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Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Extensive Review/Report 1-16-2011

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  • Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Extensive Review/Report 1-16-2011

    Copied over from evoempire.org and socalevo.net

    Enjoy...

    Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Extensive Review/Report
    I usually don't make these types of threads. But since I was fortunate to run at this track for the first time, I thought it would be nice/fun/informative/what have you to tell you about my experience. For those that don't care or don't have time to spend the 10min in reading a bunch of text, I guess you can just jump to the lap times portion, videos, and pictures. For the rest of you, here you go. Excuse my grammar and spelling errors.

    On the Road
    So, before I start talking about lap times and the track, I just want to say a few things before the track. From North Hollywood to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, CA is roughly 200miles. It takes me about 3-3.5 hours to get there if no or little traffic. I made a stop at Indio, CA to kill some time and take a break. On the way to Indio, CA I spotted signs on the I-10E freeway of a Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio and figured it was worth checking out. I ended up hanging out and gambling for 3 hours. Ended up losing $200 at a $10min Blackjack table...FML. PWNED...what a way to start the weekend.

    After that disaster, I was contemplating on whether to stay at a cheap Motel 6 (Indio, CA) , stay at the Fantasy Springs Casino Hotel (Indio, CA), or sleep in the car at the track. Well, after talking about it with various people, they recommend I stay at a motel because its 45-50F at night in the desert. I would have frozen my ass off trying to get sleep. Motel 6 is out of the picture because one of the track guys from TrackHQ (Richard Evo) stayed there Friday and said it was a complete dump and nasty. So, next was the casino hotel. Well, that was fully booked and really expensive so that idea is out of the window. At this time, I was in contact with a SCE member, Anthony who was also going to the track for both days driving a 400whp/380wtq Evo X on RA1s with 100+ track days experience.

    I ended up splitting a room with him at the Best Western. It was clean and didn't smell, but it was nothing to rave about. It was also priced between the Motel 6 and the casino hotel. I knocked out at around 1am and left at 715am. Driver's meeting was at 830am and took 45min to get there. Today will be a great day.

    At the Track
    First thing I noticed was how it was really in the middle of nowhere. No town within miles and miles. To give you a sense of the geographic location, it is East of Joshua Tree National Park. There was a $10 gate fee to get in just like Buttonwillow. Right next to the gate entrance was a fairly short airplane runway for small planes. Someone actually landed there to do a track day. Talk about being a baller. There weren't many facilities there at Chuckwalla due to it being a brand new facility that opened last year to the public. This track day was organized by StarCarSports, an awesome group to run with. They give you 6-7 sessions and only 2 run groups (Open and Point By) so plenty of track time theoretically. I don't think anyone did the last session at all. This meant it was more than enough for everyone. There were lots of very expensive and exotic cars that wanted to play. A Porsche Carerra GT, Ferrari 458 Italia, Porsche GT3 RS, bunch of corvettes, Lotus 211, some S2Ks, some Miatas, Cadillac CTS-V, few bimmers, and only one Evo X and Evo IX were in attendance.

    Here are some pictures of the exotics








    Open Group started on the hour and Point-By started at the half hour of every hour. We would spend 25min on track, 5 min to pit, then 2nd group would be sent out with 25min on track, and 5min to pit...rinse repeat for 6-7 sessions with lunch at 12-1pm.

    Weather
    The weather was perfect. In the morning it was around 60-65F. Later in the day it warmed to 73F. Sun was shining brightly with clear blue skies.

    Fuel
    It is more expensive that the other track I have been to, and the pumps were a bit of a hassle to use. We would have to find the staff member who worked the gas pumps to turn it on if he was not already at the pumps, pump the gas, then we would go back to the front gate to pay the gas, then drive all the way back to the paddock. Luckily there were so little people that lines were never a problem. They offered 91, 95 blend, and 100oct gasoline at $4.50, $6.50, and $8.50 respectively. With that in mind, i pumped 2 gal of 100oct to top up my tank to prevent knock. I ended up still getting 3-4 counts of knock during wot here and there, but not consistently. The next 2 times I refueled was with the 95oct blend. I kept a careful eye on my knock, oil temps, oil pressures, EGT, water temps, and boost. Nothing looked or felt amiss except for that flashing CEL that indicates 3-4 counts of knock. It later went away later in the day, so i just dismissed it, but cut the sessions slightly shorter just in case.

