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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Thought it might be nice to have a Track Day/Auto Cross thread on the site. I completed my first full track day today at the Homestead Raceway in Miami and all I can say, is I love my Maserati Coupe. While I was in the Novice division, I ended up running some of the fastest lap times in my group thanks to the awesome horsepower and the F1 technology this car has.

I was outrunning Lamborghini Gallardo's, Porsche Carrera S (997), Corvette Z06, etc. I would love to think it was my driving, but the car played a big part. The stability program is not too intrusive, and seems to come on and more importantly turn off at the just the right moments. Unless I got a little too aggressive, the system really didn't interfer with my driving and even allowed me to slide around turns.

My stock car does not have Skyhook and does exhibit some body roll, but I am considering having a speciality shop in the area custom design some springs to firm up the suspension a bit.

Can't wait for my next track day!!! :) :)

If you've done a Track/AutoCross event, please post in this area and let the forum know about your experience. I know I'd love to hear about successes, and things that you've found can improve your driving experience.
 

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I did my first 2 full track days at an FCA event at Roebling Road last month. I had driven the track before (in an Audi) but I can't say I have much track experience -- I was absolutely the 3rd slowest car out of about 30. Roebling is basically a series of long sweeping turns back to back and one long straight away (135mph). I could pull away from all but the newer Ferraris on the strait, but by the 3rd turn I was holding up Porsche 944's, Mazdas, old 911's, etc.

I worked on apexes all weekend and improved my times, but the problem is I was at the absolute limits of adhesion during 75% of the lap. The tires took the brunt of it, but the underlying problem is excessive body roll and a high center of gravity. I do not have Skyhook either, and stock Michelin Sport Pilots.

I had a couple of really experienced drivers take me around in my car, and we were faster, but still very slow compared to 355's, etc. Basically to get faster, they would snap (overturn) the wheel into the curve to COMPLETELY compress the outside springs, and push the car through the turn (so the car understeers the whole time).

The problem with this is that if you move the steering wheel the slightest, the springs temporarily decompress and it becomes very unstable in the apex, which is scary.

I eventually learned to go slower into the apex, then gas it into a 4 wheel slide coming out, creating some oversteer. Although this was fun, it was even slower around the track.

All in all it was disappointing. The other cars were fast and experienced, though, and I know at least half of them had racing tires (multiple sets even). I was the only Maser, so I have no idea how a Skyhook car or Gran Sport would have compared.

I really think that stiffer springs, lower center of gravity, and some Michelin Pilot Cup tires would make a world of difference. I am looking at KW springs which are fully adjustable.

I had my car at a much more technical track (Carolina Motorsports Park) with slower turns and multiple short straits. The car was comparitively faster on this track, but I did get brake fade, so I would consider different brake pads as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Suspension systems to improve track/autocross times

Thanks for the post. I too am looking at the KW coilover system, but have you heard about anyone who has installed it? I'm being told by some of the very experience racers that it will ruin my street ride. Even though it is adjustable, they tell me that any coilover system they've ever installed, or knew that others installed made the ride on the street brutal.

They are telling me to just put some tighter springs that are still street acceptable and some adjustable sway bars to limit body roll. The car did roll and I guess my success at the track was due to aggressive driving in a group where many are afraid to push their cars? Either way, I had a ton of fun, but would definitely like to improve my cars performance, without having to consider purchasing a Gransport.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Autocross/Track

Forgot to mention in my earlier posts that there is a very inexpensive solution to improve oversteer in these cars. I had attended an autocross event about 3 weeks ago witnessed a large amount of oversteer when taking aggressive turns and through the slalom. The front sway bar on the car can be removed and can be drilled about an inch further in on both sides to tighten the front sway bar. This was a recommendation from the local Porsche racing team and their head technician. I let them do the work and it ran me about $134.00 Doing this resolved my oversteer problem on the track yesterday, but didn't really do much for body roll.

I will likely be either having springs made for my non-skyhook coupe or putting the KW suspension in, but really would like to know what others have done with either solution.

Gregg
 

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Interesting reading about the Formula Dynamics springs. Since I don't have Skyhook I am in the same boat as you. We should come up with as much info as possible regarding the springs. The guy who works on my car locally has a lot of racing experience (just won his National Porsche Cup class) and I will have him look at the sway bar.

