My Victory Lap

Posted: June 28, 2014 in 300ZX Build
Tags: , , , , , ,
Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO POCONO RACEWAY HPDE AUDI CLUB OF NJ SPL SUSPENSION ZTUNER ASHSPEC

Photo Credit: Ryan Grae Photography

Almost two years ago to the day I stood in the grandstands of Pocono Raceway, watching my first high performance driving event. As the cars whizzed by, I couldn’t help but wish I was out there.

Last Saturday, that dream finally became a reality.

POCONO RACEWAY Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO ROAD RACING JSWORKS

It took two years, two cars, and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get here, but I did it… (I FUCKING DID IT!) participating in a twilight HPDE with the Audi Club of NJ.

I can’t tell you how satisfying that night was for me, the culmination of a long journey finally completed.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY ZCON JSWORKS

This wasn’t even my first track day with the Z, the first took place at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway last August for ZCON.

The car was barely together then. With a fresh motor, mostly stock suspension, lousy street tires (and a comically baby blue front bumper), I hastily took to the track less than a week after completing the swap.

I guess you could call that my parade lap.

POCONO RACEWAY Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO ROAD RACING JSWORKS

But this night was special. This felt more like my victory lap.

The bugs were sorted out, the motor broken in (and dynoed at 430hp), full SPL suspension installed, grippy Nitto NT05’s on all 4 corners… I pushed the Z harder than I ever had before, and she ran flawlessly!

JSWORKS CODY ACE SR20DET 240SX S14 POCONO RACEWAY HPDE

I also learned a hell of a lot about driving with my good buddy Cody instructing, who himself drives a 400+ hp SR20DET 240SX (with 30+ track sessions under his belt).

I learned more about proper lines, braking techniques, and overall control than I could have hoped for. The majority of which were reinforced when I went for a ride in his 240SX… and almost lost my lunch! R compounds rule.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO ROAD RACING POCONO RACEWAY SPL PRO SUSPENSION

By the final session, I was braking later, on the gas sooner/longer, and had my best lines of the night around the track!

The Audi Club of NJ put on a fantastic event. We got 5 full 30 minute sessions on track. Two in the daylight (to learn the course), and three at night. The event was well organized, the staff super friendly, and the whole event went off without a hitch.

Some of the things I learned:

A good instructor makes all the difference. At ZCON – my instructor was a pleasant guy, but did things like scream – NOW! – when he wanted me to do certain things on track. He also did things like grab the steering wheel mid corner, and generally made me more nervous than anything. With Cody instructing, he stayed calm and collected the whole time, subtly pointing out what I should be doing, offering tips/critiques as needed. It allowed me to get comfortable behind the wheel and really feel out the car and the track.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO NITTO NT05 ROAD RACING

Tires are oh so important. This is kind of a no brainer, but tires really make or break the car. At ZCON, I knew my 235 sized Michelins (left over from when the car was non turbo) were inadequate, but I simply ran out of time before the event (only getting the car together a week before). The car was incredibly loose on track as a result, fighting for traction not only on the straights, but in the corners as well. It took a lot of effort not to spin, and this monopolized a lot of my time driving.

In contrast, the 265 sized Nitto NT05’s I had this time around were unbelievably grippy! Once I got comfortable and realized how hard I could push the car without losing traction, I was able to really concentrate on driving good lines and using the power most effectively.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO BBK 350Z ROTOR SS LINES

The same goes for brakes. My brake setup isn’t very elaborate at this stage – stock aluminum 4 pots with Stoptech pads and 12.75″ 350Z Chryo treated rotors (Motul 600, a BMC brace, SS lines, and EBC Green Stuff pads in the rear) – but you have to learn to trust them!

I was double braking early on in the event, and when Cody realized this, he instructed me to brake only once, and as late as I possibly could. This takes some getting used to… you have to shut off the rational part of your brain that wants to slow the car down WAY earlier to be safe, and just trust the brakes will do their job.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO JSWORKS DYNO 430HP

Power isn’t everything. The Z dynoed at 430hp at 15psi a few weeks ago, but I chose to run the car at 11psi instead (around 360hp). And honestly, the extra power would have been fun on the bank straight, but in the turns it would have made the car a lot harder to control for a semi novice like myself. Less power allowed me to concentrate on actually driving, and less about wheel spin. And I have no doubt I was faster around the track because of it. Less really is more in this instance.

Z32 300ZX TWIN TURBO SPL PRO SUSPENSION ROAD RACING

Great suspension goes a long way. I recently converted the entire rear suspension to spherical bearings/heim joints from SPL Pro Suspension, along with poly bushings in the subframe/diff – and I absolutely love it! Combined with their spherical tension rods I had already installed in the front (and Ground Control Coilovers/Tokico Illumina struts), the car feels so completely planted now.

I have zero wheel hop, and the car feels tight and precise. It’s a welcome change from the way the car felt with the stock components (vague and loose with plenty of wheel hop). Several people took the time at the track to compliment how well my car was handling, so I not only felt the difference, but others could see it as well.

JSWORKS JASON SCHNEIDER

On my first trip to Pocono in 2012, I had just found out the motor in my Z was shot, and the future of the project was in serious doubt.

The next two years felt at times like a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from, but boy am I glad I stuck with the project. There’s no better feeling than pushing a car you built from the ground up hard on a road course.

A lot of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the help of my sponsors: Ashspec, SPL Suspension, and finally Ztuner – who really came to the plate when the project was looking most bleak and did his best to provide not only moral support, but also his technical expertise and labor. I’m proud to not only call Harry a sponsor, but more importantly my friend.

JSWORKS Z32 300ZX ROAD RACING TWIN TURBP POCONO RACEWAY

The future looks bright for me and my Z. I can’t wait to do more track events, and have several scheduled already.

I’m also planning a trip down to Ztuner in the near future to have Harry tune the car and see if we can get even more power out of her.

See you at the track!

Jay

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Comments
  1. Jim Nylandet says:

    Congratulation. Good for you. Jim

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Harry sandhu says:

    Glad to see you made it Jay. Happy to help and glad I gained a friend in the process 🙂

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