You suck at point bys

The winner of the YSAR Author Contest and RumbleStrip lap timer was Steve Danielson. I think you’ll agree with me that his post is as good as anything else on YSAR. Informative content, animated videos, in-car video, humor, check, check, check, check. Thanks Steve, you knocked it out of the park with this one.

How many times have you heard the following at a driver’s meeting: “If you see a car in your mirrors that wasn’t there before, at the next passing zone lift off the gas and give them a point by”. Seems to make sense, right? But how many times have you caught up to and then been stuck behind somebody that just wouldn’t give a point by? Is it because they are a jerk or have a big ego and can’t be passed by a lesser car?

Let’s take a look at it from a different perspective. You are at the track driving, and in one of your sessions, a Miata starts catching up to you in the corners, but you always manage to leave it in the dust once you get to the next straightaway. The battle is on! They are getting close, sometimes even quite close, but you are able to get away after each corner. As you pull in at the end of the session you are thinking “What a great session! Toward the end they sure seemed to get aggressive and really on my tail in the corners, but they still couldn’t catch me!” After the session you go and find the other driver to share stories about your “epic battle”, but as you approach you hear them talking with their buddies along the lines of “That session sucked, I was stuck behind some $%^& for half the session”. Why didn’t they seem to have the same great session that you did? What happened? Turns out, you were holding up a driver that was running faster laps than you until they got stuck behind you. You suck at point bys, and didn’t even know it.

Why does this happen so often?

Fallacy: When a lower powered car catches a more powerful car in a corner, often no point by is needed, because the power of the “faster” car balances out the faster cornering speed of the “slower” car on the next straight.

Reality: Power and handling only balance each other out if the two cars are running the same lap times. And if that is true, the two cars will likely never come within sight of each other. If a car catches up to another car on track, it is because the second car is running a faster lap time.

Here’s a simulation of a high powered car and a low powered car driving a lap with the same lap time. Even though one car’s lap is based on power and the other based on handling, they stay on opposite sides of the track and never catch up to each other.

Here’s the same simulation, but with the car positions overlaid. You can see where one car or the other pulls ahead briefly due to power vs handling, but they make it to the start/finish line at the same time, because they are running the same lap times. Sometimes at the very start of a session, cars can get bunched up similar to this, but usually after 1-2 sessions folks can figure out who is faster and get it sorted out in the first lap or two, or by gridding near the front or back.

What happens when a lower powered but faster driven car catches up to a more powerful car, and gets stuck behind it? Say a Miata is running a string of 89.3 second laps and catches up to a more powerful car, let’s call it a 6000 SUX, that is running 92.9 second laps. Due to being held up in the corners and losing all its momentum, the Miata will now be running laps even slower than the 6000 SUX. That truly does suck…

Fallacy: If a lower powered car catches me in the corners and I point it by, I will just be stuck behind it on the straightaways.

Reality: If you lift off and give a point by, you may have to ease off and not go full blast for the duration of that straight, but once you get into the next sequence of corners, you are not likely to be held up any longer and can resume your normal pace. In order for a less powerful car to be running faster laps than a more powerful car, it must be cornering much faster. And in that case, it will most likely leave you behind after the next set of corners. Let it by and maybe you can learn something by watching it.

Here’s a simulation of our Miata catching up to and getting stuck behind the 6000 SUX. After a few laps of holding up the Miata, the 6000 SUX gives the point by. After letting the Miata by, the 6000 SUX does get close on some of the straights but is not held up, and shortly after both cars are back to clear track and running at their own pace.

Fallacy: When I catch up to another car and they don’t give me a point by, it is because they are a jerk.

Reality: Sometimes true, but maybe it is an educational issue. A lot of times they really think that their extra power on the straights balances out your extra cornering speed, and so they don’t know that they need to give a point by.

I was at an event a few years ago and was in a run group that had about 10 Challengers. A couple of them were very fast, and I never saw them except when they zipped by. A couple of them I never saw at all, because we were running about the same lap times, as illustrated in the first simulation above, and a couple I would catch up to, but they would rocket away on every straight, and if they did give a point by, they didn’t lift and so I had no hope of completing the pass.

In this example it was an educational issue and not because they were a jerk. At lunch the event organizer talked with them, and it was totally resolved, with very courteous track etiquette after that.

It is a lot of fun to catch up to other cars when driving at the track, but can be frustrating to get stuck behind a slower car that won’t let you pass. Sometimes you can drop back for a few moments to build a gap, or you can roll through the pits to get some space, but it is better when it doesn’t happen. We’re all out there for the same reason, to learn and to have a good time, so when someone catches up to you, lift off the gas and give a point by. Try and keep up and you might learn something, and you just might run your fastest laps trying to catch back up. Don’t suck at point bys, and you won’t be this guy:


Holiday shopping guide

Special mid-week post! Check back in a couple days when the Ghosting the Aliens series resumes.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday shopping season are upon us! Sadly, so is the annoying Christmas music. Some of the deals you can find at this time of year can be really great. For example, last year I bought a new gaming computer. Even though prices always drop on computer stuff, I still can’t find a better deal than what I got last year.

In my family, we have some unusual holiday gift giving practices. Of course we buy presents for each other, but we also buy presents for ourselves. We wrap these up and put them under our tree. Well, it’s not always much of a wrapping, often just the shipping box. And truthfully, it isn’t always a tree, sometimes just a decorated table with cookies. And we don’t necessarily open them on Christmas day. We like the French-style midnight opening and we like how Hanukah spreads out the gifts over several days. So we mix it up and open presents at odd times (breakfast on Saturday, dinner on Sunday, midnight on Monday, whatever). Anyway, part of the fun of the holiday season is opening presents and sharing that joy with others. Believe it or not, the gifts you buy yourself can be some of the most fun for the others to share. “Oh, I didn’t know you wanted that, how cool!” is a lot more genuine than “thanks for the socks” or “just what I wanted” (because I gave you explicit directions on what to buy 2 weeks ago). With that in mind, let’s imagine some gifts to improve the driving of someone you care about (even yourself).

