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Author Topic: Used RA-1s: Good Idea for HPDE'er?
jeopardyracing
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I've gotten two full seasons out of my Falken Azenis running HPDE type events (4-5 events per year). Now that they are due for replacement, should I buy new RA-1s and have them shaved or start off by buying used tires? I'm wondering which is a better value, how many days I will get out of a useed set of RA-1s, etc.

Background: my car is a stock 95 R Package with no mods except the 205 Falkens, Hard Dog bar, seats & harnesses, and revalved OEM bilsteins. My experience level is around 20 HPDE track days at Summit, ViR, and NJMP.

My current pace on track: this past weekend I ran on the worn Azenis at SP Main and with 3/4 tank of fuel and a 175 lb instructor my best laps were in the 1.38s.

As far as objectives, I have long term aspirations to a comp license but don't have the budget for it yet, so I plan to put in 1-2 more seasons of HPDE.

Any inputs appreciated on whether used is the best route, and if so, where I might go to find some.

Thanks again for all the great info - this board has been a great place for me to come for answers to my myraid newbie questions.

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If money is a factor there are lots of used R888's floating around that cheap and fine for DE's.

I've got 5 of them lying around here I'd sell you cheap with plenty of life left but you'd have to pick them up.

--------------------
Muda Motorsports
"We're all here 'cause we're not all there."

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If you can't get 888 take-offs (besides, you will be disappointed, they don't last), get a set of Dunlop StarSpec's in the 195/50/15 size. They are excellent tires, much much better than the Azenis and not far off the RA1 and well under $100. They are fast and last forever.

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Do I turn my 99 Hard S into a killerfast SM or seek a donor?

Keith in WA Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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For HPDEs used race tires are the way to go IMHO. It's not racing so you don't need race quality rubber. You're not going as fast, braking as deep, or trying to get inside somebody at the next corner. Take-offs work great for that. They're inexpensive so if you put a flat spot in a tire, you're not out as much money. They last a good while because the're not being tortued as much.

BUT...find where you can get the best deal on mounting and ballancing. If you go through 3 sets of used tires at $100 a pop to remove, remount and ballance when you could have used one set of new tires, you're still spending the money, just in a different place.

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Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

TR6
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I've bought some R888's off of guys that are moving back to RA1's. They are great tires for DE. The point about the cost of mounting and balancing is a good point. The last used set I had flipped I told them not to balance to see if I can save some money. But I haven't had that set on the track yet to see if they will work ok without balancing...

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Greg H.
2002 red Miata #500
Denton, Texas

jj15ball
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Not balancing them is a BAD Idea Greg! Your asking for trouble if you run them hard enough. Make friends with someone that has a tire machine and balancer. That's what I did. Until I can afford my own tire machine/balancer. They pay for themselves quickly.

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Jason Ball

jeopardyracing
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Thanks for the responses - sounds like used R888s or RA-1s might be just fine for what I do. Would used R888 or RA-1 be stickier than new Azenis or StarSpec (per the other suggestion)? Also, what would take offs usually go for?

Also - I was wondering if 1:38 in a stock car was an OK time or not, and whether R comps would likely speed me up (knowing full well that my driving / seat time always comes first as an improvement focus).

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quote:
Originally posted by jeopardyracing:

Also - I was wondering if 1:38 in a stock car was an OK time or not,

I may have missed it, but in case I didn't what track are we discussing at 1:38?
Rick

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Fortune Cookie Racing SM 60
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Muda Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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As he lists his region as WDC I assumed it was SP.

--------------------
Muda Motorsports
"We're all here 'cause we're not all there."

Keith in WA Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Used R compounds can be a lot stickier than new 615s. Sometimes they're the fastest right before they die. Watch out for flat spots and sometimes the rubber gets hard. Many people claim that once the 888s have been pushed too hard the compound loses much of it's grip forever.

R compounds will allow faster lap times but not guarantee them. For safety, street compound tires are much more forgiving near the grip limit (you can really make them squeal and be in control) while race tires will have better traction potential but surpass it and they fall off very quickly. You'll need to re-learn the grip behavior or you'll be picking grass out of your grill a lot.

Cost for take-offs is all over the map but if you're paying more than half retail, they ought to be in pretty good shape. I've bought them for as little as $12.50 a tire.

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Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

jeopardyracing
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Sorry if I omitted - yes 1:38 at Summit Point main with the instructor in the car. I soloed last session Sunday but I didn't get many clear laps owing to all kinds of chaos that broke out that session - two cars off, white flags as a result, etc, etc, etc. Got a couple of clear laps but didn't drive well during them.

jeopardyracing
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Thanks Keith - great info!

jeopardyracing
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It sounds (from the lack of replies to the lap time question) like it may be quite difficult to judge how a driver is progressing based on a stock car's lap times with street tires - perhaps just too many variables to draw conclusions.

