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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey Everyone,

Wanted to post about the AWESOME experience I had this past weekend tracking my car at Thunderhill Raceway Park. FYI this is going to be a somewhat long review so if you just want to see the GoPro footage and pictures, proceed to skip to the end.

This was a 2-day weekend event held by the BMW CCA GGC (Golden Gate Chapter) and was open to pretty much anyone, not just BMWs. This was a track school event so each registered student, no matter the skill level, would have an instructor seated in the car with them. BMW CCA GGC only holds about two track school events each year and this time around it was at Thunderhill Raceway Park with their new 5 mile course.

For those of you whom aren't familiar with THill, it has always had a 3-mile course (now called the East side) which was great for beginners as there was plenty of room in case one drives off the track (only one wall for the course) and also nice elevation changes. Earlier this year, THill opened up an extended 2-mile course (West side) which was more technical and added some nasty hairpins.



The school broke us up into four different classes based off of our registered skill level:

A/B - Advanced-Intermediate
C - Some track experience, but there is a huge jump in skill level between C and B, I hear
D - Beginner. Little to no track experience

Seeing this was my first time tracking ever, of course I signed up for group D. The typical agenda for the day consisted of 3 class sessions alternating with 3 track sessions. Each session, class or track, was about 30 minutes. So throughout the entire weekend, we would be getting about 3 hours of track seat time...that's a lot! I felt this sort of schedule was good since it allowed us to discuss about our upcoming/previous track sessions during the classes and the instructors also had time to teach us key tips on finding the line, braking, safety, passing, hitting the apexes, etc. I felt that the classes were very informative and critical, especially for us beginners. Most importantly, the instructors emphasized on being SMOOTH while driving through the course. Doesn't matter how fast your car is, if you're not smooth, a weak 328i will beat you on the track. I experienced a similar scenario during Day 1.

Day 1 - For the first track session of the weekend, the instructors drove our cars for the first two laps to get a feel for what each student's car was capable of and how well the car could handle the course. Then after 2 laps, it was the students' turn. I have to say that I was a bit nervous once I sat in the driver's seat and was waiting on the grid to head out into Turn 1E (Turn 1 East side). The moment I was told to go, I took off and immediately felt the adrenaline rush as I was taking the first turn. As I continued through each turn (albeit a bit sloppy for the first few track sessions) with my very helpful instructor pointing out key points to hit in the turns and also helping to guide my steering wheel, I felt the adrenaline rush start building up and I was loving every moment. I'll fast forward to the second day and just say that for the 3 track sessions of Day 1, I spent my track sessions mainly trying to get to know the responsiveness of my suspension, how to control such a heavy car, and trying to look out for the apexes of the turns. Needless to say, I had to let quite a few cars pass me on Day 1 as I was still learning.

Day 2 - Having already had three previous track sessions to get to know the limits/capabilities of my car and to familiarize myself with the terrain and turns of the long 5-mile course, I felt confident that I was going to be much smoother, and thus faster, today. First track session I was the first car out in our group which made me a little uneasy at first since I knew there were quite a few M3s and M4s in my group behind me. In fact, there was a M4 right behind me, but he never caught up to me :). New instructor for today and the day started off pretty well. I was being smooth with most of my turns and was hitting almost all the apexes, except for the super sharp ones. Sessions 2 and 3 were even better for me as I started really hitting my lines and was getting the hang of the track. As I was getting smoother, I also naturally got faster as I had to brake less and my exit speeds out of turns became faster. However, this also meant that I started catching up to the cars in front of me faster. Being in the beginner's group D, we were only allowed 5 passing sections throughout the entire course. On Day 2, I found myself often being stuck behind a slower car, or even a train of slower cars, and had to wait until one of the 5 passing sections in order to take off again. I was only passed by an instructor in a Carrera and one student in an e90 M3 all day, in fact they were both in my first track session of the day. Sessions 2 and 3 I was passing the other drivers :hihi:. The hardest part about this course were the hairpins on the West side. Really had to slow my heavy car down a lot in order to make those turns and I would lose a lot of exit speed from that. Luckily, we have a ton of power to make up room on the straightaways.