    Track Map

    Here is a track map for reference for those of you that have never seen the track layout before. We ran in the Counter Clock-Wise (CCW) direction. The track was relatively safe because it has tons of runoff room with the dirt and terrain easy on tires/suspension. Only thing you can possibly hit is the front straight wall and maybe the corner station towers...lol.

    Car
    06 Mitsu Evo IX
    385whp/339wtq
    Muellerized JIC FLT-TAR
    Dunlop StarSpecs 265/40/17
    Hawk DTC-70 Pads
    Race weight: 3350lbs w/ driver

    Lap Times
    The way I figured out my lap times since there were no official timing and/or transponders available was through the in car video. I used the Start/Finish checkered line as reference.

    Session 1:
    This is my very first time at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. I didn't bother calculating it because I was basically stuck behind everyone in "Point By" and no one was pointing anyone by. FML. Even though I slowed down to 3/10ths pace to give the group of 6 cars in front of me at least 5-6 turns of space, I would end up catching all of them again in less than half a lap. So i just used it to focus on what turn came after what since there were a total of 17 turns and were a little hard to keep track in the first session.

    Session 2:
    Lap 1 - 2:16.33
    Lap 2 - 2:20.35
    Lap 3 - 2:12.00
    Lap 4 - 2:09.33
    Lap 5 - 2:10.20
    Lap 6 - 2:38.xx
    Lap 7 - 2:10.83
    Lap 8 - 2:10.66
    Lap 9 - 2:07.83 (Fastest Time of Session)

    By this time, I am really getting a good feel of the track in terms of shifting points, braking points, turn in points, apexing, cornering, and exiting speeds. However, some of the turns are hard to get right. T2, T1, T13, T12, T11, T9, T8 were the ones I had trouble carrying more speed. At the end of the session, my tires started to get greasy, feel loose, and losing a bit of grip as I was understeering some of the turns. Also I was starting to get that mushy pedal feeling, where I would have to press the brake pedal further to get the car to slow down. I decided to skip the next session to let the brakes and fluids cool off. Since every 30min, we are scheduled to get back out there. I felt it was too soon to have another decent go at it again. The race pads I am on are the Hawk DTC-70 on its 3rd track day. Also had 2day old Performance Friction 2 piece rotors, 1 day old motul, Girodisc Ti shims, S.S. brake lines, AMS brake ducting.

    Session 4:

    YouTube - Evo 9 at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway CCW - Session 4 - 1-16-2011
    Please excuse the crappy audio. Lots of wind noise.

    Lap 1 - 2:06.97
    Lap 2 - 2:10.86
    Lap 3 - 2:05.53 (Fastest Time of Session)
    Lap 4 - 2:09.10
    Lap 5 - 2:05.70

    I begin to start pushing it from the beginning. At the end of the first lap on the front straight I caught a group of 4 cars. I tried my best to stick close and get the point by's, which I did. I then proceeded to pass about 4-5 cars before half the lap was over. So far the 3rd lap was my fastest time of the day. My goal was a very conservative 2:10 based on the other youtube videos I have seen of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in CW direction. Again, the tires started to lose grip and the mushy pedal came, so i decided to pit. At the end of the 6th lap, I understeered sooo horribly and went off at T1 on the inside and quickly scrubbed speed and squeezed into pit lane via the dirt. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of tape and didn't capture it.

    Session 5:

    YouTube - Evo 9 at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway CCW - Session 5 - 1-16-2011
    Please excuse the crappy audio. Lots of wind noise.

    Lap 1 - 2:06.5
    Lap 2 - 2:05.7
    Lap 3 - 2:05.46
    Lap 4 - 2:07.93
    Lap 5 - 2:05.10 (Fastest Time of Day)

    After assessing my previous session and what lines needs to improve on, I begin to give it another shot. I would say the last 4 laps were pretty consistent with the 4th lap running into traffic. Although my lines are still not exactly pretty or perfect, I was able to build some confidence in some of the turns with higher entry, cornering, and exiting speeds. This would be the final session for me as my brakes were totally shot in terms of pedal stiffness. Also I ran until the gas light came on.
    Zhong (Evo IX) | Angry Panda Racing

    1:53.396 @ BRP CW13 - 11/14/13
    1:47.2xx @ Laguna Seca - 11/28/10
    2:03.026 @ Thill CCW Bypass - 12/20/14
    2:05.100 @ CVR CCW - 1/16/11
    1:58.151 @ CVR CW - 5/5/13
    1:25.56x @ WSIR - 10/13/13
    1:23.128 @ SOW CW - 7/27/14
    1:22.2xx @ SOW CCW - 7/26/14
    1:46.0xx @ ACS Roval - 11/23/14
    1:11.299 @ ACS Infield - 5/18/14

    Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at WSIR
    2nd Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at BRP 13CW

  • #2
    Track Photos:
    Check out some of this photos of me at T9/T10/T13 (Bowl).









