Friday, July 30, 2010

Lot's o' Track Time at Bondurant Day 3

Bondurant Day 3 was a blast with basically track sessions all day. It was raining on and off for the first 45-minute session this morning so it provided some good training on being smooth with the inputs. No standing water, just a damp track to it was treacharous out there....and the walls somehow seemed to get bigger in the wet. Next we hit the skidpad for 45 minutes of figure 8 drifting in the Caddy skidcar then back to the Bondurant school course before lunch. This time, the instructors opened up the south portion of the course so we were running the full 1.6 mile course. This opened up the esses on the east side of the course and made this section very quick, about 93 mph into the braking zone of Turn 9, and added the super-late apex constant radius corner into the kink in turn 4 and 5.

Dave Hustling the C6 Vette around the 1.6mi Bondurant Full Course

After lunch, we practiced race starts and restarts behind a pace car with the 6 students in order to meet SCCA licensing requirements. Passing this course allows students to apply for a SCCA regional license - a benefit I will be taking advantage of. We wrapped up Day 3 with a final 30 minute open track session around the full course in the C6 Vettes. Tomorrow will be all track time in the Formula Mazda around two of the Bondurant courses. I am taking a shifter kart course afterwards to tomorrow is going to be very tiring and very fun.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bondurant Day 2 Recap - Hangin' with Bob and Emmo

Just got back from Bondurant Day 2 and we had an even better day than yesterday. Day 2 started off with running the "Maricopa Oval" that we ran yesterday. It consists of one constant-radius and one increasing radius corner. This time, we dowshifted to 2nd in the increasing radius corner instead of staying in 3rd gear like yesterday. This was great practice with the driving fundamentals with lots of repetition to work on fine-tuning the skills. After the Copa, we headed to the skidpad for the world's most fun toys - skidcars. Bondurant fits Cadillac CTS-Vs with the hydraulic skidcar rig for some great RWD understeer and oversteer training. We ended with some figure 8 rally laps with the instructor varying the rear load in each corner - quite good car control and looking-ahead training. Next was full ABS panic stops and brake-in-turn training. After lunch, we headed to the Bondurant road coarse for our first on-track sessions. After an hour of classroom, riding, and lead-follow, we were let loose on the track with trackday-like rules for overtaking. The road coarse is extremely fun with a good combination of stead-state, transient, high-speed, and low-speed corners. Bob designed it himself for driving training so of course it's good.

Best part of the day was sitting on the Bondurant HQ patio talking with Emerson Fittipaldi. He told some old-school war stories and talked to us about his transition from driving road coarses to ovals. He couldn't be a nicer guy and loved to talk racing. While we were on the road coarse, Bob and Emerson took a ZR1 on course and ripped of hot-laps. Bob is 71 and Emerson is 63 and they both still have it...big-time. Towards the end of the session, I caught and followed Bob in the ZR1 playing lead-follow with Pietro Fittipaldi. This is not something I will soon forget.

Me with Bob and Emerson

Now back to Bondurant for a shifter kart class....(updated) and now it is moved to Saturday night due to rain.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bondurant Day 1 Recap

Day 1 of the Bondurant School is in the books. Overall, we had about 2.5 hours of classroom time and 4 hours of seat time. For this day and the next two days, we are driving 400HP C6 Corvettes with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. My co-worker Vu Banh is attending the class with me and we basically one instructor assigned to the two of us so we get as much feedback as we want. Today consisted of mainly driving drills - heel/toe downshifting, skidpad with constant handwheel angle (i.e. steering with your feet), ABS panic stops, and accident avoidance lane changes. We also had an hour session around 2 corner section of the road course which consisted of one constant radius turn and one increasing radius team. We are mainly working on managing weight transfer, driving the racing line, properly trail-braking, looking ahead, and getting to the throttle correctly. The classroom portion covered the theory behind these items. While many of these items are very basic to drivers with racing experience, it is extremely helpful to get back to the fundamentals and practice these individually.

Overall, I was very impressed with the school, instructors, cars, and the facilities. The race tracks and practice areas are in good condition and the shop is very well equipped and stocked with toys.

Photo from the Garage
Day 2 will start with more fundamental exercises and then transition to track driving in the Vettes after lunch. Day 3 and 4 will be all seat-time so it only gets better from here! On a side note, I got to meet Bob Bondurant today and 14 year-old karting star Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, is taking the same class. Pietro's grandfather will be at the track tomorrow so I look forward to meeting the former F1 and Indycar star.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting Schooled by Bob Bondurant This Week

I just landed in sunny Phoenix, AZ to take the Bob Bondurant 4-Day Grand Prix Road Racing course. Class starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday. I will also be taking the 3-hour Shifter Kart course on Thursday. I've always wanted to take a school like this so I can't wait for 6AM tomorrow. I'll post updates throughout the week. I'm not sure if I will be able to snap many photos or take in-car videos, but we shall see. Looking like a Sunny, 100 degree forecast for each day with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Hopefully they stay away until class is over!

