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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How to Prepare a Nissan Skyline GTR for a Track Day

Group A Calsonic Nissan Skyline GTR
How do you prepare your 25 year old Nissan Skyline GT-R for a track day on a road course? Easy.  Just follow these steps, and before you know it, you will be humming around the race track. If you are seriously taking a 25 year old, or older car out on the track, make sure you at least check the basics.

We don't know the condition of your car, the modifications done to your car, or your track experience, so bear with us on some of these items. This covers R32, R33, and R34.

R's Day 2019 Buttonwillow Raceway October 12

R's Day 2019 is coming up October 12th at Buttonwillow Raceway park. So if you are going to that, or another event, here are some guidelines.
  • Notebook
  • Maintenance
  • Fluids
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Cooling
  • Suspension
  • Alignment
  • Oiling
  • Nut and Bolt
  • Tow Hooks
  • Fuel
  • Modifications
  • What to do once you reach the track

Notebook

My GTR notes, the only picture of I notebook I had handy. 
Taking notes will help you look back on past data.  It can be simple, it can be elaborate.  Some will use their phone to take notes. We still use a 3 ring binder and a pen.  Whatever works for you is fine, but it is a good habit to have. 

Maintenance


You have to maintain the car.  You have to at least check these items. If you don't know the last time they were replaced, replace them prior to your track day. 

Fluids

  • Engine Oil - 7.5 - 30 (10-30 for a street car, 10-60 on a track car) - 4.5 liters
  • Oil Filter - OEM 15208-60U00 , WIX 51361, OEM(R34, smaller filter) 15208-9E000
  • Cooling System - Approximately 9 liters. Gycol or Water?  Depends where you live.
  • Front Differential (F160) - GL5 85-90 1 liter - (1 quart)
  • Transmission fluid - Don't try and fill it though the gear shifter. Though the gear shifter is the transfer case .  GL4 75-90  4.1 liters (4.3 quarts)
  • Transfer Case - Nissan Automatic Fluid Type D 1.8 liters (1.9 quarts)
  • Rear Differential(R200) - LSD GL5 80-90 1.5 liter(1.5 quarts)

Tires


Tires are the only things that touch the track.  We would say that the single biggest thing that effect how the car works, are the tires.  The wrong tires for the wrong job, will mean you fail to reach your full potential.  Tires will be a complicated problem because there are compromises. The fastest tires on track, will also wear fastest. The longest lasting street tires, will preform fairly poorly on track. Now if it rains, the best tires in the dry, may be the worst tires in the wet (think slicks).

Generally I want the stickiest, widest tire possible under the car.  The key being under the car. Not sticking outside of the body lines.

Tire pressures are set with hot pressures in mind. You want to have at a minimum a good tire pressure gage, and note your cold tire pressure when you start the day.  Then after each session, measure hot tire pressures.

What wheels fit my R32 GT-R? 
Can I run different sized tires on my Skyline GT-R?
16 inch tire options for OEM R32 GT-R Wheels

Brakes

Cross drilled rotors always crack
Brakes for most people are a, replace every few years when they start making noise.  A good set of race pads, should make most people think you are on the squeelers.

Heat is the enemy of the braking system,well excessive heat. Every brake pad, every rotor, every brake fluid is going to have a range that it works well within. When you run outside this range, things go down hill and wear out quickly. I have written a lot about the brakes on the R35, and similar things apply to the R32, R33, and R34. The R32 Vspec, R33, and R34 all had Brembo 4 piston front, and 2 piston rear brakes.


Cooling

An odd location for an oil cooler on the #bluecar.  One day, we will move this. 

Cooling can depend on your ambient temperature and humidity. The hotter ambient is, the more humid it is, the less effective the cooling system is. On an RB26 there is a factory oil/water oil cooler. That cools the oil, but adds temperature to the coolant/water.  Oil generally runs hotter than water.

An RB26 is nearly oil cooled.  7 main caps, twin long cams, oil squirters, oil cooled pistons, turbos.  Heat is introduced into the oil, and that heat needs to be rejected via an oil cooler. Big, and many seem to be the RB26 answer.

You probably need to run an aftermarket oil cooler.  Bigger is better. If you are making a lot of power, then a lot of that power is turned into heat.


Suspension

Stock suspension, Buddy Club, and some basic grade Ohlins
Suspension. There are lot of parts to suspension. Some people use the term to only refer to the coil overs/shocks, but there are also suspension arms that encompass the term. Most Japanese brand coil overs are over sprung and underdamped. What this means is the springs are really stiff, and the control of the spring is not where it should be. While that setup may be fine on very smooth roads, or very smooth tracks, here in the US, we generally have neither.

In order for you to be able to control the car, the tires have to maintain contact with the road/track surface. If the car is so stiff that the tire is bouncing up and down, and not contacting the road, you will not have control. There are many reasons not to over lower a car, or to make it too stiff. Stiffness does not equate fast or good handling. We see all kinds of chinese branded coil over crap sold to unknowing young buyers. When you are young you might be able to live with shitty suspension, but as you get older, and have a chance to try out cars with hundreds of setups, you will probably much prefer a real coil over, vs some eBay crap.

