I had nothing to do so I took my trusty Cavalier to a track day to see what’s hot and happening.
The SCCA has these Tracknight in America events monthly where you pay like $150 to toss your car around and test your mettle around a racetrack. A real bargain if you ask me and heaps of fun!
Now I’m going next month but wanted to squeeze in a pre-runner test session to see how my Savvy Cavvy would fare under these brutal track conditions. It’s never been tested on a track seeing how I’ve only owned it for 10 months, most of them under repair just to get it running right.
They offer a “Tour” session of the track which is paced laps to all comers of friends/spectators of people who paid for the full event. I squeezed myself into the 20 minute session and went at it...at about 70%, plenty enough to see my cars shortcomings.
I had 195 width snow tires still equipped on the Cavalier with the 22 yr old stock soft ride GM FE1 suspension at all four corners. The engine is stock and felt tired. Brakes were some cheapo Duralast Autozone specials. This potent combo made for some serious fun out there!
Right off the bat, snow tires are a poor choice of a racing compound; Their sidewall rigidity is nonexistent, they flex like marshmallows and they do not like the sweet sweet heat of kicking ass. Brakes were okay for about 6-7 minutes until brake fade magic started sucking the fun out of everything. I had to really extend my braking points to give those suckers time to cool. My car weighs around 2900lbs with me in it and those 10" vented disks/single piston calipers were fighting way above their weight class here.
The FWD nature of the beast made for very predictable handling and understeer wasn’t an issue, mainly because I’m able to compensate for that. A slight split- second tap of the brakes mid corner to shift the car weight forward and a strong finessing of the throttle equals VOILA! The front tires bite harder and stick just enough to escape oblivion...the waterbed-esque struts were more than accommodating to make that happen.
The trick is to not ask to much of the front tires. They are already burdened as is having to steer and propel the car in some sort of semblance akin to forward motion. It’s just a delicate balancing act of alternating many inputs without combining them into a lethal combo that could potentially break the dam of physics.
I got a lot out of my test session. The Savvy Cavvy needs more damping and stickier summer compounds to put it on better footing. The engines powerband is nice, the torquey 2.2L does well enough and a 6300 rpm redline with pushrod power is pretty sweet. Throwing on some 1.6 ratio rockers over the stock 1.5s and some better headers would do wonders for it. I definitely would want to put on an aftermarket oil cooler if the Cavalier continues doing track duty, so we’ll see.
Thanks for reading!