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Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.

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Old 05-01-2012, 09:45 AM   #1
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Default Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story. EDIT Video Pg 5

Here is the not so short story of my nurburgring experience.

First time out about 1.5 years ago. The car had strano springs/ sway bars / koni adjustable shocks, michelin pilot sport a/s 245 series tires on 16in rims.
Hawk pads, and curved vane rotors from strano.

My goal was to do 10:00 Bridge to gantry......(top gear challenge)

My first timed lap was around 12:30. Car was extremely loose, but a lot of fun to drive. Shocks were set to full soft front and back. Basically I would drift the first couple of corners, the tires would get greasy, and the rest of the lap I was just trying to stay out of the barriers.

I wasn't learning the track, so I rented a 195hp Renault Clio, with slick tires, big brakes, and within 6 laps, I ran a 10:00.56. close enough for me.

Jumped back into the formula, and even with my new knowledge of the track my best was a 10:03.xx. The car was too lose, I was overheating the engine, and the brake pedal was going to the floor by the end of the lap(dot 3 brake fluid).

As I'm getting ready to leave a very tall German gentleman stops me, and asks if I would like to do a formation lap with another f-body. I tell him my car has been cooking its brakes, and tires, and that I need it to get me home still. So he offers me a ride in his mint 2001 SS camaro(German spec). Its stock down to the paper air filter engine wise. Has the same suspension set up as my car, but with cooled 13in brakes, and 275 slick tires on zr1 rims. He takes me for a ride in the low 9s, said his best was in the 8:40 range.

I learned more form that one lap than from all my previous ones put together.

I felt like an a$$ having been unable to break 10min in a car with 50 more hp, and probably around 450lbs less weight(myself as passenger in a fully loaded t-top SS vs no passenger in my lightened hard top stripper formula).

On a side note running the actual track dropped my video game times from high 8s to high 7s, so huge improvement there, lol.

Next time at the track I rented an MX-5 miata with a cage, slicks, racing brakes, coil overs, and a stripped interior. Managed a 9:21.xx my first time out. As I burned off fuel, I managed to get it down to 8:56.48.

I re-fueled, and having broken the 9min barrier my courage got the best of me, and I turned off the traction control, and went for broke. It may have been the extra 70L of fuel, or the lack of electronic assistance, but I couldn't get back below 9min to save my life, a 9:06.xx being my best.

After 2 terrifying laps nearly being killed by a GT3 RS that jumped a curb to pass me on the inside, and seeing 4 wrecks, I decided not to push my luck.

So some weeks later I decide that 2000 miles is enough of a break-in for my 2012 mustang gt.

I arrive late on a weekday in the rain, and decide to do some sighting laps to get a feel for the track. The GT pushes in the rain, then it transitions to snap over steer, and then back to pushing..... combine that with traction control that wouldn't kick in until things were really out of hand... bowel loosening.

Then it started to snow(WTF) it had been 60* out 30 min prior......... At that point I was feeling lucky just to have gotten the car back in one piece. I decided to take some Brits up on their offer of steak and beer.

Next morning its still crappy. Ran a 10:44.xx on a damp track, but was passed by an Aston Martin race car that sells fast lap rides. I thought might be a great way to learn the track while I wait for it to dry out. So I get my ticket, and as I'm waiting the gear box blows up...

So I swap for a ride in the M5 taxi. My driver has raced BMW's for 18 years, and has been a development test driver for 10. We have an extra seat, so he asks if his chassis engineer can ride with us. I agree, and they set to talking rapidly in German.

As we are pulling onto the track the other M5 ring taxi slips out in front of us. Few times in life have I encountered better timing. The first M5 gets about 30 car lengths on us as we sequence up to the gate, racing brake pads groaning as they do when asked to do the work of normal brakes.

As we wait for the arm to swing up and release us, my driver tells me, "You are going to get scared, when you feel uncomfortable tell me and I slow down."

So I tell him, "I'm a week away from going back to Afghanistan, I want you to catch the other M5 taxi." The arm comes up and we creep onto the course through the cones that form a mini chicane. He nods with a simple "ok" and a smile. As we clear it he turns off the traction control, and goes flat to the floor.

I know the noise is synthetic but it sounds great anyways, like a combination of a 4.0L v8 m3 and a jet engine. The gear shifts are imperceptible, except for the slight burp from the engine.

