Track Day 20 + 21 - Streets of Willow CW & CCW - Instructing, Tire Headaches and Coolant Reservoir Cracks

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Screw in the side almost the sidewall of my Falken 615 tires.Screw in the side almost the sidewall of my Falken 615 tires, includes view of sidewal. The screw is just barely not in the sidwall.

Unfortunately, this track weekend started out with a headache.

I went to pick up my Corvette from where I've been stashing it in California, and sure enough as I backed out of the storage spot we noticed there was a flat tire. A quick inspection showed that I had picked up a screw in just about worst possible place on the tire: right by the sidwall.

I put a post up in Corvette Track Enthusiasts to get peoples opinions, and the overwhelming majority recommended just replacing the tires entirely. I've got 5 track days on them already, but was hoping to get 2-3 more out of them, so I suppose I'm not losing all that much on the set. I did consider swapping just two and replacing the two tires on the right side since I wore those the most at Laguna Seca last weekend, but then I'd be chasing tire changes a bunch and since these are already at 40% life, what am I really losing?

The big headache though of this situation was that I found the problem Wednesday night and I need to leave for the track Friday afternoon!

That didn't leave much time to sort out the tires. Consequently, the solution was two fold so as to give it the best chance of success I could: First, I ordered tires, which are scheduled for deliery friday. If the tires arrive on time, I'll have new tires swapped on and keep the 3 good tires around for a future endeavor. Second, knowing full well the tires may not make it on time, I got the current tire patched and plugged incase I need to run it. I feel decent running this if nescesary as I have a working TPMS, ensuring that I'll know when that tire starts losing air. The tire shop owner also felt pretty confident he'd run the tires as is though, so worse case scenario I run these and have my next set of tire ready to go!

Other Mechanical bits and observations leading into the track day:

Checking on my brake pads, they've still got a ton of life left front and rear, so I'll probably continue to send it with these. I did order a set of EBC SR11 brake pads to try out next as I have heard they last a very very long time and have great track feel.

Checking my cars oil levels I was a half quart below "full" which also means I am 1.5 quarts below track full (as you overfill these 1 quart). Pulling my oil catch can, there was a bout a 1/4 quart in there. None of this is a terrible surprise really as it was a 4 hour drive to my last track event at Laguna, a while track day of all out driving for every session, followed by a 4 hour drive back.

Other minor bits I looked into... I spent some time gorilla taping the air dam directing air up into the radiator to try and seal it off and ensure more air gets through the radiator, hopefully help keep temperatures in check since this weekend is forecasted for high tempereatures of 90 degrees!

How the track day actually went - Day 1

The first track day started simple enough. It was my first day helping instruct the novice group instead of just  sporhelpingadic folks who requested an instructor or I found taking strange lines on the track and I would later find in the cold pits to chat about lines.

Extreme speed is a good track org in my opinion, but they are very affordable and consequently are quite crowded. Thus, the beginner group can be a bit of a shit show, and without fail... it was a shit show. As we did the lead/follow on the first novice sesion, the students behind me who didn't pay attention PASSED ME when I signaled for them to pass me. Then everyone behind had no idea what was going on and they all presumed they didn't know what was happening... so it quickly turned into a bit of a shit show, but most of the folks got to see the lines, and that's the best I could hope for.

That aside though, things quickly cleaned up, folks started figuring the track out more. I jumped in a few sporadic folks cars to help them find the lines or they'd join me to see the lines I have been show and like to share, and in general it all went good. I also got a few advanced group sessions in and beat my personal best in this direction by going 1:26.448. I've always run a bit slower in this direction than the clockwise, so being 1.5 seconds behind my personal best recorded lap of 1:25.050 has me pretty happy. I also run CW 3 times for every one time I get to run the track CCW, so I am just that much more familiar with CW. It's also worth noting the high temperature of the day was 100 degrees, so I surely have some more time in the car on a cooler day both in terms of horsepower and traction.

One mechanical headache though did pop up: My coolant reservoir developed a crack at the upper hose affixment and consequently wasn't holding pressure.

How long this has been an issue is to be determined. I noticed a bit of coolant smell and some coolant on my windshield the other track day, but attributed it to higher than normal coolant temperatures burping coolant. Unfortunately, it appears that the issue was infact the beginnings of a crack here, which come this track day would rear it's head. After the track day I went out and got some JB Weld, covered it up in several coats, and it held for the remainder of the weekend.

Track day 2 - SOW CW - Better Instructing, One Bad Apple, Then Fun Laps and a Mechanical Issue Free Day

Track day 2 started much better. As I was now more familiar with the instruction side of running the novice group, I met with the head instructor for the day and came up with a better staging structure to help ensure the novice group gets on the track better. I then stuck around for the novice speech and made sure to participate this time in letting people know how it would be structured.

The novice lead/follow group improved... but then went sideways as some novices had clearly not paid attention and yet again passed me. I know they definitely did pay attention as I tracked the group down afterwards to verify they even knew the flags, and half of them didn't quite know what they were.

I got a session in advanced right after and had an absolute blast. I unfortuantely wasn't running timing as I had left it with my girlfriend to use in her NC Miata, but a good friend in their porsche running timing relayed we were running high 1:23's to 1:24s out there. I'm going to chalk that up to likely a high 1:24, which yeah alright that's a few tenths faster than I normally run so some improvements but a reasonable outcome for nothing but some additional seat time.

The next beginner session unfortuantely was a disaster. I was riding shotgun in my own car as another drivers car was acting up and I let them drive my Corvette. While out there, a driver was passing people without point bys, AND PASSING ON THE INSIDE OF TURNS! Not only were they passing on the inside, but they were horrible nonsensical passes that were going to cause a crash. I had the student hit the hot pit, and then had the driver black flagged. Welp, we get back on the track, and the driver was behind us. They then get black flagged TWO TIMES, ignore the black flags, and then try and pass us again on the inside of a turn. I gave them a "distinct hand signal", they got black flagged a third time, and they figured out they were in trouble.

After the session, I went to find the individual and had two other drivers come let mek now this person had been driving inappropriately. I grabbed the head instructor so we could approach it smart and went to speak with the individual. Fortunately, it was very low confrontation. Dude was just a quirky older gentleman who had clearly entirely misunderstood the rules AND that he was better than the novice group. We chatted a bit, and based on his times the day before moved him to fast intermediate, but let him know it still wasn't open passing, so if he found himself wanting to open pass, he needed to come chat with us again. I would later catch up with this individual at the end of the day, and I inquired how changing up their group went. His answer was "it was humbling". That's an okay outcome. We got him some place he was challenged and wasn't just dogpiling novices who clearly had no clue. Mission successfull!

The other folks I worked with instructing did pretty well. I got the person driving my car to turn a 1:35 on just their second session and utilizing just second gear, so I feel pretty good about that. Another person was running 1:27s and shredding quite well in their BMW, but were generating a ton of heat making a lot of their lines work. I showed them the lines I take to keep heat out of my tires and get better exit speeds and that was also quite fun.

Mechanicaly speaking, the Corvette went without issue. Temperatures were down now that my coolant system could pressurize, and speaking of that repair held without issue. I was dealign with some very high tire temperatures causing sliding, but that just made for some creative and fun approaches into turns. To this day nothing makes me feel cooler than throwing a car sideways early to vent speed and get the rotation going early around the inside line!

Oh and a quick shout out!I I met a fellow who is build a spec Corvette C5 and he reads the blog here and actually took inspiration from my oil cooler post to do one for themselves! If you're reading this it was good seeing you and I hope to catch out out on the track again!

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