kinjiru Posted October 30, 2008 Share Posted October 30, 2008 Hey all, Went out to Eastern Creek on Wednesday with Chatswood Lexus on a drive day. I was wondering whether I'd see anyone of you guys out there. When I was talking to other drivers, I would casually mention that forums on the internet, but no one took the conversation further! I then wasn't sure whether to post about the day, because it was really hard to get into the event (they booked out very quickly) and I didn't want to create hassles for Chatswood Lexus, who were nice enough to invite me, or make people jealous. But in the interests of geting more posts on the forum (Niick's topic!), I thought I'd post this one. Lexus Chatswood had a bunch of cars lined up for you to drive on the track. cars were mostly IS250's, but there was a GS460, a GS450H and even an LS460! If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, they also had 4 or 5 ISF's out there (although we didn't get to drive them). It was my dream come true. I've wanted to take my car to the track for some time, but have been reluctant to thrash my IS250. Also a bit concerned about insurance etc. My brother has taken his MX-5 out on a few track days, and then spoken to me about them, so I've got the bug! He also said that his car came back with a few extra rattles and squeaks that were'nt there beforehand, and that kinda stopped me. I don't think I could live with that in my car. But now, after I've ripped around a circuit in an IS250, I can tell you that I'm hooked! Needless to say, the day was incredibly fun. It started out pretty early with a 7:30am start and the weather was pretty poor. There was a continuous drizzle the whole time I was there. I rocked up in my fiancee's Toyota Celica (as my car was in the repair shop at the time). The sales manager looks at me as I get out of the car and then says "you ruined a perfect row of Lexus' parked here!". I respond with "C'mon, at least it's part of the Toyota family" with a big grin! We then had a briefing, with rules and cautionary advice. Like "stay on the black stuff...the track. If you go off the track, you will most likely go onto grass. With this weather, no amount of stepping on the brake pedal is going to stop you once you are on the grass. You will most likely accelerate until you are stopped by something". Pretty sombering words, and fortunately (at least in the morning session that I was a part of), no one went off. The format was that you went out with an instructor (who was a professional racing driver - there were about 10 or 12 of them) did some laps then came back in and let other people have a go. There were 4 sets of drivers per car, and then you rotated to another car (with your set of drivers). You got the chance to drive 4 cars. Now onto the driving! My first car was a silver IS250 with 59Km's on the odometer...reinforcing why you never buy a dealer demo car!!! I have to admit that I was a bit nervous as it was my first time on a track, it was wet as all hell (I know that didn't make sense), and compounded by the fact that I hadn't driven my IS250 for weeks (with my car in the repair shop). Plus, I really wanted to learn from these pro instructors so I was more focussed on getting the right line in the corners then anything else. Traction control was DEFINITELY on, and it did come in a few times as it was ridiculously easy for the back end to start sliding out when accelerating out of a corner. Just when I started getting the hang of it, and started remembering the corners, we had to go back in and let the other drivers have a go. Doh! I have to say that I really noticed the difference between the stock IS250 Prestige and mine with the 18" wheels and tyres. In the 16's, the tyre sidewall starts rolling early which really affects your level of grip as that initial roll gives the car that extra sideways momentum which helps break the traction. 2nd car was a GS460. Great for flooring it on the straight, but it felt completely out of it's element on the track, especially after the IS. It was bigger and heavier, and really felt it. The nose felt quite heavy and turning into a corner, it was not as tight as the IS250 by a LONG shot. Then because it has a big V8 in the bonnet, any attempt to power out of a corner was a dangerous affair given how wet and slippery it was. I seriously reckon it was more slippery in those conditions than in the pouring rain, because of the oil and residue on the track. Anyway, I didn't enjoy the GS460 at all, which meant I didn't have high hopes for my next car...the GS450h. By the time I was up for my next car, I already knew what it was going to be. I was determined to drive it harder than the GS460 (which had been hell disappointing - sorry GS owners, but perhaps it might have been a different story in the dry) but didn't have high expectations. Surprise, surprise...it felt a whole lot better. It was still big, but rather than being nose heavy into the corner, it felt a lot more balanced. I reckon it has better weight distribution due to the batteries in the rear...then again it could have just been my imagination, or perhaps I was getting greater confidence in my driving or knowledge of the track. Whatever it was, I enjoyed the drive a lot more. I was actually behind the GS460, and the interesting thing was I was up it's ass the whole time on the corners, then when the straight happened and we both planted it, the GS460 didn't gain any ground on me. Given the way they both drive, there is no way I would buy the GS460 especially when you consider the fuel savings from the hybrid. Last drive was back in an IS250, and this time, I was determined to give it as much of a go as the conditions (and instructor) allowed. The instructor in this car let me out for at least 1 extra lap more than he was meant to which was really cool and he showed me the "wet line", which is the line you take in wet conditions. Basically, it is completely different from the dry line and you really notice the extra grip that you get. He explained that when it rains, all the tyre rubber that has been laid down on the circuit by countless cars going over the dry line, make the dry line very slippery. So by taking up a different line, you can get much better grip. I could go into a corner, and put the power on earlier because of the extra grip. This last drive was definitely the most fun for me and I hit 180-190 on the straight, which is a new record for me. Previously I'd only got my IS250 up to about 150km/h (with no traffic around on a freeway). To give you an idea of how slippery the track was, when you floored it on the straight, you would get wheelspin (and the traction control light would blink away furiously) as the gears changed...I'm not talking about when you first floor it either, but rather as you are piling on the speed, and you shift up. In amongst all of this were the ISF's. As I said before, we didn't get to drive them, and seriously, that was a good thing given how slippery it was. However, that didn't stop the Pro's from taking us eager passengers out for a spin. Naturally they wanted to make it as exciting for us as possible, and the car was basically in a constant state of oversteer and wheelspin. These guys really knew what they were doing and I was learning heaps just watching them do it. During the drive, I kept hearing this thunking sound, and I was wondering what it was. At first I thought it was the gearbox, and I was like "what the helll...is this the famed 8 speed gearbox...it sounds terrible!". Then I realised it was my helmetted head hitting the side window from all the rapid G forces! Best thing about the ISF? That sound...it was glorious! The cars were parked in garages which are next to the track. They started the cars to move them into position on the track, and no one noticed the Pros getting into them until....VRRRRROOOOOOMMMM. As one, all heads spun around behind them. Then the next car started up and again and again. When the cars were taking off, they had to get some motion first (otherwise they wouldn't have been stationery with wheelspin), and then VRRROOOOOM again. It was such an appalling day, we didn't get to see the ISF's at their best, but even so, it was still amazing. I know I'm very tempted, and will see how the finances are looking when my lease expires in about 7 months. :) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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