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Hello everyone,

Finally, after the end of my third summer with my Elise, I will be doing a 2 day DE event with a Porsche club at Watkins Glen. I am very excited and of course very nervous.

My car is a 2005 Elise with the sport pack. It is stock except for a muffler. I'm sure this has been laid out before but I can't seem to find much information in the search. I am looking for pointers on preparing my car for the event. I have done 2 seasons of autocrosses so my car is always well maintained and in tip-top shape.

Brake fluid is just DOT 4, but fresh (1 month old). Is that good enough? Or should I change it to one of the more exotic racing brake fluids?

The rotors are original and in good shape with 1/2 life on them.

Brake pads are new EBC Red Stuff, about 1000 miles on them.

Rear tires are near-new Dunlop Direzza Z1 star specs (OEM size).

Front tires are the original front tires actually. They have tread but are showing the very first signs of cracking between the tread so I think they will fail inspection :( I'd rather cook them on the track and get new ones for the spring... What is the tire (size/brand) of choice for these cars nowadays? I see they discontinued the Star Spec as soon as I bought a pair. Go figure!

Tire pressures 26/29psi hot sound about right to start?

I just put a new welded aluminum radiator in a month ago so the coolant is fresh Peak Global Lifetime. Oil is good, Castrol synthetic 5w-40. Do you overfill it or anything?

Do I need a heel-toe pedal? I never needed one autocrossing but I do know how to.

Transmission fluid is probably original, should it be replaced? With what?

I have a helmet, shoes, and gloves.

Am I missing anything else? I'll have my "A Game" ready of course :)

Thanks guys,

Keith
 

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I assume you're going to be in the novice group with an instructor? If so, you will be going slow enough that you will be fine.

Keep the oil filled to the high level since you don't have a baffled oil pan and keep your fuel above half full since you don't have a baffled fuel tank. Other than that, keep checking your tire pressure (you will have to deflate throughout the day) and wheel bolts(they tend to loosen up) between each run.

Most importantly, relax and have fun.

Once you get more serious, you'll want to switch out the brake fluid to at least ATE (cheap), but you should be fine with new DOT 4 for now. Your pads should be fine for novice group as well. If you like your tires, the Star Spec II's are out now which offer very similar performance.
 

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Absolute power does what?
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I'll echo an earlier post that assuming you have an instructor for the day all this will be a little moot as they will keep you good and safe. If you don't have an instructor for the event DO NOT GO. Seriously, as a newbie make sure you have an instructor - that'll be the difference between epic and horrible weekend. Now to answer your questions:

Brake fluid is just DOT 4, but fresh (1 month old). Is that good enough? Or should I change it to one of the more exotic racing brake fluids?
If it's really only a month old I'd say you're fine, you won't go hard enough to boil them anyway on your first weekend.

The rotors are original and in good shape with 1/2 life on them.
Brake pads are new EBC Red Stuff, about 1000 miles on them.
Again all good.

Rear tires are near-new Dunlop Direzza Z1 star specs (OEM size).

Front tires are the original front tires actually. They have tread but are showing the very first signs of cracking between the tread so I think they will fail inspection I'd rather cook them on the track and get new ones for the spring... What is the tire (size/brand) of choice for these cars nowadays? I see they discontinued the Star Spec as soon as I bought a pair. Go figure!
I think your logic of burning up your crappy tires on the track and getting new for the street is completely backwards. Think about it - on the street you drive your car easily, never at the limit of grip, never at the limit of the tires. On the track you're going to be driving at the limit of everything - namely of your skill. The last thing you want are crappy tires in that situation. The way you describe the tires I wouldn't be willing to instruct in your car. The tires are the ONLY part of your car that touches the road, this is NOT the place to go cheap.

Now I don't think you need to run out and buy a set of Hoosiers or R-Comp R888s. But I'd STRONGLY advise you get a brand new matching set of tires for front/rear. Then you can use them for the street after the event. There are tons of threads on tires so let's not go into all that detail here, search is your friend.

Tire pressures 26/29psi hot sound about right to start?
In short yes, but see above.

I just put a new welded aluminum radiator in a month ago so the coolant is fresh Peak Global Lifetime. Oil is good, Castrol synthetic 5w-40. Do you overfill it or anything?
You're good.

Do I need a heel-toe pedal? I never needed one autocrossing but I do know how to.
I'd say no - unless you're an expert at heel-toe already you won't be working on that if this is your first time out. You'll most likely run the whole track in 3rd/4th gears and won't be doing a ton of shifting. I always have new students shift after the corners so no need for heel toe. And if you're a master at it you'd already know that you don't really need the extension pedals.

Transmission fluid is probably original, should it be replaced? With what?
You're most likely fine for this event but if you have time as a routine maintenance item (especially if it's never been done) I'd suggest the Sector111 TransElixir flush. Google is your friend.

I have a helmet, shoes, and gloves.
Perfect, I find that wearing gloves will help focus you (it does for me)

Am I missing anything else? I'll have my "A Game" ready of course
Yes, lots :) The good thing is you're starting with the perfect car for the day so even if you "miss" something you're going to be good and have a blast. My biggest advice is about the tires, really really don't want to cheap out here...

Welcome to the addiction. 6 years ago I had a bone stock 350z. I now have a fully preped Exige monster. It's a sickness....

