Chapter 281 28 March 2020
On Track with GSpeed's new C8!!
Motorsports Ranch Cresson
First track test of the GSpeed C8 (FINALLY!!!!)
While we had waived off a few proposed test days over the past 10+ days, the planets finally aligned and at oh-dark-thirty I got up, showered, kissed the sleeping girls bye and scooted off to the north. Anna’s (thanks dear!) little pcar was full of racing gear, helmets, gopro boxes, aim solo gear and our Nikon. The weather was looking fantastic.
Until I got about 80 miles from the track and as the sun was coming up, there was a big differentiation in the sky and while the light side looked really good, it was only light to the right. Yep I was channeling my inner Kylo as I turned to the dark side heading left (northwest).
The forecast said it would clear by 930a or so, and the afternoon looked great so I proceeded to get the very clean pcar completely filthy but got to the track as the drizzles were just wrapping up. Louis texted me that he was wrapping up some stuff at home and he’d be in by lunch. He said to “get familiar” with the car. Then he texted me the insurance card. Oh yes!
Nick and Cody and I had all been talking C8 a lot and Nick shared a video last week where Demuro had driven a C8 and made a short video about the features, controls and displays. Thankfully I had watched that because I’m sure it would have taken me a LOT longer to figure out how to get moving if I hadn’t. I still drive a 92 Camaro where driving modes, touch screens and camera views are still in the far distant future.
The GSpeed team had been busy taking stuff off the car and putting it back together while measuring for wheels, brakes, exhaust, suspension parts, etc. Currently, the car was box-stock with the exception of higher-temp brake fluid and the exhaust. The team dropped the cats and crossflow parts and diverter valves and mufflers….and ran straight “Daytona Prototype” style pipes right out the rear valance. The videos suggested it was decently loud and I was curious to see how it sounded in the cabin. The car was still at stock ride height and had stock air in the run flat 300 treadwear tires!
This is called "Daytona Prototype Style" exhaust. Basically a pipe from the collector back!!
So I opened the garage door and fired the car up….it sounded glorious. I gently backed the car outside and then jumped back out to close the garage door and then slid back into the competition seat. It was a nice snug feeling and prompted me to take out my wallet and put it in the big cupholder pocket in the middle. Ahhhh….much nicer. So, literally, I sat there for a solid 4 minutes while I got the seat and mirrors adjusted as well as played with the mode controller to see the displays change and play with the screens on the display and such just to learn what is what. It is really slick.
Finally, I pushed the brake, lifted the little “D” swith/indicator and heard the engine engage a bit as I lifted off the brake and felt the car begin to roll. A gentle roll-in on the throttle and away we went. I was in “sport” mode and the steering was light as I navigated off the MSRC property. The sound was still glorious. It echoed off the metal buildings and followed me down the lane towards the clubhouse and I turned right to head to the Texaco and then to the highway. Cars were circulating on the track and I thought that was a good thing….you folks go dry that track and I’ll be back to play in a bit.
In reality I was playing already. I pressed the M button and now the transmission was mine to command and on the little curves down to the Texaco I finally rolled into the throttle a bit and the car instantly squirted forward with a single consistent push as the sounds went from glorious to whatever is after glorious. Glorious-est? Maximus Glorious?
On the highway the car scoots up to speed and the shifts happen the moment you activate the paddle. So slick. Up or down, smooth as silk…no matter if on the throttle or off, or transitioning either way. With no pesky exhaust system in the way, you get to hear it 'loud and clear' as it barks the motor while you could still be balancing a stack of nickels in your palm. Without the fantastically awesome audible feedback, you'd never know the car even shifted as there is absolutely zero indication observed by the rest of your body (well...your eyes see the tach move...). The car has an abundance of torque and you don’t need to rev the car out to go quick. I try to have as much mechanical sympathy as possible and if I can go quick and not use the top third of the rev range, I’m all about it. After 15-20 minutes of scooting around the area, I end up near Louis’ house. Heh. He only lives about a quarter mile off the highway and he’s on the reverse slope of a little valley. Hmmm.
I’m not near any traffic and so I slow way down, and then as I’m even with his house, I let Slick eat.
BTW, the car got named Slick. It fits.
So with the Daytona Prototype exhausts signing the glorious chorus of Freedom as I tap the paddle to rip the flat shifts, I cannot help but smile because this is no ordinary singing. This is the most powerful voice belting out Liberty at insane decibels. Like a flight of jet fighters launching into the sky, I ride that sound (being careful to mind all local laws and ordinances, of course) right into that valley and up the next hill.
And before I can ease down the other side of the hill a text alert from Louis pops up: “Do it again!!”. Smile. “BRB”.