As far as brands go, we like Ohlins. There are different levels of Ohlins, the newest are the DFV, or dual flow valve setups. Ohlins does a good job of matching spring to damping.

Ride Height : Don't go too low. The suspension has to be able to compress to work and control the tire
Camber : The reason for camber, is not for you to fit the widest tire possible. Camber flattens out the tire as you are cornering. Too much camber negatively effects braking.
Toe : You have 10 of them. Or rather it is the direction the tire is pointing. Toe in, or toe out. Toe in make a car more stable, toe out makes it a little less stable. Toe being off is the biggest wear of a tire.
Caster : Shopping carts have casters. In a car it is self centering of the wheel, and steering effort related.

As far as adjustable parts go, if you don't know what they do, and how they interact with how the car handles, you might not want to mess with them. There are plenty of ways to adjust how a car handles, based on how you drive, and tire pressures, but lots of people want every piece of adjustable suspension component they can get, then leave it all stock settings. Don't be that guy.

Suspension and Alignment Settings : R32, R33, R34 GT-R
Suspension Parts : Nissan Skyline GT-R
R32 GT-R Chassis Bracing
MotoIQ : The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling
Wheel Hop


Alignment

The elusive camber spacers

Alignment, corner balancing are both very important things in making a car handle well.  Most any shop can handle aligning a Nissan Skyline.  The OEM specs are above.  Once you get into a track car however, your alignment for the track, may/should be different than for a street car. Follow some of the MotoIQ information above to learn more about suspension and handling. 

Corner balancing is done for cars with adjustable suspension.  If you don't have aftermarket coil overs then you won't be corner balancing. If you do, then it is a critical step in making sure that the car is setup for the track.  If you don't have the tools required, you have to find a shop that can help you properly corner balance your car. 

Oiling

Tomei Oil pump vs OEM oil pump.  The Tomei are the largest and strongest crank driven pumps. 

This is a double edged sword.  If the car is stock, you aren't on a crazy tire, and everything is in good order, then whatever the car has is probably fine.  However...

Peter from Australia mentioned that I should let people know that the oil level should be filled to the bump/hump in the dipstick. We do talk about it in the basics and oil and filter change, but it might be missed.  This overfill may help keep your oil pickup covered in oil.  Very good idea for a near stock car that is tracked. Some pictures of oil pan level and that bump are here - https://www.gtrusablog.com/2019/08/rb26dett-oil-pan-testing-filling-it.html

Nut and Bolt


Nut and bolt is what we do to any car before we take it on track.  It is a critical step to ensure that you have the minimal amount of mistakes or failures.   You will hopefully save yourself a ton of time and effort if you just do some checking.  You really want to touch, poke, prod, and shake everything on the car prior to going on track. You will find loose items, and fix them before they become an issue.  Make sure you lift the car, and grab each wheel/tire at 12 and 6 oclock and shake. Then grab them at 9 and 3 and shake.  You are checking the condition of the wheel bearings, tie rods, and other suspension parts. 

Nut and bolt involves taking wrenches, and other tools, and putting them on anything on the car that was touched, might fall off the car. So if you just replaced the brakes, then go back with a little clearer head, and double check them.   Often what we do on race cars, is use two people, each with a paint marker that goes around the car, and puts a dot/mark on each nut or bolt they touch.   Fast reference to make sure that you have the minimum amount of mistakes. We are all human, we all make mistakes, or miss a bolt. 

The best paint marker we have tried and used, is the 1.8 mm to 2.5 mm Posca marker in Pink.  Pink shows up on about anything.  Easy to see, not expensive at about $5 each.  Really worth it if you have things to mark. 




Tow Hooks

Not an acceptable tow hook

Tow hooks are required for most track day event organizers. They want a safe, defined spot on your car, where they can move it, if it becomes disabled.


Fuel


Run good gas in your car.   We could talk about octane, and octane requirements. But we just will say, run the good gas. Run the expensive gas.  If you are blasting around the track, not paying attention to things like boost, or temperature, good gas may save your engine. So that few hundred dollars in the good stuff, may save you a $5k engine rebuild. 

Modifications


These are entirely optional.  There are a metric fuckton of things you can do to a Nissan Skyline to make it preform better, or perhaps worse on track.  Yes really. You really can make it worse.  If you don't know the hows and whys of a modification, you should seek some help, or guidance.  Aka low is good, so lower is better?


What to Do Once You Reach the Track

Nismo R32 GTR at Buttonwillow Raceway

This should be it own separate post.  From watching video before you go out, to knowing the track layout, the in's and outs. The length of the sessions, the rules for each session.


Buy USA Legal R32 and R33 Skylines at Importavehicle.com!
Buy-R.com for Nissan Skyline GT-R and GT-R parts.




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