Tel's Tales Issue 003 - 19th march 2013
Speed Series 2013
Speed Series Correspondent
Preparation for a Sprint/Hillclimb
Well the season is about to start with Castle Coombe this coming weekend so I thought I would write a few words about preparation and the event process. I will assume you are trailering the car etc.
On the day before the event (or earlier) fuel up and fully charge the battery. Check oil level and water levels are ok and set tyre pressure at around 18psi if using road going radials. Make a pile of stuff to load into tow car including spare fuel, usually in 10 litre cans or larger jerry cans with spouts and funnels. Due to the weight of fuel it is advisable to only fill tank with as much fuel as needed for one run ( plus maybe a re-run) but beware if you do not have a swirl pot or you may suffer fuel starvation on bends or acceleration. Here is a list of some stuff you could need.
Foot pump and pressure guage
Puncture repair aerosol
General spares including jubilee clips, duck tape (lots of it), clutch/accelerator cable, brake fluid, battery charger, hoses, spare battery, silencer packing, nuts, special bolts ( 7/16th UNF for suspension), rose joints, cloths and hand wipes, loctite, torque wrench, spare FIA switch key and any other bits that are likely to fail and are easy to pack and have handy.
Tools including allen keys/torx, pop rivetter, sockets, spanners.
I try to pack my car with spares and tools always in the same place so I know where they are and can get them quickly if time is important. Which it often is …....!
WSCC membership card including speed series registration
Logbook( non road going)
MOT certificate (road going)
V5 doc (road going)
Insurance ( road going)
Boots (not compulsory but advisable)
Final instructions and a map of where venue is as well as phone numbers in case you are late
Suncream and sunglasses for the optimists which includes me
Umbrellas and waterproof clothing for the pessimists
Fuel in the tow car
Sandwiches and non alcoholic drinks
Spare key for trailer lock
On the departure day double check that you have the main items above (in italics) as forgetting them could be costly or ruin your day.
On arrival you will need to park up in your numbered space if there is one or in a general paddock area. Park neatly and leave space for other cars being careful as you swing into place as the trailer needs to miss other cars!!!! In some places you are allowed to park support vehicle, trailer and race car but some restrict this due to space constraints so preplan what you need and where. Most competitors arrive 30mins before drivers signing on time ans unload their car and walk the track asap. After signing on, where your MSA licence is checked ( you may be given a sticker or card to show the scrutineer) you will need to have the car and your personal safety clothing scrutineered and this may take place where you are parked or in a defined area elsewhere (check finals). If you can walk the course with other speed series drivers you can chat about lines, braking points, the places where things go wrong, danger points and where time can be saved.
At scrutineering you will have your car checked over and depending on who does it they will mention points of concern or future improvement in terms of safety or technical compliance. They are a bit like football referees and you wont always agree with them! Different day, different track, different scrutineer............ Keep calm and smile is the best approach as unless you are absolutely sure they are wrong ( ie its not in the MSA blue book) its not a good move to say they are wrong so just ask them what they suggest to sort out the problem, then do it. Sometimes you need to bite your tongue and just agree with them as it makes life easier and they are then happy bunnies. Its quite normal for cars that have passed scrutineering for many years to have something questioned etc. You will normally be given a sticker to display on the car and a lot of us use the roll over bar for this. If you have a bump or damage your car during the event then they may recheck your car to make sure its still safe. You will need to take off your bonnet and have your docs with you as well as your helmet, overalls etc
So now you are ready to go ( there may be a compulsory drivers briefing – but not always ) so watch what happens to get from your paddock space to the start line. Do a last minute check of your tyre pressures. (and before each run). You will be noise tested either on the way to the start or at the end of your first practice run so you may need to warm your engine up before the test. You will be asked what your maximum revs are and then told what revs they want you to hold for the noise meter. My advice is not to brag about max revs! Try to build up your revs smoothly until you reach the required level and the reading is taken. You will usually be told what it is and if you fail you may need to repack the silencer and try again.
As you approach the start line start to visualise the track into simple sections of say 5 parts each with its own challenge in terms of line, speed or braking. Do final tightening of seat belts, check engine temps etc and then concentrate. The start line marshalls will roll car into place so ake sure you have foot on clutch (in 1st gear) and hand brake off with feet off all pedals. Once in placethey will hold or chock the car until you start. Look for the release light to go green then drop visor, build start revs and go, go, go …...........not too much wheelspin but needs to be aggressive. Some competitors do a rear wheel spin up before the start (where permitted) to clean the rears and get a bit of heat into them but it can cause broken halfshafts and diffs on the more powerful cars so beware. Try to be smooth around corners but push hard all the time and dont just ease into a corner or onto the straight. If the car is not understeering, oversteering or just losing grip then you need to push harder on the loud pedal. When you finish drive back to paddock and let car cool down. Check engine for leaks etc and readjust tyre pressure which are likely to have gone up. Chat to others about track conditions and how they are doing and if you can the watch some cars on track to see how they approach corners and how late they brake etc. Depending on how your car is handling you may need to adjust shock settings and or ARB settings. Sometimes a compromise is needed as cold tyres at the start react differently to warm ones and slow/high speed corners pose different problems. Whatever you do try to record it and dont alter too much at once!
Whatever happens enjoy it and talk to everyone you can and time will fly by and at the end of the day you will be looking forward to the next event.
3 Sisters sprint course No 1- One way of driving it.......
Once again for newbies I am about to try and give you an idea about how to drive the 3 sisters sprint circuit quickly. Exit the paddock and turn left going round the right hand cafe corner towards the start on Conrod Straight. There is a short area for tyre warming before lining up on the start line. Grip here is excellent so off you go flat out towards the right hand approaching Pentith climb. A short lift is all thats needed and you need to move from the left aggressively to get as close as possible to the concrete strip on the apex and it really is a fast corner that needs commitment. As you exit the corner you need to let the car move left as far as you can without touching the grass and keeping you foot on the accelerator to prevent lift off oversteer. You are now approaching the aptly named Coward's Summit which is a high speed right hander that falls away from you and you cant see the line or apex until you are committed to the turn. Keep it smooth here and try not to lift whilst you dive to the right hand side before drifting the car to the extreme left on the exit which straightens up towards the 90deg right hander. You must now brake hard before this right hander and the apex is clear to see and you can use the outside rumble strip on the exit if its a dry track. (avoid it like the plaque if its wet). Flat out now past the pit wall and leave your braking as late as you dare completing it in a straight line before the difficult right hander called Paddock bend. There are different lines possible here depending on how you car is set up and behaves but generally you run wide and come in to make a late apex and hope you do not have too much understeer coming out on the left hand side. Get the car straight again and move right as you brake really really hard and turn sharp left around the Valley kerb and let the car run wide to the outside on exit but watch how you apply power as this corner has an adverse camber. Get on the power asap for a quick squirt down to the Left-Right-Left sequence of the Esses where a lot of time is gained or lost. The approach is downhill and the left hand entry is blind but you need to get close to but not on the inside kerb. Immediately look forward and pick a line through the right to left Esses onto the finish line on Rodgersons Straight. I find it best to ride high on top of these kerbs but be very very careful as you accelerate towards the finish because if you are not careful the back end will get loose or break away with bad results as it spits you to the inside tyre wall and damage will be the result!!!!!!! A greasy or slightly wet track makes this very tricky so be warned. Also of note is that the track is used by 2 stroke karts and their residual oil on the track does not mix well with water.
Look right as you finish and you will see your time and think …...I could have gone quicker!!!!!
Speed Series Correspondence