The action is repeated…a full container load of glorious covering the local masses in the blanket of resonating Independence. This is the audible version of the rockets' red glare and it is in IMAX and surround sound dialed up to 11. I'm proud to be the delivery boy. <tear>
So much win. (or...for my generation..."All your win are belong to us")
If you're friends with Louis on FB, he posted the
vid he took. I'm not sure the internet can handle so much glory, but you should
give it a listen. It was cross posted to the GSpeed FB page (March 28 @ 1102
with the words "wait for it"....btw, GSpeed will post more updates
It is quickly apparent that even though the exhaust is basically open, if you're just cruising it isn't bad at all. Zero drone, and under 3000rpm you can hold a whisper-conversation with your passenger and be heard just fine. With the 8speed, 75mph is around 1500rpm IIRC, so no worries there. However, drop 4 gears and mat the loud pedal and that glorious freedom will ring to the hills.
After about 40 minutes I ease back to GSpeed and Chase and I get ready for our first test session. Chase does all the real work checking Slick’s tires for air and wheels for torque as well as giving the car a thorough once-over. I mount up a GoPro inside as well as put a card in the PDR and mount up an AIM Solo. I go to change into a suit and shoes (required for member days) and bring out my helmet and gloves. Slick is in good hands since Chase is one of the crew who has taken the car apart several times over the past 10 days. They’ve pulled the rear clip and complete exhaust system, bled the brakes, weighed all kinds of stuff, poked and prodded, etc. Ian, Rudy, and Lister all know the drill as well, and thankfully they are close by if needed. #BestTeamEver #ChampionshipTeam
Right before we head down to the grid my buddy Austin shows up with bags from Whataburger (WAHOO!!) for the crew and he’s tasked with helping (and shooting the track pics you see here...thanks!)...and then Louis texts to say he’s wrapping up and will arrive soon. #GettingTheBandTogether
We motor on down to the grid and with cameras running I flip over to track mode, turn off the traction control and scoot on out. I take an easy three laps while nicely picking up the pace and then I push pretty decent for a lap to see what the car has. Car felt fine but there was a faint bobble in the long triple-apex left hander (we’re on the 1.7 going CCW) as I went to increase the throttle. Track seemed mostly dry, but totally green, but that bobble was a bit odd and at that point we’re going pretty darn quick so I entered big bend a kiss slow and got the nose in and rolled into the fuel. Just past the apex the rear was nicely planted and my line propagation looked great and the car tried to reduce slip angle in the rear which…at over 80mph….is not good.
So I finished that lap, did a bit of a cool down and came in. Chase bled down the air and gave the car a once over. Austin pulled out the manual and went to find a solution to whatever-was-jacking-with-me and I went and ran a few more laps, then pulled it back in. Austin had found a solution (StabiliTrack…she is a little b!tch) but Chase had bad news. The DP exhaust was moving just a bit, as was the rear valance, and we were in danger of burning some paint. Back to the GSpeed shop, up in the air, and the welder comes out just as Louis is walking in the door. Perfect timing.
As Chase mocks up an exhaust solution, Louis and I debrief. The brakes are solid and wonderful. Going into Buzzard if I ‘jump’
them quickly they will go into ABS but you can also ‘push through’ and modulate them still, but preciseness suffers. However, if you set and ramp them quickly, you can get waaay more brake than the tires can take and I find myself only using brake to the point just before tread squirm. Yes, there is a bit of time on the table, but we also don’t want to kill tires today. For all the internet ‘brake by wire’ things being claimed, I was completely comfortable with the brakes and my guess is that they’d be fine with ‘good’ street tires (200tw stuff) but might need a pad upgrade if we are going to real race tires (A7s, slicks, etc).
Handling….surprisingly good. Again, the internet did not treat the car well with folks claiming ‘a lot of understeer that even a track alignment does not eliminate’. While I’d driven the car on the street (nearly a whole hour!) we all know it is that last 5% when pushing where a car’s real handling is revealed, but it was good. Assuming you’re staying in the speed range/turning rate of the tires, you could drop into the apex with zero drama. Yes, the car tended towards understeer when you got close to the limit (remember…we’re on 300 treadwear runflats!!), but it was entirely manageable with the entrance speed and throttle/steering angle introduced.
Louis puts on a helmet to weld the new braces and while the gun will reach the back of Slick (on a lift), he cannot reach the foot pedal. So Chase is on the pedal while Louis is welding, hollering out foot pressure changes. #Teamwork
Next session out, the exhaust is fixed, Austin shares the procedure to kill StabiliTrak and off we go. This is a long session mired with traffic, but I push the car in spots so we’ll have data to play with. This ends up being 11+ laps, all at a good pace, with the sun shining. Oil and water stay cool and we’re finding what pressures the tires like and how much heat the tread will take. We go a bit faster and with all the nannies off the car is a joy to drive…we’re just very tire limited….everywhere.
Still….great brakes, crisp shifts, flat power for days…..oh yes.
