Since I frequently track a heavy, heavy street car, it's common to hear me say "I got 99 problems and brakes are all of them." The Brembos have been very, very good, but brakes still take the most abuse of anything, and are the most likely part of the package to have issues. So when I heard a metal scraping sound from the rear (once per wheel revolution), I really thought it was a rotor/deposit issue or something with the caliper. My first go-to solution, crossing my fingers and hope it fixes itself, didn't work unfortunately. So I pulled off the rear wheel, had a friend help and we examined the rear disks and applied brake pressure with the rear raised. Nothing presented itself, but I eventually spent a Saturday removing the rotors and having them turned at O'Reilly. While I was at it, I had a set of my used DBA slotted front rotors turned as well.
Unfortunately, it fixed nothing, the sound remained, and I was out $60 for the turning and most of my Saturday afternoon. So... it probably wasn't brakes. Emphasizing once again: this is why I don't work on cars.
On Monday I did what I should have done in the beginning, I took it to specialist shop Awesome Z, and they identified the problem as being a worn driver's-side rear wheel bearing. Aside from consumables like brakes and tires, this is the first real mechanical failure resulting (probably) from doing track events. It's inevitable, so no complaints here. Track driving is abusive, so after a year and a half of this, I was due. They said the passenger-side rear wheel bearing didn't have any play in it, so it could be a fine for years or it could be on it's last legs, but it's hard to tell. Wheel bearings are too pricey to treat as preventative maintenance and replace early.
It's all fixed, and the shop also did an alignment and dialed in a bit more negative camber, which will be interesting to try.
As I said, I had my DBA front rotors turned. I pulled these off the car in November, hoping to have them refinished and swap them back on in the spring. But there's a ton of tiny hairline thermal cracks. Are these toast?
These are a few images of me from the last event at MSR Houston, they were shot by Hart Photography. It's cool that we have someone shooting images of our cars at most events, but generally I'm disappointed with the images every time. I sifted through 4 galleries of ~400 photos and these were the best picks — the rest were at very similar or less appealing angles. No sense of speed (wheel blur) at all, yet they're not even very sharp. So it looks like a slightly blurry car parked on a track. Maybe they were all taken during a red flag. I didn't post this just to trash someone's work, and I'm still glad I paid for the images (for documentation, if nothing else), but there is serious room for improvement here, especially if this is your thing that you do. Taking action shots like this aren't really my thing; I think they're awesome but I don't really do them — my friend Zerin of Speed:Sport:Life does really great track photography. Having wheel blur is a good thing. Doing panning shots is hard. You're taking more of a risk with a lower shutter speed, but to if 25% of them come out really impressive then the risk is worth it. Especially if the alternative is 99% of them being dull. I guess that's the difference between trying to make something great and just trying to sell pictures to Corvette owners.
As opposed to...
Do I just have high standards? I guess so. Paul Porto took this fantastic picture of my car back in January, at the very same racetrack. Incredible sense of speed, beautiful processing. I wouldn't change a thing.
Driving the Porsche 911 GT3 (996) Thanks to a very generous owner, I got to drive a 996 Porsche 911 GT3 for a few non-hot laps. Everything about the car seems very special. The most noticeable thing for me that I liked was how the pedals feel so tactile and have so much resistance. It's hard to explain but instead of the throttle pedal being just a spring, it feels like you have to press through a range of 20 very tiny 'clicks.' If that makes any sense. It doesn't? Okay. There's a lot of feedback and you can deliver tiny changes in throttle pressure very precisely.
The idle is loud and coarse, and you feel the engine vibration shaking the car at any RPM. The last 911 I drove was a 1986 Carrera, and the directness you feel to the motor in the newer 911 is remarkably undiluted from the '86. But enough parking lot impressions. The steering feels excellent, and then less so when you're under power. You can almost watch the steering sensitivity and control melt away as you give it power — it feels very light up front and the rear digs in. I was told the 997 GT3 doesn't feel this way.
Overall: incredible. Very firm, and flat. It would take a lot of driving adjustment to get up to speed with the weight distribution.
F40 on Track
A track member came after we were done on Saturday with two Ferraris, including an astonishing F40. I know he's a brilliant driver because I rode with him 2003.