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Newbie car class question....


Yeller

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Hello, Knoxville, TN. native here.....I have been reading (...and reading) all about your organization and the HPDE's.

 

I am planning on getting rolling with this lifelong racing dream I have had this year in HDPE1 at Road Atlanta.

 

I understand that I will have to progress up through HDPE1, 2, 3, 4, get a license, Time trials, etc. and THEN I can step up to actual racing. I realize this will take some time, patience, and $$$$$.

 

But when I do make it tp that level...what classes would be avalible for my car? It's a 98 Cobra with only springs, shocks, tire, and exhaust work.

 

It will also soon have a positive displacement Kenne Bell supercharger (~400 RWHP) and a re-worked rear suspension (either Steeda 5 link or PHB/LCA's) and probably only bushings and "simple" things up front..no coilovers or anything.

 

I have searched and found the Mustang/Camaro challenge, but there are no power-adders or suspension mods allowed.

 

If I plan to race THIS car one day am I heading in the wrong direction, will I be "classless" (..insert joke here) or would there be somewhere I fit in?

 

Sorry if this was clear as mud, blame it on my newbiosity..newbounxness..newbiteness....you get the idea!

 

Thanks!

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Your a brave person to start at Road Atlanta. You might want to try something like CMP in SC where you have a lot of run off space and not walls to bump into.

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CaptainWho
Your a brave person to start at Road Atlanta. You might want to try something like CMP in SC where you have a lot of run off space and not walls to bump into.

 

I'll second that, on both points. CMP at Kershaw is a great place for your first HPDE. Road Atlanta is intimidating, even for experienced drivers. The walls are really close to the track surface at several points, like the entire run from T3 through The Esses and up to T5. The run over and down the hill from T11 to T12 is especially intimidating, with the wall just ten feet or so beyond the pavement at T12's track out. The Nuts are newly minted licensees, and we've worked RA several weekends as course marshals. We don't plan to compete there until we've done an instructed DE there.

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Your a brave person to start at Road Atlanta. You might want to try something like CMP in SC where you have a lot of run off space and not walls to bump into.

 

I missed the CMP event held this month by my Cobra club, I will however be with them at an HPDE at Gingerman in Sep. and then CMP next March.

 

I also plan on making 2-3 NASA HDPE's next year.

 

I was planning on taking my Dad with me to the Road Atlanta event for kinda a fathers day thing. Don't worry...I will be VERY conservative and plan on telling my instructor that my #1 mission is to learn and stay far away from all walls !

 

The instructor will immediately know my skill level and tell me to back off if I am getting into a turn too fast or something like that...right?

 

Still think it might be a bad idea?

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The Nuts are newly minted licensees, and we've worked RA several weekends as course marshals. We don't plan to compete there until we've done an instructed DE there.

 

Cool site! I'm gonna go back and check it out completely!

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CaptainWho
Cool site! I'm gonna go back and check it out completely!

 

Thanks for the compliment. I've got to get an article about our driver's school up on the site, then I'm going to do some redesign to reduce the length of the menus on the left and make the "photos" page load quicker. Be aware that the photos page is going to take some time to load if you're on a dial-up connection. We're on a hiatus from racing at the moment due to finances, but RA is a place we definitely plan to compete.

 

As to your question about your instructor, if he pushes you beyond your comfort level too far, then take it up with the chief instructor. Remember, though, that your comfort level probably needs a little expanding. Mine sure did on my first DE ... in the rain ... at CMP ... in a car I was still making payments on. See our article.

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tnmustcobra

I am from Knoxville also and have been participating with NASA since 1999. I also drive a 1997 Must Cobra and I began with HPDE 1 @ VIR. I had some autocross experience prior to that, but driving on a track is a lot different. The HPDE school at VIR was great. I had great instructors and the classroom was very educational. Dan Unkefer was the classroom instructor and I believe he is still involved with several regions. There is a lot of physics involved with high performance driving and the NASA organization has a great program to gradually increase your abilities on the track without much altercation or off track experiences. In group 1 the pace starts off with getting you familiar with the track and then gradually increases your education as each student feels comfortable and as each student grasps each step in the education process. Courtesy and safety are paramount in HPDE. The excitement and experience are priceless. You will have more fun than you could imagine.