So we come off the track and zip right over to DogHouse and Slick rolls right onto the alignment rack and in 5 minutes the car is getting checked and underpanels are coming off for some adjustments to new settings. Tim and Adam (#DogHouseTeam) work together and in about an hour the underpanels (and the 6,742 fasteners) are going back on. In the meantime we realize the PDR is not recording sound and the vid is….not very good. I pull the car back off the rack and bring it back up to GSpeed and we put the card back in the PDR and we go to grid. They are pulling a car out of the mud (remember the rain? yeah…) and so Austin slides in the car and gets into some settings stuff and figures out the sound was off and the quality was set on low. With the sound ‘on’ and 1080p now the active setting (and the tires leaned in a bit more and pointed where we want them…) I take Slick back out and away we go.
Again, the power is just so seamless and the brakes are great….but now the car is notably different. The front is a LOT better at getting into the corner. The rear is a lot better to, but the rear ‘lot’ is only about half as good as the front ‘lot’. We go over a second faster, and in the debrief I quantify it as ‘the change made the front 80% better, but the rear only 40% better’.
Back to DogHouse (those guys are the best! THANKS!!!), Adam quickly makes the requested change in the rear and we’re back to grid for the final session of the day. The change helps again but our targeted 1:21.9 just isn’t in the cards today. The track is ultra-green and we are SO tire limited with the runflats and Slick needs to go on a SlimFast diet!
The GSpeed crew has a plan to pull a LOT more weight out. The exhaust mod pulled some 100 pounds out, and in the works is to pull another 80-90 with wheels/tires, another 60+ in brakes, and likely another 120+ by pulling both seats and putting a single race seat in. That’s the low hanging fruit and then we’ll see what the next steps are.
Overall impression is very good. Pretty silly actually. This is a great foundation for a fast track car. The power is there, the transmission is a dream and the chassis is solid. If I didn’t know it was brake by wire I would have never guessed and while the Mag ride isn’t a Penske, for an OE damper setup it performs really well. The wheel rates could be a bit higher and as we increase grip with better tires, we’ll surely need more spring rate too. Can the Magride re-optimize itself for more wheel rate? I guess we'll find out.
I touched on it earlier, but the competition seats are really nice. I would click the buckle on and pull out all the slack to get the system in ‘ratchet’ mode and then power the seat back a few inches and pull the belt as tight as possible, ‘locking’ it into place. Then I’d power the seat forward back to my spot and the locked three point coupled with the high-bolsters did a really good job of holding me in place.
FYI, the touchscreens no worky if you are wearing gloves. Just
so you know...
Visibility is really good and the nose falls away giving a good view. I’m not a tall person or anything but I’d actually wish the seat would go lower. Even with the power seat as far down as possible I was looking through about the mid-point on the windshield and I prefer to be under that. I could power the front of the seat up adding a bit to the recline and help some, but hopefully we get a real seat mounted low and soon. The rear view mirror is normal until you flip the lower lever and it becomes all rear-camera with zero obstructions. Slick.
The shifts are seamless regardless if on power or off power or coming on power or going off power or any combination you can figure. It blips for you just the exact right amount at just the right moment and the system will easily make any monkey who can click a mouse look like a hero when driving. It massively exaggerates this when you’ve got a DP-style exhaust so the blips and blurps are loud enough so all your neighbors (even the ones way down on the corner) will know you are the master at swapping gears. My traditional heart really likes an h-pattern box, but for simplicity, the C8 system wins hands-down.
Interestingly, the throttle pedal seems quite long. Maybe I'm
used to Scratcher and SLJHMR with aftermarket setups that are pretty short, but
the first few times I drove Slick, I'd toe in pretty deep only to find there was
a lot more left than I thought. Not a good or a bad thing...just something I
Cooling…which has frequently been an issue for many cars taken from the showroom floor to the track, seems to have been thoroughly anticipated in this car. Even on long sessions oil never exceeded 225 and water never got over 207 on the track. #Impressive
Pushing. As you’ve seen or will see in the video, I’m not ‘fangs-out, hair-on-fire’ driving his thing. It is new, it is not mine, and I’m a big proponent of ‘live to fight another day’. I shift early, I don’t drive past tread squirm, and while I’m pushing to find limits, I’ll do it as safely and gently as possible. ‘Mechanical Sympathy’ is the name of the game here. Yes, we could have gone a bit faster abusing the tires (and risking chunking them) or going ‘full send’ in some parts, but the risk would not be worth the reward. Seriously, it took them like 20 minutes to pull that other damn car out of the mud…..
First session ended with a high 1:24 playing while StabiliTrak interfered (bah!).
Second session ended with a string of high 23s with all the nannies off.
Third session ended with a high 22 thanks to the new alignment.
Final session ended with a string of mid 22s thanks to the updated rear alignment. The sun was out from before lunch and by 4pm the track was hot and the tires just were not standing up for a full lap.
Next up = Lose weight, maybe try some decent play tires and see what we can do. Stay tuned!!
LINK TO VID: https://vimeo.com/401916251