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Team3S Member Track Report:

Sears Point, CA -Infineon Raceway

Reports by Jim Berry, Rick Pierce, & Damon Rachell

NASA NorCal Region HPDE, Oct 12/13 2002

Team3S at Sears Point, October 2002
Photograph 2002-2004 Jim Elferdink, All Rights Reserved.

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Sears Point Track Map

Sears Point Track Map
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Report by Jim Berry

A great time was had by most --- events have shown that testosterone and youthful exuberance can win wars and bend cars [ name of the party withheld to protect the guilty ].  Us old guys try to prevent barrier-assisted stops because of the damage they can do to body parts [ mine, not the cars ].  'sigh' --- to be 10' tall and bulletproof again.

All in all a great weekend!  On the downside, NASA had too damn many cars in the HPDE groups on Saturday.  Sunday was much better, but still pushing the limit as far as I'm concerned.  The first two sessions on Saturday were timed at 12 minutes each(!) --- that's ridiculous, and I'll be sending a nastygram to NASA.

The new facility is really 1st class and apparently they'll be re-paving the track before the next NASCAR race.  It's nice to be at a facility that has indoor plumbing and hot and cold water --- hell, back when I was a kid ---- well never mind.

Nothing like a little low speed push to get your attention as you slide towards the tire barrier, your tires shuddering and clawing for traction --- that occurs right after braking from 100+ while aimed straight at another barrier that forms the perimeter for the turn 11.  Once your tires hook up again you're headed off down the front 'straight' [ actually a dogleg left ] --- full throttle, a foot from the wall at the dogleg looking at a long black streak on the track and a big tire mark on the outside wall, damn, somebody did it wrong !!

You can carry a ton of speed into 1, a fast uphill left hand sweeper --- pucker factor kept me slow there both days.  Done wrong you go off track into the hillside, done too fast, you carry too much speed into 2 [ see paragraph 1 ].  Done right it probably feels great although I never felt close to optimum there.  2 through 8a form the portion of the track I'm familiar with, it was the shortened version that resulted while the $50 million renovation was taking place.

Coming out of 1 you brake hard and downshift for 2, clip the berm and head towards the hillside grandstands at track out --- last year I managed a nifty little 90 degree reorientation after getting too much berm.  From track out at 2 there's a nice short straight that allows us higher HP guys blow by the wannabes, hard downhill braking into the uphill left known as turn 3.  Late apex 3a and a fast down hill run into 4, a medium speed 90 right that flows into a fairly high speed right hand sweeper done at WOT in 3rd.

The 270 downhill known as the carousel is another of those turns that I have never taken at what I consider optimum speed.  Next is a 110 mph run to the turn 7 hairpin --- hard braking and downshifting to make the big 'U' turn.  Several methods recommended --- double apex it or run in deep and do a single apex.  I just go a little deep and do a constant radius turn with a lot of throttle about half way through, it slides a little wide but there's plenty of room to work with.

Next are the esses, and I finally feel in control of that mess --- last year the walls scared the poop out of me but now that the construction is done there is more room for error, while driving I like to repeat the mantra --- you have to drive it home dummy.

New to me but part of the original track is the 8a, 9, 10 complex ---- much speed can be carried through here and I got better as track time accumulated.  9 is 100+ with some room for error but that damn 10 is a high speed right with walls where you'd be if you screw it up.  There are also a lot of marbles [ balled up rubber ] all over the area and if you get off line you're off track.  10 takes you to that 100+ run up to 11 where you hope to hell you didn't overcook your brakes during the preceding 10 turns.  Heading towards a wall at 100 mph is no time to find out you've got brake fade --- for the most part I left a lot of leeway for error here.

That's the track, it's fun, it's fast, it's challenging, but the best part of the weekend was meeting with and being with friends who share a common bond --- not just 3S people but people who like cars and driving and having a good time.  Bonds and memories formed like that are not soon forgotten.  My condolences to those who could attend and didn't, and to those who wanted to and couldn't [ e.g. Bob and ET, you were missed ].