-Ross
 

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1. Get a new set of fronts
2. Remeber it is not a race
3. Listen carefully to your instructor
4. Remember it is not a race
 

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Cogito ergo zoom!
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Ross is spot on. You need good tires on a track.

Watkins Glen is a very fast track. A lot faster than apparent. You are going to have a terrific time. I was able to do an Audi Club 2 day event last month for the first time at Watkins Glen, it is an iconic circuit for good reason.

Listen and trust your instructor. Smooth inputs, and enjoy yourself and the car. Its not racing, its learning about you and the car. Wish I could be there.

Careful, tracking a good car can be addicting. But fun.
 

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since your rears are almost new - just get a matching set of fronts...

but more importantly:

when in doubt, late apex.
when not on the brakes, be rolling into the throttle.
work on learning to do smooth FOOT inputs. roll off the brakes smooth, roll into and off the throttle. try not to be an "on/off" switch.
chassis smoothness really comes mostly from what the feet are doing.

always drive inside YOUR limits. its not the instructors car.... if the instructor is trying to get you to do something you can't do.. you need to tell him/her - and have them work on that specific skill to get you up to speed. if the instructor says something like "you can take this corner flat" but you early apex it.... then its you nickel to rebuild the car. DO what the instructor says - but don't drive outside your skill limits in blind optimism that the guy in the passenger seat can save the car. and communicate A LOT with the instructor - tell them what you feel comfortable with, what you don't . tell them what you don't understand, tell them where on track your are not getting it, where and what you are not comfortable with - the more detail and explanation you give them, the more they can teach you. pick just 1 or 2 things to work on each session and try to improve specifically and gradually.

also - watch lots of on track videos and start learning the track and the "lines" around it - that will save you a few sessions just learning the left rights...
 

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See if you can get an instructor that has a lotus or has driven one in the past. If not, go with someone with a miata or equivalent momentum car. It is difficult to get good advice from people that are not familiar with this type of cars.

Your first day will not be pushing the car much anyway, so don't worry about anything else. Make sure to fill in gas after every couple of sessions.

Edit: I forgot to also add that you should get your tires front / back to match or there is the possibility of "interesting" handling situations when approaching the limit.
 

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A few quick things.. Everyone else has answered your questions well, but I will toss in a couple ideas. Torque your wheels before you race, Torque your toe-link before you race. Check the label on your helmet; many tracks require your helmet is one of the more recent SNELL ratings (such as SNELL 2005 at the oldest). Borrow a pyrometer at the track (and someone who knows how to use it); that will tell you if your pressure is right. If you never spin the whole weekend, then you were nowhere near the limits.
 

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One little magic thing I found is the little triangles on your tires at the top of the side walls. adjust your pressure so that the wear is across the triangles and you will be good for the day.

Yes be smooth, spin where its safe to spin, and I always let the instructor drive a few laps with me at the beginning so they understand the dynamics of the car. and like said, try to find a Lotus or momentum car instructor because our lines are usually quite different from other cars.

When you lose concentration, slow down for a few corners, and if you cant get it back pull into the hot pit for a few minutes. then pull up and ask the flagman for some space.

Most important! Don't follow other peoples lines, they make be heading off the track for all you know. Even when doing your cool down lap stay on your lines plus use all the track, your paying for it so to the edge, smooth in to the apex (late is best) and track all the way out.

May not make much sense at your current speeds, but when you get a good groove on it will make all the sense in the world

Now go have some fun!!!
 

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Don't overthink it. Breathe. Feel the anxiety. Luv the relief afterwards!

You will never look at your car the same way again!


A tip from Sir Jackie Stewart that is particularly applicable to these cars:

"Do not apply throttle in curves until you are certain you will not need to let off"

Lift On Turns U Spin
 

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One way to be less nervous is to buy track day insurance. Chances are your current plan will not cover track damage. There is a recent thread on this and I know at least one company allows you to sign up for single day coverage just hours prior the event.
 

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Bring a small cooler with ice and drinks. Bring a small folding chair. Bring a torque wrench. Take out stuff you don't need like carpet in the trunk area. Have a small box with only a few basic tools and a quart of oil and half litre of brake fluid. Some rags or paper towels.


Relax. Nobody is going to judge you. Listen to the classroom instruction. On track, relax, breathe and learn things one at a time. Your instructor won't expect you to remember all the turns and see every flag station right away. Ask HIM if you should try to heel and toe brake into a corner. Indeed, have your instructor show you the line by driving a few laps. Get rides in your instructor's car if you have free time during his session.

Listen to your instruction and do what he says. Unless he says to take a left when it's a right hander (I have done that....uh...a few times), do what he says. I can remember my instructor, the late Yale Rachlin (from BMWCCA when there was no space) telling me to unwind a bit in the middle of a turn and realizing that I was over turning and just pushing as a result. After each session have the instructor go over what you did and what you need to concentrate on doing next. He'll likely take the track map and go over a lap with you. If not, ask him to.

If you have general questions about track days, feel free to pm me. I've never done WG but instructed for a dozen years in momentum cars from showroom stock through prepared racecars. You don't need to overthink, though. Just relax, listen and follow instructions.

Oh.....and get new tires in the front.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
My new front tires are out for delivery today. Wow that was fast! I'll have them put on tomorrow probably :)

Thank you so much for the advice guys. I'll just avoid the curbs and bank on my toe links being fine. Otherwise I'm ready to go other than waiting for 30 days. This is going to be hard, I am so excited!
 
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