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Babkin Racing

Babkin Racing
Date: 2015-05-10 11:33
Subject: HP+
Security: Public
Tags:brakes, g8
Surprisingly, I've got disappointed with the Hawk HP+ brake pads on my Pontiac G8. Not only they wore out 4 times faster than the originals and took the brake rotors with them but also weren't much better at braking than the originals. The originals are made by Ferodo, not sure which exact compound.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2013-05-22 13:52
Subject: Atlanta tracks
Security: Public
Tags:track
I've put the check marks on the Georgia racetracks (not racing but just driving in circles):

- Road Atlanta
- Roebling Road
- Atlanta Motorsports Park

All three are quite exciting. Road Atlanta reminded me a lot of Watkins Glen. Roebling Road consists of the long and often quite fast sweepers flowing into each other. AMP is a new design by Tilke, and that guy certainly knows what he is doing. It's a very busy track, you're always doing something, with almost no sections where you simgly go straight and stay on the gas. I usually dislike the elevation changes (like the stinkin' Lime Rock) but Tilke managed to put them together into a very driveable and fun track. My conly complaint is that both long turns are left-handers and they just kill the right front tire.

There are more around, to put more checkmarks on:

- Birmingham Barber
- Talladega Raceway Park (it's a bike circuit but apparently they have the cars on it once in a while too, kind of like Pocono East)
- Carolina Motorsports Park
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2010-10-03 08:01
Subject: could be worse
Security: Public
Tags:brakes, cooling, ford, issues, truck
I've had a pretty eventful yesterday, the good luck fighting with the bad luck. Twice.

First, the the qualifying session, the brakes suddenly stop working. They were just fine before, and here I press the pedal, it goes straight to the floor, and nothing happens. It's the last turn onto the banking at Pocono North, so I'm going straight at the wall at 70 mph. So I figure that it's better to spin than hit the wall head on, spin the car on purpose. Do two full revolutions, stop just before the wall. And find that the brakes are holding now.

I've found that I've qualified first in class, but with apparently a brake master cylinder issue I was too afraid to race.

Then I drive on I-80, bringing the car to a friend to look at the brakes. Hear some strange hissing. I start trying to figure out what it is, and then a car pulls up along, beeps the horn, and people start shouting that my truck is smoking. I look in the mirror: sure enough, white smoke coming out of the truck. So I've pulled out to the shoulder, started looking. It's not a smoke, it's a spray, oily and smells strange. I can't quite figure out, where was it coming from. Oil and ATF seem to be in place, and it seems to be coming from around the A/C hoses. So I've figured that it might be no big deal, drive some more. But the temperature climbs high, so I pull over again. Called the friend, he has told me that it's probably coolant coming out of the burst hose to the heater. And sure enough, I look in the radiator, and it's almost empty, and I've found the hose that had burst on the bottom. And I guess the weird smell was coming from the sealing additive, as required by the manufacturer. But I'm pulling the race car, so I have a shitload of stuff with me, that I bring to the races! So I've replaced the hose, and the only problem was to replace the coolant. I've had some water in the sprayer, couple of liters of drinking water, and a half of gallon of antifreeze. In the worst case I could have draine dthe coolant from the race car too, but that was enough to get to a gas station at the next exit. An interesting thing is that the faint gurgling sound in the heater that was there since I've bought the truck has disappeared. I guess the hole in the hose was growing very slowly over at least 5 years until it burst.

So I couple of potentially very major screw-ups have ended with only minor losses.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2010-05-20 11:55
Subject: shocks bump
Security: Public
Tags:ford, shocks, suspension
I've got the new rear suspension installed on the Mustang. The whole set from Maximum Motorsports: torque arm, panhard bar, control arms and rear sway bar. I've also got the double-adjustable shocks for the first time.

Everyone was saying that the car will start understeering, so I've got the biggest rear sway bar and set it to the stiffest position. Well, it understeers, but not that bad, just a little.

Then I went to an autocross, and been adjusting the bump on the shocks according to the Koni instructions: from softest goiing on stiffer. Every run I went quicker, even though the car felt more and more understeery. On the last run I've backed out the bump by 2 clicks (per Koni recommendation) but added half-turn of rebound, and went quicker again (and the car felt even more understeery). Weird. Maybe the more controlled ride was giving me more confidence.

