July 24, 2006: A perfect Seven day at the track.
I went out with my girlfriend Janel to help her get comfortable in her little supercharged Miata. Bill and I were sharing the Seven in exchange for towing duties, so he jumped in the Seven. It was a long time before I saw him come back in! When he got out, I asked how he liked it. He was grinning so hard he couldn't answer. Okay, that's a good sign.
I went out in the Seven and found myself chasing my friend Josh in his modified WRX. He's the closest car to me on the kart track but we figured that the long straight at Pueblo would give him a good advantage. I tucked in behind him on the tighter section of the track, got a good drive off the last corner on to the straight and then drafted him all the way down. All he could see was my visor and all I could see was a huge black car. It was a good tow, I went in to the first corner pretty quickly! I stayed glued to his tail for several laps until he waved me by. He had to lift to let me past on the straight, but as soon as we hit the corners I started to put a fair bit of distance on him. It surprised both of us, actually. By the time we got back to the front straight he was pretty much gone from my mirrors. I can report that it's a lot of fun following a WRX on the track. The car heels over, sets into a drift and then sits there all the way through the corner. Meanwhile, he could hear me on the gas behind him out of the tight corners even before he'd started to accelerate. I took Josh for a ride in the Seven and he was quite impressed with the immediacy of the little critter.
As soon as I got away from the WRX, I caught sight of the SV and the Superlight up ahead. Thanks to some well-placed Miatas slowing them down, I was soon right on their tails. The next few laps were a riot. The SV waved me by on the next lap and I went to work chasing the Superlight. He wasn't hanging around. It was piloted by a good clean driver and running some good tires. I was able to hang with him down the straight (to everybody's surprise) and through most of the course. His speed on turn 1, a very fast sweeper, proved to be too much for me and he'd take some distance. Turn 2 is my weak point on the track so he'd gain a little more room as well as on the exit from the hairpin at turn 7. But overall, the cars were close enough that it was fun playtime. We were pulling 110 mph on the front straight, about the same as I'd seen when drafting the Subaru. The SV was dropping behind a bit on the straight - interesting, as this is the same car I'd been running with in Aspen. Every lap we'd catch a Miata (or three) and pass on the back straight, triple-teaming the poor cars. I'm going to relive this session in my head many times. We had a great time playing. I'd always wanted the Seven to be not just quick, but truly fast and world-class. I think I'm there.
Every time I was out of the Seven, Bill was in it. He had some memorable dices with a few cars and really bonded with the little booger. Every time I turned my back the car was scooting out of the pits to go chase something. Every time I'd pull into the pits, Bill would be walking towards me with his helmet in hand. I think there's going to be another lightweight car in the Flyin' Miata stable eventually! He even got comfortable with the brakes - he discovered that while they take a bit of a push, the car just hauls down and stops without wheel lockup problems.
I had one graphic illustration of how I'd become used to the Seven. After spending all day in the little car, I jumped into Janel's Miata to chase the WRX and Mark in his Miata. We powered out of the pits, into turn 1...and I think I scared Janel. All of my inputs were met with weight transfer, body movement and sliding tires where the Seven would simply do what I asked and get on with it. This isn't a stock Miata, either, but one with suspension work and decent tires. I don't think I've ever pushed that Miata quite that hard before and I did get in a little trouble with the owner because of it. Especially when I took "the Seven line" though the hairpin and came out sideways with smoking tires! No harm done and they're my tires anyhow!
The Caterham and Lotus owners were very welcoming, even if the Superlight driver (in good humor) "refused to be passed by a Locost". There wasn't really much danger of that, as the Locost was simply trying to keep up! They assumed I'd done something to the motor due to my improved straight line speed. I can't really explain it, but the Superlight had just been dynoed at 158 wheel hp while I have about 145. It's also supposed to be under 1100 lbs while I'm carrying at least 200 lbs more. I did have my windscreen off and have a less aerodynamically messy roll cage than the Superlight, which also did not have a windscreen. The handling of my car was definitely improved since the last big track test and I suspect I might have carried a couple of mph on to the straight that the Superlight didn't. Still, his approach to turn 1 had me wondering if his brake lights were actually working! His speed there had to be seen to be believed. We had a lot of fun and I think Bill got the chance to run in close company with them as well.
The car behaved perfectly all day, despite being on the track constantly. I checked fluids at midday and everything was good, so we just had to keep dumping gas into the tank. It was one of the fastest cars there running with the big boys. Nothing fell off, nothing overheated and every driver and passenger in the car had a good time. That's what I built the little thing for!