kyo-ei

A few years ago, in a Facebook Group called Track Midwest, a post was written that echoed loudly around the community. “If you don’t run sub 1:40, you shouldn’t post.” It was somewhat harsh, but it had some validity. It was supposed to be directed at the newer guys complaining every three seconds in the group. Since then, sub-1:40 has been the standard in the Time Attack Community. Today, I’ll dive into the what, where, and whys of sub-1:40 in this article. I’ll also explore if the Cavilar reached that pinnacle at one of Gridlife’s recent events called “Rev-up.

Where is Sub 1:40 

South Haven, Michigan, is a charming coastal town located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It is known for its beautiful beaches, picturesque harbor, and vibrant downtown area. You can include the Gridlife Festival on that list as well as being the home of Gingerman Raceway. The track is 2.14 miles long with 11 turns. It has a mix of long straights and challenging corners, providing a challenge for anyone. Some things inspire confidence to test the limits of your ability around Gingerman. There is little to hit. I have a saying, “Professional tracks come with Professional walls.” Tracks like Mid Ohio, Road America, Road Atlanta, etc. That host series, like IMSA or Indy cars, are all lined with concrete walls and occasionally some tire walls. Gingerman is mostly grass with one wall to hit on the front straight. Some tire walls protect corner worker stations, but you’d have to mess up or have a catastrophic failure to come near those. 

 

What is Sub 1:40

Achieving a sub-1:40 lap time is considered a significant accomplishment, as it typically indicates high skill, performance, and competitiveness. It used to require a well-prepared vehicle, a skilled driver, and optimal track conditions. These days it is achievable with some sports cars coming out of the factory, such as a 1LE Camaro or GT350 Mustang. One of the latest “200tw” tires and an above-average (Good) driver. That will typically net you a time from 1:37-1:39. Some guys are still aliens (Great drivers) that can ring out a sub 140 from a claptrap Honda that leaves you stunned and wondering, “What in the actual fuck.” Some of these aliens are in a class called Club TR. These cars have 220-230whp weighing around 2500-2700lbs buzzing around at 1:38-1:39s. Track Midwest lists the top 100 times (for those who self-report with proof) around Gingerman. If you want to crack the top 50, you need to be quicker than a 1:38. When you start to see times dip below 1:35s, you are talking about a great driver and a great car. Once things get into the sub-1:30 range, you reference the tip of the sphere. The Fire breathing monsters that make Time Attack what it is. I currently sit at number 47 with a 1:37 from 6 years ago. I was driving my Honda S2000 named Sheri, which you can read about here. At the time, it was Turbo F20C making around 490 WHP, had an okay aero package, but was on 255 drift tires, so it was fun to drive but could have been optimized. I know what you are wondering, and you are correct; that is my racer’s excuse for why that Time isn’t faster. 

TA benchmark

Now that we know what and where the elite Time is. Let’s talk about the importance of it. This gives anyone who has seen the country’s fastest cars a relative reference and some perspective. As I stated, Gridlife’s Midwest Festival is hosted at Gingerman and is arguably North America’s biggest grassroots motorsport event. That means that the fastest cars/teams in the country come to participate, leading to media influencers such as Rob Dahm and Gears and Gasoline coming out as well. This sheds extra light on the event, which leads to bigger/faster wanting to participate year after year. Back in the day, Button Willow was the country’s benchmark track. That was primarily due to the tuner magazines such as Import Tuner and Modified covering an annual event called Super Lap. That event is still around today but lacks the same brightness, with most print magazines going under or not sending anyone to cover them for their online presence. It’s now called GTA Finals. Shameless plug, share this article so the nerds at S3 let me keep writing about Time Attack to bring more light and publicity to these drivers, teams, organizations, and the stories behind the scenes.