On the data log it shows that as the car felt more understeery, with each run I've been entering the turns slower and exiting them faster. So it's not just my feel, the car really was understeery, and I was changing my driving accordingly. I'll need to think about how to make it better both in and out of the turn.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-11-16 23:10
Subject: EMRA time trials at Summit Point
Security: Public
Tags:camaro, emra
The Mustang is still sitting there, waiting for work to be done, at least brakes and oil change. So I've decided to take Camaro to a TT instead, the last event of the year.

It's been fun. I almost forgot how much fun it is. And this car does handle nicely. Mustang has always been tricky to drive. Camaro has a good balance, easy and predictive. My best lap was still a second slower than best ever in the Mustang though. I think the two year old tires are to blame, and maybe I've been chickening out at the 3rd turn too much. I guess the weather helped, being around 70F, so the tires got some temperature in them. But even when hot even the gravel would not really stick to them.

My best result with the Mustang on this track was with Hoosier A3S04 autocross tires, with the weather around 45F but tires still getting good temperature. I guess the cold weather helped with the power too. Last year with BFG tires I was getting worse time, 3 seconds a lap worse than in 2007, even with the added horsepower. I still haven't compared the data recordings.

The brakes held up surprisingly well. I still have the set of Carbotech pads installed. They've been getting a bit worn, especially rears, so I've brought a spare set of pads and rotors with me just in case. Didn't need them, the pads didn't wear out, though they're getting real thin in places. The temperatures didn't get too high either. I guess, the short sessions helped with that.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-07-20 17:12
Subject: easter egg
Security: Public
Tags:electrical, g8
Learned of a feature in the G8: if you hold the "Enter" button and turn the key to the "on" position, the instrument panel shows the engineering information menu.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-07-16 22:29
Subject: Magnaflow muffler
Security: Public
Tags:camaro, exhaust, weight
Found a hole rusted in the Camaro exhaust pipe, and the state inspection is due in September. I just could not find that much information on the net about the exausts. Nobody seems to publish the weight. Found a place with the sounds, but with different recordings it's hard to tell, how loud each one is. Eventually I've got Magnaflow. It's on the cheaper side, stainless, and people say that it's one of the quieter ones.

Already received. The weighing showed 41-41.5 lbs which I think should be decent. Internally the muffler looks like one pipe splitting into two, with many holes drilled in them, opening into the muffler case. I figure, a straight pipe just can't be too restrictive :-)
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-06-24 12:20
Subject: Pontiac G8 spare tire
Security: Public
Tags:g8, rims, suspension, tires
My new Pontiac G8 came without the spare tire but with space enough for even the full-size one. It's possible to buy the compact spare but it doesn't clear the GXP brake calipers. So I've turned to buying a full-size one.

The idea was to buy the cheapest, smallest and narrowest wheel that still fits. Well, not much luck. All the wheels on Tirerack are 19x8.5" (factory width is 8"). Though the 18" should be plenty enough to clear the calipers. On the phone they've suggested the wheel they sell for winter tires, 18x8". But in the end there was a sale on the 19" tires, and the 19" package ended up cheaper, and would leave more space for tools in the center. I think it was the last wheel they had of this model, so it was cheap. Decently light too, at 24 lbs. Ended up $130 wheel + $100 tire + $30 shipping. Including the special lugnuts.

I've received the wheel and already tried it on. Taking of the factory wheel was not quite obvious. The lugnuts look huge. They looked more like covers, and the manual mentioned covers but didn't tell how to take them off. The last Pontiac lugnuts I've seen were from Firebird, and these had the covers that are screwed on. So I've found a 26mm socket that barely fit (1" didn't) and tried to unscrew it. Made a cracking sound and the cap fell of. I've got it cracked a little but then I've realized that there is a grabbing edge on the covers for a reason: they need to be simply pulled off. After a few unsuccessfull attempts with pliers, the flat screwdriver worked. Looks like the hook at the back end of the factory wrench would be a good tool.

The difference between the factory lugnuts and those that came with the wheel seems to be that the aftermarket ones have a smaller outer size, 3/4" (19mm) instead of 7/8", because the nut holes in the wheel are too tight. The flange angle seems to be the same.