Still, I'm curious how much slower I am than you guys. Here's a thought I had: buy a set of R compounds next year and do 4-5 DE events. Then at the end of the season, rent a Spec Miata and see what kind of laps I can turn in it - see how close I can get to your race lap times [Big Grin] At least then I would have an objective measure of how well I am learning.

Without a budget for racing, maybe this little mini challenge will give me a goal to work toward during the season.

JaGsC5
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Lap times at Summit Point main course in a Spec prepared car driven by an experienced dirver should have times in the 1:27 range for SM and 1:28 for SSM. I instruct at Summit Point all the time for there FATT events. I think your 1:38 time is fine with how your car is prepared and driving with an instructor in a HPDE.

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Gary Shenk
JaG Motorsports #25

JaGsC5
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Search YouTube for some Spec Miata videos at Summit Point and you will learn alot. Pay attention to how the cars are driven through turn 1 and exit 2, turn 9, and the one that leads to the longest straight, 10. It's all about momentum.

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Gary Shenk
JaG Motorsports #25

jeopardyracing
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Thanks Gary! This past weekend I struggled most with 1 (somehow the bumps there [different from last fall]) really messed me up) and my instructor wanted an earlier track out at 6, which I need more work executing. I've learned to really enjoy 9 - was getting a consistent, light 4 wheel drift to the outside by the end of the weekend. I also really enjoy 3. It's a fun track!

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I woudn't worry about comparing your lap times at this stage in the game. There are lots of variables involved.

As one odd but interesting point of reference, racing Chump Car 2 weeks ago, we had 4 Miatas. At least 3 were retired SMs. All had to run street tires like 615s. Most made decent power despite quiet exhausts. One had a turbo. Most had reasonably sporty suspension but not the SM kit. All were probably very light compared to the SM rules. There were some really really fast drivers piloting them. Nobody could get within 8 seconds of a fast SM time. 15 seconds slower was more the average. Too many variables to say much but I'd guestimate the tires were at least 5 seconds a lap slower than our race tires. I personally got into SM mode a couple times and quickly had to back off due to braking and cornering grip.

If you're 10 seconds a lap slower than a good SM lap in basically a sporty Miata with decent street tires and an instructor. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

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Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

jeopardyracing
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Keith -

Agree totally that at my stage there are no trophies. I just like to ponder the issue because this topic provides a goal to work toward; I enjoy HPDE but without competition I need to set some kind of goals (with objective measures), and this one seems as good as any [Smile]

Great info on the Chump Car - I will definitely move to R comps next year and see how the times differ after the change. And the more I think about the more I like the idea of renting a spec miata one weekend to see how I do with spec hardware [Smile]

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quote:
Originally posted by Gary Shenk:
Lap times at Summit Point main course in a Spec prepared car driven by an experienced dirver should have times in the 1:27 range for SM and 1:28 for SSM. I instruct at Summit Point all the time for there FATT events. I think your 1:38 time is fine with how your car is prepared and driving with an instructor in a HPDE.

Let's not confuse the new guys or create unrealistic expectations. I would hardly characterize the 1:27 or 1:28 range as "should haves" for an experienced SM or SSM driver at Summit Point; this is track record territory. SM: 1:27.238 by Kevin Kopp at MARRS XI, 2009. SSM: 1:28.032 by Scott Brunk at MARRS XI, 2009. That weekend, the best single lap time for the middle of the pack in SSM was over 1:31 on Saturday and just under 1:31 on Sunday.

fleming Made Donation to Website
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hey, who was the 175 pound instructor in your
car?

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"where one ends, one shall begin".

JaGsC5
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack Raymond:
Let's not confuse the new guys or create unrealistic expectations. I would hardly characterize the 1:27 or 1:28 range as "should haves" for an experienced SM or SSM driver at Summit Point; this is track record territory. SM: 1:27.238 by Kevin Kopp at MARRS XI, 2009. SSM: 1:28.032 by Scott Brunk at MARRS XI, 2009. That weekend, the best single lap time for the middle of the pack in SSM was over 1:31 on Saturday and just under 1:31 on Sunday.

Sorry, Perhaps I spoke in error and should have not used the words "experienced drivers" and used the words "top drivers" instead. I might be new to Spec Miata but not new to driving at the track. I don't aspire to be just a top mid pack Spec Miata driver but better than that. Mid Pack is all I might ever be in Spec Miata but I lived long enough to know if you don't aim at the top you won't even get close to reaching it.

