2010 Porsche Panamera H2R Track Debut!

Sondra Sondregger (a S2KCA co-founder) was the coordinator/facilitator at the recent Harris Hill Road (H2R) S2KCA HPDE (high performance driver education) event.  She was able to convince an Austin, Texas dealer to bring a special new vehicle to this event – the new 2010 Porsche Panamera!

2010 Porsche Panamera first impression, trackside at Harris Hill Road2010 Porsche Panamera first impression, rear 3/4 view, trackside at H2R

The new model Porsche’s name comes from the La Carrera Panamericana.  This was a brutal road race run for only 5 years on closed off (mostly) public roads throughout Mexico in the 1950’s.  I’m not sure why they used this part of racing history to inspire its name.  By the way, this same race did inspire the 911 Porsche Carrera model designation.   This car is in no way related to those circa 1950’s lumbering sedans & fragile sport coupes!

2010 Porsche Panamera, hood & hatch open2010 Porsche Panamera 4.8 liter aluminum alloy V8, 400HP, 369 ft lb torque...

The Porsche Panamera IS quite the car.  It is a 4-door, 4-wheel drive, 4 passenger car, with the rear seats designed to have the same comfort as the front seat experience.  I’m a big 6’2″ guy & I can assert that it is very comfortable back there.

2010 Porsche Panamera driver command cockpitIt all happens right here, at the 2010 Porsche Panamera steering wheel & dash2010 Porsche Panamera race inspired, rear seat comfort!

It also has a fifth door; a hatch, if you will.  This makes for very practical access to storage in the back.  There is no motor in back like many Porsches, so there’s more room for people & their travel items.

Plenty of room under/inside the rear hatch of the 2010 Porsche Panamera

These & other published pictures do not do this Porsche sedan justice – it really looks better in person & on the road/track.

For many on the road, this is all they will see of a 2010 Porsche Panamera!

Practicality & comfort aside, this is more of a true enthusiast’s sport car that just a profiling autobahn cruiser.  Porsche engineers designed a car that set a Nürburgring lap record with the Turbo version of this vehicle.  It’s now officially the fastest 4 door sedan at 7 minutes, 56 seconds (ahead of the Cadillac CTS-V).  Now that’s serious sports car (racing) times territory!

2010 Porsche Panamera at speed, Courtesy of http://latestcarblog.blogspot.com/

Bo Rivers, the owner of H2R, took it out for a few hot laps around the track – with all passenger spots occupied.  He loved it!  After a number of track circuits he was heard to say that this car didn’t have enough tire to fulfill its potential.  Now, please realize Bo developed H2R with a Porsche Cayenne before this track was paved!  But other than that it was a great track car.  While Karlino & I were on track he passed me like I was standing still, while pushing my 1.8L engine in 3rd gear…

The stock Continental rear tire, 285/40 ZR 19, on the 2010 Porsche Panamera

We have to thank Alan Bantau from Roger Beasley Porsche for allowing Sondra & Jack to enjoy this vehicle for the weekend in Austin, as well as Harris Hill Road (H2R).  Here’s the Monroney sticker, along with Alan’s business card.  Go ahead, e-mail Alan an offer.
As usual, click to enlarge…

Here's the 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S Monroney MSRP window sticker...
Porsche Business Card of Alan Bantau

Racing Ready relishes the aura of the debut of new, hot cars…the active promotion of unique, specialty vehicles.  Go get yours today!


Learning More Racing At Harris Hill Road

The S2KCA HPDE (high performance driver education) event I attended this past Saturday was a good review, to see who was out there, with what car & what they had done to improve their on-track performance & experience.  It all started with the orientation/driver’s meeting, facilitated by Sondra Sondregger.

Sondra Sondregger explaining Harris Hill Road track safety concerns...

The weather started out a bit foggy & cool, but it turned out to be a great day for practicing hot laps in mildly cool weather.

Panorama of the foggy morning start at Harris Hill Road HPDE of S2KCA - November 14, 2009

One of the highlights of the event, was the display (& some enthusiastic ride-alongs) of a brand new 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S.  I will write more about this impressive in a future post here soon.  Here’s a teaser picture, but the camera does not do it justice.

Bo Rivers &  Sondra Sondregger discussing the merits of the Porsche Panamera on track!

Kevin, who’s been to an H2R HPDE event before, ran his competitive 2008 Honda Civic Si.

