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Fun in the Rain..A track report from Bill

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by Alvin G @ 12:33 pm on March 30, 2010

In the days leading up to Hooked on Driving’s 3/12 track day at Thunderhill Raceway, I watched as the weather forecast continued to worsen. I knew I needed to do a rainy track day for the experience but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. It sounded a bit scary. HOD had sent newsletters and emails saying that driving in the rain was a lot of fun, but wasn’t convinced.

It was unbelievably fun! Driving in the rain is a blast! Flying around Thunderhill in a steady rain, water sliding off a freshly Rain-X’d windshield, my 350Z was perfectly planted. The Z, like most production cars, is designed to understeer at the cornering limit, meaning the front tires begin to lose grip before the rear tires do. This is much more predictable and easy to control than oversteer, where the back tires lose grip first. My rear street tires are especially wide (245 front, 295 rear) so the tail really stays planted. When the car begins to understeer, easing the throttle back slightly shifts weight forward, giving the front tires more grip to turn the car.

On hand was Guy Gamba, motorsport rep for Big O Tires in Northern California. He attends most most NorCal HOD events, reading tire temperatures and advising drivers on tire pressures and car setup. On his recommendation, I dropped tire pressures 4 psi to help get more heat in the tires. It worked. Grip was good. Tire temperature readings after track sessions were fairly consistent across the face of each tire, indicating the entire surface of the tire was being used. Had there been more rain and standing water, I would have added pressure to round the face of the tire to help resist hydroplaning.

The first clip is from a very wet lead-follow session. We followed coaches for two laps, then they followed us for two more to check our performance. It was a great learning tool.

Fun in the Rain Part 1 – Lead–Follow with HOD Coaches

The second clip is from later in the session after the coaches left us.

Fun in the Rain Part 2

Thunderhill is the perfect place to do a rain event. There are few walls. Most of the track has lots of flat dirt on both sides. The paddock has two large canopies to park under. The track also has a skidpad area where we ran a figure-8 course in the wet to practice drifting.

The only bad thing about the rain is that it turned the brake dust from my track pads into cement. I usually coat my wheels with wax before an event, but didn’t get to it this time. Even after hours of cleaning, I still haven’t gotten all the brake dust off.

Another fun part of a track day is seeing, and being part of, the car show in the paddock. There are always a lot of great cars in attendance. This event was just before a Historic Motor Sports Association (HSMA) weekend. Those folks brought some very cool cars, including a tribute BRE Datsun 510.

…[read more]

ZCG Drag Series Returns

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by Alvin G @ 2:56 pm on March 17, 2010

The Z Car Garage Drag Racing Series returns for 2010. Z Car Garage ( is hosting a drag competition for all-years of Zs, Gs, and Datsuns at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway. Come join us for a few nights of fun and Z-ing “in a straight line”. Walt (Fowlman) won the last series in his supercharged 350Z. There will be one event per month starting April 7th and continuing through November 11th assuming the weather cooperates with us.

Generally, the Wednesday Night Drags events are held at Sears Point Raceway on most Wednesday nights during the year. The gates open at 3:30 and racing is from 5-10pm. One typically gets a few practice (non-competitive) runs in before the racing starts assuming you get there early. All the information you need about the track and racing itself is located here:…y_night_drags/

1st Place: One Pair of New BF Goodrich Drag Radials courtesy of Z Car Garage
2nd Place: $100.00 Gift Certificate at Z Car Garage

Sears Point Wednesday events are bracket racing. If you show up early, each driver gets 4 or 5 practice runs before the sessions begin. This is a competition of skill, not of speed, so come show off even if you’re SLOW!

1 point: Once the sessions begin, each time you advance
(Sears Point staff puts a smiley face on your slip), you get one point. The goal is to NOT run against each other until absolutely necessary (i.e. everyone stages in the same lane until the final brackets)

3 points: Runner-up (loss in the finals) – trophy awarded

5 points: Winner of class – trophy awarded

Points are only valid on the dates ZCG goes to Infineon (4/7, May, June, July, August, September, October, possibly November). I’ll update this post as we set the dates for future months.

All competitors must sign waiver @ Z Car Garage before entering competition (or sign at track and give to Rob).

We are shooting for 7 April as the first event in the series, but stay tuned here, and join your fellow Datsun and Nissan enthusiasts for some friendly, safe, and legal racing!

ZCG Dyno day 04/10/10

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by Alvin G @ 6:33 pm on March 9, 2010

Hello Z Car fans!

I can’t believe its been 6 years!  ZCG will celebrate its 6th birthday on April 7th 2010.  Its been a great ride with lots of Z cars and good times.   Zonc will be joining us to host our Dyno day celebration.   See the details below.

Calling all Zs ready for the Track…. 3/12/10

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by Alvin G @ 9:08 pm on March 2, 2010

This blog entry comes from Bill N.  Z33 Driver…Enjoy

I am registered for Hooked On Driving’s Friday 3/12 track day at Thunderhill Raceway Park and would love to have other Datsuns and Nissans there. Been wanting to give it a try? Then sign up! Not quite ready to do a track day? Come on up and check it out! Visitors are always welcome. If you come, please find my car in the paddock and say hello.

Thunderhill is a blast to drive and is also one of the safer tracks around, with lots of wide open spaces if you happen to exit the asphalt (which rarely happens with HOD’s excellent coaches on board).

Below is a photo from my last Thunderhill event back in September. The 1972 240Z next to my Z33 was used to help develop the ZCG 240Z brake upgrade. David Ray, Hooked on Driving founder and former 240Z and 350Z racer, helped with the testing. Click here for the article. ZCG and the owner did an awesome restoration job. This car is gorgeous.

Here is a video clip from the event. At the time, the car was still on stock brakes and street tires. Lots of tire noise and early braking!

Video Clip – 9/18/09 – HOD at Thunderhill