View Full Version : Infineon: 10/07/09... Day of Doom (almost)

10-17-2009, 09:44 PM
This happened over a week ago - last Friday to be exact - so the event isn't exactly fresh in my mind. But I have a good excuse. That typhoon that thrashed the Far East rolled over to our side of the Pacific and made landfall last Tuesday. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning on generator power. Sure am glad I bought one after the last one of these thrashers came in cuz I still have the contents of my fridge and freezers, while my neighbors are all SOL.

Anyway, this day on Infineon was a bit of a hexed day. Not a bad day, mind you. I had fun. But it seemed like there was always something going wrong.

First of all, the weather did not particularly cooperate. It was in the low 50's in the morning and we were warned in the driver's meeting to slow the hell down as this course was infamous for eating cars that don't take it easy when the track is cold. As the presenter pointed out: Nothing you do to heat your tires up will work as the track would just leach it right back out again. We'd have to wait until the afternoon and in the meantime... chill the hell out.

So... the meeting was running late and the printed schedule was off (or so I thought at the time), while I had my tires changed, the video set up, the timer mounted and or course the car unloaded... I did NOT have my numbers on all three sides, and I couldn't go out until I did. And my run group was going on track immediately (the Advanced group had been excused and they ran during the rest of the meeting).

An aside: TrackMasters drivers meetings take FOREVVVER even when they are hurrying, which they were.

So I run out after the meeting, tape on my numbers in a hurry and get my ass out to the grid. I've only lost about two laps. I get out there (Infineon's track entrance - like much of the rest of it - is not for the faint of heart... you exit right smack into the driving line and the track stewards don't do much about keeping you out of emerging into a pack. Which is what happened to me. I saw it coming and merged in OK, but here's where I learn a couple of quick lessons:

1. They are really really serious when they say the cold track is really slick.
2. The other guys in the group have all had two laps to get some heat into their tires and that makes them a LOT faster than me, and I am dumped out into the middle of them. Muy mas fugly.

So I get onto the track and top out onto the top of the off-camber turn that is Turn 2 and immediately the back end breaks loose. Zoiks. Ok I was going easy and it still broke. Gotta go easier. I swoop into Turn 3, which is an easier version of Turn 2 (off-camber incline with the turn occurring at the summit of the incline... no weight on the wheels when turning in other words) and ohhhh boy....

Lets backtrack just a little. Remember when I said my run group was out and the Advanced guys had hit the track while I was in my driver's meeting? Well, it turns out that was actually the Lotus race group, who I knew was there but were not on the schedule. So I had gone out with the Advanced group, which with this track vendor I didn't want to do cuz they were all full-on race cars.

...which is the other part of the explanation for why I was in the middle of a sea of angry hornets. While I was trying to take it easy, I couldn't go as easy as I wanted because I was in the middle of a very fast pack and as a result, didn't back off like I would have liked to, simply to avoid getting run over. And I hadn't really had a chance to get my bearings as I was dumped square into the middle of these guys as soon as I exited the pits.

So... I make my left-hand approach to go up the hill into 3 and... the back end breaks loose. Bad this time. Car goes sideways and I spin the wheel to bring it around. It responds by sailing around in the other direction as I keep going down the track, more or less. I crest the hill, front wheels on and rear off the track (I have a ghostly outlineon my door where I took out a cone... should buff right out), avoiding the impact with the wall I was headed for. Only now I am shooting across the track and off onto the right side. Down the hill (its not a cliff but may as well be) if I don't get it together *right now*. Somehow I get the car swung around and back on track. Part of the way I did that was getting my foot the hell off the accelerator the instant things went south, so while I was sashaying around like a hippopatamus ballerina, I was also scrubbing off speed. I managed to get the car pointed back in the proper direction while still on more or less level ground and back on track...

Seemingly none the worse for wear. Miracle of miracles.

Needless to say I got Ye Olde Blacque Flag from the next flag station. Not a big surprise. I went in for the mandatory headcase check with the track steward, who I assured that yes, I knew exactly what happened and no, I was not planning on pushing much of anything.