Kevin's Honda Civic Si on the grid at the Harris Hill Road paddock

He has since made 2 major upgrades that have made a significant handling improvement of the car on track:

  • upgraded to Buddy adjustable coilover shocks (from Japan)
  • tires/wheels (specific for the track, as opposed to another set for autocross)

Track tire/wheel combo - Bridgestone Potenza RE 070 & Weds Sport Racing Wheel

Chris brought his relatively new red 2009 Mazda Miata.  You will note the increased tire stance – it’s due to having 17×9 wheels w/ a 45mm offset.  He says they do a nice job with increasing the corner handling potential over the stock wheels.  Of special note on this day was the debut of Chris’ new pewter-colored hardtop.  He ended up with this color because a friend offered it to him for a price he could not refuse.  Chris had never even considered a hardtop before & had thought to paint it to match at first.  Now he’s fine with the combination & contrast of the 2 colors.  I think it looks really sharp (be sure to click the image for a bigger/better view)!

Chris' red 2009 Mazda Miata with pewter-colored top - looks purposeful!

Edward, whose 2008 Mustang GT I showcased here before, came out to play.  The change he was letting on about were his newly painted wheels.  His secret?  That’s flat black BBQ paint on on those wheels.  Gives them a nice, satin patina.  Probably easier to clean?  It does look a little meaner…

Edward's 2008 Mustang GT debuting his stealthy alloy 18" wheels...

In addtion to the stealthy wheels, Edward had upgraded to StopTech calipers & discs.  He had rebadged then as Saleens – how cool is that?

Here's a close-up of those 2008 Mustang GT newly painted 18" alloy wheels...

As with any high speed event, there is a sense of caution & sometime things go wrong.  Chris to the track with his beautiful blue Honda s2000.  He was having a good day on track, when he lost it in a corner.  He suffered the humility of an off track excursion, but there was no damage to his car except a bit of mud & grass.  Afterwords he was able to return to later lapping sessions.

Off track excursion results on a Honda S2000 - he was back at speed later!

Harris Hill Road safety policy dictates that a car which has experienced such an incident get inspected.  They look for obvious & hidden damage.  In the past they have found dirt/grass lodged between the wheel & tire bead causing it to not hold pressure properly.  This could be very dangerous at speed.  That’s a good safety policy!

Ryan, one of the HPDE instructors, brought one his Miata project cars.  This is a very similar model to Karlino (his “cousin”), except for the automatic transmission & tan leather interior.  I later parked nearby to visually compare the two (and also so they could chit-chat about their histories since leaving the factory) :-)…

Miata "cousins" chatting it up at Harris Hill Road!

Bob brought out his often campaigned Beck Lister replica.  His latest upgrade (or experiment, as he would say) was the addition of an eBay spoiler.  He decided to attach it to the roll bar as that was the easiest place to mount it.  Also, he didn’t have to commit to drilling holes in that pristine rear decklid.  Later on Bob shared with me that he was actually pleased with the noticeable downforce he felt in the corners.

Bob working on a pesky oil leak on his Beck Lister racer.

A detail shot of Bob's eBay spoiler mounted on the roll bar of his Beck Lister.

With all the activity going on, this brand new 2010 Aston Martin Vantage almost seemed to be ignored!  I think it had to do with it being overlooked in the shadow of the new 2010 Porsche Panamera…

2010 Aston Martin Vantage in the Harris Hill Road paddock, still with temporary paper plates!

There were many others out there, learning & having a good time, that I did not get a chance to talk to – hopefully next time.  The final highlight of the day was my taking Karlino out on track for 5 “parade” laps.  That was AWESOME~!

In such a hurry to get out on track, I forget to ask to have a picture taken!

Racing Ready enjoys the sharing of data among the camaraderie of racing buddies…

I was in blogger mode this day - clipboard & all! (Picture courtesy of Chris L. via Facebook)


Autocross Learning At Last

This past Sunday’s 2009 SPOKES AutoX #11 was a good test of Karlino‘s newly installed, “eBay” left, rear control arms.  Also, it was good to verify that my new alignment settings worked well enough to not have to change again.  At least for now…

Karlino, my 1999 Mazda Miata, in the San Antonio Raceway paddock

You see, I was able to start really learning to drive through an autocross course properly.  This was so as the car was much better set up than when I had bought it this summer.  It’s too bad I had to spend the time, dollars & effort to get it this way – but in the end it was worth it.

Another, sunnier Karlino shot at the SAR SPOKES autocross...

We were able to compete with 6 runs.  I totally screwed up my first run by overcooking a corner, almost wiping out a whole row of cones.  If people were carefully watching what I was doing, you’d think I was participating in a gymkhana event!  The second run was 10 (!) seconds quicker than the first.  That’s how bad I messed up on the that first run.