At the end of my last session of the weekend I was exhausted, but also very happy that I finally took my car to the track. It was such a fun experience and IMO, much more fun than just going in a straight line at Shift S3ctor, just like Woody said. I'm definitely hooked now and can't wait for the next track day. I hear there's one at Laguna Seca coming up in early December. I was also very happy with my suspension setup - Dinan springs, RDSport Sways, and Dinan monoballs. My suspension was really responsive and I didn't feel like it needed much more improvement. The StopTech Trophy Kit BBK also helped a lot when trying to slow from 120mph, blazing down 15E to 1E, down to 80mph to enter 1E. The only time I felt the car was a too big was during the hairpins. Otherwise, for most of the turns, the car held the corners together pretty well, to my surprise. My instructors did keep telling me to give more throttle though so I could've pushed it a bit harder. There were quite impressed with how well I took a boat around the course and how I was passing so many people the second day as I grew more comfortable and familiar with the course. And of course as my driving got smoother.

I can't begin to stress enough how helpful it is to have an instructor sitting shotgun with you. I think it is essential that for first timers to attend a good track school. There is so much to learn about driving these cars on a track that normal street driving won't teach you. BMW CCA has excellent instructors and I am very thankful that they take the time to host track day events and car control clinics. Having an instructor next to you and talking to you through an earpiece to correct your mistakes and make improvements truly helped improve my drivings skills much faster than watching a video or just talking. They would be able to exactly pinpoint what we were doing wrong and how to properly correct.

What else was cool was that during track sessions not for your group, you could go ask an instructor for a ride around the track. This was a great learning experience for me as I got to see how more experienced/semi-pro drivers took on the track and observed what types of lines they were taking, their braking points, etc. I rode in my friend's car (also an instructor) and he did the whole course in 3:25!! USTCC was there racing that day and one of the drivers said his time was 3:19....goes to show you how fast my friend is! My fastest lap of the day, according to my GoPro since I wasn't using an actual lap timer, was about 4:10. Which actually I'm quite happy with since my friend Jon, also has an E60 M5 and has tracked quite a few times, said his best time on the same 5-mile course was about 4:05. My friend with a Lotus Exige bested a 3:58 out of the weekend so my 4:10 was pretty good for my first time tracking.

Okay, enough typing. There is so much more I want to write, but I'm too exhausted and a bit lazy to type it all right now lol.

Below are some of the photos that a photographer took of me tracking my car and also my best laptime of 4:10 I recorded on my GoPro. Sorry for all the wind noise...I was tired, jetlagged, and in a rush to get out the door Friday that I didn't bother to bring my external mic with me. I also have the three full 30 minute long track sessions from Day 2 if any of you are really interested in seeing those.

Enjoy!


-Randy


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SgYijKoMHdM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>























 

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See...I told you...The best mod money can buy.

Learning how to read the line will make you faster than any tune/race gas/suspension/header/SMG/SSK/3.91.

EDIT:

You paid for the entire track, so why didn't use the entire width of it?:tonquesmilie:

Looks like you got a little excited when you came up to that car, and turned in way early.:dunno:

Nice job!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
See...I told you...The best mod money can buy.

Learning how to read the line will make you faster than any tune/race gas/suspension/header/SMG/SSK/3.91.

EDIT:

You paid for the entire track, so why didn't use the entire width of it?:tonquesmilie:

Looks like you got a little excited when you came up to that car, and turned in way early.:dunno:

Nice job!
Cut me some slack...it was my first time. I'm not used to driving onto the curbs, okay? haha
 

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Awesome, Randy! Looks like a lot of fun and glad the M5 performed well!

Seeing the video and pictures brings back the awesome memories of summer 2013, when I spent 5 days at Paul Ricard race track in France, racing a Ferrari 458 Italia, Gallardo 570-4 Superleggera, GT3 RS, GT-R and McLaren 12C among others to my hearts content! Would love to do that again sometime...

P.S. Sorry for hijacking your thread, Taiwanese prince...
 

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I'm telling you guys...build a track car and keep it simple. Strip out the interior, strip out the AC/heat, install a cage/harness/FIA buckets and keep the rubber side down and shiny side up!

The hardest part about tracking any street car is staying planted in your seat. Your body gets tossed around like a rag doll.
 

