If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Oh the Tiremanity. Exocet on the track!

I got the Exocet out on the track this weekend. Laguna Seca during the Miata Reunion to be specific.

This was my first track day outside of 4 laps on the Nurburgring 2 years ago and the first ever for the Exocet. I chose to drive in the novice group (E) which was a good start. I was assigned an instructor from the get-go on Saturday morning and that was helpful. He’s a super nice guy who brought his RV down with his Miata from the Bay Area so before we started, we sat inside (out of the sun) and chatted about the track, corners, and what to expect. Then we headed out on track. There was a huge bunch up of cars from the get-go and almost no one was giving pointby’s and that made him unhappy but we ran the correct lines at half-pace and that was actually nice.

Unfortunately, someone had a bad day and went off track during the 2nd B group and had to leave in an ambulance. The track then had to wait for another ambulance to arrive on site before they could restart laps. As a result, I lost my 2nd opportunity to drive with Neil in the car since he had additional instructional laps to give in the afternoon.

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Being an amazing gentlemen and a scholar (actually, an aerobatics pilot), he took me for a ride-along during an afternoon D-group session in his Miata. Man, sticky tires and a race drive make all the difference in the world. He was fast fast fast - even with a fairly stock car on old sticky tires. I then hopped into my own car and headed out as the last person in E-group back on the track. That turned out to be amazing since I got 2 laps before I caught up with traffic.

At the end of the day, a friend of mine that’s been visiting hopped in my passenger seat for a ride. She had gotten some good rides over the course of the day. She was all ready to get a ride in a turbo Miata and the car had a mechanical failure. They swapped her into a stock Miata with a timid driver. That first ride was too slow and she was utterly disappointed. Thankfully, she met a strapping young lad from B group who was more than willing to show her some skills on track. She had a great time, then hopped right into my car to finish the day. I’m not nearly as fast, but that’s okay.

I am thoroughly disappointed by my tires. Yokohama S-Drive’s are NOT up to track days. They’re just not grippy enough and that’s frustrating. I’m feeling like I could get another 10mph through some corners with just tires and that really changes how I would approach the line. They’re fine street tires (if you need more than that on a street, you’re in losing-your-license territory) but on the track, I’m losing full seconds in several corners. They’re also shredding themselves pretty badly. It’s actually hard to judge what I’d like to change with the suspension since it’s so underworked in corners.

Having said all of that, the car is still holding its own. It’s able to pass quite a few cars/drivers and it’s been wracking up an impressive number of pointbys.

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Video tomorrow (maybe monday if I get home late) since I forgot my GoPros today.

Several Exocets and a Catfish!
Photo: Nick Allain
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