Leo Parente Drives A SimRaceway Formula 3 Race Car - SHAKEDOWN

Uploaded by drive on 11.05.2012


LEO PARENTE: I'm dressed like this at SimRaceway's
Performance Driving Center, Sears Point, for a reason.
We're here to drive the Lola, Formula 3 car.
LEO PARENTE: 300 horsepower.
1,030 pounds.
Back to my old Atlantic days in terms of speed and pace,
and g-load and corners.
But it's not about me driving race cars.
What we're going to do today is share with you the insights
and the information you need to drive a race car technology
and race tire, versus driving a road car and street tires.
There is a difference.
We all love cars.
We all love going fast.
But how you get that speed really does matter with the
tools you use, and today it's a Lola Formula 3 car.
LEO PARENTE: Before I got into the real F3 Lola, I got into
the exact same sim F3 Lola to make sure that what we were
learning was projecting to the real car.
The last time I drove Formula Atlantic F3 fast was 1997.
But the last time I raced Sears Point was all the way
back to '91 or '92.
And the track was different then from what it is now.
Some knowledge carries over, but there's a lot of learning
to do and a new car to figure out fast.

OK, this is not the way I want to bring the race car back
from my test.
But we're here in the race shop, and I thought it would
be a good opportunity to take a look at this Lola Formula 3
car as it's apart to walk through the technology and
tell you why I'm also a little nervous about this test.
Because this is a proper, true race car.
When Lola decided to compete against Dallara in the Formula
3 category, they knew they had to build a real race car, and
it starts with a carbon tub, just like the Atlantic car I
used to drive, not like the Formula 2000 cars which are
tube frame.
What they learned, however, is Dallara's stiff competition.
So they designed a slightly bigger tub to be used in
school situations like this, but it doesn't make it any
less of a race car.
Carbon tub.
Race car suspension.
The Mitsubishi Evo 1.99 liter motor.
In School trim it's 220 horsepower.
They've got this dialed up to Race trim, 300 horsepower, 370
brake feet of torque.
And again, a car about 1,030 pounds.
So this actually has more power than the Atlantic cars
we used to drive, which had 250, 260 horsepower.
It is not a stress member.
You can see the tube chassis here to connect the dots to
the [INAUDIBLE] five speed gearbox.
While these brakes are not carbon, these steel rotors and
race pads are pretty prodigious and get the job
done in this car and frankly give us a little bit of an
advantage, because they come up to temperature quick.
They hold the braking better than a carbon.
You don't really need to ride them to keep them going.
There is no tunnel like an Atlantic car.
Not a full tunnel.
You can see the flat tray here leading to the back.
But pretty prodigious diffuser.
About 2,200 pounds of down force.
Again, in a 1,000 pound car.
Will we really be getting over two Gs?
I'm pretty sure.
One of the other differences that you don't see here, but
you'll see when we drive the car, are the tires.
The Atlantic tires were huge.
It's a big part of this car I forgot to tell you about.
This Evo engine is turbo-charged.
School trim, 220 horsepower.
Racing in our test today, 300.
How do they do it?
Air restrictors.
There's the School.
There's the good, green, 300 horsepower.
I haven't driven a car this serious since 1997.
I'm not in the same shape.
MALE SPEAKER: What are you most worried about?
Is it your fatigue, or mental--
LEO PARENTE: No, not fatigue.
Just the rhythm.
Just that whole coordination of being one with the car and
thank God the mike's not on.
But that feeling.
As opposed to just, it's so awkward and mechanical.
And the comfort level will come in the brake zone.
And if it's not there, then it'll affect how hard I push.
And on the other side, if I do feel comfortable, what I don't
want to do is get lulled into it and start
going, because I'm rusty.
I'm rusty enough that I want to respect that.
Even sitting here outside the garage getting ready to go,
I'm focused on how am I going to feel these tires?
How are they going to come in?
Expecting one or two laps for it to build temperature.
They are a good tire, but a hard compound.
They are a smaller tire than the Atlantic car, and I wonder
if we're going to end up going all Schumacher here where the
technology is way ahead of the capability of the tire.
So that's one thing.
Number two, I got to get comfortable with the brakes.
As a downforce car, as we've always spoken, there's a lot
of brake force up front.
But frankly I don't know the limits to this.
This is a Formula car, therefore all of the steering
inputs are going to be very, very immediate.
I've got to change my thinking from road car mentality of how
to think where the car wants to go, and then steer, and
then wait, to the immediacy that I
probably expect will happen.

