2013 Scion FR-S: Track Day Road Trip, Part III
February 1, 2013
Drivers' meetings are important and necessary. And they should take no more than fifteen minutes. Longer than this means the organizer just likes the sound of his own voice.
I bring this up because the 45-minute drivers' meeting at our Laguna Seca track day left exactly four minutes to get ready to be on track. This brings up another point: If you're going to have eternity-long drivers' meetings, you should schedule the beginner group to be on track first. Newbies don't have nearly the prep time requirements of non-beginner groups.
My first session out on the rain-drenched Laguna Seca circuit entailed the usual warming up ritual. To warm up the engine, sure, but more importantly to warm up the brain. The FR-S was surprisingly edgy. So I started out cautiously and gradually stepped up the pace and on my fourth lap found myself looking out the passenger window at the exit of turn six as the FR-S's trunk made a daring pass of its hood.
Naturally this was driver error. The FR-S's good wet weather performance on the road the prior evening was still imprinted in my mind, so I didn't think to question anything but the nut behind the wheel. But then a few minutes prior to my second session, I had a bright idea (this has happened once before. Once). Remember that four minute get-your-ass-on-the-track-now window? I'd not had a chance to check tire pressures.
It turns out every one of the FR-S's tires pegged the pressure gauge's max of 40 psi. In the rain, pressures this high are exactly what you don't want, so I aired them down to about 26 psi and headed out. Big difference. The FR-S still hunted and juked and was generally always on the edge of a knife, but it offered more grip and a touch more predictability.
Everything is relative because these tires were still diabolical on the wet track. The track surface at Laguna Seca is like polished marble compared to the gritty, pebbly, grippy tarmac on
Highway 58. That, plus standing water — unlike the road, there were rivers running across the track along the main straight, at the exit of turn 2 and between turns 4 and 5. When the FR-S hit the rivers, it would instantly snap sideways. Other cars would motor right past the FR-S on the straights, and it wasn't because of power. It was because they had traction.
Good thing a track day isn't a race, and there's always next time. This time, "next time" was tomorrow.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor