I blew the Alfa's head gasket on the track - ADDENDUM

Illustration for article titled I blew the Alfas head gasket on the track - ADDENDUM

Right. Today is a new day and I have some more stuff to add to my track day article:


So yeah, first off as far as track days go I received no irreparable damage, didn’t slide off the track, no one got hurt, and both cars drove home.

These are all wins.

I’d also like to reinforce that the Alfa’s HG has probably been bad since it started having vapor lock issues in 2017.


So. There is that.

I should also clarify (I edited the original post to reflect this too) the Volvo’s clutch almost immediately started working again and it drove home no problem. The clutch shares a reservoir with the brakes, so likely the brake fluid was very hot and increased use of the clutch was enough to boil the clutch fluid in the line but not the brakes. I’m also wondering if my shop hasn’t been flushing my clutch when they’ve been doing my brakes. (Not that I blame them or anything. If Volvo doesn’t say to do it they probably don’t.)


I did have a minor off in the Volvo which may have resulted inboard damage to the tire or wheel. I’ll probably book it in at the mechanic for a check out soon.

Track times

I made a side-by-side comparison of the two on the track. There is some error in the Volvo one as I didn’t have a phone mount in my car so the GPS accuracy was crap. Also looks like I moved over to let someone by in my best lap, which is interesting.

Illustration for article titled I blew the Alfas head gasket on the track - ADDENDUM

Interestingly the Alfa was almost as fast in the corners and short straights. Seems like I was able to get back on the power much sooner in the Alfa. The main straight is the most surprising, with the Alfa hitting 80 MPH and the Volvo struggling to get to 90 MPH. This seems to come down to either a better line or execution on that last sweeping corner, with the Alfa consistently carrying more speed out of it vs the Volvo. I also took a way different line and carried more speed into it in the Volvo, so apparently I know not to do that anymore.


Also I did notice the less aggressively I drove the faster my lap times were. I guess I need to find what the sweet spot is there... eventually.

I’m a little bummed my times weren’t better, TBH. I thought this was something I might be naturally good at as I’d got some really positive feedback from my instructor last time but... I fear not. Ahh well.


Track App

I used TrackAdditct because it is free and I gotta say... I’m pretty sold on the concept of track apps anyway. The immediate data and feedback was amazing to have. (The track only tells you lap times at the end of the day, which is lame.) I also rented a transponder from the track ($20!) and the lap times from the app and the lap times from the transponder were very close even with the crap GPS signal in the Volvo.


I’m like... 100% sold on buying a bluetooth GPS receiver and upping my app game next time. In fact I’m downright excited about it.

I didn’t end up trying any other the others, but overall I was happy with TrackAddict. It struggled a little with the in laps as it didn’t seem to have the pit lane programmed in so you had to manually stop recording. The in-lap was fairly meaningless anyway, so it doesn’t mater. Given the other apps are the same cost as renting a transponder*, I’ll probably buy one next time too.


*Minor complaint about this track: The operator wouldn’t turn on the transponders unless we had 5 people wanting them, so $100. She wouldn’t print out lap times between sessions, and the transponders only gave you lap times. Also, as I just pointed out, the cost was the same as buying one of the pro versions of a track app. Also also if you lose the transponder they charge you ALL THE MONEY. So... not sure what the point of that system is in 2020, at least for what we’re doing.


Both cars are fine(ish) and I had a certain type of fun.

I’m also surprisingly sore this morning.

The Alfa will probably get all the required work done late this summer. At the moment the Jag, Disco, and Saab are ahead of it in line for my love. Until then I guess it is going to have to sit and think about what it did.

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