TRACK DAY RECAP: The Porsche 944 at VIR

This past weekend was my second track weekend with the 944, and it was just about perfect, all things considered.

The car performed heroically. It hauled itself, me, four race tires, a 10'x10' canopy, jack, stands, tools, and a duffel 350 miles to the track. Then it went eight 20-25 minute sessions on track without a complaint, and then 350 miles home again. I am once again pleased with my purchase.

Here's a picture of my steed in the paddock that I took with an 80mm prime portrait lens, which makes the car look 100x better than it does when you're standing next to it:


I guess portrait lenses are as good for cars as they are for people.

Driving VIR in the 944

Anyway, I had a great time building up confidence, gradually re-learning each turn in a RWD car. I didn't have an instructor this weekend, but I did capture all but my first session on my lap timer / gps recorder. I'm looking forward to evaluating the data in the off-season, comparing it to the Fiesta.

Speaking of the Fiesta, it is still the faster car even at VIR. My best times in the Fiesta were 2:25's. In the 944, I pared it down to a 2:28 by the end of the weekend. But I'm sure I can find three seconds out there, because late on Sunday I realized I wasn't flooring the gas pedal in many places that I could have been. I guess I thought I was being smooth, but the fact is, I could have been smooth and still gotten the pedal all the way down!

Also, because of the large groups in HPDE-2, I was usually right up behind a train of cars by the time I reached Oak Tree, so I really didn't get a lot of practice taking that turn properly. And it's the most important turn on the course for a momentum car, carrying into the longest straight on the circuit.

Brake Pad Success!

Before the first session on day 2, I changed all the brake pads to Performance Friction PFC-08's, which are an endurance racing compound. When I took them off at the end of the day, they looked like they hadn't been used at all! Wow. When I was installing them I filed down the rough edges where they ride on the caliper guides, and I think that made a huge difference in letting them float where they needed to. I saw no evidence of a "lazy piston" or uneven wear. Finally, some brake pads that perform like they should! I have high hopes that these pads will last me quite a few weekends, if not a whole season.

Marathon Drive

The drive home from VIR is a trial, though. First of all, they load up all the DE group sessions late on Sunday afternoon so the racers can go home early. (It's not really fair, but the argument is that racers need the extra time to manage impound, protests, and other activities that the DE groups don't. That's a bunch of hooey, but that's the way it is.) So at 5:40 PM I can start to put my car back together- changing tires and brake pads back to street ones. And third, loading the car is a Tetris exercise that really can't be pre-staged, since so much stuff is needed to do that re-assembly work. Fourth, the car's muffler is shot, so I had to stop and buy some earplugs (I couldn't find the ones I used on the way down) Even with the ear plugs, the car drones along the dark 2-lane highway, which tends to hypnotize and sedate an already-exhausted driver. With some breaks for 10-minute naps to prevent death-by-guardrail, I arrived home at 1 AM this morning. I was a zombie today at work.

So there you have it. A great weekend at VIR, beautiful cool fall weather with only a spritz of rain on Saturday, and no issues with the car (or the brakes!).