The clutch was easier to push forward than people were
trying to explain to me.
It is a racing clutch, but it's easily progressive.
Pit lane.
There's not a lot of steering angle in a race car, and this
one was one where I want to make sure we weren't going to
hit the wall.
Off onto the track.
This will be a very deliberate lap.
What I'm doing now is getting my eyes focused on my
reference points.
Here's the curve.
These last two cones, that's where I want to be to turn the
car in for this uphill turn two.
Blind, but now I want to make sure I'm in a
good place track left.
Coming down into this dip, there is an imaginary--
there we go, right to the right side of the track.
Back of the berm, end of the berm to get ready for the
blind three and four.
And you literally project your imagination over the crest to
be right there.
Third gear corner when we get up to speed.
Turn across, there's a little bit of a reference.
And now we're going toward the carousel.
The carousel is going to be where this car is going to
show all of its Gs and
capability in terms of cornering.
Cresting the car, turn it in.
I'm a little wide to start, but I'm just being kind of
conservative to see what the car will do.
Do I feel anything in the tires?
Quite frankly, no.
But they're not up to temperature by any stretch of
the imagination.

One of the things you do in the warm up lap is not get
lured into the sensations of the race car.
Because you're going at a low speed, and the car is very,
very rough.
The setup is set for the 1,500 pounds of downforce that this
race car will generate.
The tires have no temperature, so they're kind of skating on
top of the track right now.

Early in the session, I had to come in, and
I'll tell you why.
Part of the reality of plug and play in cars like this is,
you don't have a custom-fit seat.
We did a little insert.
We did a little foam.
And frankly, I was flopping around.

LEO PARENTE: The Lola chassis was built for larger
individuals, because it really was an F3 modified to be used
as a school track experience car.
I cannot tell you.
I was moving around that thing so much I had room for having
a little party on my own.
So I needed to get the belts tightened, maybe have some
more foam put in there, but something needed to be fixed.
Because if we were going to pick up the Gs, I
was going to be lost.

The car is good.
I'm just rolling around in here.
LEO PARENTE: Can you either buttress me in or
pull me down tighter?
MALE SPEAKER: I see the lap one is [INAUDIBLE].
MALE SPEAKER: Lap ones will be the best help.
LEO PARENTE: It's really my shoulders.
MALE SPEAKER: Our seat insert is still moving, so the seat
insert itself will move a little bit.
So you kind of need to brace yourself as you go.
But we can help as much as we can.
LEO PARENTE: It's really up in my shoulders,
believe it or not.
MALE SPEAKER: Yeah, I believe you.
Hopefully that will do it.
MALE SPEAKER: Thoughts so far, Leo?
MALE SPEAKER: Feels good though, right?
I couldn't get it into neutral.
It's with the pull cable.
LEO PARENTE: Oh, I'm sorry.
MALE SPEAKER: Pull the cable and one extra downshift.
There you go.
Yeah, we're good to go.
LEO PARENTE: Having made the fix, it's time to get serious.
There's a little temperature in the tires.
I figure about one lap and then we'll be able to really
start to push.
But I can start to lean on it, and that's the thing you need
to have happen.
You need to start leaning on the brakes.
We need to start leaning on the tires.
We start to feel the ability, the capability, of this car.
This is a trail-break corner, and this is one place where
you start to feel like, are the brakes coming in?
Are the tires coming in for what you need to do?
I'm still not using full rev, but you can see we're getting
more to it.
This is a fourth gear carryover into the crest, and
now a little more diamond- shaped here.
Feeling the Gs.
We're going to get two Gs when we're done here.
And now I'm reminding myself, why did I ever get
out of a race car?
There's nothing like the sensation.
No offense to the visuals.
No offense to what DRIVE does for a living.
You cannot experience this unless you actually do it, and
I actually encourage everyone to try it.

