Si Track Report: First Time HPDE Summit Point Shenandoah

st4xor

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I’ve benefited from a number of threads where other members have received track day car prep tips, so I wanted to report back to the community what I implemented and how it worked out for me at my first HPDE to help out the next guy/gal to come along.


In brief: The Si is a fantastic piece of equipment for a driver who is new to HPDE. It held up to the abuse perfectly, and provides a ton of capacity to learn/grow as a new HPDE driver.


IMG_20210910_101915.jpg


Car Prep:
2020 Si Sedan, 100% stock powertrain, stock intake through exhaust. Continental ECS 245/45r17 (~8k street miles) on Konig Hypergram 17x9 +40 at all four corners. ATE type 200 brake fluid, goodridge stainless lines, with Powerstop Track Day pads (thanks @teders) and fresh centric 120 series blank rotors front and rear. Performed brake pad bed-in per Powerstop instructions as best as I could on public roads. Did fresh oil (OE spec) and Honda trans fluid changes a couple weeks before the HPDE.


The Driver:
Maybe the biggest variable in “car performance” is the driver, so I’ll attempt to capture a snapshot of where I was at in terms of skill level for this track day. I provide this so others can adjust prep & expectations accordingly depending on how your level of skill compares to mine. This was my first time in any car on any race track. Also no autox experience--I’m now in the stage of life where free weekend days are precious, so I feel like the more “dense” HDPE format (multiple 20+ minute sessions packed into one day) is going to work best for me going forward.

However, in related experience I picked up sim racing about a year ago, so I’ve gotten some exposure (lots of youtube) and reps with learning a racing line, basic car control theory, and have gained an appreciation that you first have to become consistent lap-to-lap before you can hope to improve. I found a somewhat low-fidelity Shenandoah circuit mod (3rd party) for Assetto Corsa, so between a few light sim sessions and some youtube I was able to learn the basic track layout (sequence of corners) before I arrived at the HPDE. I found the sim+youtube prep to be very helpful and I was able to hit the ground running at the HPDE, maximizing some of the early lead-follow and instructor ride-along laps to come up to speed on the driving line.


Event Format:
This was a Friday at the Track event on the Shenandoah circuit at Summit Point, novice group. I had an instructor with me in the car for 4x 20-minute sessions, plus some lead-follow laps and classroom instruction on flags, passing procedures, & driving line. The event was great, highly recommended--definitely felt like I got my money’s worth.


How it went:
I was super happy with the car. What a blast. Really happy that I got it out there as is. No mechanical issues, no flashing lights/warnings. I enabled sport mode and disabled CMBS (collision intervention), but left traction control/VSA (stability) enabled in their default settings. With it being my first time and having my instructor’s wellbeing in my hands in addition to my own, it seemed like the prudent thing to do to leave all the electronic nannies in place, and I can report that the interventions were not excessive--also no excessive brake wear or anything else weird. I felt power cuts pretty frequently on the Karussell and at the exit of one other turn, but nothing hateful and I was otherwise un-hindered. Not worried about lap times at this stage, and I would encourage others at a similar skill level to just leave them on.

I was able to get enough heat into the brakes in each of my last three 20-minute sessions to get a mushy brake pedal with some pulsing. No “pedal to the floor”/brake fluid boiling incidents, but I’m fairly certain that what I was experiencing was brake pad fade from exceeding the intended heat range for the Powerstop pads. My instructor suggested managing the brakes a bit by lifting off the throttle/coasting at the ends of the straights, and that was enough to make it through the day. But it definitely shook my confidence in the brakes a bit, which in turn made it difficult to start to play with trail braking into the corners, so I know this is something I need to address before the next time I go out so I can start working on some of those finer skills. But not a huge deal for the first time out--between flags, passing procedures, and just general HPDE stuff there is a firehose of stuff to learn the first time out there.

I was pleasantly surprised with how the tires held up as well--even with stock/factory alignment and OE recommended door jamb tire pressures. There was definitely some visible surface wear and abuse, but a lot of that wore off the fronts on the way home just from normal street cruising. Definitely plenty of life left in them--was glad that I didn’t completely destroy one or more.

Overall an awesome and fun day--I will definitely be back. If you have an Si and you haven’t done a track day yet, I would strongly suggest at least a track cross or other lead-follow format event. Everyone deserves that smile you get from cornering at speed in this car :)


For next time:
Definitely going to stick to tracks that I can scout out via sim racing for my first couple outings. Having a baseline level of familiarity before even showing up was hugely helpful. Instruction was also great and I will probably try to do a similar format again for my next outing to have someone call me out for any bad habits i might be forming.