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Nice write up Randy, man it's been 4 years since I did a track day......I need to get some time to do this again.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
hmmmm i might have to think about this next year. Glad u ha fun ... oh welcome back Taiwanese Prince ....
Awesome write up, thanks for sharing! That looks like immense fun.
I HIGHLY recommend it! Incredibly fun. Honestly, just street driving our cars doesn't even come close to seeing what they're capable of. Despite our cars being family cars/grocery getters, I feel that they still do pretty damn well on the track.

Seriously. Anyone who hasn't taken their beast to the track yet I highly recommend trying it once. Yes, it's a heavy boat, but get to learn the lines of the course, learn to drive smooth, and the weight won't matter that much (except for those hairpins).

You won't regret it! Just be safe, smooth, and don't try to use all your power. It's really not needed except for straights.

Awesome write up Randy! Great details on the whole experience and how the car ran!!
Glad to see everything on the car worked so good!
Thanks, Senad! I didn't datalog this time, but I will next time. I did occasionally glance at my oil temps and they weren't too bad. At about 235degF max. My friend with a SC M3 was hitting about 250degF, with an aftermarket oil cooler.

Awesome, Randy! Looks like a lot of fun and glad the M5 performed well!

Seeing the video and pictures brings back the awesome memories of summer 2013, when I spent 5 days at Paul Ricard race track in France, racing a Ferrari 458 Italia, Gallardo 570-4 Superleggera, GT3 RS, GT-R and McLaren 12C among others to my hearts content! Would love to do that again sometime...

P.S. Sorry for hijacking your thread, Taiwanese prince...
Thanks, Aldiyar! Yes, it performed quite well. In the full 30min session videos I have, you'll see that I pass quite a few people. In my best run of 4:10, I only passed the 235i M-sport :)

Nice write up Randy, man it's been 4 years since I did a track day......I need to get some time to do this again.
Thanks, Paul! Your should probably take your P-car out to the track instead of the M5 though...from what others who have SC and track their cars, they tell me the SC is too much for the track.

Whats the cost?
How did your tires and brakes hold up?
Hey Mike! The cost for the entire weekend was like $625 or something. Typically, a track day is roughly $250-$300 per day, including instruction.

I need to check on my tire tread to see how they did...my brakes held up pretty well. I did experience some brake fade towards the end of the sessions, but it wasn't too dramatic. I also wasn't braking super last minute like the more experienced drivers were. I'm currently running the StopTech Street pads. My BBK did help me slow down rather quickly on the straights and coming into turns.
 
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Throw out those combo street/track pads! I mean use them, thrash them, but I cooked mine in two sessions at the track.

I'm running Ferodo track pads that have the lovely squeal, when pull up at an intersection. Scares off all the wannabes :rofl:

Nothing says "I've arrived" more than track pads...just like nothing says "I'm outta here" like Catless headers and straight pipes! :rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Throw out those combo street/track pads! I mean use them, thrash them, but I cooked mine in two sessions at the track.

I'm running Ferodo track pads that have the lovely squeal, when pull up at an intersection. Scares off all the wannabes :rofl:

Nothing says "I've arrived" more than track pads...just like nothing says "I'm outta here" like Catless headers and straight pipes! :rofl:
Maybe Endless pads? I've heard those are pretty good for both street and track...I don't want to squeal while driving around. Ruins my image LOL
 
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Maybe Endless pads? I've heard those are pretty good for both street and track...I don't want to squeal while driving around. Ruins my image LOL
Even the Prince's chariot needs theme music...
 

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Yes Prince Randy it will be the Porsche that I track as we all know the M5 is a fragile car :3:
 

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Yes Prince Randy it will be the Porsche that I track as we all know the M5 is a fragile car :3:
Oh, so now that I'm back in the country...your PBox. You want me to ship it to you or what?
 

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Oh, so now that I'm back in the country...your PBox. You want me to ship it to you or what?
I'll take or what for 400 :7:

I am sure we will meet up at some point so just hold on to it for now.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'll take or what for 400 :7:

I am sure we will meet up at some point so just hold on to it for now.

Ok sounds good. I guess I can try to get some better 60-130 times, with less wind resistance =P


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