Although I haven't any experience with KW, he does, and he feels that they are comparable to the H&R coil-overs very popular in Porsches. I have ridden in 911's with H&R in the softest setting and the street ride was acceptable, so I am trusting his judgement. I haven't ordered the KW yet, though.

I think that the stock spring set up is very unforgiving for little bumps, potholes, etc, yet still rolls and squats too much. It would be hard to believe that the coil-overs make small bumps that much more harsh unless you really start lowering it agressively.

Please post anything you find out.
 

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I've done a fair amount of track work, but not in the Maserati.

I'm a bit worried about tire wear, as it is a heavy car. I meant to try and fit a track day in right before I replaced the rear tires. I also don't think the stock Pilots would be great track tires.

I had a good experience with PZeros at the track on my Subaru, with the caveat that you don't want to track them at full depth (they will overheat).
 

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Glenn Wallace said:
I've done a fair amount of track work, but not in the Maserati.

I'm a bit worried about tire wear, as it is a heavy car. I meant to try and fit a track day in right before I replaced the rear tires. I also don't think the stock Pilots would be great track tires.

I had a good experience with PZeros at the track on my Subaru, with the caveat that you don't want to track them at full depth (they will overheat).

FYI,

1. Check with Formula Dynamics for the NON SKYHOOK springs, I know they are in development.

2. The stock tires are really poor everywhere. I highly recommend the Bridgstone REO1 R tires I am currently using. Very responsive, R compound rubber and unbelievable amount of control. Go for the 245 up front and 275 in back. they are the best tires for the job so far. I run a lot of track and autocross days and this is the closest thing to a slick tire but still very usable on the street.

Robb
 

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greggp said:
Thanks for the post. I too am looking at the KW coilover system, but have you heard about anyone who has installed it? I'm being told by some of the very experience racers that it will ruin my street ride. Even though it is adjustable, they tell me that any coilover system they've ever installed, or knew that others installed made the ride on the street brutal.

They are telling me to just put some tighter springs that are still street acceptable and some adjustable sway bars to limit body roll. The car did roll and I guess my success at the track was due to aggressive driving in a group where many are afraid to push their cars? Either way, I had a ton of fun, but would definitely like to improve my cars performance, without having to consider purchasing a Gransport.
My feeling on these non skyhook cars is that they are under sprung, and have too much high speed compression damping.

The high speed comp damping is what makes it feel harsh on cracks and potholes, while the soft springs let it roll in a turn.

I looked at the KW coilovers, but there is not enough info for me to make a decision. I like the way that Penske or Ohlins shocks let you control the High speed damping with a shim stack on the piston. The KW site does not go into depth as to how the shock works.

With a proper shock, I think we should be able to get a firm, yet compliant ride out of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bridgestone R01 Tires

I have done some research on the Bridgestones that Robb is recommending. All looks good so far, but the only concern I ran into is that under heavy driving, the tire can become "greasy" and lose it's holding properties. I'm not sure how true this is and since Robb is using them, he could probably give us the best feedback as to how they hold during intense long sessions on the track. For Autocross, I hear they are excellent.

Also, look into Michellin Pilot Sport Cup tires. These are being used on the new Porsche 997 GT3 and are supposed to be amazing too.

In terms of tire wear, it's something you'll have to live with. It's not cheap to Autocross or Track any car. You will go through Tires, Brake Pads, Rotors, etc. Bottom line is, it's super fun, an adreline rush and an expense you just have to live with. Besides, you only live once, right!!! And since I want to keep on living, I need to find a solution to this spring situation, so I don't flip my car getting too aggressive into a turn!!!

Gregg
 

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I may be dreaming to think that a 3700-3800 lb car can do well at the track, but remember that a 911 Turbo is a 3500 lb car and it has much better skidpad numbers because of a lower center of gravity (and bigger tires). The published skidpad numbers for the Maseratis are mostly abysmal.

I think the Pilot Sport Cups might be the deal, but I have never seen a Maserati run Toyo RA1's, which Ferrari guys tout as the greatest for track days. Yokohama 032r's may be a choice, but I don't think they come in the right size.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Car Weight

Good point about the Porsche Turbo's skid pad, but also keep in mind that the Porsche is all wheel drive, so it will also help it yield a better skid pad rating. One thing that is more important than skid pad in determining handling is slalom numbers. Road and Track published the Gransport as the 4th fastest car ever on skidpad in a test about a year ago. They said it ran through the slalom at over 70 mph, only behind the Carrera GT, Porsche Boxster S, and one other that I can't remember now. They claim it was faster than the F430 Ferrari. How that is possible? I don't know, sometimes I question R&T's results.

