First Track Experience In My 2010 WRX
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This is a discussion on First Track Experience In My 2010 WRX within the Motorsports Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; I had my first track driving experience ever this past Sunday at the Streets of Willow track at Willow Springs ...

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    Registered User dbya rx's Avatar
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    First Track Experience In My 2010 WRX

    I had my first track driving experience ever this past Sunday at the Streets of Willow track at Willow Springs Raceway.



    The track is a 1.8 mile street course that was very technical in a couple areas. We ran the course clockwise, which is the slower direction because the 1000 foot front straight away ends up being uphill in that direction.

    There were a lot of crazy cars there. Some very highly modified EVO's, S2000's, and some STI's also. The iwsti.com project STI was there briefly also. I work for an auto insurance company as an auto damage estimator at a body shop. The owner of this shop is a fairly wealthy amateur race driver, and I met him up there. He brought his 2010 BMW M3 with racing slicks and upgraded brakes pads and rotors. I was the only person with a stock WRX, proud to represent! There were also 2 stock STI's there also, both 2011's.

    My impressions of the event were overall very positive. The people running the show were really cool and knowledgeable, and made it abundantly clear that safety was their #1 priority. There were 80 cars total, and we were divided into 4 groups, Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and "never done this before" beginner. Each group was allotted 5 different "heats" of 25 minutes of track time, which translated into somewhere between 5 and 7 laps per heat depending on how fast the groups were. I thought it was going to be pretty quick, but it’s crazy how much longer time felt when you were behind the wheel.

    Track driving is very, very difficult. I had one of the 5 lapping sessions with a race instructor in the car trying to show me the correct lines to take on the course. It really took a lot for me to fight my instincts and drive the course the way the instructor was recommending, but when I did hold the right line, it was amazing how much faster I could actually go, and how much smoother everything felt. On the back end of the course there is a huge long 180 degree banked turn that goes into a straight away, and before driving with the instructor, I was hitting just above 90 MPH before braking at the end of the straight. After learning the line into the banked turn, I hit 105 MPH before the end of the straight, which is a HUGE difference made possible just by being able to put down power in the correct area of the banked turn. The best comparison I can think of is that driving the line perfectly is tantamount to hitting a golf ball perfectly. For those who golf, you know exactly what I'm talking about. This picture is on that banked turn.



    My impressions of my 2010 WRX hatchback were not as favorable. The only changes I made to the car to "get ready" for the track day was swapping out the stock brake fluid for MOTUL 600 to avoid boiling the fluid. While I had a huge amount of fun and relished in the insane intensity and adrenaline, obviously I had to drive the car home after the track event. So unfortunately, having that in the back of my mind the entire time probably didn’t really help me out a whole lot in my driving quality. I burned through 3/4 of a tank of 91 Octane Premium, and the car survived the day of very hard driving WITHOUT ANY issues. My wife and I were able to drive the 150 miles back to San Diego. I'm very proud of my WRX in that sense.

    But that was only a small part of the story. The WRX in its stock form is definitely not a car that is made for the track. All of the car magazine articles that highlighted the extreme body roll and understeer in the WRX are 100% true. The car did not handle very well. My front tires took a huge beating just from plowing through so much of the course. Fortunately, the course was not long enough or fast enough to feel any real brake fade, but the brakes got really really hot. This picture shows my rear right tire almost off the ground...not good when trying to go fast.



    Early on I started up a conversation with one of the 2011 STI owners who was in the same group as me. His car was completely stock, base STI. While it was also his first time on the track, he was much faster than I was based on the suspension setup on his vehicle. I don’t really think the advantage was based on the increased power output of the STI, but more based on how he was able to hold speed into the turns and put power down better coming out with much less body roll and understeer than my stock WRX.

    Would I ever do this again? Absolutely. But, a huge caveat...not unless I made some pretty serious suspension changes to my vehicle. I would assume with some reasonable $$$ (not thousands) I could get much thicker sway bars front and rear with end links and that would certainly help. In addition, I think I would want to have a set of wheels and tires dedicated to going on the track, but of course, that is just more dough I would have to shell out.

    If anyone would like to do something like this but has reservations, I would recommend it very very highly. It was really cool to be able to drive my car at its absolute limits, something very difficult, dangerous, and illegal to reproduce on public roads. Here is my favorite picture. The pics were all taken by a professional photographer that was at the track for the event. Thanks for reading.

    Last edited by dbya rx; 01-11-2011 at 01:25 PM.
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    Registered User mrsailboats's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great write up. I am currently in a 2010 wrx sedan and debating some fun track driving. Looks like you had a heck of a time and I think my experience would be similar.

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    Moderator   Sasquatch's Avatar
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    Nice write up. This recent post along with a link and text from Car & Driver will confirm what you just experienced: Are we getting left behind?

    Stiff springs with the appropriate struts or coilovers are far better for the track than just big sway bars. Bigger sway bars only are better suited to the street or autox. Solid track work requires stiff springs more than anything. A good performance alignment is very helpful.

    My WRX is setup nicely for autox / street use, but my current sways would make things too twitchy on the track.
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    Registered User dbya rx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch View Post
    Nice write up. This recent post along with a link and text from Car & Driver will confirm what you just experienced:
    thank you. i was just reading that thread right after i started this one, and its kinda funny the timing of things. while i did not expect the wrx in its stock setup to be a track monster right out of the gate, i was surprised by how poorly it did. at some points it was downright scary how much understeer the car had. i guess that is better than oversteer though, b/c at least i could see where i was completely out of control vs spinning
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    Moderator   Sasquatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsailboats View Post
    Thanks for the great write up. I am currently in a 2010 wrx sedan and debating some fun track driving. Looks like you had a heck of a time and I think my experience would be similar.
    I have to get out there sometime. Maybe this year. When it stops snowing.

    Quote Originally Posted by dbya rx View Post
    thank you. i was just reading that thread right after i started this one, and its kinda funny the timing of things. while i did not expect the wrx in its stock setup to be a track monster right out of the gate, i was surprised by how poorly it did. at some points it was downright scary how much understeer the car had. i guess that is better than oversteer though, b/c at least i could see where i was completely out of control vs spinning
    You have inspired me to give a track day more serious thought. It looks like serious fun. I had a day scheduled a year after I got my WRX (2005), but had to back out due to short term $ concerns. I'm kind of glad I did ... my suspension was not nearly up to the task then. With a couple of sway bar tweaks and the spring / dampers I have now the WRX will do much better today.
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    Registered User dbya rx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch View Post
    You have inspired me to give a track day more serious thought.
    that was the main point of writing this, so i could share the experience i had with other people. i would seriously recommend to to everyone that is a member of this community. it was not that expensive, only $105, and i got some free instruction with that.
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    Moderator   Sasquatch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbya rx View Post
    that was the main point of writing this, so i could share the experience i had with other people. i would seriously recommend to to everyone that is a member of this community. it was not that expensive, only $105, and i got some free instruction with that.
    The one I had setup was $225.
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    Registered User wrx650's Avatar
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    Bumping an old thread, but this was a good write-up. I am hoping to do my first track day this summer and I am "preparing" for it.
    -Noah

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    Registered User wreckingball man's Avatar
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    Nice work. The pics are good too

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