I am back! Track day at Gateway Motorsports Park

By March 25, 2013Automotive, Neil, Racing

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After the better part of two years I am finally back in my race car! Why the hiatus you say? Well for the past two years I have been working hard in turning my once daily driver; a 2003 Nissan 350z from a nice weather sports car to a dedicated full time race car. It has been a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money but it is done! (well not done, are cars ever “done”?) but done enough to get it back on the track.

I will spare the details here but you can check out my build progress in my posts:

The Z transformation pt 1 – Prologue
The Z Transformation pt 2 – Autocross and Racing
The Z Transformation pt 3 – Road racing and Track Days
The Z Transformation pt 4 – The Build Begins
The Z Transformation pt 5 – Race Ready

First we had to pick up the car from my fabricator over at Izzy’s Custom Cages because the final work just got finished on the car for it to be ready. Its always a pleasure to get the car back from Scott @ Izzy’s because he does great work! Loading it on the trailer is always kind of nerve racking but all in all it typically goes on just fine.

We always drive up the night before a track weekend because typically we need to be at the track by 7AM so even staying at a hotel it tends to be a very early morning. This time we decided to stay at the Doubletree by Hilton in Collinsville, IL. The hotel was really nice and had a great restaurant/bar downstairs that we decided to hit up and relax.

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Jessica is won over by the cookies

The alarm at 5:00AM always comes way too soon and from there it is kind of a mad dash to get cleaned up and get out to the race track. While the morning was quite chilly at least it was dry which was an accomplishment considering most of the rest of Missouri was under some rain, and even some snow!

While I get the car inspected and attend mandatory driver meetings, Jessica typically uses this time to catch up on some Zzzzzz’s in the car.

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Today was the season opener for NASA (National Auto Sport Association) Central region. The atmosphere was great and everyone was really ready to get on the track after what seemed to be a never-ending winter.

Since it had been a long time since I had driven last, and the car had a plethora of new parts and work done to it, it was my intention to use this first track day to “test and tune” and work out any bugs or problems that may arise. Thankfully I did not have to deal with any problems at all!

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Here are some photos from the day:

My cousin Austin also visited and took some really great photos as well.

nkohler's 3-23-2013 GMP HPDE album on Photobucket

Here is some video with my new camera setup that also gives you guys some information about how fast I am going and where I am on the track! I hope that the video is more entertaining with this new information.

3-23-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park HPDE from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

Best lap was 1:20 in this run. Had a ton of fun and the feedback on the car now is ridiculous. I can feel everything that is going on right on the tires. The scrub and slip is right there in the steering wheel. I cannot wait to get to the next track day and begin to really push it because the car has a ton of potential. The new Brembo/Carbotech brakes are absolutely inspiring that they will be there when you need them, the stiffness of the cage, and it goes on and on…

I had a huge grin at the end of the video when the back came around at 15:25 and how much feedback the car gave me and it was no drama. The whole day made me feel like I was really racing and it really makes me want to get that competition license soon.

After 5 20 minute sessions I was pretty tired but very happy with the car’s performance as well as my driving. I hope that this is just the beginning of many many posts covering my track days!

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