Thanks to all who attended and helped to make it a memorable weekend!

--- Jim Berry

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Report by Rick Pierce

Way to say it Jim!

I really enjoyed the weekend - what a great time (especially seeing there is some interest in Road Racing from the real young guys (early to mid 20's)). I too, thought we were being "ripped off" on those earlier sessions (my words not yours). Sunday was better, but then HPDE had to deal with a bunch of people new to the track/HPDE 3...

After ??whatshisname?? had a problem going from turn 1-2, I caved and took it at less speed (even when waved to pass when going into the apex of turn 1 [I could have handled that no problem at 100+ but actually was worried about whatever happened to ??? so much I always slowed down after the incident]).  As the sessions moved forward, I also got higher speeds though the 8a-9-10 section (so much so that I was putting distance on anyone following/wanting to pass through that area).  I was not up to the ultra low times set up 2:08, god he must have passed me multiple times and I didn't see him), but my g/f did time me on my best lap @ 2:15 (I thought myself extremely slow compared to the guys who were on race tires, so I was very surprised).

I feel great to have kept off a bunch of the faster HPDE non-3S group 3 cars for over 3 laps.  I killed them in the Carousel, going into 7 and even though they tried to undercut me in 7 I blew them off with the single apex move (you gotta love that turbo and AWD even with street tires - big accolades to the REAR ANTI SWAY BAR alone mod (with my two tower braces)).  Turn 11 is a great one for the TT cars, you can walk just about anything getting out of there!

I never drove last October, but I met most of the SoCal guys there and I appreciate all the friendship and camaraderie exhibited then and now! (Damon, I need help in changing out my brake pads - care to reciprocate?).  So this was a year later and everyone acted like it was yesterday - thanks to everyone for coming up (I like the idea we do this again in ButtonWillow sometime when there's not a lot going on).  I also really like meeting the people I hadn't met before: Mike, Dan, Andrew, Mark, and the 3Si crowd!

Thanks everyone!

--- Rick Pierce

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Report by Damon Rachell

Yep, 'twas a great time!  The people there were just first-class.  And the 3S guys were alright too!!!  (Just kidding!)

In case any of you guys want to know about the "events have shown that testosterone and youthful exuberance can win wars and bend cars" incident, that was a guy called Steve.  No, just kidding...  'Twas myself!

To recap the fun fun events of that incident, if you can recall Jim's description of entering turn 11, it's a high speed bunch of esses into a straight and a real gut/brake check into a 180deg right hander called 11.  Well, this guy in a race prepped Rex divebombed on the inside of me on the turn, which started the ball rolling.  Though that didn't upset me too much, we continued playing cat & dog for about 2 laps.  Well, this guy made some quite illegal passes, then decided not to pass a real real real slow old 240.  I went in for the double pass coming out of 11. into turn 1, I neglected the brake check, suspension settling tap and proceeded into turn 1.  That turn went fine, but i must have hit the burm on the left side and during the off camber right hander of turn 2, the rear snap oversteered on me quickly, sending myself and my passenger into the dirt.  540 degrees later, with both feet in, I came to a slightly jarring stop when the rear "caressed" the concrete barriers.  Bumper's screwed up, right rear quarter is dented by the gas cap, and hatch is crunched a little.  All in all, I got away with a lot more than I bargained for.  Could have been worse.

This was one of those incidents that you look back on and grow from.  I got upset at a driver for doing exactly what I never would do, then ended up doing what he was doing.  This is an amazing sport, but it's not for the emotionally unstable.  Lessons learned and mistakes understood. Thanks to all of you for your support while out there.  If it wasn't for you guys, i'd not have gotten back out there on Sunday (and kicked some nice butt, i might add).  You guys did a great thing helping me get my confidence back.  I owe you one. And, Rick..., no probs on the brakes.  Just take the car down to the shop and I'll do 'em for ya right away.  Say..., how's about tomorrow!?!  :-)

Thanks everyone!

--- Damon Rachell
...dinged up '92 R/T Turbo equipped with the "damaged ego" mod.  In repair mode...

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