The second race for our amazing-ish 2002 Buick Regal is coming up within a week, The Real Hoopties of New Jersey at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I don’t know what the hell is going, maybe the earth is spinning faster, but I don’t have the time for anything anymore. Good thing that one of my teammates, Andy, has the time and ability to wrench on the car. Outside of a one team wrenching day, he has done all the prep work for this race.
In the past I yapped about the race but managed skip the part about how the car has actually performed. It’s now time to fix that. Today we shall discuss some vital vehicle components such as tires. Yes, very exciting stuff.
Going back to our October race, you may recall BFGoodrich offered us a set of their g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires to use for this race. I honestly knew nothing about these tires. I had no idea how they were going to perform, what reputation they had, and had no time for research. I haven’t bought performance tires in ten years or so, and ten years is an eternity in tire technology. But BFG insisted that these are the tires we should be using. To say that I was surprised by these tires would be an understatement
The suspension on our so-called race car was 100% factory original going to the race. We took the true Lemons approach just raced what we had. We used 17” Mustang GT wheels and wrapped them with the new BFG g-Force Comp-2 in 245/45-17 variety. We didn’t align the car, we just eye-balled it at the shop; logistics of transporting the vehicle to and from the shop were an issue.
Our brakes consisted of F-body front rotors and calipers. Hawk HPS (I think) front pads, cheapo rear pads. Turner Motorsport sponsored us with some high temp brake fluid but we did not have the time to flush the system, so we stuck with conventional brake fluid. We had zero brake fade and we used up about half the meat on our front pads over two days of racing.
During Friday practice the car felt fine, that is to say it predictably floated like a coked-up Cadillac and stung like a drunken Messerschmitt. But it wasn’t until we were in the race that we noticed something peculiar about our Buick:
- It went through corners faster than it should have.
- It stopped better than it should have.
At New Hampshire Motor Speedway there are two sections that consist of multiple corners. I observed that in those corners I easily kept up with cars that I shouldn’t have kept up with – a certain CR-X and an E30 come to mind. But those cars would pull away from us on the straights; no way in hell could I keep up with them. It wasn’t until the end of the main straight where the 3600lb Buick was able to out-brake them going into turns! Physics, they clearly did not apply to us that day.
Don’t get me wrong, there dozens cars that were much faster than us, but there were also a few that should have been faster than us. We had no idea what class these shouldof cars were in or who was driving them but we got them in the corners and on braking, but they got us on power.
We were certain that in corners it was the tires, and the tires alone, that kept us glued to the track and going in the intended direction. We are also certain that the wide tires helped tremendously under braking, too. ABS did kick in but only under ridiculously hard “oh crap I’m gonna smack into him unless I stand up on this pedal” kind of braking. Otherwise we were driving with endurance and reliability in mind.
Part of me also believes that, contrary to common sense, this stupid 50lb bench on out trunk lid actually helped us out. I think it kept the car steady under heavy braking; it acted like wing, providing a down force onto the rear wheels. It also helped to redistribute the weight for a better front-to-rear balance. Stupid, but it did work! I think. Maybe.
That said, the bench spoiler definitely increased body roll in corners and slowed us down aerodynamically. We probably lost a few MPGs because of it, too. Whatever, it’s staying on. I suggested that we add some active shutters on it but we did not have the time.
We did develop a problem with the tires, but the problem with the tires was not the tires, but rather our jalopy race car. The Buick had no adjustable camber. The springs and struts were super soft, as were all the bushings. Combined with a heavy nose, it makes sense that the outer shoulders started wearing out very fast. Us driving over the rumble strips, sometimes grass, and other rough parts of the track did not help one bit. At the end of the two-day race two of our tires were toast.
Overall, these tires amazed me and I fully intend on getting a set for my other car which will see some track duty. But please, do not take my word for it. Read this Hooniverse Asks. Then read tirerack.com and note that both Skip Barber and Ford Racing High Performance Driving schools use them for training and racing.
Going into this race we installed camber adjuster kits on all four corners. We’re going with the same pads and rotors, but with high temp brake fluid. We did some other top-secret suspension mods but the well worn springs and shocks remain due to lack of funds. The vehicle maybe enhanced aerodynamically if Andy has the time. The two remaining Comp-2s will be in rotation but our tire strategy isn’t solidified yet.