    If you look carefully, I think I am actually 2 wheelin the evo. HAHAHA...wtf. I don't think I have ever done that in the evo. Well...maybe bus stop at Buttonwillow, but that doesn't count. And this was on a street tire. I can't imagine what would happen if I were to drive on R Comps. Maybe i don't have enough shock travel, or im just rolling over too much for my spring rates. No wonder sometimes I am cooking the corner and not having any grip. I can clearly see why now. 2 tires is worse than 4 tires on ground for traction.

    Summary (sort of...random thoughts):
    I had a blast at this track even though it was a far drive. The track is very smooth and not bumpy like Laguna Seca. There were no noticeable dips or crazy elevation changes besides T12 and T9. The track flows very fluidly too. You really have to nail all your turn in points, apexes, and track out points to really go fast. Gearing wise, I wished I had a taller 4th gear from the Evo 8, due to me hitting the rev limiter (8000 rpms) or close to it on the 2 long straights from T1 to T17 and from T12 to T10. It is easier said than done however. Some have said this track is easy on the brakes, but most likely its coming from people with low weight cars. For the Evos, it was really hard on brakes and tires. Car was howling and squealing in every single corner when pushed. There are 3 turns with clear double apexes. All of them must be taken at different speeds as some are shorter than the other. This made it tricky as I had to keep reminding myself the first double apex turn is shorter than the 2nd double apex turn, but the 3rd double apex turn is shorter than the 1st. Confusing right? T9 was a throwaway corner, so you can setup better for T8 and get on throttle earlier. If you go too fast, then you screw up T8 and the straight following it. T2 and T1 are also very important turns. Understeer or cook that corner and it will penalize you down the front straight. Braking for T17 was tricky at first, but I learned to brake deeper and deeper and use that chicane esses looking turn to do my braking. For some reason I keep screwing up T15, and im not happy with the cornering speed of that turn. Next time, I have to remember to downshift to 3rd, throttle earlier, and track out sooner.

    I really learned alot of techniques that I wouldn't normally use at the track like Buttonwillow, Thunderhill, and Laguna Seca. I learned that throttle steering, trail braking, being extremely patient on the throttle, and turning in will reward you at this track. More so than the other tracks. All in all, I went off twice. Once in Session 2 at 15mph on the outside of T9 from overcooking and totally messing up that turn and T1 in Session 4 on the 6th hot lap where i understeered badly. Nailing the double apexes was harder than I thought on some turns.

    I believe there is another 2-3s left in the car as is at my skill level. T13 or the "Bowl" can be taken at much higher speeds, but I was chicken and didn't go any faster. Need to trust the banking more I guess. Im sure the car is able to go 10mph faster through there. It did have 10degrees of banking. I would say there is a good 1 second to be made there alone. Same can be said with T8 and T12, which I feel that i didn't do a very good job at maximizing the cornering and exit speeds there. Finally, that last turn I would say, I had a coin flip for consistency on the exit speed there. I would get it right some of the laps, understeer on some other ones therefore throttling down too late, and also going through too slow causing exit speed to suffer. It could be driver error/suspension setup/tires not gripping. Most likely all of the above on some level.

    Overall, this was very challenging and technical track as there is always something that will surprise you and after thinking you know the track, you don't. I found it hard to get every corner perfect with the maximum speed. I think there is another 3 seconds on the table easily with the same setup. I'm hoping next time I come here, I can do a 2:01-2:02. With R comps, I am sure 1:59s are possible.

    Thanks to Mark for hosting this event, all the track workers, CaliPhotography for the fantastic photos, Anthony Leung (Evo X) for helping me bleed my brakes and for his Motul 600 or else I would have been in trouble on the way home. Also thanks for the tips for some of the turns because I'm sure I wouldn't have been this fast without some of your advice. I would have been easily another 3-5 seconds slower. Nice to have finally meet you Richard (Richard Evo). You are not that bad to talk to in person than on the interwebs from what I have read. Great laps times from the both of you.

