My car was the oldest to run the dyno that day but also the car with the least HP: 121.6. I’m not upset, in fact it puts an extra wide grin on my face when I put my foot down and out-accelerate newer, more powerful cars.
I’d never been to a dyno day before, and I’ve never seen cars spewing black junk from the exhaust pipes before: As I learned, this junk doesn’t accumulate if you hit the rev limiter frequently. Since the dyno day I try to get out on the highway and hit the red line at least three times a week. Since doing that I’ve noticed the car feels like it’s putting down more power at the wheels… and no more black junk.
I made a video of my 3 runs.
On my way I stopped to fill up my tires to the required 38 PSI. Fortunately I checked the pressure with my own gauge: the gauge built into the gas station’s air hose was about 12 PSI off!
I arrived at Candlestick park around 7:00 and had just enough time to retrofit a fan shroud onto my radiator. Because the space between my fan and radiator is a little smaller than spec I needed to cut the bottom of the shroud off to make it fit without hitting the fan blade. The shroud did it’s job: I had no issues with overheating.
By 8:00 my e30 had passed tech inspection and received it’s “green to go” sticker.
After a brief “chalk talk” we broke into groups for the morning’s exercises.
The exercise started out with ovals for 2 laps composed of just half of the figure 8. This was a waste of time. None of us knew the course well enough to pick out the right cones to circle around and but the time anyone figured it out the 2 laps were over. However I did get to see others run the figure 8s so by the time my runs came up I had a good idea where the course was.
In additional to a little slalom work we also touched on trail braking. Trail braking is done thusly: the car approaches the entrance to a corner at a high rate of speed. The driver brakes hard, then enters the turn with diminishing brake. At about the apex the driver slowly squeezes on the gas so that by the time the car has finished turning the car is at wide-open-throttle.
Every run I made some improvements. I spun out twice but my instructor helped me understand why and ultimately I spun out because I had managed to come through the turns with more speed than I was anticipating (good, albeit unexpected).
The paper clip is essentially 2 sharp 180s joined by straight aways. This was all about trail braking and cornering with a double apex. The long path around the paperclip was the line taken by slower cars like mine, while the short path was taken by faster cars (like the super-charged Mazda Miata in my group).
Again, I had a spin out but made improvements on every run.
The triangle was most challenging for me, probably because my instructor was very demanding and scolded me for hitting cones. I think the expectation is that by the time you get to this exercise you’re going to be good. The triangle is 2 slaloms and a straight away connected by sharp turns.
I was initially slow to show improvement but eventually dialled in my cornering to the satisfaction of my instructor. I also smoothed out my slaloms (less jerky with the wheel) and cut closer to the cones I was passing instead of weaving in the space in the middle of the cones.
The triangle was really about refining and sharpening skills rather than picking up brand new concepts.
The “Mystery Course” was a short auto x course made of sharp and sweeper turns, two slaloms and a hair pin. I spun out twice and forgot to go “both feet in” on one which meant my car stalled out and was difficult to restart. The mystery course was loads of fun and a real taste of what auto x is like.
I got up at 5:00AM, drove over the mountains on highway 17, past Capitola and then to Marina. Once there I filled up the e30’s tank for $17.00, inflated my tires to 38 PSI and parked the car outside Tommy’s Restaurant. It wasn’t 7:00 yet but the locals were already lined up at the door. I picked this place because of it’s 4-start Yelp review. I didn’t realize that it earned each of those stars for price, not necessarily quality. I had the $0.99 “working man breakfast” and coffee. Total bill came out to just over $2.00 and I left a $1.00 tip. The food was not terrible and not salty. But it’s kind of hard to mess up eggs, hash browns and toast. I’d probably go back.
It was not yet 8:00AM but I drove to the airport and found a spot at the end of an already long line of cars. I introduced myself to other drivers and said hello to the familiar faces from other BMW events. Quite a few people came up to check out my e30 which was the oldest car there. By 9:00AM we had our briefing and shortly afterwards broke into groups for the day’s exercises.
This execise is “Steering by Throttle”. I immediately realized that my car is way more capable than I am. Handling, power were all more than adequate for the exercise. The problem was between my brain and my body: the problem was all on me. I ran over and off with 3 cones the first time and 2 cones the second time which earned me a couple “Cone Pirate” stickers. I did alright but I didn’t exactly nail the exercise and needed the instructors to guide me for the first 3 rounds even though I’d done this before in our e39 touring. The touring was much more complimentary for my skill level but the e30 is a different animal. I improved on each run but probably needed a 4th turn to really nail it. But I I still learned something about myself and even more about my car.
Performed alright, still have some room for improvement especially on the 180’s. I need to remember to look at the far gate before initiating my turn about. Had some great instructors on this exercise and this was by far my favorite exercise.
Totally blew this, even though I had 4 or 5 runs. For starters, the ABS on my car is not working so even though the car braked as I predicted (from 45 mph to a dead stop in 2 car lengths) my wheels locked up which actaully reduces stopping power and control. Then I was taking the runs too fast, and getting flustered by the signal lights and I ended up going sideways through the cones. This cemented my status as the event “Cone Killer” (see photo below of my trophy). The m20 engine in my car only generates ~150 HP (estimated) but it accelerates fast in 2nd gear and approaching redline. Going a little slower helped me get through the exercise without killing any cones. Again, I learned a lot about both myself and my car.
I was planning on going to track school in November but with Christmas coming it’s time to be budget conscious. My future plans are to take some high performance driving clinics with the BMW club next year and track school after that.
I had such a good time I may go take another CCC next year just for fun.
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