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      09-22-2010, 11:26 AM   #1
canderson
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335 mods for the track - which ones really work?

I tracked my 2008 335xi 3 times this summer (Race City in Calgary) and I am hooked - both to road track driving and to modifying my car to make it faster. I plan to track a lot often more next summer. There are endless options for performance modifications, so the question is which ones have you tried that really improved lap times - and maybe even more importantly which ones have you tried that didn't help. Engine, suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, ...

Please post both your mods AND your measured change in lap times.

So far I have Dinan stage 2 and M3 strut brace installed with several goodies still in the box: CP-E FMIC and oil cooler, SS brake lines, and Cool Carbon pads.
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      09-22-2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canderson View Post
I tracked my 2008 335xi 3 times this summer (Race City in Calgary) and I am hooked - both to road track driving and to modifying my car to make it faster. I plan to track a lot often more next summer. There are endless options for performance modifications, so the question is which ones have you tried that really improved lap times - and maybe even more importantly which ones have you tried that didn't help. Engine, suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, ...

Please post both your mods AND your measured change in lap times.

So far I have Dinan stage 2 and M3 strut brace installed with several goodies still in the box: CP-E FMIC and oil cooler, SS brake lines, and Cool Carbon pads.
You have a good start to your setup, I am waiting on my oil cooler upgrade and pats, also I would add a nice set of sticky tires

Here are my mods:
my next event with these mods are coming up shortly

3inch Riss Racing DP
DCI
Jb3 map 7
SS brake lines
Corner Balanced and Alignment
Kw coilovers

Will be installing:
Meth
New pads
Oil Cooler
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      09-22-2010, 11:56 AM   #3
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In order of the biggest impact on lap times...

1) Nut behind the steering wheel

2) Tires

3) Brakes

4) Suspension

5) Power.

Further breaking that down, under suspension...

4.1) CAMBER

4.2) Springs

4.2.1) Struts and shocks

4.3) Bushings

4.4) Swaybars

Braking has multiple components as well.

3.1) Brake cooling

3.2) Brake heat capacity

3.3) Brake feel

Further breaking that down,

3.2.1) Brake fluid heat capacity

3.2.2) Brake pad heat capacity

Of course, all of this is but a function of fixing that loose nut behind the wheel first. If the DCU (Driver Control Unit) isn't working right, nothing you do to the rest of your car is going to net you any significantly better lap times. It's a lot simpler than you think really. Going fast, in its most fundamental break-down, consists of 3 parts. Maximize driver potential, maximize grip, and maximize power given available grip. That is all.
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      09-22-2010, 12:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
In order of the biggest impact on lap times...


Further breaking that down, under suspension...

4.1) CAMBER

4.2) Springs

4.2.1) Struts and shocks

4.3) Bushings

4.4) Swaybars

Braking has multiple components as well.

3.1) Brake cooling

3.2) Brake heat capacity

3.3) Brake feel
Does camber really affect you that much vs springs/dampers? i would think that the springs/dampers then camber/alignment, granted your aligment isnt radically off.
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      09-22-2010, 01:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zsapphire7 View Post
Does camber really affect you that much vs springs/dampers? i would think that the springs/dampers then camber/alignment, granted your aligment isnt radically off.
Yes. Correct camber (especially on a MacPherson Strut) gives you the maximum contact patch while in a turn. Work your way backwards, everything you do should be done to MAXIMIZE GRIP. Camber affect that a lot more than springs and dampers. If you have a choice to fix one of the three, camber, springs, or dampers, fix camber FIRST.

If you go through a corner riding on race stiff springs, with rock solid compression and rebound, on the thickest swaybars in the world, but on no camber? You'll be going through that same corner slower than say, on a stock suspension and say, 3.5 degree camber up front.

Look at this another way. Camber gives you grip. springs/dampers gives you control over that grip. If you MUST choose one or the other, choose grip. Control can sometimes be managed by altering driving style, while nothing will overcome the lack of grip.

p.s.: The above is but an over-simplified version of the overall equation. There are multiple factors at work here, and ultimately, grip is NOTHING without control. So in a way, the "system" that works together impact the overall speed capable of being achieved. While the list I gave is a distillation of the actual process, in reality, EVERY component upgraded in consideration to the others will give you the best result. And at the end of the day, a properly tuned nut behind the wheel will almost always be faster than a poorly tuned nut.
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      09-22-2010, 01:35 PM   #6
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springs and dampers will make your car FEEL a lot different, but they won't necessarily make you faster, because you are still limited by overall grip of the tires, and also your level of driving talent. But the car might be easier to drive with springs and dampers, which can help a bit, but I've seen many cases where a stock car + sticky tires runs circles around a much more modified car with lesser grade rubber.

Increasing camber will increase the available grip on your tires, which will make a difference in cornering ability. And time in the corners is what matters most.

EDIT: tree'd by HACK
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      09-22-2010, 01:38 PM   #7
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Somehow I find it hard to believe that +2 static camber will make that much of a difference vs 2-3x stiffer springs and properly matched dampers on a smooth track given all else equal.

I understand what you're saying about more contact patch in a turn tho. I guess this also depends on the track. A track with more quick transitions will definately be diff than a higher speed slower one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
Yes. Correct camber (especially on a MacPherson Strut) gives you the maximum contact patch while in a turn. Work your way backwards, everything you do should be done to MAXIMIZE GRIP. Camber affect that a lot more than springs and dampers. If you have a choice to fix one of the three, camber, springs, or dampers, fix camber FIRST.

If you go through a corner riding on race stiff springs, with rock solid compression and rebound, on the thickest swaybars in the world, but on no camber? You'll be going through that same corner slower than say, on a stock suspension and say, 3.5 degree camber up front.

Look at this another way. Camber gives you grip. springs/dampers gives you control over that grip. If you MUST choose one or the other, choose grip. Control can sometimes be managed by altering driving style, while nothing will overcome the lack of grip.

p.s.: The above is but an over-simplified version of the overall equation. There are multiple factors at work here, and ultimately, grip is NOTHING without control. So in a way, the "system" that works together impact the overall speed capable of being achieved. While the list I gave is a distillation of the actual process, in reality, EVERY component upgraded in consideration to the others will give you the best result. And at the end of the day, a properly tuned nut behind the wheel will almost always be faster than a poorly tuned nut.
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      09-22-2010, 05:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zsapphire7 View Post
Somehow I find it hard to believe that +2 static camber will make that much of a difference vs 2-3x stiffer springs and properly matched dampers on a smooth track given all else equal.
A club racer friend of mine went from factory brakes, to larger, fixed caliper with 2 piece floaties, that allowed him to shave 5+ seconds on a 2 min track, with the same configured car. You'd think a piece of equipment that slows you down wouldn't make that big of a difference in going fast...But it does. It allowed him to more precisely modulate his brakes, allowed him to brake harder, later, and in a shorter span more consistently through all the braking zones. The cumulative effect was HUGE.

So what does that have to do with the camber vs. suspension discussion? Most of driving fast is counter-intuitive. If you told me that, by going SLOW you actually go faster, I'd be like, you're sh*tting me. But in a weird way, it's true. Or if you told me that better braking makes you go faster, I'd be going, again, you're sh*tting me.

Camber having a much bigger effect than suspension/spring rate is one of those counter-intuitive things. But if you follow my logic, GRIP will affect your speed more than control. Camber gives you more grip. Springs gives you more control. This is another area where fixing and tuning that nut behind the wheel comes in handy. If that DCU isn't properly tuned, yes, it's potentially possible that adding springs and damper rates CAN make you go faster than camber...Because the better "control" allows an inexperienced driver (not pointing any fingers but at myself) better control to the limited grip afforded by little camber. However, to an experienced driver, they'll be able to take full advantage of the added grip and turn in faster times with more camber than more spring rates.

In my not quite so humble opinion, of course.
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      09-22-2010, 05:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zsapphire7 View Post
Somehow I find it hard to believe that +2 static camber will make that much of a difference vs 2-3x stiffer springs and properly matched dampers on a smooth track given all else equal.
Well you're wrong. I am usually not fond of or in agreement with The HACK's posts but everything he's said in this thread is spot-on


The stock spring/damper rates of a modern sport sedan are calculated to give fairly 'fast' natural frequencies. I've seen plenty of cases where adding a stiffly sprung coilover kit to an otherwise stock car has resulted in a slower car.

The big advantage of coilover kits is that they allow a lower Cg. However, as you lower the car, the geometry of the control arms gets worse and requires more spring rate to compensate (I'm keeping it simple here). But the bottom line is, their big advantage is a lower Cg; the increased spring rate is a necessary evil.
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      09-23-2010, 12:25 PM   #10
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K, i see what you mean now. I didnt realize how much effect camber plays. can u paint a picture to how much more grip youre talking about for a car like ours? for -1 to -3 camber?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
A club racer friend of mine went from factory brakes, to larger, fixed caliper with 2 piece floaties, that allowed him to shave 5+ seconds on a 2 min track, with the same configured car. You'd think a piece of equipment that slows you down wouldn't make that big of a difference in going fast...But it does. It allowed him to more precisely modulate his brakes, allowed him to brake harder, later, and in a shorter span more consistently through all the braking zones. The cumulative effect was HUGE.

So what does that have to do with the camber vs. suspension discussion? Most of driving fast is counter-intuitive. If you told me that, by going SLOW you actually go faster, I'd be like, you're sh*tting me. But in a weird way, it's true. Or if you told me that better braking makes you go faster, I'd be going, again, you're sh*tting me.

Camber having a much bigger effect than suspension/spring rate is one of those counter-intuitive things. But if you follow my logic, GRIP will affect your speed more than control. Camber gives you more grip. Springs gives you more control. This is another area where fixing and tuning that nut behind the wheel comes in handy. If that DCU isn't properly tuned, yes, it's potentially possible that adding springs and damper rates CAN make you go faster than camber...Because the better "control" allows an inexperienced driver (not pointing any fingers but at myself) better control to the limited grip afforded by little camber. However, to an experienced driver, they'll be able to take full advantage of the added grip and turn in faster times with more camber than more spring rates.

In my not quite so humble opinion, of course.
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      09-23-2010, 01:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
A club racer friend of mine went from factory brakes, to larger, fixed caliper with 2 piece floaties, that allowed him to shave 5+ seconds on a 2 min track, with the same configured car. You'd think a piece of equipment that slows you down wouldn't make that big of a difference in going fast...But it does. It allowed him to more precisely modulate his brakes, allowed him to brake harder, later, and in a shorter span more consistently through all the braking zones. The cumulative effect was HUGE.

So what does that have to do with the camber vs. suspension discussion? Most of driving fast is counter-intuitive. If you told me that, by going SLOW you actually go faster, I'd be like, you're sh*tting me. But in a weird way, it's true. Or if you told me that better braking makes you go faster, I'd be going, again, you're sh*tting me.

Camber having a much bigger effect than suspension/spring rate is one of those counter-intuitive things. But if you follow my logic, GRIP will affect your speed more than control. Camber gives you more grip. Springs gives you more control. This is another area where fixing and tuning that nut behind the wheel comes in handy. If that DCU isn't properly tuned, yes, it's potentially possible that adding springs and damper rates CAN make you go faster than camber...Because the better "control" allows an inexperienced driver (not pointing any fingers but at myself) better control to the limited grip afforded by little camber. However, to an experienced driver, they'll be able to take full advantage of the added grip and turn in faster times with more camber than more spring rates.

In my not quite so humble opinion, of course.
Completely agreed. When I first started track my E36 M3 the first thing I did was get the alignment dialed in. Camber/Caster/Toe are the major things to get right. You cant imagine what your car is capable of with the simpliest of things. Getting for contact to the surface is whats going to get the car planted. If you car is fighting for grip you are bleeding of speed and time. Now your tire will increase or decrease in camber naturally as the car turns. So getting the 3 setup can give amazing feedback and feel. The car alone will feel stronger and more planted from the intial turn-in to the exit apex.

As stated before, coilovers can add a negitive effect if not setup right. I have seen someone add coilovers to a E46 M3 and was a whole second slower. Also too low will throw the geometry off the car. Keep these things in mind when modding. Best advice is. Proper Tires, Dot 5 Fluid, SS Lines, pads, proper alignment and some good driver education to put all those things to the test.
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      09-23-2010, 01:50 PM   #12
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actually... i just did some more research.. anyone have any idea how much camber loss our cars experience stock? It seems like it will be a battle between the camber loss reduction with stiffer springs/sways under load (less body roll) and than the static camber gain with with camber plates.

But hack is right, the bottom line is camber = grip
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      09-23-2010, 02:44 PM   #13
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driving -2.8 degrees of camber in front:-) next to grip it gives an even wear of the front tires. with rhe standard camber you wreck the outside of the front tire, even more if you go with some really sticky ones.
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      09-23-2010, 06:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcel b View Post
driving -2.8 degrees of camber in front:-) next to grip it gives an even wear of the front tires. with rhe standard camber you wreck the outside of the front tire, even more if you go with some really sticky ones.
you think you would benefit from more ? have u taken a pyrometer yet with u on a track day?
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      09-24-2010, 12:52 AM   #15
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not sure, maybe a bit. the tire wear is very even on the front tires and as I drive the car mainly as daily driver I do not want to go further.
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      09-24-2010, 12:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
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There are endless options for performance modifications, so the question is which ones have you tried that really improved lap times


+ professional instruction. Thanks Jeff!
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      09-24-2010, 11:35 AM   #17
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camber?

Thanks for all the feedback. I did take a 3 day track course from Track Techniques and I do have a copy of "Going Faster." I know that the driver has the biggest effect by far and I will work that component, but improving the car is an independent variable I would like to play with.

Camber: Very interesting. What is the stock setting and the recommended setting for the track? How do I change camber? Recommended camber plates? Should I do both front and rear? I don't see a camber plate DIY.
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      09-24-2010, 01:55 PM   #18
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Absolutely, learning how to drive properly will definitely help you the most. Learning to utilize your car to it's fullest potential is critical.

Before going to R-comps, stay on the street rubber. It'll allow you to feel the car working and enable you to become a cleaner driver because you won't want to overheat your street tires.

The best mod I did was BBK (I have Stoptechs). Not having to worry about stopping is critical in every way. You already have WAY more HP than needed with the Dinan program (get the oil cooler too).
It takes me about 5 minutes per wheel to change my street pads to track compound. Very nice!
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      09-24-2010, 02:49 PM   #19
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Driver
Tires
heavier oil (5w-40 disel truck works, see mr.5)
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Then power mods

The n54 already has enough power to get you in trouble and my biggest regret is modding the engine, so much to the point that I am not capable of properly learning to drive it near as quickly as other drivers do their cars. Also the fact that my oil temps are close to limp with the extra hear from more boost doesnt help either...
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      10-16-2010, 07:46 PM   #20
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Having raced, and still racing, a low powered car (1981 Mazda RX7 with SCCA), I agree with The Hack. I really can't add any more than what he has already said, except to emphasize his #1 - The nut behind the steering wheel. The stock 335 has way more capability than a relatively new track driver. I would imagine that by the end of next year if you do another 5 or more full weekend events (6-8 sessions a weekend) you will have reached a point where you might be limited by the vehicle.

That said, I have a friend who has been driving/racing/instructing for a number of years and he continues to find more time every time he goes out in his fairly stock Miata. Same with another friend who runs an RX8, whom I've raced against in my SRX7.

Worry about improving #1 first and have fun doing it. When you reach the limits of your hardware then start upgrading. It will be really cool when you're good enough to know what you upgraded and how exactly it affected the car.

Cheers,

- John
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      10-16-2010, 08:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
In order of the biggest impact on lap times...

1) Nut behind the steering wheel

2) Tires

3) Brakes

4) Suspension

5) Power.

Of course, all of this is but a function of fixing that loose nut behind the wheel first. If the DCU (Driver Control Unit) isn't working right, nothing you do to the rest of your car is going to net you any significantly better lap times. It's a lot simpler than you think really. Going fast, in its most fundamental break-down, consists of 3 parts. Maximize driver potential, maximize grip, and maximize power given available grip. That is all.
You have tightened your steering wheel?
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      10-18-2010, 02:26 AM   #22
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You have tightened your steering wheel?
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