but not good to hear of your experiences with the other drivers there. I've only been to BMWCCA events so far. Awesome vids.
Thanks! It's absolutely worth the drive down, but bring a friend or spouse for company as the drive is long! I saw the atom running on track, I wish I had gotten a ride in it.

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Originally Posted by dcgolfdr View Post
VIR is an awesome track and just like you my first time there I couldn't find it. Well worth the drive. There are plenty of other groups that run track days there, just ask Martin D or von zoom, they both live there and they can tell you which groups are cool and which ones are not. Hopefully I will see you there next year.
I hope I can make it down again next year!

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Originally Posted by von_zoom View Post
pman10 - Happy to see you made it down to VIR, and sorry you had some issues in the group you participated with. Normally, events at VIR are well managed. I suggest you email the organizer of the group you just ran with and report your opinion. If they don't know, then they cannot react correctly.

Hope that you will make another trip to VIR . would like to meet you.
vz
The organizers were good, I think it was more a reflection of the students on that day than anything else. I hope to meet you guys next time! I am already eyeing my calendar for next year.

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Originally Posted by Martin_D View Post
bummer i couldn't run this day with you. i had a clutch seal problem so I was towed home...

With PCA each region is different. It is hit or miss. Live and learn....
That really sucks. Good luck with the car issues
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      10-18-2011, 05:57 AM   #8
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I went with First Settlers PCA for a three day trip. They did a great job with the event with a good balance of "control" and fun. The drivers were polite with a good mix of cars. Seeing a Porsche turbo launch up the back straight is pretty awesome too! Glad you had a good time. 6 sessions in a day! wow!

Are you running with DSC off?

Apparently, the Washington DC PCA is pretty bad as the members are generally ex-government bureaucrats, and all the i's are dotted and t's crossed, checked and double checked then stamped! Someone told me that a guy got tossed from an event because he turned up at staging a little early, and then made the mistake of making an argument that it was not a big deal! Tut, tut, tut! We have procedures!
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      10-20-2011, 09:13 AM   #9
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Great thread and write ups! Curious if those who've Driven keep DSC on? Also, bad idea to attempt a novice drive with the stock break setup?
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      10-20-2011, 09:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiM3y View Post
I went with First Settlers PCA for a three day trip. They did a great job with the event with a good balance of "control" and fun. The drivers were polite with a good mix of cars. Seeing a Porsche turbo launch up the back straight is pretty awesome too! Glad you had a good time. 6 sessions in a day! wow!

Are you running with DSC off?

Apparently, the Washington DC PCA is pretty bad as the members are generally ex-government bureaucrats, and all the i's are dotted and t's crossed, checked and double checked then stamped! Someone told me that a guy got tossed from an event because he turned up at staging a little early, and then made the mistake of making an argument that it was not a big deal! Tut, tut, tut! We have procedures!
Your write-up inspired me to make the trip down! . You're right, HPDE events can be hit-or-miss, especially since it really depends on the personalities on track that given day. I also learned that they allowed a few advanced drivers to run in the intermediate group in order to get extra track time (really? 6 sessions isn't enough for you?!), which might explain my experience a bit.

I ran with MDM, VIR's layout scares me. I'm positive it saved me from a big shunt at the start of the esses, and it worked surprisingly well with the track pads.

PS - I now understand what a 'pucker' moment is, had a few of those!
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      10-20-2011, 09:27 AM   #11
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Great thread and write ups! Curious if those who've Driven keep DSC on? Also, bad idea to attempt a novice drive with the stock break setup?
Thanks! Stock is fine for a first-timer. Just make sure you have plenty of pad material left, flush your brakes, and make sure to torque your wheels, and you should be fine. Also, watch the videos posted here and on youtube in order to learn the track layout and the line - it will make things easier when you hit the track.
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      10-20-2011, 11:24 AM   #12
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VIR with DSC off after you get comfortable with the areas of the track where you know the car will lose rear adhesion.

It also depends entirely on how much RIGHT foot pressure you apply.
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      10-20-2011, 12:21 PM   #13
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Great write up, can't wait to do a track day there.
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      10-22-2011, 12:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Great thread and write ups! Curious if those who've Driven keep DSC on? Also, bad idea to attempt a novice drive with the stock break setup?
Stock brakes are fine, just be sure you have fresh fluid. As far as DSC goes, just see how things progress with your instructor. My suggestion, make it known early on that you want some track time with DSC off. Some instructors insist on such anyway, but others are slow to recommend it. And honestly, it really depends on your progress. Some folks have a natural feel for handling dynamics, and others acquire it slower. I have a lot of track time with different cars, and the M3 is about as forgiving as any car you could drive. At a certain point in your development, you will have to drive with DSC off in order to really control the car with your inputs. With good instruction, you will be comfortable with it, and probably will rarely use it again.
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