Friday, March 14, 2014

Frosty Drives Mono

Frosty@Spring Mountain Motor Resort

Jonathan Frost, Skip Barber Instructor and SMMR Stingray Coach, had a chance to drive the BAC Mono last weekend.  He is an experienced professional racer with experience in many cars.  'Frosty' has also driven the various Palatov cars and will be one of the pros that will be helping us with Project Dragon.  Here are his comments after driving the Mono:
Driving the Mono was better than I ever expected. Having driven many low production track special cars i.e. caterham 7's, Elise's, Atoms, Radicals and even track modified streetcars. They always tend to be a little bit quirky. The performance is always there, but generally they fall short here and there. Not that I can fault the little guys, but when you hold them against the likes of Porsche and Ferrari that have had 60+ years to get it right, they can't compete in fit and finish and overall completeness. 
 The Mono is like nothing I have experienced before. I can honestly say that the Mono meets the Goliaths at their level. Fit and finish is exquisite. The car has zero bad habits. Heading out on track I expected to find a car that was nervous, edgy.  A car I'd have to watch my back around much like the formula cars I used to race.
 Boy, was I wrong. The Mono has the refinement and a personality much like the exotic club sport specials. (GT3's, Scuds, Caman R's)
 My first lap in the Mono I immediately felt at home. The car instantly became an extension of my driving suit.  Completely intuitive, everything I wanted the car to do, it did with flying colors.  On my second lap, I was able to lap the Spring Mountain East course fast enough to catch and pass a Radical SR3.  The car is blisteringly quick around the track. 
If I had any complaint, it would be that car is so well behaved that you don't feel like you're going that fast. It's that good.  The car sends the driver so much feedback that even a casual enthusiast will be able to extract much of the potential this car has to offer.  I'm in love!
To quote Ferris Bueller:  "I love driving it, it is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up"

We are looking forward to bringing the Mono to Laguna Seca and letting him drive it.  Watch Frosty drive an early D2 test mule at Laguna Seca:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Importance of Track Checklists

Trackdays are a great way to properly exercise our cars and an activity that many of us enjoy.  Ensuring that our cars run well, without mechanical problems, generally comes down to preparation before the event AND during the event.  In the last several years, we've come to adopt a more 'race-like' approach to our trackdays.  This entry discusses and provides Checklists that we have used to keep our cars running well.

Racing has taught us that Checklists are key to reliable running.  Anyone who runs trackdays -  racing or not - will also benefit from the use of Checklists.  Our participation in Lotus Cup and now with our Spec:Race Atom series has given us a perfect opportunity to use these Checklists effectively.  

Here are ones that we use (click link to see each list):
  1. Initial Checklist
  2. Post Practice Checklist
  3. Track Checklist
  4. Set Up/ Set Down Checklist
Aggressively run cars - especially with slicks need frequent wheel bolt torque inspection

A clipboard is an effective tool to organize and use your Checklists.  For racing we follow a strict sequence and use these Checklists as follows:

Sheltered workspace is ideal - bring an EZ-Up!
Pre Race Day
  • Set Up Checklist
  • Initial Checklist
Practice 1
  • Post Practice Checklist
  • Track Checklist
Tire temps & pressures in the Hot Pit
Practice 2
  • Post Practice Checklist
  • Track Checklist
Practice 3
  • Post Practise Checklist
  • Track Checklist
Practice 4/Qualifying
  • Post Practice Checklist
  • Track Checklist
  • Post Practice Checklist
  • Track Checklist

We'd suggest you tweak these lists and sequence to fit your needs.  You'll notice they include things like data acquisition downloads and driver support oriented tasks.  We try to list everything so our grey matter is not taxed anymore than necessary.  Minimizing the amount of things that you have to remember becomes of the key advantages of these lists.  

Regardless of your skill level, routine inspection should be a requisite part of your track day activities.  If you don't have the ability to do the work yourself, considering hiring a capable shop or mechanic to do the work for you.  Nothing is worse than losing a track weekend because you forgot to tighten a bolt, check fluid levels or inspect your brakes.  A bit of preventative maintenance will go along way to ensuring you have a great weekend.

Clean cars win races!