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August 29, 2007

Track Videos!

Speaking of balance (see [Balance entry]) when a driver has a well sorted out car, he can really push it on the track and feel comfortable taking it to its limits. And we have video to prove it after the jump.

The following in car videos come courtesy of a good customer of ours. David is a real track fiend and probably has several thousand track miles on his car by now. What started out as a stock 2001 BMW M3 is now a real track car, complete with roll bar and race tires. This M3 is one of the better sorted out cars out there, and it is because we paid very close attention to balanced upgrades. No one part of the car overpowers the rest, because pretty much every aspect of the original has been upgraded en masse to increase the overall performance.

Some of the modifications include:
Full TC Kline Racing double adjustable coil-over suspension
Upgraded supension bushings
Full SuperSprint exhaust from stepped headers to race muffler,
aFe cold air intake and ECU upgrade to make use of exhaust and intake
Brembo big brake kit at all four corners
Lightweight forged track wheels with r-compound tires
Custom roll bar

The first video here is from Putnum park July 2007. It was David's 5th trip to the track with the Bluegrass Chapter of the BMWCCA. Best lap time was a consistant 1:22. The temperature for the weekend was in the mid 90s.

The second video is from Barber Motorsport Park, Memorial weekend 2007. Best lap time was 1:48 with quite a bit of track school traffic.

The third video is from classic Virginia International Raceway. This was his first time at that track. Best lap time clocked in at 2:18

This next video is from David's second time at Road Atlanta. Best track time 1:44

Here we have a lap around MidOhio, one of our favorite "local" tracks (local compared to Atlanta and Barber). Best lap time here for David so far, 1:44

The final video we have for you in this entry is from historic Watkins Glen, one of my favorite tracks. Here David is chasing down another customer of ours (red E46 M3). Best lap for his first time at the track, 2:24

What you see in these videos is a highly modified, yet well balanced car with a skilled driver at the wheel. David knows his car well and becuase of the balanced approach we took to upgrading the performance of the M3, he feels comfortable to push it to its limits.


We're constantly preaching balance to our customers when it comes to installing performing upgrades on their cars. It is our philosophy that a car has three basic objective measures and one subject measure when it comes to performance: positive acceleration, negative acceleration (also known as deceleration or braking), and lateral acceleration (turning, or the ability to change directions). The fourth measure combines the three objective yardsticks into a subjective rating that's all about balance and feel-- how the three acceleration measures combine into a whole experience.

Carry over pictures 439a.jpg

Typically modern cars come from the factory pretty well balanced. By that I mean the engine doesn't overpower the brakes, the wheels are sized for handling on par with the speed capability of the drivetrain, and so on. When you decide to upgrade just one part of the acceleration measures I outlined, you are necessarily going to tax the other two and throw the balance off.

Case in point, we upgraded the suspension on a car earlier this year (KW coil-overs on all four corners, thicker Hotchkis sway bars front and rear, full track alignment). The customer's times at a local road course immediately dropped 5 seconds, but the car lasted about half the day, when his stock brakes gave out. The additional speed the new suspension set-up found overwhelmed the brakes. The same result might have happened if we just upped the power of the engine. Now he needs bigger brakes and stickier tires.

You see the pattern? When you decide to increase the performance of your car, you have to look at the entire system and understand how each part relates to the balance of the entire car. When the car is balanced, the seat of the pants feel is not only better; it inspires confidence when you're pushing the car.

August 28, 2007

Don't Take Our Word for It Again

It's great when we're able to help out customers with their performance needs. And sometimes it's as simple as a good alignment. The devil is in the details, or so they say, and doing a proper alignment is all about the details. How accurately you measure the base line, and how close to the specifications you're aiming for you get are key details.


We work with our customers to tweak the alignment to a set-up that is best for the car and for the way it is driven. But don't take our word for it, this is what one of our customers posted on the Michigan EVO messageboard:

Eric (the alignment specialist) made sure to talk to me for about 15 minutes to learn exactly what I was looking for. I was able to observe every tweak Eric made. He measured toe and camber to the millimeter rather than inches like most shops do. The biggest surprise came when they told me how much the cost was. He worked on my car for several hours and only charged my $120 for the whole job. He then asked me to come back after driving around for a week so he could check everything over again.