    Sorry for this super long review/report. Im sure you noticed I was jumping all over the place when talking about the track. I tried to keep it under different categories to be more organized. I hope you enjoy the videos and pictures.

    Let me know what you all think about the track, lines, setup, my driving, what have you...Positive or negative im all ears. We are all here to learn, and I know I have much to learn. I hope this proved useful in some way for when you go to this brand new racetrack. We are blessed in California to have so many tracks to choose from honestly. See you all out at the track again.

    EDIT: How to auto-resize? Moderators? Pics are humongous
    Zhong (Evo IX) | Angry Panda Racing

    1:53.396 @ BRP CW13 - 11/14/13
    1:47.2xx @ Laguna Seca - 11/28/10
    2:03.026 @ Thill CCW Bypass - 12/20/14
    2:05.100 @ CVR CCW - 1/16/11
    1:58.151 @ CVR CW - 5/5/13
    1:25.56x @ WSIR - 10/13/13
    1:23.128 @ SOW CW - 7/27/14
    1:22.2xx @ SOW CCW - 7/26/14
    1:46.0xx @ ACS Roval - 11/23/14
    1:11.299 @ ACS Infield - 5/18/14

    Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at WSIR
    2nd Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at BRP 13CW

    Comment


    • #3
      Nice to have finally meet you Richard (Richard Evo). You are not that bad to talk to in person than on the interwebs from what I have read.
      Whaddya mean??? I'm a pussycat. And the pics are rather large. lol

      That was the first time I ever saw a Ferrari 458 Italia in person. I'm sure it's a great car, but I didn't think it really looked that great, and the rich idiot who bought it got it in Black. Why not Ferrari Red, or my favorite Ferrari color, Fly Yellow. It would have looked much better in Yellow or Red.

      Nice meeting you too. I agree you can go faster (although you were 1 second faster than me all day), especially in the bowl. Just keep your right foot planted, take the inside line, and steer. It's banked and you aren't going anywhere you don't want to go.
      The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

      2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
      1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
      2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - my last track day car (FOR SALE or not, depending on how I feel when I fall out of bed tomorrow morning)
      2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Richard EVO View Post
        Whaddya mean??? I'm a pussycat. And the pics are rather large. lol

        That was the first time I ever saw a Ferrari 458 Italia in person. I'm sure it's a great car, but I didn't think it really looked that great, and the rich idiot who bought it got it in Black. Why not Ferrari Red, or my favorite Ferrari color, Fly Yellow. It would have looked much better in Yellow or Red.

        Nice meeting you too. I agree you can go faster (although you were 1 second faster than me all day), especially in the bowl. Just keep your right foot planted, take the inside line, and steer. It's banked and you aren't going anywhere you don't want to go.
        http://www.trackhq.com/forums/41547-post22.html

        Originally posted by Pure EvoIX View Post
        guys please stay on topic. thanks!

        I guess there is no one else competing in enthusiast class then. Sweet!
        Originally posted by Richard EVO View Post
        Dude, I am the Sheriff here and I have about 100 times as many posts as you have. We don't follow rules of other forums like "stay on topic." If you get some helpful responses, good for you. If not, just go have fun at the track. Goofing on other threads is just part of the trackHQ gestalt.

        This was what i meant...hehehe. Its all good. I don't take things seriously on the interwebs.
        Zhong (Evo IX) | Angry Panda Racing

        1:53.396 @ BRP CW13 - 11/14/13
        1:47.2xx @ Laguna Seca - 11/28/10
        2:03.026 @ Thill CCW Bypass - 12/20/14
        2:05.100 @ CVR CCW - 1/16/11
        1:58.151 @ CVR CW - 5/5/13
        1:25.56x @ WSIR - 10/13/13
        1:23.128 @ SOW CW - 7/27/14
        1:22.2xx @ SOW CCW - 7/26/14
        1:46.0xx @ ACS Roval - 11/23/14
        1:11.299 @ ACS Infield - 5/18/14

        Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at WSIR
        2nd Fastest Limited/Mod Class Evo in Time Attack at BRP 13CW

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Pure EvoIX View Post

          This was what i meant...hehehe. Its all good. I don't take things seriously on the interwebs.
          I agree. I never understand why people take smack talk on the internet seriously when you meet them in person. The cyber world is totally different from the real world.
          The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

          2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
          1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
          2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - my last track day car (FOR SALE or not, depending on how I feel when I fall out of bed tomorrow morning)
          2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

          Comment


          • #6
            Milkshake!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Comment

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