NASA Dominion Raceway
This past weekend I took the #916 Enjuku Racing LS350Z out to the new Dominion Raceway in Virginia for a test weekend of running Time Trials with NASA. The week prior I had to send my Fortune Auto Dreadnought Pro 2-Way Coilovers out to the Fortune Auto North America head quarters for some adjustments. Unfortunately Fed Ex dropped the ball on returning my package to me in time, so I had to drive 4 hours to Fortune Auto to pick them up on Friday afternoon. I got home at around 7:00pm and we got busy reinstalling the coilovers. We got the car loaded on the trailer at around 11:30pm and got on the road to Virginia. We didn't arrive at the track until around 3am. It was a long day to say the least.
Saturday would prove to be an even longer day, since I would not only be racing TT in the Z, but I had signed up for the 2 hour Kart Enduro that night, co-driving with two equally avid Nissan enthusiast Pro racer Brian Kleeman and fellow Time Attack competitor Kevin Parlett.
I spent most of the day Saturday learning the track, and while the track is still being developed, I was not too comfortable with the safety features and lack of debris clean up between sessions. Being off line anywhere meant you would be driving through gravel people had brought back on track with them after going off, and the concrete walls often line the track limits, with no run off.
All that aside, I got more comfortable with the track every session and ended the day 5th in TTU by a few tenths. Due to delays on track, my last session didn't end until a few minutes before the drivers meeting for the Kart Enduro started. I had little to no down time, before the kart race would go green.
We decided to start Brian, I would take second stint and Kevin would take 3rd for checkered. We were 'guaranteed' the karts would run 45 minutes on fuel and we were required to take 3 pit stops. Brian didn't get a great start, but fought his way up to first by the time he pitted for my stint. Unfortunately, I was given two broken karts in a row the first few laps of my stint, which forced me to pit twice for kart
changes. We lost 7 laps and 6 positions due to the bad karts. When I finally got into a good kart, we had to change our strategy at that point, so the team drew my stint out to 45 minutes (risky on that fuel guarantee). I made back 2 laps on the leader and two positions over all during my stint. I was black flagged about 44 minutes in for moving a cone off course (haha oops) so it worked out anyways. When Kevin jumped in for his stint, the transponder on his kart misread a few laps and double pinged, giving us a false lead. Kevin held his position and we finished the race 5th overall, only 5 laps down from the leaders.
On Sunday, crippled from a 45 minute stint in a kart (haha), I got back into game mode with the Z. I went out for the first session feeling much more aggressive and ready to find some time. I decided to attempt a lead-follow with fellow time attack driver, Phil Grabow, in the Element Tuning LS FRS. Unfortunately while working our way through traffic on the green lap, I had a brake failure.
I have dual masters with a pedal assembly, no booster and no ABS. The pedal went to the floor with no pedal feel, then it locked the rear brakes up despite the set up being very front biased. I still hadn't scrubbed enough speed to make turn in happen so I had to go as straight off as I could while doing my best to avoid the driver who had just given me a point by, unfortunately that put me into a ditch. But aside from some damage to the splitter, and some cosmetic damage to the bumper and hood, the car was fine. I was able to get back out of track to attempt to diagnose the issue. We aren't sure what caused it, we triple checked all the obvious things before I went back out on track. At first we assumed it was pad knock back, so the following session I went out and set my pads everytime but the problem persisted. The pedal would also travel to the floor with moderate resistance on cold brakes in the paddock. So, we suspect it may be a master cylinder leaking internally. Here is the video: (notes: yes I warm my brakes up on my out lap, yes we tried setting the pads, We have spoken with Wilwood, and we believe it was most likely the front master cylinder leaking internally).
At the end of the day, I survived to race another day and was able to get back on track. I learned a lot, and I am hopefully we can get it all sorted out before Global Time Attack Road Atlanta in two weeks!