NASA 2k7 Event 1 - Iowa Speedway

h1 June 18th, 2007

OK, this is going to be a pretty big update. We (s2k Ben, rx7 Damian and I) headed to Iowa Speedway over the weekend of the 28th/29th of April. This was a exciting deal for a bunch of reasons. #1 is it was the first race of 2007. #2 is that we had just tuned and dyno tested our cars and they were running pretty well. #3 is that Iowa Speedway is a roval, with a NASCAR style banked turn on one end and a infield section on the other. #4 is that it’s only 4 hours away!!!

Anyway, with all that in mind we packed up and headed down on Friday afternoon. Was probably the best we’ve ever left for an event. The cars were actually loaded the night before and we only left about 2 hours late… so the weekend started well. Didn’t have any trouble getting there and because we made good time we had a little time to look around the place before they let us in and we could get some sleep. Unfortunately there was a drag race going on, so we had to wait for those people to leave, but the facility was huge so we spend the time nosing around.

Eventually they let us in and we did a quick track walk before setting up the sleeping bags outside on the asphalt. Fell asleep dreaming of 15 degree banked turns. :)

Morning dawned early and hot. The plan for me was to run the street tires for the first 3 sessions of the day, switch to the R-comps the last session and heat cycle them (and check to see if they will not rub terribly) and then use them all day sunday. I was running my tuned boost level and everything seemed to be well with the car when I was getting it ready to go.

The first sessions went pretty well, the car felt strong, the tires were actually surprisingly good, and the track was pretty dang fun. The high banked turn was of course the highlight, and you could enter the turn at close to 95mph, hold that til mid-corner, and then full accelerate off the exit. You had to be careful though, as the banking leveled out on exit, so by that point you needed to be pointed down the track and not at the wall! The only bumpy part was the transition from the oval to the infield, and depending on your line that could be smoothed out some as well. All in all it was pretty fun, if a bit short. The lap times were basically all sub-one minute.

Unfortunately in the first couple sessions I was black-flagged a couple times, once because I had something hanging outside the door on the car, and once because they said I missed a yellow. Niether was a big deal, especially since their flaggers were really not doing what they were supposed to be doing. It was an all new crew since we were the first ever car club to run there and they need a bit more practice. I did end up missing 10-15 min of track time because of all the issues though.
Since this is a NASA event, after lunch we got to watch the races. It was hot, and there was alot of action out on the track. Eric had his toterhome there and he had scoped out the best parking spot, so we were able to watch from the top and see nearly the whole track. Damian did pretty well, and even though he was traditionally way late to grid and started from the pit lane because of some issues with other cars ended up coming home in P1. Very nice for the car’s maiden voyage with the new setup.
Late in the afternoon I switched on the other tires to scrub them in. I should mention that these R-comps are 275/40/17 Hankook Z211’s, and the sizing for my car is a bit off. I knew they were going to be very close to rubbing all over the place because the diameter is a little too large. Anyway, as I was leaving the pit lane it sounded like my wheels were all falling off. Car was skidding rythmically etc etc. I absolutely knew I had torqued the lugs, and this sounded real bad, so I limped around and into the pits. Everything on the car seemed fine,
so I did circles in the pits and even at 5 mph is was apparent. Shane from AIM Tuning was walking past, so I asked him to jump in a second and see what he thought. We decided it sounded like it was exactly in time with the revolution of the wheel, and the right side was definitely worse than the left. Unfortunately nothing could be done quick, so I parked it and went to work.

I pulled off the right side tires and had a look. Everything was tight as far as I could tell, and the wheels, tires and lugs all were good… One thing I did notice was that the stickers were all bunched up… and they were metal. Hmmmmmm….

Went over to the NASA sponsored supper (Thanks!) and asked Shane if he throught stickers could do that. He asked me how big they were, and I showed him (about 6″x9″) and said they were metal. He started laughing hysterically, so I took that as a yes. All that nasty noise and sliding etc etc was just the stickers!?!?

Ben and I made a plan to go up and do laps in the upper parking lot to wear off the stickers and see if the tires are going to rub. As we headed off to do that before it got dark, I heard Shane telling someone else about the stickers. Jerk. :D

Anyway, we scrubbed off the stickers and definitely the tires would rub, but it didn’t seem too bad. Worth a shot sunday morning at least in the warmup session. We spent about 30 minutes making ourselves sick and getting them up to temp, well as high as we could anyway before heading back.

About that time Eric was firing up the keg and the movie setup so we could watch some in-car footage from the days events. A few hours later everyone had had enough and Damian, Ben and I did one last trackwalk eating cookies and discussing lines for the next days events.

Day two went pretty well also. My tires rubbed, but it wasn’t terrible, so I ran them. I was slow to grid a couple times, so I missed at least 15 min of track time because of that. Didn’t get as good of times as I was looking for either, but the bigger sized tires were definitely hurting my acceleration. On the plus side, there was alot more grip, and the car felt planted again. I probably wouldn’t run that size tire again, since it rubs though. Plus the way the NASA rules work I can get a few HP back if I go back to the other size. We’ll see how it works out for NASA nationals.

Anyway, the racing was on again after lunch. Some attrition had taken place, and there was alot less action Sunday, but it was fun anyway. Damian and I had the radios working, which was good, because about 1/2way through he blew a boost hose and had to come into the pits. This was further complicated because we were trying to get some good video of the race. I left the camera and took off running for the pit area. I fixed it using borrowed tools and he went back out only to have it pop off again. He circulated to finish the race at half speed. Time for a bit of re-engineering there.

In the last session of the day Damian and I were chasing each other around and having fun when I had a momentary lapse. I was doing the thing you’re not supposed to, watching the mirror instead of the road. In this case it was only a second, but that was long enough to power oversteer the car off the road. Wouldn’t have been a big deal except that there was some washout because of the rain so I ended up cracking a sideskirt on the passenger side and getting a bunch of rocks in the wheels. Ouch. Lets try to avoid that in the future.

My local Discount Tire guy was nice enough to remount the wheels for free but the sideskirt had to be replaced. Ouch again.

In any case, we packed up in record time (WOOHOO!) and were out of there before it started getting dark even. Because we had the time we stopped at Outback and had a nice steak dinner to toast the weekend results:


Sat: P1 Overall in race group, 1st in TTU
Sun: P1 in class, 1st in TTU


Sat: 1st in TTC (of 4)
Sun: 1st in TTC (of 4)


Sat: 1st in TTS (of 3)
Sun: 1st in TTS (of 3)

I have some personal and professional pics to post up when I have a chance. Also I have alot of good video from the weekend. If I have a chance I’d like to at least make a ‘fast-lap’ video sometime soon. As you can see, I changed the banner to a pic from the banking in turn one… :D

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