[200q20v] Sears Point trip report, too long, I just got going...

Brandon Hull brandon at cardinalventures.com
Fri Nov 17 11:43:24 EST 2000

I just returned from a week long trip west which happily included Mon/Tues
at Sears Point.  I haven't seen any other trip reports but I have 1K emails
as usual so sorry if this is redundant.

Some bullet point observations:

Weather was crummy, with rain Mon afternoon and Fog Tues AM, but Tues PM was

I rented a tt, agency lost reservation, I rented a neu beetle, then found
another tt, tt's prior renter got stuck in Fresno, agency offered an arrest
me red Boxster which turned out to be a great track car.  

Sears Point is a wonderful track, with elevation differences of over 150
feet.  It was a nicely run event, with a great dinner Mon night at the
Viansa winery in Sonoma.  Dean Treadway did a great job organizing, and
organizers from almost every other event nationally were there.  Corner
workers were real pros, the best I've seen which was fortunate.  

There were I guess about 130 participants, two novice groups of 30 each, a
combined intermediate/advanced group of 20, and two instructor/expert groups
of about 25 each.  Cars were pretty varied with many A4s/S4s, a good showing
of ur S4/6s, some urqs, and more than average number of Porsches including
three other Boxsters (one "S")  More track tires and gear than I've seen at
other quattro events.  

I really enjoyed the Boxster, it was fun to be in a light, toss able car,
which needed shifting.  I've gotten pretty lazy in the eS2 basically leaving
the car in third even for hairpins, rowing third to fourth and back on every
track I've seen.  Can't do that in the Boxster though, and I really loved
the sound of that engine winding thru the gears.  There are three second
gear corners, 3, 7 & 11.  It was fun running with the top down, great
visibility and a feeling of greater connectedness with the track.

Serious carnage, not to life/limb but to automobilia.  Rounding turn 8 my
second run group I was startled to see the smoking underside of an A4 which
was crumpled roof down against the hill of the outside corner.  Driver just
emerging from car, had gone out sans instructor.  I never heard the story,
but the "back straight" at SP is really a series of esses which are tricky.
Then in the afternoon in the rain things got really messy.  I saw one tt
with a battered passenger side, and an A4 with about 45 degrees of rear
toe-out and matching crumpled rear quarter.  I spun the Boxster a hair
raising and eternal 450 degrees coming out of turn 6, and called it a day.
(Turn six plunges downward, apexes while still on the descent, then the
track rises like crazy.  I think I must've lifted almost subconsciously,
unwilling to accelerate at the apex while still aimed downhill.  I did a
couple more laps in the wet track later, and just set my jaw and willed
myself to roll on throttle, and had no problems)

I guess the one stop-the-presses event was the guest appearance of an outfit
that is the US distributor for a New Zealand company which has come out with
a very sophisticated four wheel dyno.  I'm sorry to say I think I've lost
their card, but Jon Linkov promised to do a Quattro quarterly report.
Basically the dyno consists of four crate-sized units which bolt directly to
each hub of the car. They have sold about 5 of these things so far, and it
will be great to finally be able to document horsepower claims.  The only
car I saw go through the test was an urS4 w/MTM chip, and the test I saw
showed about 220 HP at the engine.  There are a lot of variables before you
do an apples to apples test, but I predict lots of bench tuners are going to
be surprised.  Treadway's monster urq was untestable because the clutch was
slipping, but clearly is developing lots of HP.  I saw 1200lb ft of torque
on the screen before the system shut itself down.  That is torque at the
wheels so dividing by the 4.11 final drive that is still 300lb feet at about
3500 rpm.  

So in summary, a fun event, cut in half by bad weather and somewhat marred
by lot's of attrition. The instructors are really grappling with the issues
of lots of very high HP cars showing up at the track with inexperienced
drivers, and I wonder whether the informality of these events will really
continue.  When you think about, any showroom floor M3 or S4 outperforms the
best racecars of the 60's, and no amateur or drivers' school dilettante (eg
me) is ever going to drive these things safely near their limits.  So how do
you tell the guy who just spent $45 large to slow down?  One instructor who
gave me a ride in the Pikes Peak Andial 996 said that at Thunderhill last
year, I'd whipped past the brand new 4.2 A6 he was instructing in my rental
Beetle, and his student got seriously demoralized.  I think it would be a
good idea for each student to go out with Larry Boyer in a stock 4K with
mud&snows for a hot lap, and acquire a little humility.  

I was somewhat relieved not to fall in love with the Boxster, a sweet little
car on the track, but in different ways, no more "fun" than the eS2.  And
despite the obvious reality that quattro is no panacea on a wet track, I
really would've liked AWD Monday afternoon.  As usual, it was great to see
so many friends from all over. I'll bet there were a dozen rental cars

Brandon H

> so how was it??????
> I never made it out there - got hung up here in the East on business.
> Very bummed, i had rented a car, got the flights, hotel , etc.....
> how was the beetle?
> Paul Krumins

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