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August 1, 2009:
So what was it like driving the car after such a long vacation? Awesome.
Oh man, I'd forgotten just how good the car is. Places where I was expecting to have to baby the car through a corner, it simply tore through. It talks and talks, it slides around beautifully, it just does what it's told. There's one spot on the track between turns 1 and 2 where I can get a good burst of full throttle in the Seven. In other cars, those two corners are linked. They simply make more of a fuss getting around the corner.
The big thing was the engine, though. It's almost operatic. It howls and crackles and has a number of different voices depending on where you are in the rev range. It's got so much character and slugs you back in the seat coming out of a corner. I found myself goofing around on the cooldown laps just to make the engine talk. What a great sports car engine.
It's not perfect, though. I need to do a bit more work on the rear suspension to improve droop travel. I'd also like to run slightly less spring rate in the rear to cut down the oversteer just a bit. A quicker steering rack would be handy. Relatively small detail things, but things that would help the car out a bit.
But oh, that engine!
August 9, 2009:
The Seven is showing signs of neglect.
It's been used so hard with so little TLC over the last few years that it's getting a bit rough. Tom Heath from Grassroots Motorsports was in town for the Open House and took the car for a short drive. The car was missing a fender (that didn't get fixed from last week), the throttle bodies are a bit sticky at slow, light throttle openings (such as driving in traffic), the rear suspension was "direct" (he was being very kind) and there was a weird noise coming from underhood that may or may not have been related to the crank problem. On top of that, the differential didn't seal into the housing the last time I installed it so it's dripping a bit.
It's time to go through the whole car, stem to stern. If I end up pulling the engine for a new crank, I'll make sure to sort everything out. I've learned so much since building the car, it's time to put some of that knowledge to good use.
I had a Traqmate datalogger in the Targa car this weekend when I was at the track.
I reviewed the logs and saw some interesting things. In that car, at least, I'm not anywhere near the limits on the back straight. That used to be the strongest part of my lap, but you can see that I'm neither cornering at maximum effort or accelerating hard - at least, not in the Miata. I'm wussing out. I also need to review my old videos to find out just what my line was there, as we were discussing options and I managed to confuse myself!
So, even with me being a bit of a wimp, I was still almost on my pace from last year - less than a tenth slower than my all-time best. Why? Because there's a new concrete patch on the outside of the last two corners, and it means a much better drive on to the front straight. Some of the lap record action in the 2009 may be due to this faster line. Now all I have to do is fix my car, get myself back into shape and go hunting cars with more horsepower and less weight!
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