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OT Buttonwillow revisited (long) (archive)

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Posted by CNYN RNR on October 24, 2000 at 20:51:52:

Road One again sponsored a driving event at Buttonwillow on Oct 23, and I attended this event. I was eager to compare the differences between my 2.8 and 3.0, differences between the Mic Pilot Sports and Dunlop 8080, and the use of the Step gearbox on the track. This time we used the whole track vs the west loop used in my prior experience. There were 26 cars, divided into 2 groups of 13. Again there was an instructor for each car, track time was 30 minutes per session, and there were 6 sessions per group. I raced a total of 192 miles, and used up 19 gals of gas. Once more I was the only Z3 roadster. There were 2 MZ3 coupes, several M3s, 2 M5s, and an assortment of both street and pure race cars.

The differences between the 2.8 and 3.0 were very apparent to me, especially on acceleration out of the corners. This was a third and fourth gear track for the 3.0, except for trun 2 where I found that 2nd was better than 3rd for accelerating out. I never got into 5th. The flatter and longer torque curve of the 3.0 really showed up in leaving the corners, and, IMO, the front end of the 3.0 is stiffer, which enabled me to place the car more easily on the high speed sweepers.

It was easier for me to keep the tranny in the sport mode and downshift via the throttle than use the sequential gear lever, because of the restricted range of the downshift. For those who are not aware, the car will not downshift if the revs are not in the proper range, and the downshift takes place at lower revs than the upshift. My technique was to get on the brake and keep blipping the throttle until the downshift occured. It was disconcerting to have to keep pulling back on the lever to accomplish the same thing. Shifter buttons - BTW, they are coming - would have made this easier.

I could not notice any difference between the Dunlops and the Mics. I ran the Duns 32-35 cold, per the numbers on the door, and they felt good. I did not experiment with different pressures during the day. In the late afternoon the car started to slide more. Whether this was due to tire wear or the track getting slicker from all the rubber laid down, or both, I do not know, but control was never a problem.

There has been talk of the 3.0 being almost the equal of the MZ3. Mark L, from the coupe board had his white baby there, and no way was I able to stay with him. There is no doubt in my mind that Mark is faster than me, and I think if we had swapped cars the same result would have occured. OTH, I had no problem staying with the M3s. There was a rep from Toyo tires there with a gutted Acura Integra, stock 140 HP engine, racing suspension and racing tires who dusted me off all the time, so for those of you who are looking for more power as the way to lower lap times, take heed. The best upgrade you can make is first, tires, and second, suspension changes, preferably both. If I get serious about this I will buy some racing tires and wheels, and change the shocks and springs to adjustable ones if possible, so I can enjoy the car on the street as well as being able to take tighter lines on the track. Too bad the car doesn’t have torsion bars. That would have made the job easier.

The cost of the school was $660 this time, and included one night at a motel, and lunch and dinner at the track. I am not trying to tout Road One, but for me the restricted number of cars on the track at one time made the event very enjoyable, the liklihood of fenderbenders less, and the higher cost worth it. I have not gone to any other event like Y2guru and TBell, and so cannot compare experiences with larger groups. Several of you have asked to see a photo of my car, so here it is.



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