In terms of car weight, check out the Panoz race cars. Those things weight 3500+ lbs and can hang with virtually anything on the track. (granted, they are running 600+ hp). The key is power to weight ratio, suspension, and then obviously having the right slicks, and big enough brakes to slow down the momentum of the vehicle.

These cars will never be as fast as a Porsche GT3 on the track, especially the RS versions, but with some suspension mods, good tires and a HP modification, they can be loads of fun and be fast enough for most of us for years to come.

I've found at the track that the best investment you can make is seat time. Driving skill is probably the most important aspect to running fast laps. I saw Mini's beating Porsche Carrera's last Saturday at Homestead Raceway in Miami. Their lines were better and while they would lose ground in the straights, they more than made up for it in the twists...

Gregg
 

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True,

I mentioned my friend who won his Porsche Cup series. He was in a 944 class with an S2 944. Every other car in his class was a Turbo, and he ran a significant weight penalty for most of the year. It has 200-something horsepower and he was as fast as some GT3's on his track times. The driver is the key -- although he ran 10 laps in my car and felt that my car was a "dangerous" combination of 400 horsepower and too much body roll.

I know that I will never be willing to hang it out like that, but I want to be more stable on the track so I don't feel like I'm a gnat's hair from putting it into the wall, sand, dirt, etc... then I will put in the seat time.
 

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I have a non skyhook car too and if Formula Dynamics doesn't have some ready by this January I told them I'd send my shocks in and be the test dummy. Either way I think it's something we can all look forward to at the price.

I haven't tracked my car yet but I will be doing it this March at Texas Motor Speedway and Motorsport Ranch, will post a big review and some out-car in-car videos when I get a chance.

I'm impressed that you were able to outperform Gallardo's and Z06's that is just very impressive.

Stay safe,
Kevin
 

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Fred said:
Kevin

Have you used the KW coilovers that you sell? How do they work on the coupe?
I've sold 2 sets, and neither customer has given me any feedback. One sent went to Abu Dhabi to a wholesale customer who won't put the effort into getting in touch with the customer who has them, the other customer is in the U.K. and still has not got around to installing them (purchased them last year).

KW told me they've sold around 15 sets and this was last year, so there are people out there running them.

As far as personally? No, I have no interest in spending close to $3,000 on a suspension set-up. I'm going to buy a set of Formula Dynamics springs for 1/3 of the price and call it a day. People who spend more time on the track may feel different.

I would still offer my cost on a set of these, to any owner who is SERIOUS about installing them and writing a review so we have some actual feedback on them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
KW Coilovers

Kevin,

I will call you about the KW suspension. I am seriously considering this option. I brought my car yesterday to a local shop that builds Porsche Racing Cup Cars and he looked at my springs. He said they look like H&R type springs and will be making some calls to see if there is something that will fit based on the numbers on them.

I will keep you posted. I would seriously consider the coilovers at cost and write a great review. This racing/car builder told me that the coilover would ruin my street ride and wasn't worth the expense. He doesn't think our cars are worth putting a lot of money into for mods. Personally, I think he just likes Porsche too much. While I respect Porsche as a machine, here in S. Florida, they are like Popcorn. They are popping up at every street corner.

For now, I'm staying Italian.

Gregg
 

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greggp said:
Kevin,

I will call you about the KW suspension. I am seriously considering this option. I brought my car yesterday to a local shop that builds Porsche Racing Cup Cars and he looked at my springs. He said they look like H&R type springs and will be making some calls to see if there is something that will fit based on the numbers on them.

I will keep you posted. I would seriously consider the coilovers at cost and write a great review. This racing/car builder told me that the coilover would ruin my street ride and wasn't worth the expense. He doesn't think our cars are worth putting a lot of money into for mods. Personally, I think he just likes Porsche too much. While I respect Porsche as a machine, here in S. Florida, they are like Popcorn. They are popping up at every street corner.

For now, I'm staying Italian.

Gregg

Gregg,

I'm out of office all week so call my cell 405-604-1252 or shoot me a PM/E-mail.

Regards,
Kevin
 
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