OK, it's time to stop screwing around and figure out if we
can really do this.
Here we come out of the last corner onto the straightaway.
Aim for that white.
Get the car straight.
Go full throttle.
LEO PARENTE: It's going to be fifth gear by the time we
cross Start-Finish.
Turn, but not too early.
Get ourselves track wide.
Around the bump.
I hit it a little bit.
Line ourselves up for the curve, second gear--
third gear.
I apologize, third gear.
Over the crest, back on the gas, and now we're aiming
toward a little nuance.
There it is, right side.
Fast in, and I'm giving up way too much speed there.
But blind over the top, full throttle down here.
There's going to be a heavy trail break.
Third gear corner, turn in just right.
There it is.
And full throttle, and now we're
heading toward the carousel.
Little bit of a correction.
Gas, gas, gas.
Be careful.
Direct track out.
I want to be center of the track, no more.
And now we're going to turn the car in a little more.
Diamond this off.
We'll kind of drift a little bit.
Wash out.
Back onto the throttle.
Get the berm.
I missed it a little bit, but full throttle is what is
really important there.
Fifth gear down to this hairpin, and now I feel like I
want to cheat in earlier.
But I can't, and I shouldn't.
Turn in, double apex.
Hit the bump.
Wait, wait, wait, wait.
Back of the berm, full throttle.
More important here to be on the gas than exactly where
we're positioned, but you want to make a flow
happen through here.
There you go.
Turn in a little early, but it's OK.
There's enough room.
This is flat down to the Indy hairpin.
Fifth gear.
100 marker.
Brakes, brakes, brakes.
Second gear, back of the berm.
Popped it.
Just to get though here.
Oh my God, am I going to slide off?
We did.
Full throttle.
Coming to the last corner, the last hairpin.
If I can get this clean, do a little trail break, we'll have
a good lap.

OK, we got this lap.
The confidence is building.
Start-Finish is going to be the start of another lap.
Hey, let's pretend it's the old days in qualifying.
So let's get this right.
More aggressive on gas.
Not late braking, more aggressive on gas.
Got to get to the gas earlier.
Pop the hills, perfect.
Here we go.
OK, just go to the throttle.
And--I forgot about that turbo kicking in, damn.
LEO PARENTE: The race car technology, a Formula car race
car, is one thing.
But the real thing we're working on here and learning
is how to drive a race slick.
And it is completely different than a road street tire.
It starts with slip angles.
A street tire gives you much more range and room to work
the tire and the wheel.
A lot of steering involved.
With a race tire, it's much more precise, much more minute
in terms of that input and corrections.
Yes, the grip angles are higher.
Street tires are getting there.
But it's all about that sensation and the
immediacy of it.
You also feel the buildup of temperatures and when
the tire comes in.
And that's something that, quite frankly, I want to make
sure that I've still remembered how to do and where
that limit is.
This car is a very, very, very good race car
to learn race craft.
But it's also an interesting car because it has more racing
technology than the tire has capability of supporting.
So quite frankly, I am suddenly sounding like Michael
Schumacher saying, give me more tire.
In my Atlantic days, I had more tire than this thing.
So I'm driving to the limits of the tire and not the car.
And the race tire gives me a narrow range of when it's too
much slip and just right.
On a street tire, you can exceed the limit of the tire
and come back and save the car.
On a race tire, you cannot.
You've got to understand how far to the limit you go, where
that progression is, and where that progression stops.
Because beyond is a crash.
This show is about more than showing you the fun I was
having getting in a real race car again, this Lola F3 thanks
to SimRaceway.
The experience was all about expressing the dynamics and
the differences between driving a race car,
versus a road car.
And simply stated, it's all about precision and that
immediacy of response and reaction to your inputs.
An Audi R8 is just as fast as this Lola.
But it takes 20 seconds more time to get
around Sears Point.
Where are the differences?
In the compression of brake zone.
In the immediacy of its steering and cornering.
That's the difference.
That's why this car is my drug and so addictive.
And now I've just got to go find a real race ride and get
into more racing.