With a renewed sense of urgency, I got back to work in May. I ended up registering for a 2-day track event with Autointerests at Gingerman on Memorial weekend 2015. This time, I wasn't going to be dumb enough to take the street tires back out to the track. I purchased some RPF1 wheels with some Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec tires that I was going to use to continue to practice with on the road course. Overall, they were a decent choice of compound. They didn't seem to wear too quickly, so it was a great tire to use for just putting down some laps.
I made it a full day out on track. Saturday ran without any trouble and ran a 1:49.88. Slow, but at least I was getting some seat time. Sunday I started to have braking issues. As it turns out, going to a multi-day event like this and still running the original OEM street pad was more than they could handle. I had to cut tracktime on Sunday short, and drive the five hours back home to Dayton on pads that were completely gone. I had taking the pad all the way down to the backing plate. Lesson learned here, was get some track pads and always carry a spare set. So, I reached out to Girodisc and ordered some parts. Specifically, I got a full set of their 2 piece rotors and Raybestos ST43 pads. It was a substantial chunk of change, but I am happy that I spent the money on things that could make the car slow down. With the addition of 100 extra horsepower upcoming, it made sense that I would having the braking performance taken care of first.
In late May, AWD Army hosted an autocross in partnership with WOR SCCA. It was an excellent opportunity to get out and compete. With my new found tire and braking performance, I managed to win my class (200TW street). Needless to say, I was pretty excited to be the fastest car running street tires, and the third fastest car overall. I was bested only by a couple of my racing friends, both having quite a bit more experience. Not too bad.
In July 2015, my life outside of racing really started to pick up. It was juggling an awful lot of different things with my career, and it was difficult to keep everything up in the air without screwing up. Work brought me to Chicago for a 3 days worth of meetings, and I managed to convince Ashley that it was a great idea to head straight to NCM Motorsports Park once the work wrapped up. It was a single day event with 10/10ths Motorsports. I cant say enough about what an awesome experience it is to run with these guys. Absolutely a no-frills, no BS approach to running an HPDE. Driver's meeting was short, and to the point. Bill also explained to the entire group, the collective speed an skill of the various classes. He made sure that everyone understood that the group was quick, and there is no shame in wanting to go back down a class if the run group was too quick to be within your comfort level. This is great advice, and I encourage everyone who thinks "I got this" when getting into HPDEs to understand that it's ok to swallow your pride and run in the group that makes you most comfortable.
NCM is a spectacular track. During my first event, I got comfortable pretty quickly. However, there was and continues to be a substantial amount of time left in the car. If there is anyone who has the opportunity to do an event here, I'd recommend that they jump at the opportunity. So rad! Because I knew that OLOA made at stop at NCM in 2015, I knew that there would be a chance that they would stop again there in 2016. I didn't have the resources to be able to scout every track to prepare for OLOA, so this was an awesome opportunity to get onto a fast and technical track and get ready for the speed of competition. I'm happy I did, because it definitely worked in my favor. Even today, NCM remains my favorite track. My only hope is that I can convince Adam and the rest of the #Gridlife crew to host an event there. It's too fun.
At the end of July, I went back to the drag strip with a goal of setting a personal best. My only goal in mind was running something in the 12's. I was excited to say that I accomplished my goal, but I killed the factory clutch in the process. I limped home from Kil-Kare, and the clutch slipped any time the car got into boost. I parked the car, and wrangled up my friends to help me. So the build began. I had no idea that it was going to be months before I drove the car again. In the next update, I'll talk more about the highs and lows of trying to convert a daily driver into a car prepped for One Lap of America that maintains its status as a real road car.