I finished out the rest of the session without incident, taking it easy as I felt out the track and man... was it ever tough to get any grip in a bunch of places on that track. Turns 2 and 3 were the obvious places to watch out, but also Turns 4, the end of the Esses and Turn 11... I had to practically tugboat around that one.

By the time the next session rolled around I figured out my run group mistake and was back to running with the street legal guys. Session 2 was darn near every bit the slip-and-slide that the first session was. I got loose at the end of the Esses again, but this time got it together in much less dramatic fashion... but still two slides, on level ground and at much higher speed. I was breaking traction all over the place and really really had to work the throttle easy.

Times in the second session were at around 2:11. These were my first times ever on this track (never run with timing before) and I was under no illusion as to how fast that lap was compared to a warm track.

By the third session, the sun had come out and the track was finally warming up. Guys were getting on it more, but I was still running scared, at least somewhat. I was probably blowing a full second on Turn 11 because I just would not put any throttle into that turn. Way too much concrete up close there. Lap times improved to 2:07...four seconds per lap thanks to only a few degrees of temperature.

Next it was lunch time, and time to check my tires. I had a pair that had 7 days on them in back and sure enough, they had corded a little. No problem I expected that and had a spare pair. So I yanked the rear tire and swapped in the spare. Next I hauled the front tire off to do a general inspection and bleed the brakes for the first time in the day... and thats when Hemi Family and I saw this:




Hemi Family and I scoured the wheel well to see WTF it was that could cause something like this. Hemi Family spotted a smudge on the sway bar, but that smooth bar wouldn't shave a tire down like that.

Some guys came by and spotted what we missed. Its obvious now:



What had happened was, during my little escapade in the first session, the front steering rack - which is now capable of more travel than it formerly was thanks to a 26" diameter tire - heeled over and, rather than scuffing the fender well, it was now turned enough and small enough to hit the frame. Which happily shaved off the tire like a cheese slicer.

It rurned out my *other* rear tire was not corded yet, so I could use my other spare for the front, which I took out of service. I ran like that for the rest of the day... on mismatched tires but it was either that or go home. The dead tire had only one day on it so that REALLY pisses me off. I've heard from some people that it may not be dead - that if there are no cords showing, the tire is still good. We'll see, but it looks to me like I am SOL and need two additional new tires (since I wear them out in pairs).

The fourth session was after lunch. And it was pretty warm by then. I was still a little gun-shy on the sharper turns, and as such was driving slower than I was in July, but still my times improved to a best of 2:04... here again, the only thing thats changing is the weather and the driver, whose nuts are dropping back down out of his chest slowly but surely...

My weak rear tire held and I was able to make it to my fifth and last session. Afterwards some of the drivers I talked to agreed with me that this was our fastest session of the day, despite the arrival of some cooling wind. Things were finally clicking right. And I *know* I saw a sub-2-minute lap time click by. Another four seconds off the personal-best clock.

BUT... in keeping with the Murphy's Law nature of the day, the lap timer was somehow on the fritz. Instead of showing lap times, it was showing the time of day every time I went by the transmitter. Thats why all I know is "sub two-minute" because thats as much as I could figure out while glancing down as I roared down the straightaway under WOT.

So it didn't happen. 2:04 is going to have to be the best for the day. While I am going back to Infineon in November, I am not planning on taking the slicks. It'll be even cooler then and I now know exactly how they behave in the cold. So before we see an LX break the two-minute mark on that track, we are going to have to wait until at least Spring 2010.

As for video: Remember Murphy's Law? I was rushed in Session 1 as you may remember, and and didn't get the Record button pushed properly. Nada. I have *something* of the following sessions, but I don't know what yet. I ran out of tape at some unknown point and I have to see where it went south. Video will be posted, just not right this second. Which means that fifth session isn't available to run a stopwatch against. Even though its not an official time, I've found my video is accurate to the fraction of a second when comparing it to actual lap times, so I would have at least had that much. Murphy strikes again.

Hemi Family, it was great seeing you there and getting to know you. Let me know next time you are hitting the track and I'll try and be there too!

10-17-2009, 10:14 PM
Cool....another Matt thread.
Always enjoy your threads.

Wicked tire peel.
Nice story.


