Chevy Volt & NasKarts – ULTRA Fuel Efficient & WOW Fast

Chevy Volt logo bling

As I alluded to in my previous post here, this Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient event was going to be interesting & it turned into an eye opener!  But I had NO idea…

Chevy Volt - front 3/4 studio image view

VERSUS

NasKarts from the OnTrackXperience, Thunderhill Raceway, Kyle, TX

To say to least, I was MOVED in at least 2 ways:

  • First, the technological prowess of the Chevy Volt, both lean & full of linear torque pulling power, surging through through a quiet and solid chassis (debuted at Chuck Nash Auto Group, San Marcos, Texas).
  • In contrast, pushing myself beyond my point of confidence to go faster, with the raw & on the edge control of racing NasKarts at speed at On Track Xperience (at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas).

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Last week my e-mail revealed this Chevy Texas event via the SPOKES Club, from its President, Rick Martinez.  The Chevy Texas is project is promoted by the firm Fleishman-Hillard (F-H).  They work in public relations and integrated marketing communications.  I let that e-mail languish in my inbox for a couple of days & did not act upon it till Sondra Sondregger inspired me to action – thanks Sondra!  I was contacted by Katrina Steffensen of F-H & was invited to participate!

Here’s a candid shot of Katrina & videographer Rhea (sorry it’s blurry).

Rhea & Katrina candid shot in OTX garage, at Thunderhill Raceway, Kyle, TX

Due to our mutually busy activities of Chevy Volt hypermiling & NasKart racing, I don’t have a good assortment of pix & video to share, as yet.  They will be forthcoming in a near future blog post.  For now, here’s a couple of phone pix taken by Katrina & I.

The 3 Chevy Volts parked outside OTX, at Thunderhill Raceway, Kyle, TX

This is a group shot of the Driver/Blogger Teams, before racing the NasKarts:
Jeff, Racing Ready Dan, Russ, Chris, Aaron & David.

Drivers & Bloggers ready to hit the track, for the OTX NasKart Experience!

Here’s Jeff (my partner in this competition), all suited up & very ready to run a NasKart race session.  He currently participates in a NasKarts Racing League at OTX.  Jeff definitely knows his way around the track!

Jeff Warden (my Chevy FFE Team Partner) very NasKart Ready!

Fleishman-Hillard had a variety of in car cameras & video equipment.  I felt like I was in a reality TV series – LOL!.  This is the kind of footage I’m waiting on for a more detailed blog post about this event.

Video interview by Rhea, of Blogger Aaron & Driver David...

Racing Ready will provide more details, soon, about what & how we did this Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient event.  Thanks for your patience & anticipation!

Dan

Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient – Event Preparation

This week I jumped at the chance to get out of my comfort zone.  This is a driving & racing opportunity, along with promotional social media components, done through 2 new (to me) driving experiences:

  • Driving a Chevrolet Volt as efficiently as possible, while completing 2 challenges & Tweeting their results…

Chevy Volt

  • Racing ’round a short banked oval track, drafting at speed, nose to tail in a NasKart, at the Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle – ZOWIE!

NasKarts at Speed - the On Track Xperience!

I found out about this in a Chevy Texas communique forwarded to members of the SPOKES Club, by its President, Rick Martinez.  The Chevy Texas is project is promoted by the firm Fleishman-Hillard , working in Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications.

Fleishman-Hillard logo

This will occur this coming Thursday after work (October 27th) between San Marcos & Kyle, Texas.

Racing Ready is looking forward to this different event with a combination of nervous, excited anticipation. Results & impressions will be recorded here for posterity & your entertainment!

Dan

Eric Not Tired of Corvette Autocrossing

A change to cooler weather has brought a change to Eric’s ride at SASCA‘s latest autocross, on October 16th, 2011.  Here’s Eric’s (our great Contributing Blogger Extraordinaire) latest autocross contribution to learning to successfully autocross a barely streetable friend’s Corvette!