 

Your car could still run in American Iron series with the blower. There are 2 classes of cars. AI and AIX. AI is restricted to certain rules , such as, Horsepower, wheel and tire size and some other rules which try to minimize the cost to race your car and keep the competition closer to each other as far as performance. AIX has unlimited horsepower and anything goes...except nitrous. Wheel sizes are limited to 11 inch wheels. Sounds like your car would be an AIX car. After you complete HPDE 1 THRU 3...you can apply for your provisional license thru a comp school. After you receive your provisional license and complete 4 races, you can then apply for your competition license.

 

I plan on racing at Road Atlanta on June 19th and 20th and look forward to seeing you there. Maybe even instruct you in your HPDE. I have been to Road Atlanta several times and I love the track. The main thing you need to do is to focus on what you are being taught and ask questions when you don't understand what you are being asked to do. HPDE is not a race, but is a learning session and if you work on the skills at hand, then you will accel in your driving skills and can enter the AI/ AIX series with confidence.

 

Talk to you later.

 

David

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There is a lot of physics involved with high performance driving and the NASA organization has a great program to gradually increase your abilities on the track without much altercation or off track experiences.

 

I agree, NASA from my limited research seems like the safest, most learning-condusive way to go. It also seems to me it might be a little easier on the wallet as compared to the SCCA or overpriced "drivers schools"

 

 

Courtesy and safety are paramount in HPDE.

 

Good, I don't want my car banged up (or myself either!)

 

You will have more fun than you could imagine.

 

I don't know...I can imagine ALOT of fun!

 

Your car could still run in American Iron series with the blower.

 

I've been thinking about that...here is my problem, I want to race the Cobra one day (I bleed Ford blue), but I don't like the idea of a Camaro trying to outbrake me going into a corner and ripping the entire side of my car apart. I dont have the kind of money to fix something like that and not sure I could accept that happeneng to my $30,000+ invested Cobra even if I did.

 

I could however accept and afford it happening to a $2000-6000 RX-7, or Saturn, or another used race car that I could purchase when the day comes. I noticed that there are "cheaper" classes avalible in NASA where an affordable used race-prepped car can be found. Therefore the bank (and my heart) wouldn't be broken if (or when) that crash happens.

 

I plan to do the HDPE's and Time Trials with the Cobra due to the low risk of damage..but one day when the time comes to step up, I may have to find a ride.

 

That will be an interesting conversation with the wife..."Honey, we need to buy a race car."

 

On kind of a crazy side note, how hard is it to find a sponsor for American Iron that would flip the bill to repair a bashed-up car? (and purchase tires/brakes/parts, etc....)Would it pretty much require the last name Schumaker? HaHa.

 

 

After you complete HPDE 1 THRU 3...you can apply for your provisional license thru a comp school. After you receive your provisional license and complete 4 races, you can then apply for your competition license.

 

Awesome...what do you mean by a "comp school"? Like Panoz racing school or Skip Barber?

 

Do you have to have a prepped race car to compete in the 4 provisional races? (stupid question) And are they in a class of your choosing?

 

Also, I read that in order to get your comp. license, you have to take the "test" in an actual certified race car supplied by you. True?

 

I realize I'm getting WAY ahead of myself and this will probably be a 2-3 year process, for me financially if for no other reason.

 

I plan on racing at Road Atlanta on June 19th and 20th and look forward to seeing you there. Maybe even instruct you in your HPDE.

 

Cool, I would like that. I've wondered how that works as far as instructor designation. I always imagined some guy working on his race car and hearing from behind "Hey Bob, I need you to ride with this newbie" and Bob kinda being like..."Awww, good grief!"

 

You can't miss me..I'll be the one with the chrome yellow Cobra looking really clueless.

 

 

The main thing you need to do is to focus on what you are being taught and ask questions when you don't understand what you are being asked to do.

 

No problem, the track sweepers at Road Atlanta probably know more about apexes than I do. The only real driving experience I have is running up and down US129 (The Dragon) every other weekend when the "twisty-bug" bites.

 

Not in the same class as a prepped open track such as R/A, to be sure.

 

Sorry for the long post...I'm picking your brain. Thanks for the help!