As we rocket toward the first series for corners we pass my normal braking point still at full tilt. When he finally does apply the brakes, I can feel the monstrous sedan shifting around beneath me, the steel barriers just feet off the track rushing towards us, I suddenly realize the error of offering such a challenge to a competitive type A personality behind the wheel of an M5, and accept my inevitable fiery death.

But we don't smash into the barriers, the big sedan still feeling on the edge of control buzzes across the rumble strips, hits the curb, kisses the grass on the inside of the first right hand apex, then flings back left, my mind still trying to process the minute control a human being can have over such a massive machine, as he hits the next 3 apex's flawlessly. At the right hander just prior to the normal start finish line I swear we're so close I feel the wall brush my arm through the luxuriously padded door. After the ride, I look just to be sure we didn't trade any paint...

At the Flugplatz, its like a replay from the movie free *****. all 4300lbs of M5 become airborne, and I find the M5's weakest point. Lack of head room..... My head gives the steel roof a good thump.

We catch sight of the other M5 just after mid track. The sight of our M5 gives the one in front a bit of the red mist, and he pushes harder. During an up hill right hand corner, I can see daylight between the inside front tire and the asphalt. At the same time the rear end is squirming, and the rear tires lay intermittent black streaks as they try to apply all 556hp.

We stay on the bumper of the other M5, with our driver calmly talking me through the course, and mistakes most people make.

The experience of watching two professional race car drivers battle it out around the ring in identical M5's was beyond words.

The course is now dry, and my confidence is up, so I go out for a fast lap in the GT. It still pushes, but in the dry the rear end is glued to the track. by the last series of corners the brake pedal is going to the floor, and the brakes are smoking, but I manage to cross the line at 8:59.xx.
Not bad for 235 width tires, stock brake fluid, pads and rotors.

Even after the brakes cool down they never regain their original stopping power, so I decided to take it home.

So my final trip...
I couldn't go on deployment knowing that my stock from ford mustang was faster than my formula that I have put so much work into. I replaced the brake fluid with the highest temp I could get, sealed the radiator, and fixed the pcv. Hoping that that would solve the earlier issues, along with keeping the revs down to 5k instead of 6300.

I set the front shocks to +5 in the hopes that it will fix the over steer.

It doesn't... In the very first corner, I'm passing a bike just lightly on the brakes, the rear-end comes out and I slide across the course, I just manage to keep the front tires and right rear on the course, but I see turf flying up in my left mirror, so I know the left rear was in the grass.

I slip and slide around the course, to a time of 9:30. My starting tire pressure is 36-38psi. After a cool down run for the engine I pull back in and my tire pressure is near 50psi....

So I lower it back to 32-34.

I try to make a game of carrying as much speed as possible while not letting the tires slip, in the hopes that they wont get greasy. It works great netting me a couple of 9:10s. Again the tire pressure is up to almost 40psi. So I air it back down to 32psi.

So my last run. I try my best to save the tires at first, manage to pass a poorly driven 2011 gt500 on the brakes into a corner. At brunchen the tail comes out wide under braking, I almost lose it, but manage to catch a big slide right on the rumble strips. The tires start to get greasy so I ease up a bit. I'm holding it together till I get to the mini carousel, I carry too much speed in, and just as I think I have it made I get on the gas, but the last bump throws the rear end up in the air, and it doesn't land behind the front.

I get into a massive tank slapper, over correct 4 times before sliding off into the grass, and nearly hit the wall. Then skid back onto the track still doing about 40MPH, I take it easy through the double right handers that lead you back onto the main straight. Knowing I have blown my last lap, I hit the clock anyways.

To my surprise the time was 8:56.24, even with the mistakes 4 sec faster than the mustang, and .24 faster than the MX-5 race car.
No issues with the cooling and the brakes didn't fade at all.

So if you have stuck with me so far what should I do?

My end goal is to get close to my friends 2012 BOSS 302.

7's are probably out of reach, but Maybe 8:30's?
*EDIT* Mods complete. Video on page 5
Attached Thumbnails
Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_0724.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_2675_d.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_3997.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_3998.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_8950_j.jpg  

Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_4122.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_4108.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_4107.jpg   Help me set up my Formula for the Nurburgring. Long story.-img_3288.jpg  

Last edited by Phoenix64; 06-03-2013 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:22 AM   #2
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Man that's a Awsome story I too have had fun on the north loop I was stationed there in the mid 90's. As much as I hate to say it on this forum, in my humble opinion the mustang offers more potential to go fast. Sell the Formula spend the coin on the Mustang. My.02$
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:22 AM   #3
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What a great story. You have an obvious talent for writing. Geez, I felt like I was there.