Grand Prix Road Racing Course

Shifter Kart Course

Monday, July 26, 2010

Test Day at Rimrock Raceway Yesterday in the Shifter

I took my Birel/Honda Stock Moto shifter to Rimrock Raceway in Midland, TX for some testing yesterday. It was a great day at the track; perfect weather and I only turned a wrench once. I got of lot lots of seat time and picked up 1 second from my first session to the last.

Here is the GoPro video:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

STX Mini Sees Massive Improvements at the Commonwealth Games in Virginia

Dave Ogburn in the #178 STX Mini JCW takes 2nd in class, 3rd overall in PAX, and 8th overall in raw time over the 2-day competition at the Danville Airport in Southern Virginia.

Between the two days, there were approximately 70 entries at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Autocross. STX represented the biggest class with 8 competitors on Saturday and 9 on Sunday. My biggest competition was Chike Dellimore and Gary Krichbaum running a Silver Mazda RX-8 and Chris Cline and Eric Sienkiewicz in their winged, black BMW 325. Chike and Gary beat me pretty badly (4 seconds over the 2 days) at the NeDiv Solo Championship back over Memorial Day when we were very under-prepped due to suspension parts not arriving in time. I was looking at them as a barometer for our improvement now that we the KW dampers, KW springs, and ARBs installed on the car. Chris Cline and Eric S. have won every national tour they've entered this year and have won 9 national events over the past 3 years. I was looking at this car to help me judge our progress and see how competitive we might be at the Solo Nationals this year. Given that this was only my second time in the car and first time driving the modified suspension, I was hoping to be close to Chike and within 2 seconds of Chris/Eric in the Bimmer.

It rained throughout the day on Saturday which helped me against my RWD competition. We ran in the 4th heat which proved to fortunate because the track began to dry during our session causing each run to be critical as the track got faster and faster. Chris Cline set the fast time with a 54.5 to my 55.0 and Chike's 55.9. Unfortunately, Chike and I both nailed cones on our fast runs which kept us in 2nd and 3rd but dropped us two seconds behind Cline. There was time for a few "fun runs" after the 4th heat so I signed up to get more seat time in the car. I ran a 54.0, 54.2, and 54.5 on my three runs which would have beaten Chris and given me 1st in STX, FTD, and FTP. This weekend, I was not really worried about cones and where I finished. My biggest concern was raw time in comparison with the Black BMW drivers and Chike's RX-8. Looking at this way, I was super happy with the pace we had on Saturday. Beating Chike by almost a second after getting waxed by 2 seconds per run back at the NeDiv Solo Championship, finishing 0.5s behind a National Tour winner, and running FTD in the extra runs told me that our Mini has good pace and with more seat time and tuning we can be nationally competitive.

On Sunday, Eric Sienkiewicz joined the party in STX. He is generally faster than Chris in the BMW, but they are both very quick drivers. Sunday was all dry, so no more wet advantage for our FWD Mini. I finished 3rd in STX on Sunday with a 53.8 behind Chris' 53.2 and Eric's 53.6. Chike clocked in with a 54.0. Eric's fast run was with a cone so he fast raw time was a blistering 51.6. I think that this was the true pace of their BMW and tells me that we still have a long way to go compete for the STX National Championship.

Even with my coning away my fast run on Saturday, I finished 2nd in STX, 3rd in PAX, and 8th in raw time. If you take away the cone (just for kicks), it would move me to 2nd in PAX and 5th in raw time. Overall, I was very pleased with the way the car performed and the way the weekend turned out. The new suspension was a massive improvement. Steering response and front grip was excellent with very little understeer all day. The rear-end rotated nicely with trail brake and breathing off the throttle at the turn-in of the slalom and transitions.

The rest of the results can be found here:

Thanks to my good friend Mike Bobbitt who came up from Charlotte to hang out. Mike and I were partners on the Rusty Hood Racing LeMons team and hadn't seen each other since we both quit Honda. Our next event is the Virginia Autocross Championships at the ACU-4 military base in Norfolk, VA on August 21 and 22. This site is concrete so will be very important for tuning our Mini for the concrete in Lincoln Solo Nationals.

My Fast Run from Sunday - 53.8

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traveling to Danville, VA for the 2010 VA Commonwealth Games Autocross

I was on a business trip to Akron, OH so I traveled down to Danville, Virginia for the 2010 Virginia Commonwealth Games autocross put on the Blue Ride Region of the SCCA. This is a two-day event that attracts some of the best autocrossers from Virginia and the Carolinas held at the Danville, Airport. My Dad and I will be running our STX Mini fresh with a host of new parts. Since our last event at FedEx field, we have KW V3 dampers, tuned KW springs, a smaller front ARB, an adjustable rear ARB, and adjustable ARB end-links. This will obviously be big change from our last event so we have lots to learn about the new setup! Stay tuned for pictures and video.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

San Angelo Drag Boat Races 2010

I went to the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series "Showdown in San Angelo" with a few buddies from work on June 25th and 26th. The studs in this series are the 8,000 Top Fuel drag boats that run the liquid quarter mile in under 5 seconds at over 250 mph. All the racing boats look and sound hearing is still recovering after standing directly next to the headers of a revving drag boat V8. This was my first experience with drag boats, so it was a blast.

Here are some great pictures from the event courtesy of my photographer friend Vu Banh.