 

Brett

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tnmustcobra

Well, lots of questions...which is good. I know what you mean about taking your Cobra and turning into a full blown race car. I have not done so with my 1997 Cobra. I ran HPDE and NASA TT (time trials) with the car and never installed roll bars (stupid really...as fast as I was going) . Anyway, I am racing another car and that way I am keeping the Cobra for the street or open tracks. Problem is, it costs a lot to prep a car...even a cheap stripped out old beater with no engine , interior, etc... You can find used race cars for sale and they are pretty cheap...considering the parts they have already installed and the labor and time to work on the car, too. I just thought that the used cars might be worn out and would need to be freshened up and that would cost also. Anyway, I keep pouring the money into the car. Sponsors are great if you can get them. If you have contacts thru work or maybe some local businesses, then you can obtain some financial assistance, which eases the wallet. The RX-7 is a good car to race (prefer rear drive cars myself) , and there are lots of front wheel drive cars available. If you run in a racing class, and you use certain performance parts, tires, suspension from class sponsors , they usually pay contingency money if you place in the top 3 places. They also pay contingency for final points standings if you end up in the top 3 places. Look on the NASA website and they list the manufacturers for the various classes that pay contingency. If you pick up contingency money from a race, then that helps with the racing budget....hotel, tires, brake pads, fuel, entry fees, etc...

 

The comp school is offered by NASA during some weekends when they are running HPDE and races. You run your own car...unless you can find one to rent or borrow, and you go thru drills and classroom and you are observed on track to see if you are safe, in control, and know how to drive a car at speed ...especially in traffic. Usually you can pick up the provisional license at the end of a saturday,as long as you pass the criteria, and you can race on sunday. If you need a little more work, they might require you to complete additional comp school on sunday.

 

Instructors are usually happy to help with HPDE students and as long as the student listens and is safe. The instructor receives credit for his efforts to help offset the cost of the weekend(s), so they are motivated to help HPDE students.

 

Have you had any track time?

 

Talk to you later.

David

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I just thought that the used cars might be worn out and would need to be freshened up and that would cost also.

 

I figure I got more time than money.

You would still come out way ahead as far as money invested with a car that has already been built, I would guess.

 

 

(prefer rear drive cars myself)

 

me too...rx-7's are RWD, aren't they?

 

The comp school is offered by NASA during some weekends when they are running HPDE and races.

 

Oh okay, gotcha.

 

 

Instructors are usually happy to help with HPDE students and as long as the student listens and is safe. The instructor receives credit for his efforts to help offset the cost of the weekend(s), so they are motivated to help HPDE students.

 

Hey, I'm all about listening and learning.

That's pretty cool..so when I make it to that level, an HDPE weekend cost (ouch), isn't as bad.

 

Have you had any track time?

 

Only with blurred beer-goggle vision from the grandstands at Bristol Motor Speedway HaHa.

 

Like I said..I spend alot of time on mountain roads (US-129, Cherahola skyway, etc.) goofing off and kinda trying to safely teach myself the limits of a stock-suspended Cobra, which ain't a very high limit as you know....

 

I could do okay in a race up the mountain I guess...so I'm not 100% clueless as far as corner negotiating basics on the street, but on a track I'd be clueless.

 

So...track time? nope.

 

Gotta start sometime though! And I'm not getting any younger.

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CaptainWho
rx-7's are RWD, aren't they?

 

Yes, they are. That's one reason we started out with one. Now we have two. They're reasonably popular since both SCCA and NASA have dedicated classes for them, so you have a lot of people to ask questions of. And they're not expensive to keep up, as long as you don't smash them into a wall or something.

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And they're not expensive to keep up, as long as you don't smash them into a wall or something.

 

It will be a WHILE before I have to worry about actually purchasing a race car. But what would a quality, used, 1st gen RX7 already race prepped cost? $3000-6000 ? By the way, that blue and white RX7 on your webpage is sweeet!

 

Whats your estimate of cost to run the car for a season..tires, gas, fees, brakes, lodging, food, etc.? $3000?

 

How many races are a "season" and where are the tracks?

 

By the way Lefty..when people find out your nickname is "lefty", do they look down to see if your right hand is missing?

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tnmustcobra

Like I said..I spend alot of time on mountain roads (US-129, Cherahola skyway, etc.) goofing off and kinda trying to safely teach myself the limits of a stock-suspended Cobra, which ain't a very high limit as you know....

