Race Date: 4/30/2016
– Class: 4th/15
– My FTD: 70.673 sec.
– Class FTD: 69.065 sec. (2014 BMW 335i)
– The FTD: 53.961 (2009 Top Kart Speedy TM K9b)
Round 3 of the 2016 CCR AutoX season was another cool, overcast day at zMax Dragway with a large and varied field that included fifteen novice drivers. I was placed in the 4th run group. By the end of the day I logged five runs of decreasing lap time, clipped two cones, and learned a little extra about pre-race preparation. Out of the fifteen in my class, I came away with the 4th fastest run of the day in a field that included two S2000’s, a 2016 Porsche Cayman S, and myriad Bimmers.
Once again I set my start and finish line GPS tags on my Harry’s Laptimer app and walked three laps around the course. It seems tedious, but diligent course walking has started to pay serious dividends. Coupling multiple course walks with reviewing the video recorded on my phone makes for a quick way to hit the ground running and continue improving from one run to the next. Each lap I improved and when I hit a cone I reviewed the video and made sure I kept a little extra space on the next run. On my last run I was setting a burning pace when the car pushed hard out of a quick left hand turn. The remainder of the lap felt like I lost a quarter of the grip I had moments before. The car felt like something broke, but afterwards nothing was out of line or dragging. I popped the hood and everything looked like it should until I looked down past the coolant reservoir at the undertray. The top surface was damp and a drip hung from the trailing edge. I traced the wetness back up to the coolant reservoir, which was filled nearly to the brim. Earlier in the week I had changed the oil and topped off the coolant reservoir. The max-fill line is about halfway up the container and after a split second of dropping my attention I had filled it three-quarters of the way up. When the car got hot during the 5th run, the coolant expanded enough to slosh out of the reservoir and onto the left front tire, which caused the lowered grip condition I experienced.
Without any signs of other damage or issues I let the car idle and checked the temp output from my Kiwi3 and got on my way home. Afterwards I checked the data recorded by Harry’s Laptimer and found that the coolant temperature peaked at 98 degrees Celsius. Although it’s well within the safe operating range of the coolant and engine, it explains the expansion and subsequent spill. It just goes to show that careful preparation is always important, even when you’re only racing five individual laps.