Targa Miata
August 7, 2012 - Summer Camp track time!
The Summer Camp is where the car made its first tentative laps of the track and is usually the last test before the Targa. Not this year, of course. But it's always a bit of a milestone.
This year, there were three back-to-back days and I was to be giving rides all day, every day. That's at least 150 laps if all went according to plan. Because of the upcoming movie premiere, I had reverted the car to full Targa spec, right down to the tires and the tall ride height.
Okay, that wasn't a great plan. The weather was hot, the usual 95F sunshine we get in Grand Junction in August. After two laps, the rear tires simply turned to slime followed quickly by the fronts. Even if I tried to drive very conservatively, I'd only get two and a half laps before the rear started to behave like it was on castors. It actually wasn't that much fun to drive. The car was also having trouble staying cool. Every car was, actually - even a stock Z06 and the other V8 Miatas.
Then, just as I came in to the difficult braking zone, I heard a clunk and the steering wheel shifted. I'd had the car aligned the week before and hadn't put a wrench on every single bolt, and one of them had moved. Just like last year! Luckily, I had marked the cams so it was a simple matter of putting the bolt back in to position and torquing it hard. All the others were nice and tight. I let the car cool for a bit too, it was getting pretty warm under there to do suspension work.
For the next day, I put my undercar ducting on, swapped in the RA1 tires and dropped the car by 5 turns on the spring perches. Much better. The car was fun again, and reasonably quick even though I wasn't going for fast times. Average lap times were in the low 1:04 to high 1:03 times, which is as fast as anyone was going. The improved front airflow seemed to have solved the cooling problem too, as the car was happier all day while all the others continued to wilt in the heat.
On Friday, I went out for my first session and the car felt great. We came in to the pits and I popped off the steering wheel and laid it on top of the instrument cluster, as normal. It slipped off, so I lifted it a bit higher and put it back on - and when I did so, the padded rim of the wheel bumped against the windshield. It wasn't that hard, so I was shocked when I looked up and saw the big star in the glass. It wasn't safe to drive like that so my day was over. What a goofy problem!
A local glass company had the windshield in stock, so I scooted over there and had it installed. I was back at the track a few hours later, but decided not to push my luck as the adhesive was still curing. It's the third time I've had a new windshield put in this car, and I have yet to actually break it in a traditional manner. In sympathy, Nancy decided to take a rock later in the day and also cracked the glass.
So that was the end of the Summer Camp track time. Greasy tires, hot engine, broken glass and slipped alignment cams. But also some nice clean, quick runs and I tried a couple of things that may come in handy later. So it was not a complete waste. But it sure was frustrating.
entry 1050 - tags: testing, tires, suspension, glass