The end results were amazing. My car handles unbelievable. It is for sure the best handling car I have ever driven, even better than my e36 M3 was and way better than the STI was. My camber plates are symmetrical so I set up the street setting to have a little toe in and 0 camber. I set up the track setting with -3 degrees of camber and a fair amount of toe out. I settled for -1.5 degrees camber out back with a little toe in. The Bottom line is that I am very picky about who works on my car. Eric and Horst did an excellent job, are very cool guys and I’d definitely recommend them to any of you if you need a good place to help you with suspension set up.

Read his full post here: http://www.mievo.net:80/talk/showthread.php?t=1890

August 22, 2007

Don't Take Our Word for It (Si part 1)

We work closely with our customers to put together a performance package for their car that best fits their needs. The new Civic Si is a great car out of the box, but it's not perfect. And when you take it to the track, as the customer in this case study does, the weaknesses are amplified. The Si has plenty of motor, but is lacking in the braking and grip departments.

We found this out rather quickly when we took our bone stock project Si coupe to the track this past spring. We have already upgraded the wheel/tire combo to increase grip (235 width Bridgestone Potenza RE01-R tires mounted on lightweight 18" Volk Racing wheels). Our next step will be a big brake kit as well as a full on Moton Racing remote reservoir coil-over suspension with custom VRPerformance camber plates and shock mounts.


But you don't need to go all out to see an immediate improvement. Well thought out incremental upgrades can sometimes be enough for the casual track star.

Case in point: we put a package together for a customer's Civic Si sedan that, for minimal money, pretty much transformed the car. The combination included 225 sized Potenza RE01-R tires on lightweight 17 inch rims, Eibach sport lowering springs, camber bolts, DBA 4000 series slotted front rotors, Hawk Plus track pads and high temp brake fluid. Finally, we did a 4 wheel ailgnment specifically for track/street performance driving.

Here's what our customer had to say of the results:

OMG! You (and Eric) have put another pillar under your VRPerformance sign! My already very good Civic Si under your guiding hand promises to be outstanding at the track.

I finally got to take the car out this a.m. at daybreak without passengers or cargo. My plan was to stress the brakes a little to bed them and see what I had.

Well, even though the roads were empty I wanted more, so I went to a church parking lot I’m familiar with that has a couple acres of blacktop, turned off the headlights, put down the windows, and went to work.

Man it was formidable! The brakes are brilliant: firm and dramatic before the ABS kicks in. The tires are skid-pad tenacious with very little squeal until the limits. And the turn-in puts the radio station at the other end of the dial.

A semi driver coming down the main road downshifted to a crawl to watch the shenanigans.

So for bargain money I believe I’m getting a taste of what more experienced drivers are doing with the mods they make to their track cars that make them so fun, fast, and good.


August 02, 2007

Milltek Exhaust Install on Audi RS4

Now that the Audi RS4 has been on the market for a few years, aftermarket goodies are beginning to trickle into the market. And while nobody can say that the RS4 has a sedate exhaust note, that glorious V8 deserves a bigger megaphone through which to broadcast its melodious voice.

To test this idea, Automobile Magazine decided to give their long term RS4 the aftermarket exhaust treatment. Stratmosphere offered up a high flow cat-back system from British exhaust manufacturer, Milltek Sport, and your friends here at VRPerformance did the install.

Here you can see the OEM unit on the left and the Milltek kit on the right. Note the absence of the resonator on the Milltek exhuast as well as the smaller mufflers.

It's important always to hang the entire kit loosely before aligning and tightening the flanges and hangers.

The final fit.

Few engine configurations sound better than a V8. The upgraded exhaust note on the Milltek equiped RS4 is a definite improvement over the stock system. The dB level is not much higher, but the quality of the the sound is better with a deeper growl on load at low speeds changing to a pleasant wail at higher rpms-- befitting the sport luxury leanings of the RS4.

Check http://automobilemag.com for sound clips of the stock vs. Milltek exhaust systems.