Northeast misadventure

I’ve been back in the New York recently visiting family and driving my newish-to-me Volvo C30 R-design. The plan for this car was the following.

  • New York Safety Track in August
  • Summit Point and New Jersey in October
  • Maybe One Lap of America in the future?

On paper, the C30 is a pretty good car with 227 HP from the factory. With a few minor modifications, the car can see about 300 hp. While I’m not normally a person interested in power, having more acceleration than my Yaris or Z3 is sort of fun. My first experience driving the C30 in a performance-oriented fashion was an autocross at the Seneca Army Depot (which I wrote about previously). Despite disabling some part of the stability control system, the car would never rotate. It was pretty disappointing. However, an autocross isn’t a race track, and I was prepared to fall in love with the car at New York Safety Track.

Never again

I don’t think I’m ever going to drive the pig again. First off, it really is a pig. Despite having decent power and good tires (RT615K+), it’s slower than a stock Miata on 195/60/14 versions of the same tire. It has a case of terminal understeer. Minimum corner speeds were pathetic. Acceleration wasn’t even that good. How do I know? AiM Solo of course (blue is the pig in the photo below).

The pig overheated after a couple laps. It didn’t show any indicator lights, but there may have been some text on the LCD screen I couldn’t easily read while driving it. The track thought I was leaking brake fluid and meatballed med, but I believe it was coolant.

AAA Sucks

I have a Premium membership with AAA that allows one 200 mile tow per year as well as RV towing. It took me 2 solid hours on the phone to get them to understand where to pick up the car: in New York, not California. Also, they couldn’t figure out how to make the tow free despite recognizing my Premium membership. So I had to pay the overage (which I will submit a claim for later).

But wait, there’s more. The tow truck damaged the pig! Apparently they were resting the pig on the oil pan. Whey they released the pig, they unplugged the 2 holes they made and dumped a gallon of oil on to the parking lot.

Lessons Learned

  • The performance of a car is more than a badge. The R-design is supposed to be a sporty package, but it truly sucks ass. It goes okay in a straight line, but it’s not designed for track duty. If I’m using this as a daily, I would rather have the normal trim with the less sporty suspension. It was a little hard on the back in the pothole-filled roads of Upstate New York.
  • I don’t think the secret switch I installed disabled the stability control completely, and I suspect this is why the car drives like shit. I don’t like stability control in a track car, and I also don’t like 12-step procedures to disable them. I do like modern safety features in general, just not on a track car. In my dream world, I have a car I drive to the track (maybe it’s electric) and a car I drive on the track (maybe a Formula Ford). The differences between the two ideals makes me think that compromises are really hard.
  • Mario would say that I drive cars too hard and much of this is my fault. It’s probably true. I did drive the car hard. I drive most cars pretty hard. But not if I’m a guest in a student’s car. However, if it’s a racing car, yeah, I’m going to drive it hard. But maybe I should change my attitude.


2 thoughts on “Northeast misadventure

  1. Sorry to hear your experience was so frustrating. I don’t think your problem is driving that car too hard. I beat the snot out of my 86 (with oil cooler and Big Brake Kit) and it never complains. I get tired before the car does…


  2. dude. such a bummer. i thought they looked great but there were magazine (??) reports saying it wasn’t a great track car. drat. Well, freshen it up, and i’ve heard that used cars catching a pretty penny right now… maybe it was an investment opportunity???


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