 

Well....US-129 is great for motorcycles and small cars like RX-7 , MR2, S2000, etc..., but it sure is twisty for a Mustang Cobra. 318 curves in 11 miles means you are just about always throwing the car back and forth constantly. I have been there on my motorcycle and my Mustang Cobra, and much prefer to take my bike over the Cobra. When you get to the various tracks that NASA offers, you will have a more suitable track for your car. Some tracks, like VIR and Road Atlanta are great for the F body cars with high horsepower and have very few tight radius corners, so you can carry a lot of speed and reach higher speeds on the straights than the tighter courses. CMP , Nashville Superspeedway, Summit Point, and Beaver Run are tighter courses, but still have some good straights. Eventually you will be learning to late brake going into the turns and how and when to use the throttle in the corners and coming out of the corners. You will enjoy the track. By the way...have you installed any performance brake pads, calipers, or rotors yet? I would recommend installing an aftermarket pad at the minimum before you hit the track. Also, brake cooling hoses are best to keep your brakes from getting excessively hot. I took my fog lights out and installed hoses which point to the inside of the rotor and that helps a little with cooling the brakes. Cobra brakes are good , but I found real quick how the stock pads wear and you don't want to ruin your weekend and your entry fee and other costs (hotel, fuel, etc..) I would at least try something like a HAWK HP PLUS brake pad or an equivelent. They will hold up better, plus increase your braking power. Also, if you have another set of wheels, then a set of KUMHO Victoracers would be a good tire to run. Street tires have a difficult time with grip and heat on the track. I found if you use 17 x 9 rims, then 255/40 x 17 tires are great for the Mustang. If you go to a 17 x 9-1/2 or 17 x 10 rims, then you can use 275/40 x 17 tires. I ran a set of B.F Goodrich G-Force tires when I first started HPDE and they held up better than almost any other street tire, but they would not corner as well as the Kumho's and the G-Force tires cost around $260 ea. The Kumho's are around $150 for the 255/40 x 17. Just a thought on the tires and brakes. As you progress thru your HPDE classes you will need to make the changes, but for your first time the street stuff will do.

 

Let me know if you need any help.

 

David

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318 curves in 11 miles means you are just about always throwing the car back and forth constantly.

 

You got that right, brother!

 

Eventually you will be learning to late brake going into the turns and how and when to use the throttle in the corners and coming out of the corners.

 

There is MUCH I need to learn Obi-Wan.

 

have you installed any performance brake pads, calipers, or rotors yet?

 

Well, I have Napa ceramix for the front and rear setting in the garage waiting to be put on...I had a little life left in my old pads so I thought I would wait a little while.

 

The Napa ceramix I purchased because my old pads dusted SO bad I just couldn't bear it anymore, I would drive 2 miles and the front rims would be jet black.

 

The ceramix were VERY expensive, before I bought them I did a little research and came to the conclusion (not positive it was the correct conclusion), that ceramic pads don't dust, don't fade nearly as easily as semi-metallic, and offer similar braking performance as many aftermarket race pads. The negative is the fronts alone were $150.

 

I also plan on getting Russel SS brake lines front and rear and upgrading to Ford HD brake fluid (very good fluid for the price from what I can gather.....290 wet, 550 dry)

 

The stock rotors should be okay for one or two HDPE's....?, they have already been turned once and I plan on going with standard Brembo replacement when they bite the dust. I'm not convinced with the whole drilled/slotted thing.

 

Also, if you have another set of wheels, then a set of KUMHO Victoracers would be a good tire to run. Street tires have a difficult time with grip and heat on the track.

 

I have Cobra R's all around with new Nitto 555 extremes 275's rear and 255's front.

 

Let me know if you need any help.

 

Cool, will-do.

 

If you get bored one Sat. morning PM me and we can run up 129 together. It kinda stinks in the Cobra but for now that's all I have...sob, sob.

 

I will PM you in May or early June and we can meet and bang out any details or problems I have before R/A June 19th.