Row of cones - waiting to get hit!

Although I had walked the course 3 times prior to our runs, the course ALWAYS look completely different at speed than while walking.  That is surely a strange phenomena.

SPOKES 2009 Autocross #11 Panorama

By the third run, I learned (actually realized) that one needs to brake properly to go faster.  I started to see brake skid lines of prior competitors.  I thought, “That’s right, just brake here before this next turn to better set up the turn at the next cone.”  I later shared this with Jerry (my first autocross mentor) and that was one of his first autocross ah-hah learning moments, too.

Karlino forgot his "proper" class & number ID - therefore the painter's tape!

On runs 2 through 5, I was able to consistently improve & that was a good feeling.  But my last run, what we sometimes call the money run, I completely missed a gate & DNF’d.  I was pissed, but still satisfied with the consistent improvement on my middle runs.  Click below to see the results clearly:

Dan's SPOKES #11 AutoX run times...

Of no consequence was that I was 20th out of 30 Novice entries.  🙁  The next substantial improvement might be tires on 15″ rims?  We’ll see…

Racing Ready is looking forward to future continued autocross improvements!


My Miata Ontrack Debut at H2R

Today was  a long & busy day, but I got it started off on the right foot, with my accelerator being squeezed underneath!

Big shoes on big feet hinder good autocross footwork!

I attended the S2KCA HPDE (high performance driver education) event at Harris Hill Road (H2R) this morning.  Today I was in blogger mode.  It was a well attended event, with many there who I’ve already blogged in articles here & many that have been reading here, too (THANKS!).  I was able to catch up to date with what’s been modified on a number of cars, met some new friends & got to see how their at speed driving has possibly improved.

S2KCA HPDE H2R Grid/Clubhouse Panorama

I attended this event for many reasons.  One of those was to get Karlino, my “new” 1999 Mazda Miata, out on the track.  During a midday break, Sondra Sondregger announced that there would be a few minutes to enjoy “parade” laps.  I did not hesitate.  I cinched down my CG-Lock & headed out.  The track was in the clockwise rotation today, the more common direction.

H2R course track map layout

Since Karlino’s left rear control arms have been recently replaced, I had the alignment put into a mild autocross setting.  For the last 2 weeks I’ve been getting used to the different handling.  I was still not sure if I liked it, or not.  I did 5 laps of the 1.8 mile track.  In the later laps I was able to start pushing the “rotational” ability to waltz through a corner.  The car has a slight tendency toward some oversteer, but it seems relatively easy control.  Please realize these were “parade” laps, on a track that I don’t know the proper lines through all the corners.  I will say that the ingress/egress orange cones were VERY helpful!  Also, I was probably at 7/10ths of the capacity of my Miata (the stock 14″ wheels shod with BF Goodrich TA Traction street tires).  I was at only about 5/10ths of my driving capability, but I was pushing it.  I have SO much to learn, but had fun!

S2KCA HPDE H2R Grid & Track

Bottom line?  Having this Miata as a great baseline driver’s car is SO much better than the 2000 Nissan Maxima SE (my former Big White Whale) I replaced this past summer.  I feel like I have at least a chance to improve my driving skills in this car, and I’m very pleased about that!!!

Karlino standing proud outside the Harris Hill Road (H2R) Clubhouse...

Racing Ready looks forward to continued improvement of this “nut behind the wheel”!


VooDoo Racing – Versatile Performance Miata

I met an interesting Miata owner/racer, with a specially setup Miata, who drove all the way up from Corpus Christi, Texas.  This was John, at that SEA Track Attack HPDE (high performance driver education) event way back last May at Harris Hill Road (H2R).

John's 1995 Mazda Miata on H2R grid, discussing racing line strategy with friend Jim

VOODOO nameplate base of the Mazda Miata rear deck spoiler

Rear view of John's 1995 Mazda Miata - check out that racing spoiler & diffuser!

John’s Miata is a 1995 model that has been modified to “play” in one of the NASA Time Trial classes.  This is based on power to weight settings per each class.  He participates at these types of events at MSR Houston (north of Houston, TX) & Motorsport Ranch (at Cresson, TX – SE of  Fort Worth), among others.  John is definitely committed to this, as he drives (no trailer for him) to all these events.

The cockpit of this racing, but still street legal, 1995 Mazsda Miata

John makes do on his trips in his somewhat stripped out Miata interior.  Corpus Christi, is in South Texas – that’s at least a 5 to 7 hour drive, respectively, to these 2 tracks.  He even participated at an event at VIR (VIRginia International Raceway) – yes, with this Miata!