When I personally ask somebody what a fast time is at a particular track in a particular car I don't want somebody to give me a mid pack time I expect them to tell me what the top time is so I know how I compare to the top cars with top drivers. So Jeopardyracing, don't expect a 1:27 the first time you get in a SM car(I don't think you are) but set that as a goal. Learn how they are prepping their cars and how they are driving them. Learning where to find that extra second or two is what makes racing so much fun. If you come to a FATT event at Summit Point look me up. I'll ride with you any time. And I'm only 150 pounds. [thumbsup]

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Gary Shenk
JaG Motorsports #25

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This thread reminds me of my asking the question about typical SM lap times at Mid Ohio after I'd taken my newly completed SM to that track in 2003 for a track day shake down.

I'd run like 1:55 laps. In my post I (naively) asked how "mid one fifties" would stack up against the typical SM pack. The responders assumed I'd meant ~1:50.5 "ish" and told me I'd be right in there.

Imagine my shock when I saw the mid packers were in the low 1:50's!
Rick

--------------------
Fortune Cookie Racing SM 60
Directions for use: Race, Rumple, Repair ... Repeat!

jeopardyracing
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Thanks for the replies everyone (I was out of town all weekend in Vegas with no computer) [Smile]

Before I posted, I had looked up the records for SP and being a newb had no illusions that I will be anywhere close, but I couldn't agree more that this sets the standard to shoot for. That's the bar and the game is just "how close can you get?"

But to be maybe a bit more realistic, next year I think my objective is just to drive to a standard where I would be competitive in lap times if I were competing rather than just doing track days (fully understanding that racing in traffic is a totally different skill set than setting a quick time in an HPDE when the traffic clears). So if next year I can set a time in a rented SM that would be mid pack vis a vis actual race times, I'd be stoked. And working toward getting there will be a nice fun little game for me to play until I work up the funds to compete.

Fleming - my instructor's name was Dave (I don't remember the last name [Frown] ); he'd recently sold a Lotus and bought a Miata. I don't think he competed in Spec Miata though.

Thanks very much for the offer Gary - I may take you up on that next year!

This board is really great - can't say how much I appreciate the competitors taking the time to help out the newbs.

jeopardyracing
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Hey everyone,

I had asked in this thread how much the RA-1's would change lap times and I got one data point this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Lightning circuit. I ran with NASA there in HPDE 3 and while the Spec Miata racers' times ranged from 1:20is to the 1:25s I managed a best of 1:26:78 (per my borrowed Race Keeper). That compares to a best of 1:29 last year on the Falkens, so it looks like full tread RA-1s are worth ~2-3 seconds versus Azenis.

It was a NASA event and they had a dyno and scales too so for giggles I had a visit to each: my totally stock R package puts out a whopping 110 at the rear wheels and weighs in at 2,504 with driver, HANS, helmet, fire suit, and half a tank of gas aboard [Smile]

Kyle Burkhardt
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So what are some good sources for RA takeoffs?

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Kyle Burkhardt
NASA Midwest
#12 SM

Vick Verified Driver
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Ask around your region. If there are any companies near you that prep and maintain cars for customers, that's usually a good source.

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http://www.volko.com

Brian Cates
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Are you kidding [Big Grin]

Very hard to find used RA-1's that are worth mounting. We run ours until the metal cords start showing and that's when they are often the fastest, depending on what track of course.

Of course there are some that like new tires, so try hanging out where the tire changer is and you might get lucky.

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The last race I did track support the take off tires were gone or they kept them.
Joe
Treadzone.

Keith in WA Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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For HPDEs, a lot of people have 888 take offs cheap.

--------------------
Keith Novak
(Will work for tires)

Chris Windsor Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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Check the classifieds
I think I have a set or two of Nitto NT01 used on the rack.

--------------------
2011 Season schedule coming soon
Support, sales, repair or rental
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Find a set of old full tread rain tires. RA1s would work well. They won't be a fast as shaved race rubber but it will take you forever to wear them out !

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I have a set of 888's that were last year's rains. One heat cycle and about 5 rain sessions. They're mounted on some well-used Rota RB's. I see that the thread is ancient, but shoot me a PM if you're still looking.

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Glenn Davis

pcdrj
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I would be careful with older tires as well. They will lose grip over time.

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For what it's worth...we've run our first season on tires(RA1's) with 05 date code...3 sets! 2 sets were old rains that we had shaved...3rd set we've run since full tread(6 HPDE days+race). I'm sure there is some difference in the 5 year old tires for the guys up front but for those on a budget and HPDE don't even hesitate. Ours felt no different with the fingernail test than the new ones on the car next to us. But I would imagine if these tires had been in the sun their whole life...things would be different.

For all you guys in the SFR that have 1/2/3 year old rains you wont run...we will gladly take these off your hands [Big Grin]

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-RA


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