I plan on giving the stock front calipers another shot with a Carbotech or G-LOC compound (probably an XP8/R8 unless someone has had a poor experience and would suggest going straight to an XP10/R10) to see if that is enough to provide a consistent feel and give some confidence in the braking system to start working on the next level of technique. I know a good number of people have gone BBK at this point, but I figure being able to make the stock caliper work would give me more classing options if I ever decided to do something like Time Trials. I’ll probably keep the Powerstop pads at the rear until I burn through this set--seems like they did fine.

I’ll probably do some sort of camera/data setup for my next outing. Didn’t want to have that one more thing to worry about this first time out, but I am interested in capturing a baseline before I go messing with much more on the car.


Anyone who has thoughts/suggestions, please fire away, I’m here to learn! Hope someone finds this useful and pulls the trigger on getting out there.

 

SerotoninHunter

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Biggest tip always: eyes up, eyes up, eyes up. Vision and looking further ahead is the quickest way to get quick. You should be aware of the subsequent turns before you apex your current one.

For track day virgins, I'd wouldn't recommend any timers as you need to spend the time getting acclimated to the speed and learning the track. Once you feel you're well past that, I'd recommend any free phone lap timer app to begin objectively working on your skills. Faster lap times == better driving. How else do you know if you braked late enough, entered fast enough, or got on the throttle early enough unless you see the results on your trap times.

A Garmin Catalyst + GoPro are tools I'd argue you can carry all the way to advanced level.
 

powerqball

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I found a somewhat low-fidelity Shenandoah circuit mod (3rd party) for Assetto Corsa, so between a few light sim sessions and some youtube I was able to learn the basic track layout (sequence of corners) before I arrived at the HPDE.
Hey man, I've been searching all over for a Shenandoah Circuit mode for Assetto Corsa but haven't had any luck. would you be able to point me to it?? Thanks.
 
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st4xor

st4xor

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Hey man, I've been searching all over for a Shenandoah Circuit mode for Assetto Corsa but haven't had any luck. would you be able to point me to it?? Thanks.
Go check out the "Drift Nirvana Assetto Corsa" FB group page and look for a link to their Google drive downloads. They have the track set up for drifting (some drift enthusiast spectators and some cones in weird places) but all of the asphalt is there, and I can vouch that the mod is helpful to learn the track.
 

mcbridekean

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Eric, have you returned to the track ? I am interestEd to know if you found a solution to the brake fade…. I am new to the track, ran 10 laps at Carolina Motorsports a few weeks ago and the brakes faded (factory brakes and fluid). I upgraded the brake fluid and installed hawk hps 5.0 pads and return for my first hpde day next week. I am guessing the brakes will not hold up…. I was trying to limit any changes to the car until I have a bit of experience and learn more…
2018 SI
 
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st4xor

st4xor

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Eric, have you returned to the track ? I am interestEd to know if you found a solution to the brake fade…. I am new to the track, ran 10 laps at Carolina Motorsports a few weeks ago and the brakes faded (factory brakes and fluid). I upgraded the brake fluid and installed hawk hps 5.0 pads and return for my first hpde day next week. I am guessing the brakes will not hold up…. I was trying to limit any changes to the car until I have a bit of experience and learn more…
2018 SI
I'm signed up for HPDE #2 on Shenandoah again next month, 6/10, so I have not been back out yet. I settled on some Carbotech XP8 pads for my next go after searching the forum and asking around (you can probably look through my posts to track my campaign). But this thread in particular (way more experience/skill than what I'm working with 😁) gave me some confidence that the stock brakes with some Carbotech/Gloc pads were worth a solid try. I ordered through the KNS brakes website and received my order (direct ship from Carbotech) about 5 days later, so it might be worth a shot if your track day is next weekend.

I got in touch with KNS a while back to ask if the Hawk HP+ compound (one step up in aggressive street/track focus than the HPS 5.0) would eventually be available, and was told this, which I think might be applicable to you:
Screenshot_20220512-183105.jpg


Hawk has not actually released HP+ for our pad shape, but the important thing there (which I believe is consistent with both your first outting experience and mine) is that once you know the track (second outting and beyond) you are likely going to need a bit more of a dedicated track pad to be happy with the weight .

I'm only going to get out 1-2 times per year, so my current plan is to just keep a track pack+rotor set that I'll swap on a night or two before my track day.

KNS is local to you (Cary, NC) and the Carbotech shipping address was on NC. So it might be worth getting in touch with KNS to see if they can get you squared away before next week.

Hope you enjoy yourself either way, and looking forward to hearing about how it goes!

 

 
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