At the end of the day, motorsport is a dangerous activity. Every time you put your car on the track you run the risk of crashing, be it driver error, equipment failure or even an act of god, there’s always a chance that things don’t go according to the plan. The key to walking away from such an incident is investing wisely in quality safety equipment. I’ve said it before in regards to helmets and I’ll reiterate with respect to the parts installed in this article—this is one area you should spend as much money as you can afford to ensure your safety. You can’t go back to the store after a wreck and buy the good stuff, so splurge up front because you can’t put a value on personal safety.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to scare anyone or discourage you from tracking your car, I just want everyone to be as safe as possible. As you’ll notice, none of the equipment I have installed is cheap, quite the opposite, but you get what you pay for and I’d rather spend money here to give me the best chance possible of walking away from an accident. Not to mention when you have the best safety equipment around and it’s been properly installed you can focus more on driving and leave the “what if” scenarios behind—we all want to go 10/10ths! I hope you’ll pay attention and put what you learn here to use!
Fresh off a tuner baby high, I was eager to get back to the track with my newly-installed safety equipment. Due to my busy schedule as an editor at this fine book, I hadn’t been to a track day in months and I had the itch bad. I checked around online for the soonest track day at Buttonwillow and it just so happened to be another HFF day with the guys from Speed Ventures. I packed the necessities, got my usual four hours of sleep and headed out to the middle of nowhere.
Although I technically added weight to the car, I had a good feeling I’d shave some time off my previous personal best at BW. Once on track the new additions were glaringly obvious. There’s something to be said for the added confidence a good restraint system adds, not to mention you’re no longer beating yourself up just to hold your body in place. With my body ratcheted into place I was ready to take on all obstacles.
In the first session, I got down to business straight away and settled into a decent rhythm. The handling of the car seemed more neutral than I remember, whether it was the track conditions or some added rigitidy from the rollbar I’m not certain. But one thing was for sure, the car felt faster. Jumping all the necessary curbs, carrying as much momementum as possible and getting on the throttle sooner knocked 8/10ths off my previous best time.
Being that this was only my third session on the track I expected the times would continue to drop, despite my added weight, throughout the course of the day. The next session I started to push the car a little harder, dropping a wheel off a time or two. When the checkered flag came out I looked down at my temp gauge on the cool down lap to notice that the temp was rising when I was on throttle. When I returned to the garage I popped the hood to find my coolant reservoir was overflowing and I had coolant all over the engine bay.
Since I didn’t have anything with me to diagnose the cooling system problems I decided to let the car cool down and went to check on my lap times. I dropped another half second with a new best time of 2:21.923 which was some good news. When I returned to the car the coolant in the overflow tank had all been sucked back into the radiator, which was a good sign since I initially thought the car might have a head gasket leak. Although I really wanted to keep pushing on the track, I decided to call it an early day and limped the car home while I still could.
When I got the car back to the shop I did a couple of tests only to find out that the oversized B-series lower radiator hose I had to install due to my aftermarket radiator was leaking at the thermostat housing. On top of that, the radiator cap was holding half its rated pressure and the neck on the radiator had started to corrode, making the radiator cap seal very weak. Once I tightened up the hose I re-pressurized the system and did a block leak test. Fortunately, the motor was completely healthy and there was no trace of exhaust fumes entering the cooling system. I should be able to get Leroy back up to snuff pretty soon, but I think the D16Y7’s days are numbered!