At MSR Houston they have Track Day events.  Here’s a Spec Miata (not John’s car) doing a lap at speed on that track:

As you can see, John’s Miata is not stock, but it’s not a Spec Miata, either.  Here’s a general overview of his car’s modifications & additions:

  • simple suspension with KYB shocks
  • upgraded anti-sway bars
  • handcrafted front splitter (above 100MPH it really helps with the stability – it’s simply aluminum plate)
  • handcrafted rear wing & diffuser

Another more direct shot of that rear deck racing spoiler & diffuser!

  • Link Engine Management system – a standalone control of engine ECU

Link Engine Management, the dash mounted ECU controller - John can make changes on the fly!

  • turbo

The engine bay of this street legal, but racing capable, 1995 Mazda Miata

John’s friend Jim’s RS32 car is in the shop.  So, at this day’s event, he was occupied with advising John, to assist him with performing better on the track.  With the changing weather on this day, that was helpful.  John was well prepared – he had both dry & wet track tires.  He was able to drive at speed in all track conditions.

Dry track tire/wheel combo - Toyo Proxes RA1/15" alloy wheelWet track tire/wheel combo - Dunlop Direzza DZ 101/15" painted alloy wheel

VOODOO Racing Solutions (VRS), John’s business, does motorsports enthusiasts suspension, turbo & engine work.

VOODOO Racing Solutions - John's Automotive Performance Specialty Shop

Here’s another business endeavor John is involved in…

VOODOO Garage - Clothing Co. Another related business of John's

These are some of the numbers John’s Time Trial Miata can achieve – these are NICE:

  • @ 9lbs boost 205 WHP / 190 foot pounds of torque
  • @ 11lbs boost 238 WHP / 218 foot pounds of torque

Here’s visual proof of some of those numbers!

John @ speed !

Locally, John & his friends like to compete in autocross at Waldron Field, an old airstrip, north of Corpus Christi.  Also, in addition to all the above, John participates in REDLINE Time Attack track events.  Below you can see his proof!

John showing some track "history" & the livery from REDLINE Time Attack Competition

Racing Ready is impressed by John’s amateur racing enthusiast “resume”!  He is an inspiration to all of us, wannabes racers or otherwise.  We need to focus, as John does, to counter-attack our many other time & life commitments holding us back from completely pursing our racing dream.

Thanks, John, and keep on racing!!!


End Of Racing Season Activities

How are you getting ready for the autumnal slow down in racing related activities?

In my world there are 2 autocross events still to compete in this year (11/15 & 12/06).  They are both of note, because these will be Karlino‘s first events on the replaced left rear control arms.  Of even more interest, I’ll see how the the mildly setup “autocross alignment” I had done at Firestone last week improves the handling.

The settings Ossie, Firestone alignment specialist, tried – he got close:

-1.2 camber
5.0* caster
0.00 toe

-1.7* camber
0.00 toe

Of more regional autocross/racing interest is the SPOKES December autocross event, on December 6th.  I have already preregistered for this event which will take place at the inspiring facility of Harris Hill Road (H2R).  This will be an autocross course set up on a portion of this 1.8 mile track.

H2R Course layout with the named corners labeled

This will be the 2nd SPOKES autocross at H2R.  The first one took place in May of 2008, about a month before the inception of this blog.  Had I known, I would have started sooner!  Here’s some video footage taken during that event by my friend Robert, from the rollbar of his Triumph Spitfire.

With Karlino’s suspension components back to normal, I am learning how the new handling works with the revised alignment settings.  It will be more interesting to see the handling changes (& hopefully improvements) at these 2 autocross events.  Some of you may want to come out to these events, as well.

So, fellow readers, what are your racing plans (whether it be bench or otherwise) as this season winds down?  Racing Ready wants to know so we don’t all get racing cabin fever before next Spring!


…Wannabe To Real Racer!

Blog Change Rumblings – Tagline Improvement

Last night I entered into a new business partnership.  This will force some blog improvement.  That’s the plan anyway… more information will be definitely available as things development!

First out of the chute is a more direct & simplified tag line.

This is what it used to be:

Go from wannabe racer to successful racing competitor!

Well, that was too wordy – here it is now revised, much more direct & to the point!

…wannabe to real racer!

That’s more efficient & better reflection of the direction I need to drive this blog . . .
. . . as inspired by one of my favorite actors turned real racer – Paul Newman!

Paul Newman, in an on-track scene in the 1969 movie Winning, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1968.

Racing Ready – shooting straight, and driving straighter!