Watkins Glen International

Discussion in 'Fiesta ST Road Racing' started by CrookedRacer, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. CrookedRacer

    CrookedRacer Active Member

    In the spirit of MLKN's post on Sonoma Raceway, I hereby start the official Watkins Glen thread.

    NASA Northeast is running all HPDE groups at "The Glen" on April 27-28.

    I'm signed up for HPDE-2, but I get lonely when I'm the only ST on track! So sign up, be there, and drive this famous track!

    The track will be re-paved in July, so this is your last chance to keep it real. You can look down your nose at fellow drivers and say, "Well, you should have driven it on the old pavement. It'll never be the same!"

    Or not.
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  3. moshaholic2

    moshaholic2 Active Member

    Best track in the country. They let you run the full track? Or do you have to use the nascar cut off.
  4. CrookedRacer

    CrookedRacer Active Member

    I believe it will be the full track. I'm getting pretty excited about it!

    Has anyone run their Fiesta on this track? Lap times anyone?
  5. haste

    haste Member

    Sooooo, how did it go?
  6. CrookedRacer

    CrookedRacer Active Member

    I was given some spot-on advice and descriptions of the track before I left from friends who have raced there.

    I was planning on camping but folks said Watkins Glen the village is part of the charm of the place. One kitchy tavern/motel there is called Seneca Lodge, and since it was forecast to rain, I decided to make a last minute reservation there.

    The Track (full course): unreal, awesome, imposing, huge. Fantastic facilities. I was told to be patient, because there are precious few places where you can't get into trouble if you overcook things.

    I booked a cabin at Seneca Lodge, which was awesome. A night arrival, unfamiliar facilities, in 35 degrees, in the rain? That wouldn't do. So, for just $65 a night I had a cozy clean room, warm bed, hot shower. Four miles from the track. Half a mile from downtown. And the tavern itself just steps away. Highly recommended.

    Here's what surprised me, despite all the build-up and advice I was given:

    Elevation. This track goes down and up more than any other I've been on...it's very steep in several places, like a roller coaster, in fact. I think that's one of the most distinguishing things about it, and it's a big part of what makes it so much fun.

    Garages. The clubs that rent the track get use of a huge building where everyone got to stake out a workbench and generous space for inter-session wrenching. These are the same garages the pros use when they're at the track, and it was such a luxury to have them. Wow. A workbench. That was really cool, simply because it meant for way less bending over to find stuff that would otherwise be strewn on the ground.

    Brakes. I had brake issues with my car most of the weekend. First, I had to install my track pads at 6am on Monday. That I expected. But most of the first day, the pedal felt just a little squishy. So in between sessions the first day, I bled the fronts, trying to find that bubble (which turned out to be in the rears). The track pads had only run two days at VIR (8 sessions), and I was hoping they would last the weekend at The Glen. They didn't. After my first session the second day, I took them off and the inner pad was down to metal. Grr. So I installed OEM pads up front, which was actually a good thing. I wanted to see if the OEM's will last just as long with cooling ducts. Not part of my plan was running out of pad on the rears. I installed Hawk Blues there, and bled out those pesky bubbles at the same time.

    I got to complete all of my sessions except Day 2, Session 2, which I used to change all four corners as I said. I feel a little like I spent the entire two days doing brake work, with some driving in between.

    Great Run Group: So for my last two sessions on Tuesday, I had a nice firm pedal feel, and I was able to again turn consistent 2:28's when I wasn't slowed by those pesky S2000's. ;) There was also a guy in a souped up Neon SRT4, complete with track outline decals, that was hesitant to lift to let me by. I don't know if it's because I was a in a Fiesta, but it was gratifying when he finally realized he had no choice but to point me by and lift. Overall, though, the HPDE 2 group was a really great group. Lots of communication, not much conflict or consternation.

    Ride-Alongs: I got to ride along with an instructor in his Miata. Really fun stuff. He was turning 2:35's or so. And I let another instructor drive my car with HPDE 1 group (he took it pretty easy on the car, actually), because he was nice enough to ride with me while I was spinning out in Turn 6 ("the laces") the day before, and because he was considering buying a FiST. I think after seeing me work on my brakes as much as I did all weekend, he wasn't too pro on the idea.

    Open Track: Because of driver attrition on the second day, they combined the last two run groups. HPDE 3 & 4 ran with HPDE 2. That meant running with the big dogs. Fun, great practice with fast traffic, and I had a great time. I have probably ten minutes of video of the tail of that SRT4, though. :meh:

    Fun Club: One of the best parts was grabbing dinner with a few of the instructors and then going back to the track to make s'mores and have a couple beverages. Lots of great stories, and now I know I'll be going back to hang with NASA NE sooner than later!

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