Importance of The Cavalier reaching it

This leads me to the Cavalier. I left off with minor improvements to the car’s drivability to gain confidence in wheeling it. I added some tires and a few suspension tweaks and went to Gingerman for Gridlife’s Rev-Up event. Rev Up is a practice event for Gridlife Festival in a nutshell. Although it’s still a points event for those chasing a season championship, it’s less traffic. Overall, it gives you a standard track day vibe compared to a Festival weekend which involves a concert, drifting, and the door-to-door racing series called GLTC. Being a relaxed event served well for the first time I’d been to Gingerman with the Cavalier.

The Cavi has all the ingredients to join the elite club on paper. It made 320 crank hp in 2010, which is about 107,000 miles ago, so likely around 260 to the wheels now. It has a fantastic aero package from Verus Engineering that has been optimized for the car by using a scanned profile of a 987 and applying Computer Fluid dynamics (CFD) analysts to it to determine how the wing should be and the best profile for the target downforce numbers while only creating as much drag as necessary. Nerd talk, for I know the aero package works well. It has the right suspension for a track warrior-type car. Although a bit heavy, my competition weight of 3100lbs, which is car + driver + fuel, should net me a time in the high 38’s. That figure is based on the data Aric Streeter at YawSpeed came up with in his analysis. Aric has compiled numerous data points from laps from other cars around Gingerman. Although the high 38s is theoretical, Aric’s analysis is often very close if the conditions are ideal. It was vital to prove to myself that I still got “it” and was still in that above-average (Good) driver category. Like a teenager, I still want to impress my peers that don’t care. We all get that feeling when you do something good or outstanding in a sport or game you are passionate about. 

You Gotta Be Quicker Than that

If I let my Aim Solo tell the story, I did a flying lap of 1:39.6. Bring out the red carpet, where is the president because I have officially been GOATED. I need my own Gingerman Shoe release now. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I ended up leaving the weekend with a 1:41.3, meaning I can’t even put the Cayman on the top 100 list. Although the data showed that if I could string it all together, I could crack the sub 1:40, just barely. My main problem or issue was with the PSM system, which is Porsche’s way of saying traction control/Stability management. Whenever it senses too much slip angle, it applies the brakes to the corner that it feels will pull you back straighter. It also kills power, which is a bit intrusive.

 

However, it is by far the best stability management I’ve ever felt in a car. Yes, it’s annoying, but it doesn’t make you feel like you will die if it interferes. It’s also helpful on some turns. It gives you the confidence to drive that turn a few more miles an hour than you did before. As the kids say, to “fuck around and find out.” Without the PSM, the car sometimes felt unstable at turn-in and exit. This led me to think it was a setup issue coupled with my driving style. I tend to turn the steering wheel quicker than most people, leading to some cars oversteering immediately. I formed a habit of slowing the car down (through excess scrubbing of the tires, forcing understeer) and wanting to get the car to set as fast as possible. 

Changes for Festival

Knowing what the data says and what the problem is likely to be. I’m going to change nothing on the car. Working with Jason Saini and Aric Streeter from Yaw Speed, we will review the data after each session and work on driver development and chassis setup with what we have now. After each session, we will work on the fundamentals, such as tire pressures, sway bar setting, angle of attack on the wing, and alignment setting. I am also bringing springs to the track in case we are close to that sub-140 but need a bit of corner speed. We will make any changes together with a unanimous decision if any changes are made.

Well, What Did we learn

Now you know what it takes to be a part of the special sub-140 group. The Few, the proud, THE ELITE. In all seriousness, Gingerman is a fantastic track, and it makes sense that it’s the benchmark for Time Attack. It’s part of North America’s most extraordinary motorsports event and easily accessible to anyone. You don’t have to worry about hitting walls too much. There are a few things on the don’t list. Like any track, don’t go into wet sand sideways, or you may roll. Please don’t go off too much because it makes Gridlife’s lead and my friend Adam a sad Panda. That’s it, so join us!

Photo Cred: Rob Wilkinson

 When you read this, I’m likely on the way to Gingerman for Gridlife’s Midwest Festival. Catch me on the live stream in qualifying Friday and Saturday to see if I got that Sub 1:40. There isn’t a shot in hell I can make the shoot-out, so if you jump on the live stream, it’s too late. I’m already hydrating for the concert later on. 

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