The wheel fit fine. The smaller offset worked OK for the wider wheel, with the about same clearance between the tire and the strut. It's amazing, how much wider the tire becomes when mounted on a rim that is 0.5" wider. It did fit fine into the spare well too, with the cover sitting just a tiny bit high on top of the wheel. The fastener bolt from the compressor mount fits fine for the wheel too.

The hydraulic jack didn't fit inside the wheel. So now I'll be buying the factory tool set after all. Nowadays there are lots of cars with 17" and bigger wheels that come without a spare tire. A jack that fits inside a 17" wheel should be a real cool product.

I took me a while to find a jacking point. The owner manual says nothing, and there is no repair manual. In the end I can say that what looks like a front jacking point, isn't: it deforms. Jacking under a frame rail would probably be a better idea.

Along the way I've looked at the front suspension. It's weird. The lower A-arm is not an A-arm, instead it's two separate cast links, kind of like on Volvo 740. The front one is mounted to the chassis at about 45 degree angle. Only unlike Volvo there are no bushings involved on the knuckle side. Instead each link has its own ball-joint. This should have some interesting effect on the suspension but I don't know what. The shocks have "Monroe" marked on them. The front sway bar looks weird. Its chassis mounts are on top of frame rails, so it looks like changing the sway bar would require lifting the engine. The end links are fastened with little ball-joints and are VERY long, going directly to the struts, just below the spring cup. Makes me wonder if they will bend or break under load. Umm, should have taken a picture.
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-06-20 11:06
Subject: Romulus National Tour
Security: Public
Tags:autox, camaro
I've managed to get the 2nd place in F-Stock.

I've got lucky :-) Actually, Mike Potocky and I were pretty close, so maybe I could have beat him even without weather intervening. But in reality there was a rain on Saturday, with first drivers taking the first run with a light drizzle, and then it opened up. My run was not that great, very close to others, give or take a little, but I didn't hit a cone and all the others did. Other people were telling me that the track is oversteery, so I've set up to compensate and had lots of understeer on that run. The balance actually was more oversteery than at Englishtown road course, very much like the Expo center lot, and the setup I worked out for Expo center I think was best for Romulus.

The second drivers had a wet track but Sam Strano still came only 0.5 seconds behind me (and some 4 seconds ahead of my second run). Then he tried the rain tires, and they worked worse. So for the 3rd run he switched back to slicks. Before the 3rd run the rain stopped and by the second drivers the track started drying up a little, so Sam had beat me by 0.3 seconds.

So the second day with 2 seconds ahead of 3rd place I did my best not to lose it. The course was very fast, much faster than it looked during the walk, and much faster than I'm used to. So I wasn't driving well, the data log shows that I wasn't using much grip. I've hit cones on the first two runs, so the 3rd run I took real easy and tried to stay real far away from the cones. Sam ran away with over 3 seconds from my best coned time, and 4.5 seconds from my best clean time.

These Shelby GTs should be in B-Stock! ;-)
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Babkin Racing
Date: 2009-06-05 17:15
Subject: Hoosier
Security: Public
Tags:camaro, tires
Hm, I haven't been writing for a while. Well, last season has ended OK, without any excitement, good or bad. I've been trying to sell the Mustang but nobody buys it. So I guess, I'll eventually race it again. Not this year though, got already too many ways to waste money.

So I've got the new autocross tires before the National Tour event and already tried them out. I've been pissed off at Hoosiers for being too abrupt at the limit, so I was getting another set of V710s. But when I've got them, the manufacture date was 2007 on one pair, 2005 on the other. Not good. The Tirerack was very nice to take them back.

So then the choice was between the new square-shoulder V710 or Hoosier A6. Since almost half the season is alreayd gone, I've decided to give Hoosiers another try.

An I must say, I'm impressed. There is no abruptness at the limit, there is a very good feel of the slip angle increasing before the wheel starts to slide (and I think I haven't got it sliding yet). I guess, the previous issues I've had with Hoosiers were because the tires were old, and maybe also because the shocks setup was screwed up big time.

An interesting thing is that A6 needs a different pressure difference than V710. I've been playing with the rebound adjustment on the shocks and got it sorted out that on V710 the same pressure front and rear worked best. But on A6 the car felt understeery. I've been so impressed by the good grip of the new tires, that I didn't notice the understeer until the end of the day. So the next event I've played with the tire pressures. 4 psi difference seems to be the charm. We'll see. I've got another event before the National Tour.
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May 2015