Sometimes, the best laid plans run into problems that can’t be overcome with what’s at hand.  Such was the case with the plan that William and I came up with for this past weekend’s SASCA autocross #10.  As some of you may know, William is the owner of a red 2002 Z06 with, well, let’s just say significant engine mods that puts it in the Super Street Modified class.  But up until now, he’s competed on an “intermediate” tire, the Nitto NT555R2.  One day, we decided that it would be a great idea to throw my Hoosiers on his 470rwhp killer and codrive it.  So I loaded up the wheels, a jack and some tools into my trusty E46 and headed down to Blossom Athletic Park, where I met an enthusiastic William, who was looking forward to running my slicks on his car as much as I was.

sasca 11 10 16 1

Unfortunately, my CCWs have a lip at the back surface of the wheel.  Which, combined with the Baer Eradispeed +2 rotors on the rear of his car, caused the rear calipers to hit.  Even with a ¼” spacer, there still was not enough clearance, so we reluctantly put his wheels and tires back on the car.

Due to the thrash of trying to get everything together, we almost didn’t get to walk the course, not finishing until the driver’s meeting had already started.  But because I worked registration and SSM was running in heat 2, I was able to go back to the pits and put our numbers on while the car owner was shagging cones out on course.  Check out the glorious taped class letters next to Jay’s number 42, which goes quite well with the red car I think, and my inadvertent capture of most of the SSM field, with Federico’s epic Boxster and Craig’s ballistic Teal Turd in the background.

sasca 11 10 16 2

Before our runs, I took the opportunity to drive William’s car around the parking lot at slow speed.  I knew the car had a SPEC Stage 3 clutch, but what I wasn’t expecting was the effort required to get the car into first gear, or reverse for that matter.  Launching was extremely difficult for me because the clutch was like a heavy on/off switch, but once moving I was surprised by the speed and ease with which I could shift into second.  Still, I managed to pull the car into line without stalling.

William would go first, since I’d never even ridden in his car, let alone driven it.  Even though I knew it would be a lot faster than my Super Stock Z06, the acceleration still blew me away.  The car felt responsive thanks to a set of Pfadt sway bars, and the 555R2s were similar to the RA1s I use as wet tires.  Still, I had a hard time getting off the line my first run, but once going the shift to second was like butter.  One thing I noticed right away was the car’s immediate reaction to my right foot, and the tendency for the rear tires to break away at anything more than part throttle.  The car wasn’t as planted under braking as my car on Hoosiers, and as a result I tiptoed around the course to a time that was 1.4 seconds slower than the car owner.

sasca 11 10 16 5

I spent the rest of the runs trying to get used to the car.  In the meantime, William was manhandling the car around the course, putting down every ounce of power he could and slinging the car sideways at every opportunity.  Here’s a video of him launching his bright red beast, and the first half of his third or fourth run (I forget which).  470rwhp has never sounded better.

We would receive six runs, and it took me until my very last pass to finally launch the car better than someone who’s never driven a manual before.  In the end, my times were about 8/10ths off the pace of the car owner, who was about a half second off the pace set by everyone’s favorite announcer, Troy, and Federico, in their Hoosier shod bright yellow Boxster.  Though next time, since my fat ass sits in front of the registration computer in the a.m., remind me to change my car classification to the correct one!

sasca 11 10 16 4

Afterwards, Shayne, who was watching us compete from a corner, commented on how drastically different the driving styles were between my car owner and myself.  He said I was smoother and seemed to carry more momentum in some places, but William was much faster because he was utilizing his car’s massive power to its fullest, while I was puttering along afraid to blow the rear tires away.

sasca 11 10 16 3

What a difference it would’ve been in my Hoosiers had fit on his car!  As it was, the SSM class Corvette with its massive power was massive fun to drive, though I feel I would need at least a couple more events behind the wheel before being able to utilize it.  Many thanks to car owner William for giving me the opportunity to get behind the wheel of his monster.  Next month, it’ll be back to familiar territory, as I attempt to maximize Sunshine’s shock settings for Retama Park.

Racing Ready has been AWOL from autocrosses of late, but Eric inspires me to re-consider co-driving again.  Eric thank you SO much for keeping the autocross faith!

Dan

2011 Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercars LIVE!

I finally got to see V8 Supercars racing action.  So, why is this important?  V8 Supercars racing action will be here in the USA in the Spring of 2013, at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), in Austin, Texas!

Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 - The Great Race

I saw the 2011 Bathurst 1000, via DVR recording enjoyment.  This was the first live broadcast of these dedicated fast racers for the USA audience.  They really picked one of their pinnacle race track events to debut here, live.  For us non-metric types, that’s 620 miles!!!  (161 laps X 3.85 miles)  Thankfully, these “always on” race duties are shared between 2 co-drivers.  The 2011 Bathurst 1000 winners of the Toll Holden Racing Team are Garth Tander and Nick Percat, seen below, celebrating their victory.  BTW, this was only rookie Percat’s second V8 Supercars race.

Tander & Percat celebrating their 2011 Bathurst 1000 win.

The Bathurst 1000…

It is known among fans and broadcasters as “The Great Race”, and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of Australian motorsport.

Bathurst 1000 track map at the Mount Panarama Circuit

To sweeten the pot & make this type of racing more palatable to NASCAR racing fans, they brought along Darrell Waltrip, of NASCAR Championship fame.  He put his own unique twist to the the color commentary.  You could say that Darrell took the cake.  He was given a no-holds-barred ride-along for a very hot lap in a Holden (GM) V8 Supercar (running 650HP).  Enjoy this video clip:

Wow, I really like road racing, but this long course & the challengingly narrow uphill & downhill sections, with speeds up to 200MPH is just beyond words.  Here’s the start & first 2 laps of this race – can you say exciting?

Watching the these guys after they had almost completed 6 & 1/2 hours (!) of racing, I really respected the super close & competitive final nose to bumper last 2 laps.  These Aussies raced both hard & respectfully clean.

The V8 Supercars are based on modified versions of Australia’s two most popular, and most rivaled, passenger cars, the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore (Holden is a General Motors Australia brand, like our Chevrolet).  Unlike NASCAR racing cars, these cars still look like & are the same shape as their road going brethren.  I think they even use the real headlights & taillights, not sticker facsimiles!  As to fuel, all V8 Supercars run on 85 percent CSR Ethanol (E85).  For more details & specifics, visit http://v8supercars.com.au.

Racing Ready is now even more excited in anticipation of the Spring of 2013, when V8 Supercars arrives at COTA!  WOW…

Dan
P.S. – I have to include this informative & brief history of the Bathurst 1000 – you can appreciate why it is SO highly regarded.

P.P.S. – Here’s another track/race to put on Racing Ready the bucket list!

Eric’s AutoX Improvement at 2011 AutoX #9

Eric participated at the September 2011 Autocross #9, which was a co-event with both SASCA & SPOKES.  In this event, Eric made many turns for the better:

After the debacle that was my first SCCA Solo Nationals, I decided to use the SASCA/Spokes combined autocross #9 as a sort of test and tune session, to play with my shock settings and tire pressures .  As a bonus, the weather remained under 100 degrees.  I remembered to bring sun block and my codriver, Jay, made it out with Vader, his 2003 Z06.  The result was Super Stock wouldn’t be a one car show.

The Corvette, Jay & Eric, Autocross Show!

Due to an at-work incident, I was late in arriving at the event.  Jerry from Spokes and Hubert filled the registration chairs, with me substituting for Tom, normally our Membership Chairman, who got pressed into service as our coursemaster.  Though this event took place at Retama Park, our usual lot was unavailable due to a horse that may or may not get spooked by the noise participating in a $250,000 race, so we were shuffled into a smaller corner lot that had neither been run on nor cleaned.

Cars on grid, waiting to autocross on the smaller Retama parking lot course...

Because of the shortness of the course, each of us would receive eight runs, with my group going off in the second of two heats.  After riding with everyone’s favorite announcer, Troy, in his white SSM Corvette, I had a fair idea of the course layout.

Troy's autocross steed

But what I wasn’t expecting was my car’s reaction as I entered the first offset.  Despite driving at what I thought was 9/10ths, the car got completely sideways, almost turned around, and I only managed to save it thanks to a little luck and a little following of the old maxim, “when in doubt, both feet out.”  Chalking the run up to cold tires, I tried the same thing the next run with pretty much the same result.  In the meantime, Jay was navigating the course fine, without any undue weirdness with the handling of his car.  Because he was running much older tires than I was, we’d decided to keep the setup of his car on the soft side, with pressures in the low-30s and the shocks at around their middle settings.