Expensive Stuff

  • Simulation Rig – While it may seem expensive, the return on this investment is huge. High performance driving is like any other athletic endeavor. To get get good, you’ll have to spend hundreds of hours practicing. There’s no cheaper or safer way to put in that time than with virtual training. You can buy a complete gaming computer for under $600 if you shop around. But make sure the video card is has a Passmark score of at least 2,500 (an nVidia 1050 is good). For the steering wheel and pedals, the best place to start is a Logitech G29 (PC + PS4) or G920 (PC + Xbox). These list for $400 but you can find them at Newegg for $200. There are lots of 1080p monitors for $100. If you want a system that can do VR, expect to pay more than twice as much. For more info, see the Simulation link above.
  • Telemetry System – There are lots of choices for telemetry systems from manufacturers such as AiM, Motec, RaceLogic, and RacePak. One of the most popular is the AiM Solo DL. This is a great lap timer and data logger that also reads OBDII data from your vehicle. Works best with 2008+ vehicles with CAN bus. On modern sports cars you get to tap into thousands of dollars of sensors for free (e.g. steering angle, individual wheel speeds, brake pressure, throttle position, RPMs, etc.).
  • HANS Device– There are several head and neck restraint devices available today. Personally, I like Necksgen because the tethers also protect you from side impacts. The Rev2 Lite model is their latest and best design. Generally, HANS devices like these require that you have a roll cage/bar and harnesses. If you don’t, you might consider a Simpson Hybrid, which also attaches to your body.


  • APEX Pro – This is a slick lap timer and data logger with an attractive LED interface that shows how hard you’re driving (it’s some mixture of G-forces and yaw I think). It sends data to your phone. You can review with the data with their phone app or download the data to your Mac/PC and view with Track Attack.
  • Aim Solo – The standard in stand-alone lap GPS timers. Rugged design. The Aim Solo 2 now has a color interface but the original unit is still great. The software looks like it was built for Windows 98, but it works well and most of the bugs have been squashed over the years.
  • Yi 360 VR – The latest thing in cameras are those with dual 360 lenses. They capture everything from a single point of reference. After shooting, you decide which camera angles you want in order to produce a typical HD video. I don’t have one of these and I don’t know which one is best, but I like Yi cameras so I’m listing theirs.


  • Rumblestrip DLT1-GPS – It’s just a delta/predictive timer with big red 7 segment LEDs, but it’s also the best thing I ever bought for my car. I feel naked without it
  • Cordless Impact Wrench – Changing wheels at the track is so much faster with an impact wrench. Buy one of the major manufacturing brands so that your batteries interchange with lots of other tools. I’ve got drills, saws, work lights, vacuums, etc. that all power from the same batteries. The tool I use most is the impact.
  • Action Camera – You can learn a lot by watching yourself drive. There are lots of cameras and they keep getting better and cheaper. While GoPro is the standard everyone knows, I’m using Yi cameras for both live streaming and SD recording. In addition to the cameras, you will need a good mounting solution. I use RAM mounts everywhere.
  • Coolshirt – On a really hot day, a coolshirt is a safety item. They are a little over $100. The big ticket item is the cooler. Fortunately you can pick these up used on eBay or Craigslist as cold therapy systems for $50. They both have the same fittings. You just have to figure out how to mount it solidly. I use a lasagna tray and ratchet strap.


  • Joes Racing Pyrometer – The best way to record tire temperatures is with a needle-type pyrometer. The one made by Joes is both inexpensive and robust. It has a convenient 90 degree handle which makes it easier to fit under the wheel well.
  • Bluetooth GPS Receiver – Your phone can be used as a lap timer, but with 1 Hz GPS updates, it’s not accurate enough for comparing telemetry data between runs or between drivers. With a 10 Hz antenna, you’ll get acceptable performance.
  • Dash Cam – Instead of using an action camera, you might consider a dash camera. If used only in your car, you don’t need one with a durable case or big battery. It’s crazy how inexpensive these have become. For insurance purposes, or just to capture the crazy shit people do, you might consider running one all the time in your street car. Some of the high end models have GPS and G-force sensors. Prices vary from $30 to $200 depending on features.
  • iRacing – If you want to learn how to race and stay out of trouble, working your way out of the rookie ranks in iRacing is a valuable experience. Price is normally $12 per month, but with holiday pricing you can subscribe for a whole year for half that. The subscription comes with some great cars and tracks but you’ll probably want to buy a few more.
  • Brake Bias Adjuster – One of the cheapest and most educational performance modifications you can make for your car is to install a prop valve. They don’t cost much but installing could be expensive if you have someone else do it.


  • rFactor 2 – There’s a lot of people who think rFactor 2 has the most realistic physics. I think it depends on the car. But definitely, the physics are very good.
  • Assetto Corsa – If you want to drive obscure cars on obscure tracks, Assetto Corsa is the best simulator because of all the community created content. It’s also great for everything else.
  • Tire Pressure Gauge – Everyone needs a high quality tire pressure gauge. The simple analog ones from Joes Racing and Longacre are excellent.
  • Wide Angle Mirror – This is a great upgrade for your street or track car. The ones that clamp on top of your standard mirror work amazingly well. If your mirror wobbles too much with the extra weight, a little sugar water will make it stick in place.
  • Gear Bag – I recently started using the Harbor Freight Rolling Tool Bag as my travel bag. It’s so nice having a rolling bag in long airports. Turns out that it fits my helmet and race gear too. The design is more robust than typical luggage and the price is hard to beat.
  • Helmet Hook – Nothing says racecar quite like having a purpose built helmet hook mounted to the roll cage. It’s a bit of a frivolity, but that might make it the perfect little gift.


Check the Library link above for a list of books I’ve reviewed. The following three are highly recommended.

  • Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving  – Basically the textbook from the Skip Barber school. Nuff said
  • Ultimate Speed Secrets – It’s one of the best book on performance driving. I’ve read it cover to cover several times. Get the kindle version so you can read it wherever you are.
  • Optimum Drive – My latest favorite driving book and the best thing you can listen to while driving to work. That’s right, it’s available as an audio book.

Didactic vs. socratic teaching

Reminder: you could win a Rumblestrip delta timer by entering the YSAR author contest. See the Contest link above.

On Facebook, I belong to the HPDE Instructors group. I like this group because nearly all of the content is nice people genuinely trying to make a positive difference in the world, in as far as improving high performance driving instruction makes the world a better place. One of the topics that has come up several times is the difference between coaching and instructing. The dictionary doesn’t make much of a distinction, but the group members do. Instructing, they say, is like lecturing or demonstrating while coaching is more active and probing. I believe most of the group thinks they are coaches. The distinction between the two types of teaching is actually very old, at least 2,500 years. Given that this is the case, I will use their proper names, and not those of the HPDE Instructors group.

  • Didactic method – Presenting information to the student with materials prepared ahead of time. Examples include books, track maps, videos, seminars, etc. In the didactic method, the student is a vessel into which knowledge is poured. Most classroom education is didactic because there is an efficient student to teacher ratio.
  • Socratic method – Challenging the student with questions about their own beliefs and experiences. Examples include asking students where and when they brake, where they are looking, how they think they can go faster, and which corners they think are most dangerous. In the socratic method, the instructor and student engage in a dialog in which the instructor provides prompts. This is relatively labor intensive as it is difficult to parallelize for multiple students.

Last week, one of the coaches wrote in with the following problem.

I’m in the middle of the toughest instructing day I’ve ever had in 15 years of doing this. My student, with trailered-car autocross experience, and go-karting experience, is driving a 2014 GTI and cannot grasp the concept of tracking the car out on exit. He says he understands what I’m telling him, but he simply won’t do it. He’s also divebombing corners with his shitty-ass HP+ pads despite agreeing wholeheartedly that we would spend the session focusing on line instead of speed. Lap 2, he’d warped his rotors. I have never not been able to get through to a student and I’m about at my wits’ end. So…tips/tricks/advice?

So what kind of advice did the group give him? Here are some ideas, some of which were mentioned several times.

  • Take him as a passenger in your car to show him the line
  • Make the student put a tire on the exit curb (even if it means going out of the way to get there)
  • Let him make mistakes if he’s not endangering others, mistakes are learning opportunities
  • Narrate every aspect of the track while he drives it
  • Tell him, “you’ve paid for the track, use all of it”
  • Warn him that if he doesn’t do as you say, he’s done for the day
  • Don’t be afraid to get out of the right seat, it’s your life
  • Give him maximum RPM and MPH limits
  • Have him draw the track on paper from memory with his eyes closed, he probably doesn’t know it
  • Slow him down and make him stare at the exit
  • Explain track-out with the string method (an imaginary string is attached to the steering wheel and throttle pedal – no throttle without unwinding)
  • Establish an end-of-braking point
  • Send him home?
  • Agree on what you’re working on before the session and if the student deviates, take them back to the pit and discuss
  • Autocrossers have a different driving style… he may be too set in his ways to change
  • OSB – other sports beckon, as in, some students aren’t worth the time
  • Trade students with another instructor
  • Smack him in the back of the head

How much of this advice is didactic vs. socratic? Or in the groups’ words, how much of the advice suggests instruction vs coaching? Drawing the track on paper from memory is definitely socratic but the rest? Not so much. For a group that is keen to provide coaching, their advice is mostly to bully the student into submission. I don’t subscribe to that way of teaching. Here’s what I wrote.

I suspect the problem is that he thinks performance driving is about mashing pedals. Two drills that might work are (1) drive some laps without using the brakes except for emergencies (2) drive some laps in 4th gear only. In both these cases, mashing pedals doesn’t make you go faster. You have to think about line and momentum. Instead of telling him what to do, you can make him figure it out by posing a different kind of problem.

I would never throw up my hands and say “other sports beckon”. One part of my job is to be a teacher, but another part is to make sure my student is having the best day of his life. I’ve had a few students who couldn’t drive for shit and didn’t improve at all from one session to the next. I can only think of one time where we didn’t have a great time, and for that I blame myself. I think the day could have turned around but he left early and I never got a chance to make up for my early impatience. It’s a learning process for the coaches too.

Endurance tire testing: part 2

Before getting to the latest post, I want to remind people that there is a YSAR author contest with the top prize being a Rumblestrip DLT1-GPS lap timer. For details, click the Contest link at the top of the page.

Last week I blogged about how my brother and I tested a few tires to find out which one was the best. What exactly does best mean? Lap time certainly matters, but also consistency. We do endurance racing, not time trials. So our ideal tire is one that gives the driver the confidence to lap consistently fast. I’ll summarize Mario’s impressions from last time.

  • RS-4 is the best tire because it feels best and records fastest laps
  • RE-71R is a good tire, but hard to drive consistently fast
  • RT615K is a good rear tire, but it lacks grip and feel on the front
  • R1R is soft and feels weird

This week, let’s take a look at telemetry traces and see if we can get a little more resolution on the differences among the tires.

RS-4 (first run)

The two laps in the graph below have nearly identical lap times (1:37.4). But they are really very different laps. Looking at the time difference in the bottom pane, you can see that one lap gets ahead of the other by about 0.25 seconds. Then it loses all that time and ends up 0.12 seconds behind. While the fastest lap recorded was 1:37.4 it could very easily have been a high 1:36.


Here are 3 laps on the R1Rs in the same 0.2 second span (1:38.3 – 1:38.5). Again, while that sounds pretty consistent, it isn’t. Mario drives the first and second halves of the course very differently. The first half of Thunderhill West has more compromises and high speed corners. The second half features several hairpins. He drives the hairpins very consistently, but not the high speed corners. Why? Maybe he has better braking markers in the hairpins? In any case, when trying to figure out which tire is best, we have to take into account each corner, not the lap time.


The 3 laps graphed are all 1:38.1X, so amazingly close together. I haven’t plotted the fastest lap here. Overall, the laps look more consistent than the R1R laps. Is that because the driver is getting more accustomed to the track or because the tires give better feedback?

RS4 (second run)

These 3 runs are within 0.1 seconds of each other. The fastest lap was not plotted. Overall, consistency is much better.

All runs combined

Overlaying all the runs, you can see just how much variation there is in first half of the track. Mario felt much more confident on RS4s, and this translates into braking much later. This produces a transient time gain that is partially lost by braking a little too deep. These are bumps in the time graph at the bottom relative to the fastest blue lap. The corner where RS4s appear to help the most is T6 through T7. Here, the blue lines pull away from the others (see bottom time lost). Once in the hairpins, RE71Rs appear to be just as good as RS4s despite having narrow tread and wheel widths.


So what did we learn? For one thing, laps that look the same from the perspective of a stop watch can be really different in detail. There’s too much variability in the first half of the lap to say much about the relative grip of the tires. We can say, however, that the feel of the tire matters very much to the driver. In the second half of the track, where comparisons are more robust, RE71Rs may be slightly better than RS4s. Despite having only one session on RE71Rs, he drove them at least as well as the RS4s.

Let’s finish this off with a few bullet points

  • Because feel is such an important characteristic, you really should try a few tires rather than settling on what is cheap or convenient.
  • It’s probably easier to fit tires to the driver rather than asking your driver to change their style to fit the tire.
  • Don’t rely on a stopwatch to tell you which tire is best.
  • Doing tire tests on a 5-run HPDE day with a driver who hasn’t driven the track in over a year isn’t going to get the most consistent data.
  • It was a great day of driving and data mining, and I can wholeheartedly recommend taking tires and timers to the race track.

Endurance tire testing: part 1

Before getting to the post this week, I want to turn your attention to the 2018 YSAR Author Contest. Also linked in the menu above. Write an article for YSAR and you might win a great prize.

I had an MRI recently that shows I have a herniated disc. So my back problems are pretty fucking real as well as being debilitatingly painful. As such, I can’t do any performance driving for a while. Good thing I have a twin brother who can step in and drive for me. In this case, it was a tire test day at Thunderhill West (follow link for instructional video). The car was my Yaris in mostly B-Spec trim but I recently upgraded the calipers to increase the brake pad choices. The Yaris has such a huge cargo area that we were able to fit several tool kits, 2 people, and 6 tires inside even with a full cage. I also have a custom tire rack that fits on a mini hitch that increases its capacity to another 4 should the need arise.

Here is a brief list of the tires we were testing. A more thorough description is given below.

  • Falken RT615K+ 205/50/15
  • Bridgestone RE71R 205/50/15
  • Hankook RS4 225/45/15
  • Toyo R1R 225/45/15

Five 20-minute sessions isn’t an ideal way to test tires. There aren’t that many runs, the runs are a bit longer than necessary, and there isn’t enough time to make a tire change in the middle of a run with a pit crew composed of exactly one gimpy 51-year old (me). So how do we figure out which is the best tire when the test conditions are so volatile? We have 3 methods.

  1. Lap times
  2. Feel of the car from the driver’s perspective
  3. Telemetry analysis

In part 1 of this post we’ll look at lap times and how the tires feel from the perspective of the driver. Next week I’ll present the details and show why telemetry is so important. Now let’s hear from Mario, whose contributions are in blue text.

I tried to stick with a pace that I would do in an endurance race, and not to find faster lines or experiment with driving style too much. The point was to go for consistent laps, and measure all the tires on a level playing field. Naturally the air and track temperature changed throughout the day, and as this was a HPDE session, I had to throw away some good laps to manage traffic. Also, I don’t know the track that well, and so my driving was certainly going to improve throughout the day.

Let’s talk about the tires in the order they were run.

Falken RT615K+ 205/50/15 15×7

Fast 1:40.9, Median 1:41.6

Our team has used a lot of different performance tires over the years (Bridgestone RE11A, RE71R; Dunlop Z1, Z2; Falken RT615, RT615K, RT615K+; Federal 595 RSRR; Hankook RS3, RS4; Hoosier SM7; Toyo RR, RA1; Nitto NT01, NT05, Yokohama S.Drive). Historically, some version of Falken RT615K has been our go-to tire. The reason for this is that it strikes a nice balance in expense, life, and grip. It’s not the fastest tire, but it is one of the more durable in the 200TW category. Given that we’re more cheap than fast, we like Falkens. We almost always mount these on 15×7 rims even though 15×8 (or even 15×9) are supposed to be faster. Why? No good reason. Possibly because Spec Miata uses a 15×7.

I’ve heard that the RT615K+ is made in the same plant as the Dunlop Z3 Star Spec. The difference is the tread pattern. Falkens are typically $10 cheaper per tire. If they truly are the same thing, the choice comes down to camber wear. Dunlops have a symmetrical tread pattern, which means you can flip the tires on the rims, which may extend tread life quite a bit. If you read reviews on the RT615K+, people say they get greasy if you run them hard. That’s not a bad thing if you ask me. If you’re driving the limit, any tire will get greasy.

The tires we had for the test day were mounted on 15×7 Kosei K1 rims. They had seen quite a bit of track action, but only as rear tires on the Yaris. That means they were hardly worn at all. For the rears, we had a set of old RE71Rs (see below). Let’s hear what Mario has to say about the RT615K+..

I’ve driven the Falken Azenis 615K probably more often than any other tire, and they are the gold standard which I measure everything against. I hadn’t tried the 615K+ yet, so I was happy to go out on the Azenis first and see what all the plus was about.

My experience with them is that they warm up quickly, and usually the fastest lap is the second lap, but then they get a bit greasy when hot. Traction drops off a bit then, but stays at that level forever. And so they felt the same as always, with good audible feedback and a generous traction limit that doesn’t suddenly go away.

However, after trying the other tires, the gold standard is now the old standard. By comparison, the turn in was vague, and they simply don’t have as much stick. Perhaps on a 8” rim they would have worked better, but I doubt an inch of rim width was going to be the night-and-day difference I’d experience with the other tires. Later in the day we’d put these on the rear, and for that, they are my tire of choice.

Hankook RS4 225/45/15 15×8 (first run)

Fast 1:37.4, Median 1:38.4

The RSR has become one of the most popular endurance racing tires. One reason is that much of the competition has reengineered their tires for the larger autocross market where grip is more important than longevity. RS4s are a more traditional 200 TW tire that last a long time.

The tires used in the test were mounted on 15×8 TR C1 rims. The tires had been used in a previous Lemons race and had about half of their tread remaining. The rear tires were the same as the test above (old RE71R).

The second time I turned the wheel I knew I was on a totally different tire. I was initially a little bit nervous because the steering was so different than the Azenis, but the tires warmed up quickly, and I to them: super accurate turn in, great feedback, and you can hear them working. I put down a few consistent laps and was surprised to see they were over 3 seconds faster than the Azenis!

That’s pretty astounding considering these were back-to-back sessions an hour apart. The track and weather conditions were probably as similar as they were going to be, and I don’t think my driving line or technique changed much from the previous session.

The RS4s seemed to take a bit longer to come in than RT615K+, and were fastest on the 4th or 5th lap. After that they seemed to fall off about a quarter second.

Toyo R1R 225/45/15 15×9

Fast 1:38.3, Median 1:39.3

Originally a 140 TW tire, Toyo later rebranded the R1R as a 200 (probably to get more sales). Magazine tire reviews consistently report that the R1R is a pretty soft tire that wears quickly. It’s supposedly really good in the rain. It has one of the more interesting tread patterns. The brand new tires in the test were mounted on 15×9 Konig Dekagrams. Rear tires were as above.

I thought these were going to be the fastest, because they were the only ones on 9” rims, and they are basically rebadged 140 TW tires. But I just didn’t have much confidence under braking. They didn’t have as much audible feedback, and even through the wheel and pedals I never knew what they were doing. Any corner which required some initial braking cost me time, and while I thought these were the fastest tires around T2 (I could floor it all the way around), it was simply because I didn’t have the confidence to go through T1 faster. The run up to T7 requires the longest and hardest braking, and I felt like I was going to flat-spot them every time.

When we pulled the tires off, they looked totally different. The way the rubber was melting off the tire made them look like they were much softer than the other tires. I’d worry about the longevity of these in an endurance race. However, they were also brand new tires with full tread, and probably got the hottest because of that. I hear that R1Rs are good rain tires, and that’s probably where these will be used now.

Bridgestone RE71R 205/50/15 15×7

Fast 1:37.1, Median 1:38.2

The RE71R is well known as a cheater tire because it’s more like a 100TW than a 200TW in grip and longevity. I’ve heard some stories of them lasting only a few hours. My experience is that they are actually more durable than other tires on my Yaris. Despite its low power, my Yaris has caused blistering and chunking on most of the tires it has seen. It’s pretty frustrating to see a tire with very little wear except the shoulder has been completely chewed away. RE71Rs don’t do that because they can handle the heat.

We had planned to use these on 8” rims, but due to some fitment problems, we had to use the ones that we’d been using as rear tires, which were on 7” rims. That meant we had to move the Azenis to the rear, and so this wouldn’t be an apples-to-apples comparison with the other rubber.

But that turned out to be not such a bad thing, as the RE71R front and RT615K+ rear made a balanced combination with neutral handling. I was able to rotate the car much easier and play with balance more effectively.

As such, the RE71Rs set down the fastest time of the day (so far), but I didn’t feel they were as consistent. I felt like the one fast lap was an outlier, and that I couldn’t drive them that way lap after lap. These were also the oldest tires, and I’m not sure the effect of that.

Hankook RS4 225/45/15 15×8 (second run)

Fast 1:36.7, Median 1:37.3

We went back to RS4 front leaving the 615K+ on the rear, and again the handling was very neutral, similar to the RE71Rs. Taking some traction away from the rear definitely helps me.

Compared to the RE71R, the RS4s instilled more confidence, and this might be down to simply the sounds they make. A better driver might go fastest on the RE71R (or maybe even the R1Rs), but I felt better on the RS4s. And they were more fun.

So much so that on the last two laps I decided to screw consistency and up my pace. I immediately dropped half a second and did a 1:36.4. On my second flying lap I looked at the RumbleStrip and saw I had another .3 seconds in hand and thought I had a sub 36 lap in there… But they threw the checker on me in T8, and so I didn’t get a chance to find out.

Conclusions Part 1

Although we had come to the track to determine which tire was fastest, one of the most important lessons we learned was how much feedback is important to the driver. A simple tire swap can make a huge difference in the way a car feels and consequently what performance a driver can extract from a car.

Mario drove the RS4s faster and more consistently than any of the other tires. He also felt more confident with RT615Ks on the rear rather than the stickier RE71Rs. Moving forward, we’re now considering new combinations of tires. Perhaps 245 width RS4s in the front? Maybe something in 195 width for the rears? More tests will follow, but not until my back heals or my brother visits again.

Next week we’ll take a higher resolution look at the data using telemetry and see why you should always run telemetry.

Pineview Run, Optimum Drive, and S.Drives

Emergency. We interrupt our series in progress for an important and timely message on performance driving. This guest post comes from my twin brother Mario. Incidentally, if you have content you want to contribute to YSAR, I’d love to post it.

This last Sunday, Pineview Run held its first annual Pineview Challenge Cup, a time trial “race” of sorts. After an initial practice and qualifying session, you got three runs. Each run consisted of a warm up lap, and three timed laps. Trophies and $500 membership vouchers awarded for fastest times and most consistent laps.

For sure my 1.6 Miata on 195 S.Drives were not in contention for fastest laps. Here’s me lining up behind a McLaren 570. There were other fast cars: a Viper, Lotus Exige, M3, 911, etc., and all of them were on wider and stickier tires.

You’ll notice the RumbleStrip lap timer in the photo. Both of us absolutely love this thing. It’s the single best car thing I’ve ever purchased.

So I wasn’t going to be fastest, but I thought I had a shot at putting in the most consistent laps. Until a funny thing happened: I started driving better and better. I’ve been listening to the audio book Optimum Drive, and through some coincidence I had a moment of what the author calls driving greatness. Or what others have called being “in the zone”. In my terms, I started driving the Miata like a go-kart.

And that’s a good thing because I’m decent in a go-kart. Maybe it’s the lower speeds or simpler interface, but I can “zero steer” a kart and eke out more performance than most. In fact, after trouncing too many friends, Ian had a standing offer to pay for anyone’s track time if they beat me. He didn’t lose any money, but I also never translated that kart skill to car driving.

At least not until the Pineview Challenge Cup. Something clicked and I kept getting faster and faster. I enjoyed this so much that I stopped trying to put in consistent laps, and just explored the space, going faster, with less effort, lap after lap.

The less effort part was interesting. On corner entry I’d let off the throttle to shift the weight forward, turn the wheel slightly to tip the nose in, scrub off speed with the sides of my tires, and let the chassis come around on its own. Then I’d get on the gas and spin the rears to finish turning the back around. In all, I did very little steering with the wheel, and most of it with weight balance and throttle control. Some of you reading this might be good at that already, but I’d only done that in karts.

In three short sessions I knocked almost 3 seconds off my time, which is pretty incredible. To put this in perspective, the first time Ian and I went to Pineview, my best time was a 1:27 flat and Ian did a 26.5. I only did 5 laps total that day, but I thought I was doing OK. However, this time I put down an early 24.5, and in the last session I saw a 23.0 in disbelief. But my final lap was a 1:21.7! The kart nirvana I’d experienced finally made its way into my driving game. Man that was fun.

Now I’ve gone on talking about go-karts and Pineview at the same time, and I’ll never do that again. Anyone who says Pineview Run is a big go-kart track is just plain wrong. I’ve been on big go-kart tracks, like Dixon, Wenatchee, Stockton, etc, and Pineview simply isn’t one. There’s a lot of elevation and I think anything but a shifter kart would chuff annoyingly up the hills.  

Neither is Pineview a short race track. I raced Thompson last year, and did a HPDE at Waterford Hills this year, and while they have similar lap times to Pineview Run, they are meant for racing, with long straights and not many compromise corners. Comparatively, those tracks are tame. Boring, even.

Pineview Run run is a workout. It’s a rollercoaster. It’s a training and skills track. A test track. Pineview Run is also a great equalizer. The top cars on this day were a very modified BRZ and a M3, both driven extremely well. But there were a lot of fast cars, all of them so different, it really came down to the driver.

Well, ahem, unless you’re in a stock-ish Miata on 195 Yokohama S.Drives. At 300 treadwear and 10/32″ tread, they aren’t designed for the track. However, they are perfectly matched to my Miata’s 106 whp, and while I would have gone faster on stickier rubber, I wouldn’t have had as much fun. I ordered the S.Drives online at Walmart, and with free shipping and mounting, I was out the door for $200 for all four tires. Hard to beat that on a smiles-per-dollar ratio.

One final word about Pineview Run that Ian didn’t mention in his initial review, which is that it’s not just a car track. Pineview Run is also a shooting, hunting, ATV, snowmobile, horseback riding, and family-oriented outdoor country club. I’d never heard of a country club without a golf course or tennis court, but there you have it. And while I’m not into horses (yet), the rest of it was designed for people exactly like me. It’s an hour drive away on scenic back roads. Of course I joined.

We now return you to our previously scheduled programming (check back next week where we pick up the “It’s raining lies” series).

Product Review: APEX Pro

TL;DR: Buggy software and difficult to use but with a simple change could replace RumbleStrip as the best delta timer.

Beautifully Designed

If you saw the video in the post last week, there was a curious device with blue and red LEDs on the dash. That’s an APEX Pro, and it’s one of the most interesting driving devices in recent history. The hardware itself is gorgeous. It’s a block of metal the size of a pack of gum with one button, one USB port, and 12 LEDs. It feels great in the hand and looks better in the car. There is a separate base that attaches to the car with an adhesive and the APEX Pro magnetically locks in place very securely. The internal battery lasts a couple hours, but you can also plug it in if you’re running endurance races, for example. The physical design is really appealing and I wouldn’t change a thing.


Phone Required, Desktop Supported

The APEX Pro requires a phone. That’s how you tell it what track you’re on. It has a huge track library but you can also define your own track. The phone software is pretty slick. It lets you export data, see who’s using the device at the moment, and let’s the team examine your laps from the inconvenience of their phones. I say inconvenient because looking at squiggly lines on a phone is tedious. The better way to review APEX Pro data is with a desktop app where you have a large monitor and a mouse. Although APEX Pro doesn’t come with its own desktop software, it imports into the Track Attack desktop app really easily, and Track Attack is pretty good.

Data Logger

As a data logger, it works well. It has high resolution GPS and a bunch of accelerometers. Other similar products include the AiM Solo and several phone-based apps like Harry’s Lap Timer, CMS Pro, Track Addict, and Track Attack. At $450, the APEX Pro is $50 more than an AiM Solo. But once you figure in a secure mount for the Solo, it’s not much different. The biggest difference is the display, which I’ll get to later. As a data logger, there’s not much difference between the two devices. But why fork over $400+ when you get the same functionality out of a $10 smartphone app? Because smartphones have lower quality sensors. If you decide to use your phone, you’ll need a very secure mount and a high resolution GPS antenna. This will set you back around $150. That’s a lot cheaper than an APEX Pro or AiM Solo and the quality will be acceptable. I prefer dedicated devices to phone apps, but I’ve also had good experiences with phones.

Apex Score

The sine qua non of the APEX Pro is its Apex Score. The brain of the device learns both you and the track while you drive it. After a couple laps it can tell you where you’re driving under the limit. The idea is that it’s like live coaching. A quick check of the LEDs tell you your current Apex Score. What exactly is Apex Score? Some combination of speed, G-forces, and yaw I suspect. Under the hood, the APEX Pro is doing some machine learning magic. Unfortunately, that magic is full of bugs. You can observe these bugs really easily. Just load up a couple of laps and overlay them. Turn on all the sensors so you can see their raw outputs. If you’ve been driving consistently, you’ll see consistent sensor values. But the Apex Score will be all over the place. Whole sectors of the track will differ in Apex Score from one lap to the next. It makes no fucking sense.

For racers who are driving close to the limit, the Apex Score is not something you’re trying to optimize. If two drivers have the same lap time, the one with the lower Apex Score is the one doing less work. They’re driving more efficiently, which pays off the longer the race goes. So novices will be interested in maximizing their Apex Score while racers will be trying to minimize it. That’s sort of confusing.

LED Display

The LED display is really cool. You can adjust the colors and brightness. Apart from looking totally amazing, it’s completely useless. The idea is that you can check your Apex Score at any time. But the only time it’s really safe to look at it is when you’re on a straight. You simply cannot look at it mid-corner. I’m a pretty advanced driver, and I had a hard time watching the thing. A novice who is struggling with finding the limit is going to be a hazard on track if he’s also trying to monitor his progress by watching LEDs.

So what happens when you look at it on a straight? It shows 4 green and 4 red lights. Let’s talk about what the lights mean. If there are 8 red lights, it means the total grip available is 8. As your performance increases, green lights will overwrite the red lights and you might see 6 greens. There are still 2 more greens to go if you push it harder. So what does 4 green 4 red mean on a straight? That I’m not pushing hard enough? Uh, the pedal is all the way on the floor. I literally can’t go any faster yet the Apex Pro thinks I can. But if I crest a hill and the car gets light (e.g. T7 at NYST last week) then all the lights go green because somehow the change in vertical acceleration indicates I’m at the limit. Bonkers.

Let’s sum up.

  • When you can look at the Apex Score (straights), it gives the wrong answer.
  • When you want to look at the Apex Score (corners) it’s not safe to do so, and if you did, the Apex Score might be wrong anyway due to software bugs.

Ultimate Lap Timer?

Data loggers are essential for reviewing your performance after the session. While you’re in the car, the most important tool is the delta timer, which lets you perform and analyze driving experiments every corner. It works like this: “I wonder if staying in 4th will be better than downshifting to 3rd?” Check timer before corner. Drive the corner. Check timer after the corner. “Hey, I dropped 2 tenths, that was better”. Note that I didn’t try to check the timer mid-corner. That’s dangerous. My favorite delta timer is the RumbleStrip DLT1-GPS. Why? Because of the big red LEDs. You see them instantaneously even on a sunny day. It’s so much easier to see than an LCD from a phone, tablet, or AiM Solo. You might think $300 is too much for something that doesn’t even log data. But it’s the best $300 I’ve spent on racing.

My RumbleStrip is such an important part of my driving that I literally feel naked without it. If you do a lot of sim racing, you probably feel the same way about your on-screen timer. iRacing has a particularly beautiful delta bar that shows how far off you are from your best lap and if you’re gaining or losing. It’s just a red/green bar on the screen, but it’s incredibly effective. The APEX Pro could be configured similarly with its LED strip. I understand that the underlying motivation behind the APEX Pro is the Apex Score. While that may be a useful tool for coaching novices and intermediates, it’s not what advanced drivers want. Give us the option of a race mode where the LEDs display a time delta. Give us the sexiest damn lap timer on the planet. And unlike my RumbleStrip, I’d get to review the data after the session. Yeah, that would make the APEX Pro worth every penny.

Track Review: New York Safety Track

The original plan for the weekend was to race my brother Mario’s Miata at Calabogie in the AER series but the car wasn’t ready so we made alternate plans and took his street Miata on an HPDE safari. While racing is always a great rush, the first few laps at a new track are such a special experience that I didn’t mind the change in plans. The first track we hit was New York Safety Track (NYST). NYST is a relatively unknown track that caters more to motorcycles than cars. It’s a family run business that’s been open for only a few years. It looks great on paper/video so I was eager to check it out.

My normal preparation for driving a new track is to run a bunch of laps on a simulator. Laser scanned tracks are accurate to the centimeter, so you have a pretty good idea of how to drive the track when you get there. But real life is always a little different than virtual. You perceive elevation changes much more in person, for example. But there are other, more subtle differences that add up to a unique ‘feel’ in the real world that can’t be duplicated in simulation.

Unfortunately, NYST doesn’t exist in the simulator world, so I couldn’t prepare that way. So I did my homework by watching youtube videos, marking up track maps, and imagining myself driving the track. There’s a saying that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. It’s sort of like that with track preparation. What may seem like an ideal line on paper can be suboptimal in real life. So whenever I go to a new track, my main goal is to explore the space a little. As a result, I overdrive the car a little rather than trying to optimize lap times.

Here’s what I wrote ahead of time about NYST. In red are comments I made afterward. Video follows text.

T1-T2: The T1-T2 combo is taken as an increasing radius turn with a lot of slowing early and then full throttle as soon as possible. The main straight climbs gradually into the braking zone. The apex is right at the peak of the hill, at which point the track turns down and opens. It’s important to get on the throttle early and use the whole track while unwinding the steering.

The braking point is ludicrously deep. You can brake at the 100 marker and then flick it over the hill.

T3: Double-apex carousel that is half descending and half ascending. Set up wide at the entrance, brake through the first apex, maintain throttle through middle, and gas it out to the exit, but be careful because there is no exit apron (here or anywhere).

As expected, the exit pinches in, so you want to let the car drift left a bit before hitting the second apex.

T4-T5: Flat out. T4 and T5 are slight bends right and then left, but the racing line is straight through. The apex of T5 is slightly blind.

T6: Another descending-ascending double-apex carousel. Unlike T3, the apexes are really far apart and the track-out is held tight to set up for T7.

I liked this as a double apex rather than holding a tight line. I feel like the exit speed is better. Too bad I didn’t have my RumbleStrip with me to test.

T7: Flat out. T7 is a blind right-handed bend that should require no turning if the exit of T6 is held correctly.

This turn feels a little like Buttonwillow Phil Hill. Turn it in before the hill and just go straight over.

T8: This is the highest speed corner of the track. Set up track right on entrance and stay mid-track at the exit to get ready for the esses ahead.

T9-T11: Rolling esses. As soon as you pass the apex of T8, get the car straight and unloaded. The braking zone to T9 is short. Brake just a touch into the hill. T9 is a blind right-hander that is quickly followed by T10 (left) and T11 (right). Like any esses, sacrifice the exits, except for the last one. Track all the way out of T11.

There are two ways to handle this complex. You can shift down to 3rd before or after 9. My guess is staying in the high gear is better because downshifts often end up with too much braking. But downshifting before gives you a great run up to 11.

T12: Descending decreasing radius 120. The track will start to descend before the braking zone to T12. It’s tighter and longer than it looks and continues downward. Get rid of speed early since it’s dangerous to do so mid-corner. Stay tight the whole way around.

The corner is so damn long that it’s possible to brake through some of the corner. It is off-camber, so you don’t want to run too wide. This was a surprisingly fun corner.

T13-T14: Long left. One might think of this pair as a single decreasing radius turn, but the exit of 14 is kinked, so there’s no point in holding out for a fast exit. Just go around on the inside and manage traction. It’s possible a double apex line is best.

The geometry of the turn invites oversteer, which you can see in the video.

T15: Sharp 90. This sets up the climbing section, so the exit is important, especially in a momentum car. The entrance is kinked. Should one try to get all the way track right, which requires additional braking, or does one enter mid-track at higher speed? In either case, running out of room at the exit will hurt because there is no apron.

It’s a slow rotation corner, so optimize the angle by getting as far right as possible before the turn.

T16: Flat out. T15 is so slow that the slight right bend at T16 is not much of a turn. Run over the berm here and the next turn.

T17: Uphill. This is the steepest part of the track. Maintain as much speed as possible with an early apex and fight to keep all the momentum and traction as you continue up. Use as much track as you can.

T18: Cresting left. The braking zone is before the crest of the hill, as is the apex. It doesn’t start to flatten out until the exit. Exit speed is crucial since the main straight follows. So the apex must be late enough that you don’t have to cut throttle if you start heading into the grass on the exit. The apex berm and blind nature of the corner conspire to make you want to take an early apex, but wait on it.

Indeed, the corner invites an early apex, but be disciplined and wait for it.

NYST is a fantastic track. I’m ranking it as my 3rd favorite track behind Thunderhill West and Sonoma. Despite the ‘Safety’ in it’s name, I don’t think NYST is especially safe. Some of the trees are a little to close to the track. Also, the motorcycles drive way too fast in the paddock.

OMG, I tilt my head so much when driving. I’ve got some homework to do there.

You suck at dieting? part 1 of 2

Dropping pounds is a lot like dropping seconds: conceptually simple, but difficult in practice. I consider myself an accomplished dieter. My weight cycles between 165-173 pounds (75-78.5 kilos). When it gets to 173, I purposefully lose weight until I’m 165. Then I forget about dieting until I hit 173 again. The cycle takes about 6 months. Why don’t I just maintain 169 or something? Because it bores me. I actually enjoy losing weight. It’s almost as fun as gaining weight. But losing weight is hard. Your body doesn’t want you to do it. Well, I like challenges.

As a college student, my weight was a steady 165. I was highly active in a variety of athletics and never considered what I ate. As a graduate student in my mid-20s, I maintained a slightly higher weight: 175. I was still very active (tennis mostly) and ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I recall consuming a lot of pizza and soda. When my wife became pregnant, I gained a lot of sympathy weight. At my peak weight, I was about 190 pounds (86 kilos). Throughout my 30s and early 40s I maintained a weight of about 180-185 pounds (82-84 kilos). And then one day in my mid-40s I decided it was time to lose weight. I got down to 176 pretty easily, but that was a plateau I couldn’t break through until I changed my strategy. Eventually, I got down to 161. At that point a friend asked if I had health problems. I figured it was time to gain weight, and from then on my weight has been between 173 and 165.

This post and the next are about my approach to dieting. Shedding 10 pounds will make your car faster and use less consumables. So this is totally legit race talk even if it sounds like health talk.

The job of the racing driver is to find every tenth of a second to lap as quickly as possible. But the driver also has to do it safely. So it is with the dieter. The dieter must drop pounds as quickly as possible while staying within a safety margin. You should not attempt to drive on a race track unless you are physically fit enough to do so. And you should not attempt to diet unless you are in good health. I can’t stress this enough. You have absolutely no business losing weight if you’re ill. There’s an old saying “feed a fever, starve a cold”. FUCK THAT. Feed a fever and feed a cold. And feed every other malady while you’re at it. The best time to lose weight is when you’re 100% healthy. And then, at a pace that isn’t dangerous.

There are tons of diets that people have invented over the years. Popular diets today include Atkins, cleansing, ketogenic, paleo, raw foods, Slim Fast, South Beach, vegan, vegetarian, Weight Watchers, etc. I don’t do any of that complicated bullshit. I eat exactly the same kinds of foods whether I’m losing or gaining weight. It’s not about the type of food, but rather the amount. When you break it down, dieting is really simple. There is only 1 thing to consider.

  1. Calories out > calories in

The problem with some of the fad diets is that they are often a highly polarized balance of nutrients that help you lose weight by making you less healthy. You can lose weight with a high protein diet or a low protein diet, or a high carb diet or low car diet. None of these is a great idea if you ask me. Another class of diets is those where the inconvenience helps you lose weight. For example, on a rainbow diet, you’re only allowed to eat food that matches the color of the day (such as red on Mondays, orange on Tuesdays). You’re better off learning how to control your hunger rather than having some obscure rules control it for you.

How do you know if your lap times are improving? You time yourself. But that’s an overly simplistic answer. It’s more important to understand why your lap times get faster. What specific things does one do to drive closer to the limit? For that, you need to dissect your driving and understand the process of driving rather than just the result. Telemetry is essential. I use a RumbleStrip and Aim SoloDL. I also just got an APEX Pro, which I’ll review soon. Without the right tools it’s really hard to get faster.

Dieting without the right tools is similarly difficult. Fortunately, dieting tools don’t cost very much. All you need is a scale and a smartphone. The scale is like a stopwatch. It tells you if the results of your efforts are bearing fruit. Trying to lose weight without a scale is like trying to drive faster without a stopwatch. Simple bathroom scales are as little as $10. I have a $72 My Weigh SCMXL700T. This is totally unnecessary for weight loss, but since it has a 700 lb limit, I also use it to get corner weights on my racecars. If you do this, you’ll just need to make a set of 4 shims the same height as the scale (you’d think you only need 3 but it’s easier to swap things around with 4).

The dieting equivalent of an Aim SoloDL is a calorie counter. I use Lose It!, but there are many, many equivalent apps to choose from. Here’s a screenshot showing my weight chart over the last 5 years (everyone asks about the spike in the middle, which was a data entry error).

Don’t want to count calories? Well, that’s like wanting to drive faster but refusing to use telemetry. Good luck with that. Get over whatever the fuck your problem is and start counting calories. Understand the process not just the result. The reason you’re overweight may be simply because of your stubborn refusal to count calories. Remember, the only rule of dieting is calories out > calories in. Fad diets like to make dieting about food composition. Only drink liquids. Only eat raw foods. Avoid high fructose corn syrup. It’s not about the food composition, it’s about the calories. Eat normal healthy food, but less of it.


To illustrate the misunderstandings of food composition, let me rant a bit about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This sweetener is used in canned sodas and other drinks. Lots of people look at the modern problems with obesity and diabetes and point to HFCS as the culprit. What exactly is HFCS? Table sugar is a mixture of 50% glucose and 50% fructose tied together in a single molecule called sucrose. HFCS is a blend of fructose and glucose, having more fructose than glucose, typically something like 55%/45%. The health-conscious world has 2 reasons to hate HFCS.

  1. Your body can detect changes in glucose but not fructose. HFCS therefore has more undetectable sugar, which leads to diabetes.
  2. HFCS is inherently bad for you because it is a processed food and unnatural. Better alternatives include honey and agave syrup.

The 10% difference in the balance of glucose and fructose is not going to give you diabetes. You could consume the exact same amount of fructose by simply not finishing the last bit of your drink. It’s the amount of sugar that’s the problem, not the balance of glucose and fructose. If it was the balance that’s the problem, you should also stay away from honey. It has the same ratios of glucose and fructose as HFCS. And what of agave syrup? That shit is 90% fructose. If you’re worried about fructose intake, it’s about the worst possible sweetener you could consume.

What about artificial sweeteners? Why the fuck would anyone want to fool their bodies into thinking they are consuming calories when they are not? That kind of shit never works out in the end. Stop making your diet about composition and start making it about amount. Want some sweetener in your coffee? Use actual sugar, be it sucrose, agave, or honey. And then record it in your calorie counter app.

24 hour race prep: part 1

In just 4 weeks I’ll be in my first full 24 hour race. As car owner and team captain, there’s quite a bit to do to get ready. The next posts will describe all the prep going into the race. The car is my cute little B-Spec Yaris. There’s a lot of new stuff planned for this race including:

  • Radios – We often race without radios, but this time everyone will have them wired into their helmets.
  • Telemetry – I usually run a RumbleStrip and AiM Solo DL. This time I’ll be broadcasting telemetry from the car to the pit. The system also allows sending text messages from pit to driver, which may be useful if the radio system goes down.
  • Lights – The Yaris has stock headlights, but it’s not enough for a twisty race track with no lighting. In addition to extra headlights, it needs lighted numbers.
  • Camera – I hate changing cameras or cards and doing that at night will be doubly painful. So I’m building a set-n-forget camera that will run for 24 hours using components that cost under $100.
  • Transportation & Accommodation – The team needs an HQ to monitor the race and sleep when possible.

So last item first. The team will be staying in a rental RV. I went to and found that there are tons of RVs for rent near Buttonwillow. The owner lives maybe 15 miles away from the track. He’s going to drop it off on Friday and pick it up on Sunday. The all-inclusive price is just under $400, which is a bargain for the whole team. The RV will serve as team HQ during the race. It sleeps about 6 people, so there should be plenty of space to hang out, eat, or nap as necessary.

If that wasn’t enough, an RV that I had admired a few times at previous Lemons races became available when the owner decided to upgrade. The “Van Cave” as it was called, is kind of old (1991) and small (1-3 people) but well sorted. And it has both racing stripes and flames! How could I say no? So now I’ve got my own RV. It’s got a big 7.5L engine, so it doubles as the tow vehicle. I can’t wait to have all sorts of adventures in this thing, racing and otherwise.