The trip down
I took off mid-afternoon on Wednesday, to make the 900+ mile trip to VIR for the Friday morning call. It really was a normal trip passing through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The mostly downhill 5% grades in West Virginia were ok, and the last hour had 2-lane downhill 9% curving grades (wasn’t looking forward to these on the way out!). Got to the track about 7-8pm local and unloaded the car in the all sand paddock area.
The UTCC Event
Went out for the morning practice session at VIR! Never been there before, only watched videos. I knew the top cars were going to try and put down a fast lap to get a good grid position. So I was pointing around cars and on lap #2, going ~120mph down the back-straight I see a few fast movers coming – a Porsche GT3 & 2 Vettes – come flying past me probably 30-40mph faster, bang a few gears while downshifting into the corner and gone!
Overall for my first session, minus a few key turns, I got the hang of the track rather quickly and felt comfortable at the high speeds. I ended with a 2:23x and was grouped into the ‘2nd fastest’ rungroup which was my plan so I wouldn’t feel pushed.
For the first timed session I put down 2:16x I think running 24psi on my 100octane AMS tune. A lot of us were heading for A/C after this session; sweat literally pouring down through my helmet and into my ears just on the warmup lap! It was at least 99 at this point; plus the humidity.
For the 2nd timed session it was around 1-2pm in the afternoon. I turned my boost up a few cranks to what I assumed would be ~26psi. Once on track, all it was showing was 24psi down the straights – just f’in hot! My datalogs showed I was already reaching 140mph on the backstraight, 142mph on the frontstraight and 121mph before the essess! This session yielded me a 2:13x. This also gave me some good comparison data from my traqmate to see where I was picking up time – and I guarantee it wasn’t more speed down the sun-drenched straightaways! Have I mentioned it was hot?
Between the 3rd and 4th session I got ahold of a friend that races an Evo in SCCA T2 and got some advice about the track. I was learning that I was being a pussy at the top of the esses and definitely messing up 2 other turns badly as well. With that advice in hand, some more studying of my traqmate and the shear will of knowing my final time goes in a magazine, I went out for the final timed session. I thought it was hot and greasy before… it was horribly worse! I didn’t mean to trailbrake in every corner but it felt like that’s all the car would do! I thought I was going off more than once in T1 – the hardest braking zone on the track. Braking into T1 at 140+ down to 50 the car just wiggled left-right-left-right as it was fighting for grip.
The final session was about 3:30pm – by far the warmest part of the day. I tried something new – just not let up through the climbing essess – and it was soooo much fun floating through there! On my final lap of the final session I ended with a 2:12.2 which put me 29/66 cars and 14/27 in class.
I was pretty happy with the outcome. The car performed amazing, and even more amazing with the heat. I believe it was ~102 degrees all afternoon; just plain disgustingly hot. Add in the fact most of us wear full firesuits, helmets, and will run with the heater on to help cool the engine and you get the idea. My car took everything I threw at it and it tallied 100 on-track miles by the end of the day. I ran every minute of tracktime I could get and I would have taken more if I had the chance!
Temps… Water temps never budged on my car. Oil temps held usually in the normal 265 degree range – with a peak of 275 degrees from the final session. I have to thank AMS Performance once again for a quality powerful tune that kept the car safe and on-track, and AMSOIL for all my lubrication needs!
Overall, I knew I had no chance of winning (overall winner had 800+ hp and all custom built with professional hotshoe). I’m still on the stock turbo, running 350whp and ~3220lbs for this event. For full setup details click HERE. The classing structure split n/a 4-bangers against everything else – so I ran against everything else! I’m proud to say that minus the ecu tuning from AMS and big things like clutch installs or headstuds, I turn EVERY wrench on this car!
I went for the experience of VIR, to see where I stacked up and to meet a lot of good people – all accomplished! VIR was by far the best track I have ever experienced. So much that I planned to stay the weekend and run TT with NASA Mid-Atlantic. More on that and the odyssey of a trip home in a later thread..
Video! The only time I had my camera on and the mic working was session #2. It’s not my fastest or best laps, but still give you a good feel for the track: