Velocity in Virginia

Update by Scott Lear to the Mini Cooper S Club Racer project car
Nov 12, 2010

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After a few laps we were really starting to dig the increase in pedal feel and modulation sensitivity.

Our MINI Cooper S worked really well at Hyperfest, but we ended that event with some additions to our to-do list. The wider tires in the rear were rubbing against the lower control arms, so we needed to address the spacing. Our brakes were just about toast. And we had bloodied the car’s nose in an attempt to avoid an accident in Saturday’s race. Next on the calendar was one of our favorite events of the year, the NASA Mid-Atlantic Summer Slam following the Ultimate Track Car Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in July.

To remedy our rubbing tire, we found a quick and easy solution at Pep Boys: some 5mm spacers. It’s important to have a long enough bolt on the hub when using spacers, but the bolts on the back of our MINI were just long enough for full thread engagement of the nuts. Since the wheel was in maybe 1 to 2mm too much, the 5mm spacers would be plenty to prevent rubbing of the inner edge.

Our MINI Came with some decent brake pads, but after a season of racing they were at the end of their operational life. The car’s unconventional setup includes massive John Cooper Racing-branded AP Calipers and discs up front with the stock discs in the rear. Jeff Ritter, the manager of the high-performance division of Essex Parts, was eager for us to try out one of their newest products, the CL RC5+ sintered brake pad. This pad actually has a lower coefficient of friction per unit pressure than CL’s angrier pads, but it wears gently. The high metal content means good bite even when cold, and the pad has a very flat friction curve from ambient temperature to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. In the rear, Jeff recommended the Ferodo DS2500, another moderate-bite pad with a very even friction coefficient across its operating range, up to about 1300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Compared to the pads that came with our MINI, the CL/Ferodo combination had noticeably reduced initial bit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re used to pads that grab really hard at tip-in once they’re warmed up, but at temperature the CL/Ferodo combo liked a firmer foot before reaching threshold. That said, after a few laps we were really starting to dig the increase in pedal feel and modulation sensitivity. Instead of a brick wall of force, the new pads encouraged some nuance under braking, and at the end of the first test session we were really enjoying the setup. The pads were absolutely consistent for both days of racing on an insanely hot weekend, and we didn’t even need to bleed the brakes for day two. There was as much bite on the last lap of the 35-minute race at the end of Sunday as there was on the first lap of Saturday’s race. We got ours from Essex Parts. Our front part number for our huge AP calipers is 07 5004W50T17.0 RC5+ and the rear part is 11 FCP1676H-N.

The last item on our checklist: taking a closer look at the bumper crack and nose scuff we picked up at HyperFest. The expensive fix would have meant sourcing a new bumper cover, but that seemed excessive considering the minimal extent of the damage. An approximate 6x9-in. decal would be more than enough to cover the wound. We had some old windshield banners lying around our garage, and the end bits were essentially plain white decal material. The white is a good choice, as its high contrast against the dark blue body of the MINI would show up as a simple white square from any distance and any speed on track. Up close you can see a few wrinkles, sure, but the on-track photo shows how the stickers meld into the overall package. We had a couple of die-cut helmet decals in black in the same pile of spares, so we threw them on to further increase the contrast and busy up the section. We mirrored the job on the unscuffed side so it looks more intentional. Plus, it would protect the remaining lens.

From a racing perspective, this was the most fun we’d had in the MINI to date. It’s quite well sorted at this point, and the car was dead-nuts reliable all weekend. Thanks to Jeff Williams in a Performance Touring C Toyota Celica, we had a great battle on Saturday. We earned second place after a frantic race-long chase: Watch the video below for details. On Sunday we qualified a rewarding third overall in the Stinger group with a 2:20.249—a new personal record at VIR with the MINI—and drove to a fifth-place overall finish and a win in Performance Touring C.

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Shaun HalfDork
11/12/10 12:48 p.m.

"slight cospatial event ". good one!

Scott Lear
Scott Lear
11/15/10 9:30 a.m.

Oh, and in the video I misspoke: It's Wade Jackson, not Wade Johnson, in the Sentra.

leigerreign New Reader
11/16/10 3:26 p.m.

That splitter would look awfully mean on a certain black integra type r. ;)

SteveS None
11/22/10 1:06 p.m.

I have 23,000 miles of round town and some track using Ferodo DS2500 on stock size front rotors on 03 Mini S. The work great, stop cold, don't fade when brakes are smoking, and last long time. Only downside is dust on wheels.

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