Nearing the end of summer in the Midwest means getting your last track events under your belt. Soon the leaves will be falling and the weather will be too cold, and the local road course and drag strips will shut down for the season. With a few new toys under the hood I made it out for what may be one of my final lapping sessions of the year in my Audi.
If you’ve been following my Allroad on this blog then you may recall my recent Nelson Ledges track day which had me second-guessing the quality of my brakes on the car. Shortly after that event I ended up upgrading my brakes in the front to S4-sized rotors, opting for 2-piece rotors from ECS Tuning. With a set of EBC YellowStuff pads on the front and a fresh fluid flush, the car was ready to hit the track. However a month or more would pass before the next event would align with my schedule.
During that down-time I contemplated picking up an Audi S4 for the obvious power gains, but finances made that decision less than ideal. So instead a few extra “go-fast-bits” were added to the car to help it retain power, and prepare for the forth-coming APR Tuning Stage 2 chip that should be here hopefully sooner rather than later.
Added since my last installment are the following goodies:
– StopTech Rear Drilled & Slotted Rotors
– EBC YellowStuff Pads for the Rear Axle
– 034 Motorsports Front Mounted Intercooler
– 034 Motorsports High Flow Catalyst
– 034 Motorsports Turbo Inlet Hose (Silicone, Black)
– Griffin Motorwerke O2 Spacer
034 Motorsports claims power gains from the FMIC, but I’ll be happy just to see less heat soak. The HFC is meant to add power, more so after the ECU tune becomes available. The inlet hose was just a cheap part for fun, though I doubt it will add any substantial power. And the rear brakes do very little on the car, but having them match the fronts seemed a good idea both in cosmetics, and potential (minor) performance benefits.
Finally, a track inspection and 25,000 mile oil-change was performed on the car. With the guys at HS Tuning giving the car their thumbs-up it was off to the track I went.
TRACK CROSS EVENT @ PITT-RACE
Some years ago the road course in Wampum, Pennsylvania (formerly known as Beaver Run) changed hands and went various updates and improvements. Since then Pittsburgh International Race Complex, better know as PittRace, has gained popularity in the region. They are in the process of building an additional South track surface, which will eventually compliment the existing North Track. The North Track is a 1.68-mile 12-turn road course built on their 400-acre property near Pittsburgh. From my home in Cleveland, Ohio the drive is around 90-miles, and as many minutes.
Beyond conventional PDE options the folks also offer a way to get on their track in what they call TrackCross. It is a hybrid of AutoCross and PDE/track driving. You can find a full detail of the event dynamics, and a nice short video about it by CLICKING HERE. Although I am no stranger to road-course racing, this was my first time at PittRace so the TrackCross seemed a nice, low-impact way to test my brakes and also get acquainted with the course. Since you only run the first 65% of the course it would be easier to master than the entire course, too. Admittedly, I left wanting more and can’t wait to return for a PDE!
Sidebar: In the next week or two I will be posting a review that compares the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant to the Zubie Key Connected Car Service device. Because of this I actually had the Automatic installed on my car and was able to produce a pretty fun and interesting driving log during the track session. Check out the image below.
My first run out on the track completed in 49-seconds, a time which would prove swifter than many cars would manage all evening. Of course anyone who has spent time around a road course knows that driver skill matters as much if not more than the car itself. Overall I was happy with my start, and continued to push and fine the best line through the turns.
Finding the right line for turn 6 and turn 7 proved my most difficult task, especially the latter as you enter it blind due to the elevation change. Though tough to master I had a very fun time, yearning heavily for stickier tires and a bit more power. Hopefully both will be fulfilled in Spring of 2015– though dreams of an Audi S3 have entered my mind! 🙂
As the evening went on my times would improve, with my final 5 or 6 laps being fairly consistent in the high-45 to low-46 second range. Here is a compilation video I made of my best two runs of the day, both in the upper-45-second range. Video is about 2 minutes long in total.
Power gains from the FMIC/HFC were noted, but minimal overall. Heat soak was a bit more of an issue than a normal track day because the car sat with no air flow between runs. I’d imagine a better result of testing might come from a true PDE or similar. The brakes performed flawlessly, save for the “final” bedding of the front brakes causing a bit of smoke during the first lap on-course. Once they cooled off a moment later they were great all night long. However, they never retained as much heat as I desired, causing them to never be as good as they could– but I can already out-brake my tires so really not a huge issue there, I suppose.
Between current weather predictions for tomorrow at Nelson Ledges and some unexpected bills this month I’ve decided to postpone my plans for a full lapping at this time. However, in the coming 6-8 weeks I do fully expect I’ll make it either back to PittRace for a PDE, or out to Nelson Ledges for a FunDay, where I can better test my brakes. I’ve even gone so far as to purchase a BAFX Infrared (IR) Thermometer to help measure and quantify my results. For now this was not really a proper test of the brakes, I realize, so more seat time will be needed to finalize my thoughts on the S4 / 2-piece rotor / EBC upgrade. Look for more track time and a more thorough review hopefully by the end of next month. Until then, here are some more photos to enjoy. Ciao! – Ari
Click on the photos above/below for LARGER views. In particular, the panoramic shot of the paddock area was fun, given the various colors and variety of vehicles.