Comments Off on A Three Day Binge at Watkins Glen 2009

I thought I would drop in and give a little seasonal update on the track rado for those that are interested. After a very successful (and by successful I mean we improved our lap times by a bunch and didn’t crash the car) event earlier in the season at NJMP’s Lightning circuit, and a very nice showing at Waterfest in the TyrolSport booth, marked001 and were very anxious to get back out on the track again and continue to push our abilities, the car’s limits and have some more fun – Watkins Glen is one of the better places to do all of those.

As some of you have seen, we’ve made a few changes and modifications to the car after the NJMP event and were excited to get out there and try them out. One of the bigger changes was the relocation of the shifter from under the car to its new home in the custom shifter tower as seen in these pics below:

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Also shown in the above pics is the Raptor Bedliner paint we decided to try out – our interior paint was pretty bad, and although a track car doesn’t need to be pretty, it sure doesn’t need to look like shti either 😉

A few other minor changes: relocated the shift light to the steering column (previously on the left side of the dash) and relocated the extinguisher from the tunnel to the floor. Also added a quick release to the steering wheel which acted as a spacer to get the wheel closer to us. Not shown in the pics is the addition of the Verdict Motorsport shifter bushings (very cool and easy install), and the 53 Motorsport rear stress bar, both of which provided to us by Allen of 53 Motorsports.

So the main event. We seem to be jumping around from group to group these days, and this time was no exception. We signed up with the Riesentoter chapter of PCA (Porsche Club of America) for a cool $350 (VERY cheap for HPDE standards) for three full days on the track, and even a sit-down dinner in the WGI media center hosted by PCA.

Like any other event, the days leading up to departure we are constantly checking the weather hoping… even, praying for good weather. Sadly, as the event drew nearer, the threat of rain was overwhelming on Friday and Sunday with Saturday looking to be our best day. Nevertheless, we loaded up Thursday night and headed up north. Arrived in Montour Falls around 3am, got a couple hours of sleep at the Relax Inn, drug ourselves to the track, unloaded, tech’d and sat around trying to stay awake, waiting for our first sessions. Oh, did I mention it was raining?

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I should note, that both marked001 and I have run at the Glen before, but both of us were in Quattro A4’s and had a lot more confidence in the wet than we did going into this event. Also, this was our first event in the wet with the rado.

With excuses aside, we managed to keep the car off the baby blue Armco notorious at Watkins Glen. Unlike most of the big tracks, there is very little run-off and even a minor mistake up the S’s can put you into the blue stuff at 80-100mph. Sadly, for a few Porsche’s and BMW’s this was the case, especially in Friday’s wet conditions.

Day One: Sessions one, two and three, although wet with standing-water went off without incident for us. Of course, the random brake lock up at 90-100mph on the front straight or right before the bus stop (no ABS), and crazy under-steer running over the concrete strips in the turns really keeps you humble and honest. But we did it – we managed to pull off unmentionably bad lap times, soak our shoes and say we finally ran in the rain, but that’s really about it.

Finally, late in the day, the rain let up and the groups that went out before us were able to dry up the racing line. Session four turned out to be the best of the day and our lap times dropped from 3:20’s all the way down to the mid/high 2:30’s… wow, what a difference. Holding the line in the S’s is an unreal feeling – hard to describe, but something you can only get on a race track. Keep your foot in it and your risk under-steer, yes, even in our little underpowered VR6, lift and you risk either stepping out the back-end or feeling like you could have stayed in it and now feel like a wuse. Either way, your biggest challenge through the S’s is remembering to breathe.

the S’s

Day one ended without a hitch and all we could think of was that weather forecast for Saturday – “sunny & mild” 😀

Day Two: was a mix of goods and bads. Weather, good. Shifter cable, bad. Track, good. Fast, expensive, awesomeness cars, good. Shifter cable, bad. Session one was awesome. Everyone was out on track (many opted not to run in Friday’s wet)… thirty plus cars per group, 85%+ were Porsche’s, many were dedicated track cars, others were real race cars and still others were double-duty daily drivers. No matter the car’s intent or purpose, they were fast and loud. I can’t speak for everyone else, but our times in the first session dropped another 5-6 seconds per lap from session four of the previous day. It was a whole new day and nothing was gonna slow us down… well, almost nothing. Marked001’s second session ended almost as fast as it started. Before he could even run a hot lap, the rectangle end of the shifter cable snapped after his warm up lap. I know many of you have been in this situation and I’m sure some of you have not, but regardless, it was an “ah shti!” situation. Once we assessed the damage, we were sure we were done for the weekend. After a few quick phone calls checking on local parts and VW dealerships, we made the most important phone call of the trip – we called Allen from 53 Motorsport. “oh, just pick up a battery terminal end from the local auto parts and you’ll be good to go” (not an actual quote since it was marked001 that spoke with Allen, but the convo must have gone something like that). Sure enough, within 20 minutes of getting back to the track from the local NAPA auto parts, we were locked in and ready for session four (for those who are counting, yes we missed session three – long boring story).

Session four was about redemption. It wasn’t the rado’s fault the cable snapped – we are pretty sure it was our tinkering that did it and we owed it to her to get out in session four and show those 911 GT3’s who was boss – LOL- (couldn’t even type that with a straight face). Anyway, we went out with a diminished confidence in our repair, but managed to turn in the best times of the weekend for us. Running consistent low 2:30’s, we finally broke into the high 2:20’s, even with all the traffic. Sadly, the day was over and rain was in the forecast for Sunday.

Saturday night was the dinner hosted by PCA. It was held at the track’s new media center. I can’t say for certain how many people were there, but my guess would be close to 150 participants and their families. The spread was awesome, the dinner conversation was obviously all about the track, cars, track stories, trash talk, etc, etc. A good time seemed to be had by all.

Day Three: Going into Sunday, we knew our time was limited. We were very close to packing up before tech and just heading home, but the rain was mild and the high we were feeling from the day before tempted us into the car one last time. It’s hard to leave a track event after sleeping it off – you wanna get in one last time before the long drive home. And as anti-climatic as it may sound, we both ran in session one… we were actually able to pass the 3 or 4 cars brave enough to toss around their RWD machines on the wet concrete turns… I guess FWD does well in the wet, who knew? Once we brought her in, we packed her up and before session two was done, we were on our way home.

Stories like this don’t always happen without the helping hand from a few people. Obviously we want thank Allen from 53 Motorsport for his continued support and that little quick fix that got us back in action for two more sessions. We need to throw out a thanks to Mike from Tyrol Sport for doing our inspection last minute and for his continued support. Olaf at Atomic Motorsports for his generous car/track setup guidance. Thanks guys – we do really appreciate the help.

few pics from Saturday/Sunday:
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gives you and idea of the amount of money in the pits that weekend:

pssh GT3’s a dime a dozen here
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our build thread for those who haven’t seen it:

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