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Thread: 87 Corolla FX16 GTS Track Toy Build

  1. #76


    "And you may ask yourself 'Well, how did I get here?'"

    -Talking Heads

    Let's go back, shall we?

    For the past month I've been in a scramble to get some safety projects wrapped up on the Corolla. The new-to-me driver's seat was in and finally got its cover installed. With a little addition of foam in certain places, it was as comfy as ever.

    The cooler for the CoolShirt needed some proper mounting points for the ratchet strap, so some eye bolts were welded in place.

    Speaking of the CoolShirt, I noticed when I tested it that priming the system was difficult with the dry-break fittings. The addition of an inline primer bulb solved that issue.

    The hastily-scrawled Sharpie label was replaced with an actual printed label for bonus legitimacy points.

    Another issue that needed sorting out was the wheel studs. As you can see, the factory studs are quite short and do not fully engage the lug nut. While they do have 7 full threads of engagement and has never given me problems, it does look a little sketchy. ARP studs went in extremely smoothly on 3/4 corners. Remember the hub and bearing I had to replace on the right front after the axle exploded at Dominion a few years back? Turns out the aftermarket hub flange is significantly thicker and it makes installing these a huge pain.

    In the end they all found their home and definitely add a sense of security. I also installed wheel hub rings for the first time, as I had been just using the lug nuts and a careful installation each time to make sure everything was seated properly. However this is the correct way to do it, and the peace of mind is very nice. Little did I know that all this reinforcement to the hub area would come in extra handy very soon...

    Thursday afternoon I met up with my friend Steve and we started our journey to New Jersey Motorsports Park for GridLife. We ended up hitting some pretty solid traffic and somehow got split up about 30 minutes from our destination. With the traffic delay, we were both absolutely flogging it to make it to the gates before they closed at 11pm. Steve beat me by about 5 minutes and I rolled through the gates at precisely 10:58pm - way too close for comfort. We set up camp, had a celebratory beer, and went to bed.

    When the sun came up over the paddock Friday morning we heard from the announcements that there were not many people signed up for the Intermediate or Advanced HPDE run groups so there would be a lot of track time. Steve and I were both only signed up for Saturday/Sunday but we both decided that since we were already here we may as well sign up for Friday too. When in Rome, am I right?

    A few laps into the second session on Friday, I turned into turn 1, then all of the sudden the rear end of the car snapped out. I caught it but applied too much steering angle which sent me sliding off the outside of the turn through the dirt passenger-door first. The dip in the dirt caught the inside edge of the LH tires, lifting it up into the air. The outside edge of the RH tires dug into the ground and very nearly rolled the car. Thankfully it stayed shiny-side up and I sat facing the track waiting for the dust to clear so I could get my bearings. I tried to limp the car but clearly something was wrong. I barely managed to get the car through the grass up to the flag station so I was out of the way and the session could continue. Once the session ended and the tow truck came, I was able to get out and see the damage. Both RH tires were off the bead and flat. The RH side skirt was bent under the car but somehow still attached.

    After a ride back to the paddock in the tow truck, I spent the next hour or two trying to re-seat the bead and get the tires inflated. Once that was done I quickly realized that the left rear tire was rubbing on the strut. The clearance there was always very close, but now it was bent just enough to be a problem.

  2. #77


    I then spent the next few hours trying to cross-reference vehicles that share this knuckle and find a replacement as quickly as possible. The only place I could find was Albert's Auto Parts in Thomaston, Connecticut - roughly four hours away. The guys at Albert's were super helpful and agreed to leave the part out in a safe location so I could come pick it up after hours.

    Steve, being the amazing friend he is, offered to swap back to his street tires after his last session of the day so we could take his ND Miata which gets roughly double the fuel economy of my 4Runner. So around 4pm we left NJMP. With traffic it took us around 4.5 hours to get to the Albert's, but the knuckle was right where they said it would be. Mercifully the traffic was better on the way back so we made it in a little under 4 hours, pulling back into our camp site around 12:30AM. I then spent the next two hours swapping the knuckle out, as well as switching out the rear brake pads for some cheap Centric pads to reduce rear lockup. With everything fixed and torqued, I went to bed around 2:45am, ready to get back on track for the rest of the weekend.

    The rest of the weekend went very well with no more crashing or mechanical hiccups whatsoever, at least for us. There was a big food truck gathering on the property for dinner Saturday night which was very welcome after two days of pop tarts, Cliff bars and PB&J. We even made some new friends with our paddock neighbors who were gracious hosts for Sunday breakfast.

    Unfortunately that luck did not hold true for everyone at the track. This weekend was the hottest on record for the last 10 years at NJMP, and the mechanical attrition rate was high. I've never seen so many sessions delayed due to oil on track. On Sunday the morning Intermediate DE session went out right after a cleanup in turn 3. Unfortunately the guy in the new-ish Corolla hatch in front of me went full send through the oil-dry and ended up flipping his car several times. Fortunately he walked away with minor bumps and bruises.

    It was so nice to finally hang out again with our friend Ross who drives a Fit in Sundae Cup. It's been way too long and this weekend was a blast. You might not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.

    The trip home was blissfully uneventful after such a hectic weekend. I absolutely loved this track and can't wait to make the trip back. I'm so glad I put the CoolShirt setup in the car, as it was absolutely necessary in this heat. We went through over 80lbs of ice over the weekend between the two coolers, the water jug, and the CoolShirt tank. Shout out to GridLife for putting on a really fun event and having such a great community. I think for me the rest of the year will just be the October NASA event at VIR, with maybe a Trackcross at Dominion with some co-workers somewhere in there as well.

  3. #78


    This was the best lap I managed to capture with both camera and timing up and running

  4. #79


    Nvus Images took some amazing pictures that weekend and I just had to grab a couple!

    Attached Images Attached Images

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