 

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tnmustcobra

I don't know much about the ceramic brake pads, but I guess they are better than the OE pads. The Hawk HP Plus cost around $110 for the fronts and I believe around $75 for the rears. They squeal alot, but they hold up well for track use and they are still usable for the street. When you go to the track, brake dust is typical...along with rubber build-up on your tires (if running Kumho's , Hoosiers, Yoko's race tires) The inside of your wheels will also pick-up a lot of rubber, so when you go back to the house, a good washing is in order.

 

You will want to watch your tire pressures, when on the track, and I recommend starting around 38psi on the front and 30psi on the rear. After you run the track and come back in, you will need to recheck your pressures and inspect your tires to see if you were rolling over onto the shoulder(sidewall). I think Road Atlanta is a track which should not put too much stress on the sidewalls and I believe the air pressures I gave you should be fine for a starting point. I or your instructor can help you analyze your tire pressures after your first on track session.

 

If I have a free saturday morning I will let you know and we can drive the Cobra's up to "the Dragon" and have some fun. Maybe even give a crotch rocket or two, something to think about! Right now I am spending much time working on the race car on saturdays, and looks like I will be for another month or longer.

 

Talk to you later.

David

1997 Mustang Cobra

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Frank Corkran

For your first events you don't need to do anything to upgrade the car except flush the brake fluid with fresh Ford HD. For the price it can't be beat. If your pads are worn down then install a fresh set. Stock Ford pads work fine with Cobra brakes on the track for HPDEs, though they wear out fairly fast. Sorry, don't have any experience with the Ceramix pads, but they should be fine. With street tires you'll have no issues with overheating the brakes. Be sure to properly bed/burnish new pads before you go to the track.

 

Do NOT get R-compound tires to start out. You will learn much more on street tires. They are much easier to read. The high grip of R tires will mask a lot of mistakes, leading to bad habits. When they do overheat the loss of grip tends to be a lot more sudden and dramatic - and at much higher speeds. Save the R tires for after you've gained the skill and experience to safely use them. Work on your driving, upgrade each component only when it becomes the limiting factor or a reliability concern. BTW, those R tires also put more stress on all the systems.

 

A stock Cobra is a pretty potent track car to start in, no need to try to make the car faster. You'll probably improve by 10 seconds a lap over the course of your first event (or two), so focus on the limiting factor (the driver) and have fun!

 

Besides, your going to need to buy all those go-fast parts for the race car.

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tnmustcobra

I agree with Frank concerning not using the R-compound tires for starting out. The street tires actually talk to you (squeal) when they approach the threshold of grip and the R-compound are silent, and when they go, there is not much warning. You will not be pushing the car to the limit in HPDE 1 so the street tires will hold up fine.

 

David

1997 Mustang Cobra

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Do NOT get R-compound tires to start out. You will learn much more on street tires. They are much easier to read. The high grip of R tires will mask a lot of mistakes, leading to bad habits.

 

..makes perfect sense, I'd be thinking I was Andretti when in actuality its the super-stick tires saving me.

 

Work on your driving, upgrade each component only when it becomes the limiting factor or a reliability concern.

 

Agreed, I plan on fluid, new pads, and ~maybe~ SS lines.

The biggest problem I'm sure will be my inability to drive for crap!

 

Besides, your going to need to buy all those go-fast parts for the race car.

 

No doubt.

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You will not be pushing the car to the limit in HPDE 1 so the street tires will hold up fine.

 

And I definately won't be pushing the limit in HPDE1 at ROAD ATLANTA! (with these retaining walls I keep hearing about)

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Hey Cap.Who i ran my first HPDE at CMP with the SCMC that same weekend. I am the nut that drives the white pickup truck. I did my second one at Summit Point,WV with NASA, that a nice track. Then September 2003 I went to Heartland Park in Kansas with the NLOC ( all Lighntning event). Then I just ran CMP with the SCMC again this March foor my one year anniversary. Will be back there April 3&4.

 

I am still running my truck so I am easy to spot.

Kim Reed

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  • 2 weeks later...
HistoricMustang

As a guy who started with no racing experience, you will have no problem at Road Atlanta. The neat thing about road racing is that you to go 90%, never 100% as other things enter into the equation.

 

You will do fine with a little seat time. The NASA - Southeast Region is going to be great.

 

HistoricMustang

http://www.historicmustang.com

 

NASA - American Iron - Retired

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