I'm wondering why so much oversteer with what is a proven balanced combination. Could the tires be expired?

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Old 05-01-2012, 11:21 AM   #4
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x3 on the great story. kept me reading. you should go to silverstone and tell us another story.

and i dont have any experience in time trial but i would say a set of great tires would change the formula's world.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:30 AM   #5
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wow that was a great read.
but definitely tires, then see how it is.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:42 AM   #6
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As a side note, I used to work for Bridgestone and got to hang with Walter Roehrl and Hans Stuck at Watkins Glen. Those guys put on a clinic in the Supercar series. Basically they thought it was funny driving on street tires with no grip - you know, since sliding a Porsche sideways at 130 is easy...
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:52 PM   #7
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What are the alignment settings on your Formula ? I would post them up and have some road racers offer advice on what they run.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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i'll be going this summer, planning a trip when i get back from afghanistan. you going to GRW?
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:27 PM   #9
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Thanks for the compliments, I edited some grammar, and added the Flugplatz part to the original post. Got a pretty good lump on my head.

I'm going to Mez.

The car was aligned to stock specs after the suspension work.

Can't sell the Bird, its the first thing I ever bought with my own money, and I've had too many adventures like this one in it.

As for tires the fronts were pretty ragged on the shoulders with lots of tread in the middle, and the rears were worn almost to the wear bars in the middle but the shoulder was good, so I swapped them at the track.

So what is the best tire I can get for a 16in wheel?
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:19 PM   #10
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Best as in what? Nitto nt01s come in your size those are almost full race Hooser a6s too full race rubber but for a street tire i don't know if there is a good one that would do what you want. I run nitto nt05s 275-17 on my car for autocross and track days but it's still a street tire
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:36 PM   #11
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want a good roadrace tire .. look at some toyo Ra1's

and I think the bigger brakes and even bigget wheels are better than the stock stuff .. the bigger wheels mean less sidewall flex and the bigger brakes will let you brake later .. meaning less time on the brakes .. Mixed with some decent tires... I think that will make the biggest difference.

I have been around "the ring" when i went to visit my older brother while he was stationed in Germany .. we went around in a OLD late 80's 5 series ..
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:52 PM   #12
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Agreed on the awesome story. It would be nice to see what input Sam has on adjusting your setup. Hopefully he will chime in when he gets a chance.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:57 PM   #13
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Yeah, I can't believe you did all that on 245 all season tires. If you want to stay stock, at least get a set of 275 tires on 17" rims like the WS6/SS. Or if you want to keep the 16's, then just get a unique set of race wheels and tires and forget about compromising between the two. The larger, stickier contact patch will not only raise handling limits, it will also yeild much improved braking, which will further allow you to push harder and deeper into corners. Kudos on the fine writing and memorable experiences.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:19 PM   #14
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Get some 17' rims and 275/40/17 tires and fill them with nitrogen to keep your pressure consistant.

These cars are far to heavy to drive hard like that on 16" tires.

Back in the 90's when they roadraced these things in showroom stock endurance racing(3hrs) they were the fastest things out there but they needed to conserve the tires and brakes(stock brakes and 255/50/16 tires) because of the weight and wouldn't make a push to the front until the final 45minutes or so.

Great read BTW.

Stay safe in the sandbox.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:07 PM   #15
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Im so jealous...
Get some 17x11 wheels with 315/35/17 mounted on all four corners and watts link and go from there.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:35 PM   #16
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Mann, das ist unglaublich!
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:36 AM   #17
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Great read. Get some 17 inch wheels and tires
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:16 PM   #18
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Awesome read! The 'Ring is on my bucket list - gonna do it in a 911.

As it has been stated - wider wheels and tires, brakes, and tuning (tire pressure, shocks and sways) to find a suitable compromise between your driving style and the car's needs to tackle such a demanding track. Do you know how to chalk your tires and how to read them after a run?
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:01 AM   #19
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that is one thing on my bucket list!!
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:03 PM   #20
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Very intresting reading. Of course you should keep the Firebird even though you may need to make some adjustments. There will always be better cars out there. But it's a greater challenge, and cooler if you ask me, to tune our cars for best handling as possible. A little surprised that you ran with the dampers in the full soft mode. Maybe you should play around with the setting a bit more. I think you can find a lot there. Watt-link should do a part, I run it myself but have never pushed the car the way you did. Keep us updated, love this kind of posts and hope to take a trip to the ring myself one day.
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