Was car setup making all the difference on this virgin surface, despite our difference in tires?  The “Slalom City” Nationals west course setup was still on my car, and I decided to find out by dropping my rear tires two psi and taking two clicks out of the rear shock.  Up until that point, due in part to my sideways antics, Jay was faster than me by over 1.2 seconds.  So back in the crowded pits, I laid on my back and got to adjusting, taking two clicks out of the rear shocks and two pounds out of the rear tires.  Watching my power application a bit reduced the difference in our times to a tenth and a half, as you can see from my third run below.

For the next run, I decided to take two more clicks out of all four shocks.  The next run was a spin, but I felt things were headed in the right direction, so I lowered the pressures in all four tires by two pounds each.  At last, the car was driveable, and I managed to sneak into the lead with a 29.0.  Two more clicks out of all four shocks resulted in a 28.8, for a half-second margin over my friend.  I tried lowering the rear one more click for the next run to see if I could hit the transitions a little harder without losing the car, but the car picked up a push and slowed down.  Adding the click back in the rear and lowering the front tires by an additional pound gave me a car I was happy with, and my time that final run was a faster 28.8, despite getting behind in the offsets leading up to the finish.  You can see the progression in my times from this snapshot of the results, found on the Axware site.   (Click to enlarge)

AXWare SS Results from SASCA-SPOKES Points Co-Event Autocross #9, September 18, 2011

So what does all this mean?  Even if, like me, you’re not a National level driver, you can still pick up time by experimenting until the car feels the most comfortable to you.  There’s no sense in fighting the car and yourself if you’re not happy with the way it’s set up.  I learned that about six months ago, when Federico finally got the corner weights on my car all sorted out and the car became much easier to drive.  Though after speaking with that other Erik, you know, the one who is fast and a multi-time national champion, he suggested that lowering the rear of my Corvette could result in a more stable platform.  Something to try in the future.  I’m sure Robert’s four-legged friend, were he able to speak, would agree.

Robert's four-legged friend...

In the meantime, next month (thanks to William) I could be behind the wheel of a different Corvette – one that makes a full 150 horses more than the ones I’m used to.  Best of all, my Hoosiers will be taking the place of the intermediate tires he’s currently running.  Like our host, I’m always eager to try something new.  We’ll see what happens!

Well, it looks like Eric’s car handling woes are on there way to the past.  I’m glad he was able to have an autocross event with many consecutive runs.  Eric’s experimentation paid off!

Racing Ready continues to appreciate Eric’s continuous improvement & submissions here – keep up the great work!

Dan

H2R Partners with Roger Beasley Mazda

Here’s great news for our friends at Harris Hill Road – H2R, now working in cooperation with Roger Beasley Mazda!  This mutually beneficial partnership is a great WIN-WIN!

Harris Hill Road logo

Roger Beasley MAZDA logo

Here’s the text of this hot news:

Harris Hill Road Announces Partnership with Roger Beasley Mazda

It is with great excitement and pleasure that we can announce our formal relationship with Roger Beasley Mazda. We now have them on board as corporate sponsors of the H2R facility. In exchange for help with marketing efforts and a rotation of great Mazda cars at the track, the Beasley folks are going to be able to use the track for corporate events, product launches and other high profile functions. In addition, they have branding rights as the sole manufacturer / dealership for H2R. (Rumor has it that they are considering “Mazda Raceway at Harris Hill Road” as the new name for the club)…

This is a serious win-win for all of us. The relationship will help the Beasley dealership maintain and increase an incredible market share in North American sales and provide H2R with greatly needed exposure and association with a more house-hold name in Central Texas. Their support will enable us to rely less on third party events which “lock out” members [especially on weekends] and allow us to build a more solid and self-sustaining membership that allows for much more “members only” time at the track. David Johnson (DJ to you and me) has spearheaded this relationship and deserves all the credit for making this a reality. We are so thrilled to finally be able to share this with all of you. Good things are on the horizon and we look forward in having all of you along for the ride.

 +    +    +    +    +

Learn more about this exciting new partnership with Harris Hill Road by calling Roger Beasley Mazda in Austin at (512) 377-1947.

We can expect some new & interesting motorsports-related events, with a Mazda flavor, happening at H2R.  Should be fun!

Racing Ready is excited to support H2R as a New AMSOIL Retailer.  Ask them for details the next time you visit.

Dan