Between Wall and Seattle, I did a lot of work to the car in preparation for the west coast Formula D events. The car is staying out west for the remainder of the season, so I made sure to take care of all the maintenance, fluids, and tie up any loose ends. I wanted to have it basically like new so I wouldn’t have to do anything to it at the next three tracks besides basic maintenance and setup adjustments.
I made a lot of minor changes to hopefully make the car easier to drive on the banked Evergreen track and make it feel more comfortable at higher angle. I reduced the toe in on the rear, stiffened the rear bar, and adjusted the dampers to reduce the rear grip. I also reduced the caster in the front to get more angle and increased the camber.
We got to the track on Thursday and got a chance to drive through the course a couple of times in the rental car before practice started. Of course, I had heard that the bank is super long at Evergreen. I wasn’t disappointed. It seemed ridiculous driving through with the rental. The angle of banking was pretty low though, so I was confident I would have enough power to do it.
After the first few practice runs, I got up to speed on the bank but was struggling staying off the rev limiter in 4th gear. 5th gear drops the RPM too much, so it wasn’t an option. During the first tire change, I raised the rev limiter 400 RPM. I still set it below the stock limiter so it would be safe. A 3.7 or 3.9 gear would have been a better solution, but my spare diff had the same 4.08 ratio that was in the car. The extra RPM helped a lot, and I started improving my runs as the practice went along.
The diffiult part of this track was coming off the bank and into the “power alley.” It was hard to do it smoothly because the judges wanted you to stay on the wall all the way to the edge of the course in the power alley. Many drivers were carrying too much speed off the bank and sliding wide off course or having to slow down abruptly to keep from going off. It was also near impossible to fill the whole outer zone on the bank and the entire outer zone on the wall in the power alley. A sacrifice had to be made somewhere, either coming off the bank early or going into the outer zone in the power alley later.
I tried coming off the bank several different ways including slowing down a little early to prevent sliding off course. Unfortunately, Chelsea followed me really closely on one of the runs where I let off early. He hit me in the right rear, and we both spun out into the wall towards the end of Thursday practice. It wasn’t too bad of an impact. The rear tube structure got slightly mangled, and my right side wheels made minor contact with the wall. I made my way back to the pits, checked for any bent suspension arms, and checked the alignment. The rear had a bit more toe in, and the steering wheel was slightly off center, but the front toe was the same as I had set it originally.
There was only about 20 minutes left in practice, and I wanted to get at least one more run to make sure nothing serious was wrong with the car, so we left the alignment as it was, and I got back in line for practice. The car drove mostly the same, so with the practice over, Kareem spent some time bending the tubing back in shape and reinstalling taillights and body panels. Then we called it a day. Here is one of my practice runs.
Our plan was to get to the track early on Friday and reset the alignment before practice and qualifying. Unfortunately, it rained right up until our practice session, and working in the mud and puddles didn’t interest me, so I decided against it. Haha. The car felt good in practice although I was still struggling coming off the bank with perfect timing. The judges extended the course outward which made it a bit easier to keep from going off course, but it was difficult to see the yellow line, and I still went off several times or came up short, leaving the outer clipping zone too early.
For my first qualifying run, I came off the bank way too soon and tapped one of the inner clips later in the course. I scored a 68. My second run was much better. I still came off the bank a little early, but the rest of the run was decent. I improved my score, and got a 69. I qualified 32nd and would be going against JR in top 32.
Here are my two qualifying runs from driftstream. I apologize for the poor quality.
On Friday night, we had another hour of practice. I started to get more comfortable with the track and found some good reference points to use coming off the bank thanks to advice from other drivers. We were adding more grip to the car after every run.
On Saturday morning, I wanted to find the most grip we could add before the car got too difficult to drive on the bank, so we softened the rear sway bar before the final practice session. The car was a lot faster but it was difficult to keep it high on the bank, so we went back to the original setting during that practice. My battle with JR was the first run in top 32. He led first, and I got a small jump on him off the line to stay close. He got about a car-length gap on me going into the bank, but he stretched the lead after we initiated. I drove a shallow line through the rest of the course and closed the gap, but I had a big disadvantage after the first run. On my lead run, I was pretty relaxed and did one of my best runs of the weekend. My line was good, and I didn’t make any mistakes besides a small wobble on the bank. But JR was right on me the whole way so he got the win.
Overall, I’m happy that I got to drive at Evergreen and managed to go the whole weekend without killing myself. I learned a lot, and we got to try out many different adjustments, which should be useful for Irwindale. I really need to work on my qualifying though. As much as I enjoy going against JR, it just hasn’t been working out well for me the last two events. lol. I’m looking forward to Vegas next month and getting back on a flat track.