With the much-needed maintenance taken care of, Leroy was ready to get thrashed. I made it out to one of SoCal’s most fun tracks, Streets of Willow, for one of the first track days of the year on January 8th put on by the guys at Extreme Speed Track Events. The course is tight and technical and very fun to drive regardless of your power or skill level, but it’s especially fun in underpowered cars like Leroy because, although still important, power doesn’t play nearly as much of a factor here as is does at almost every other track in SoCal.
I arrived at the track early still half asleep but full of excitement. With my fresh alignment job from Evasive and some new minor suspension tweaks I was anxious to start getting a feel for the car. Prior to going out on track was the mandatory driver’s meeting where they go over some basic track concepts as well as flags and safety briefing. After the meeting is over, everyone goes out in their respective run groups and Extreme Speed offers groups from Novice all the way to Super Advanced based on your experience and also have instruction for first timers or anyone looking to improve their driving skill. If you’ve ever wanted to push your car to the limit this is the place to do it, not on the canyons (trust me I made that mistake myself and swore to never do it again years ago).
Although this was my first time at an Extreme Speed event they placed me into the Advanced group based on my previous experience which was nice. The open passing class consisted mostly of time attack S2000s, Evos and Lotuses—I was easily the slowest car in my group. In my first session out, I went a little easy to get the tires scrubbed in and make sure everything was working. I also spent the first half of the session learning the course since this was the first time I had ever driven it counterclockwise. To my surprise, the car was settling in pretty well and I had confidence I could come out second session and start beating on the car.
Although temperatures never rose during the session I decided to check my coolant level and other fluids since I just did services on everything. Keeping a close eye on your car at the track can do a lot to prevent catastrophic failures. To my surprise, my coolant reservoir was nearly full but there was coolant all over the passenger side of the bay that appeared to have been sprayed at high pressure. I had disconnected the lower radiator hose to drain the coolant when I did the water pump so I tightened the clamp more and topped off the fluid. Aside from the fluid check, I made some last-minute modifications to my front fenders, since apparently, they weren’t rolled enough and the tabs that hold on the liner were hitting the tire in some bumpier sections of the track.
In the next session, I went a little harder and the car was surprisingly neutral. A little bit of trail braking in certain corners made Leroy rotate well, I was shocked at how good the car was without having done any adjustments other than the alignment at this point. The new Falken RT-615-K Azenis tires also improved in the second session as they heated up and never started to get greasy the way the older model did—they got the compound on the 615-K dialed-in. Aside from having no power and having to let a lot of cars pass on the straight bits, I was having a ton of fun and actually moving pretty quickly through the rhythm sections.
For peace of mind, I checked all my fluids again after the second session and to my surprise I was still getting some coolant spraying from somewhere onto the passenger side. I figured maybe it was just a pinhole leak in the hose, I wasn’t losing major amounts of coolant so I wasn’t too worried about it. After the third session I discovered that the coolant level was simply too full and was self-bleeding out of the top of my reservoir tank.
The StopTech Street Performance pads were holding up much better than I had anticipated and never showed even the slightest sign of fade. After two sessions they lost a bit of cold initial bite, but once on track and heated up, they seemed to perform better with every lap and modulation was also excellent. They were very well-matched to the Azenis and it was difficult to lock up a wheel unless you intentionally stabbed the brakes.
In the next few sessions, I got more comfortable with the car and started letting it slide around a bit and bounced it off the curbs. Overall, the car was great and I really couldn’t find anything aside from power that I was disappointed. The car was well and truly better than I had expected. In the final session, I threw a transponder on the car for fun and recorded a lap time of 1:40.183 which was pretty good for the power output, but still around ten seconds slower than the rest of my group. The thing that impressed me the most about the car was the recent addition of the Buddy Club roll center adjustments, the turn in precision and steering feel was simply astonishing. Not to mention for the first time I could run a whole session without having my forearms on fire.
Although this was really an event to prepare the car for Buttonwillow, it was a great experience and Streets is a really fun track. I have a lot of confidence in the car, and I’m sure that over the course of the year, my driving skills will develop along with the car. At this point, my main goal is to keep testing the car and get out to as many events as possible, the best mod you can buy to improve lap times is to get out to as many track days as you can. In addition to Streets, Extreme Speed also runs on Willow Springs International, Horse Thief Mile (also at Willow Springs) and Buttonwillow. I’ll be at as many events as I can; hope to see you guys there!
Ever wanted to push your car and abilities out on the track? With Extreme Speed’s affordable rates and diverse classing literally anyone can bring out a properly-maintained car. Events include Streets of Willow, Willow Springs International, Horse Thief Mile and Buttonwillow. Log on to extremespeedtrackevents.com to find out more and see what you’re made of!