Eric Bryant
10-18-2009, 10:19 AM
Wow - glad to see that the tire cut wasn't any deeper! I've always been wary of re-using a tire after such an event; sure, it's not down to the cords yet, but what if that crack decides to grow as it's stressed? I'd be interested in hearing Hoosier's take on the situation.

Are you trying to run the R100 slicks on those cold days, or do you go back to the R6 R-compound radials? I don't have any experience with the bias-ply slicks, but autocross-oriented tires typically don't require a lot of heat to work acceptably well. Seems like those might be the ticket for your "cold" California fall days. Hell, I've run Kumho V700 tires as three-session street tires on my Impala for the last two years, so those might be a good cool-weather intermediate tire on cooler days.

10-18-2009, 11:55 AM
Eric - that isnt a crack, its a sliver of tire from the shave job.

Hey Matt you do know when the say "Shaved" tires they are referring to the tread area right ?

:mrgreen: http://www.srtconnection.com/forums/images/smilies2/rofl2.gif http://www.srtconnection.com/forums/images/smilies2/domotwak.gif

BTW - good job keeping it off the wall, your nomex undies have some new stains ?


10-18-2009, 01:36 PM
I'd be interested in hearing Hoosier's take on the situation.As Rob says, thats a sliver of tire shaving that I wanted to get into the picture but wound up looking like a cut on the pic. I'm not planning on asking Hoosier. My tire shop has an ex-NASCAR tire guy on staff and he/they are the ones who do my in-service inspections. As you probably have seen I have indeed talked to Hoosier quite a bit about this car but for something like this I can guarantee you would get a Liability-averse answer.

Are you trying to run the R100 slicks on those cold days, or do you go back to the R6 R-compound radials? You are looking at an R6 here. Note the tread grooves. I still haven't switched to R100's because I haven't run out of R6's yet. When I last talked to Hoosier and decided to go with the R100 instead of more R6's, I had a brand-new, unused pair and two decent pairs mounted up on my 6 wheels. Then I also had a dismounted pair that was worn, but not thru the grooves yet (at least two more days left). Since then, the pair I thought would cord on the next day actually went 2 1/2 days (Friday was the half day of that). The new pair have only two days on them now and my last pair just got put into service. SO... that means I have a spare pair of R6's *still* waiting to go onto the rims. The question is, will that almost new R6 be good for anything? I'm thinking *maybe* as a rear tire.

Also two of my four in-service tires are very worn so a pair of something is due fast. And if that shaved R6 is out... two more. The question is what to buy?

I don't have any experience with the bias-ply slicks, but autocross-oriented tires typically don't require a lot of heat to work acceptably well. Seems like those might be the ticket for your "cold" California fall days.

Now that is something I had not thought of. The A6 is not made in a size I can use, though. BTW the R80 and R100 are radials and not bias plys. I am currently planning to finish out the year with my old 'track' tires: The Bridgestone RE-050A Pole Positions that I have on my other SRT wheels and have been literally saving for a rainy track day.

Hey Matt you do know when the say "Shaved" tires they are referring to the tread area right ?
bleaux me.


your nomex undies have some new stains ?
Damn straight.

Eric Bryant
10-18-2009, 06:00 PM
Note to self - don't post on Sunday mornings prior to ingesting the correct dose of caffeine.

As Rob says, thats a sliver of tire shaving that I wanted to get into the picture but wound up looking like a cut on the pic.

EDIT: Yep, after about the twelfth time looking at this, I see what's going on. Doesn't look like a huge problem to me.

If you've got a knowledgeable tire guy at the local shop, great. We've just got a bunch of teenagers around here.

You are looking at an R6 here. Note the tread grooves.

My bad - saw the shoulder profile (which looks a lot more square than the A6s that I'm used to seeing - maybe it's the funky wear from rubbing?) and made a bad call.

Now that is something I had not thought of. The A6 is not made in a size I can use, though.Bummer - they work well when cold. Might want to check out Kumho's autocross offerings. Or maybe not; adding one more intermediate option to the tire arsenal might not make a lot of sense.

Thanks again for the lengthy posts - lots of great info in 'em.

10-18-2009, 08:11 PM
Wow Matt, looks like you pulled one out there.

Dotted the cloth did ya?

Glad you and Darth Hemi are in one piece.

Can't wait to see the videos.