We’re dropping the mic..and letting Cody Miles tell everyone about his #lifeonair as he embarks on another winning year (and now record setting) on the track with his 2007 Subaru STi fitted with our Subaru STi air suspension kit and the latest Air Lift Performance 3H control system:
Prepping for Round 3 of Redline Time Attack meant replacing brake pads, replacing the clutch slave and master cylinders, re-working the crankcase ventilation, repairing a sway bar mount, changing oil, and removing the transmission in order to get to the clutch disc that I fried in Atlanta. This event took place at Streets of Willow, which is a smaller track, riddled with bumps, drop offs, and pavement inconsistencies. Hugging an inside line to cut a tenth on this track isn’t always worth it, since it usually just leaves you with wheels that aren’t so round anymore. I knew the suspension was going to need some tweaks, especially since it was last setup for Road Atlanta, a course that is more geared toward smooth, sweeping, high-speed corners. So, with all of this in mind, and, of course, my eyes on another track record, we set out to get some practice in on Saturday, May 28th, before race day, which was May 29th.
Saturday showed up with sunny skies and decent temps, which are always solid prerequisites for having a solid test day. After grabbing a transponder, suiting up, and wrapping a gold band around my wrist, it was time to get some laps in. I really didn’t know what to expect, since the last time I drove Streets of Willow I had about 100whp less, 200wtq less, different tires, and OEM differentials that wanted nothing to do with cornering. Throughout the first session, I immediately noticed that the rear suspension needed some attention, since it wanted to sag and hop around the tight, bumpy corners instead of driving through them. On top of that, my ventilation issue from Atlanta was back, which resulted in engine oil blasting out of my intake filter between shifts. The hood louvers do a great job of extracting hot air, but I’d prefer not to have oil spitting out of them and onto my windshield anytime I decide to switch gears.
With these issues now presented, it was time to get back to my pit and come up with solutions, which is exactly what I did. To help the rear suspension out a bit, I adjusted the length of the body, which allowed me to run more spring rate (PSI), but retain the same height. I also took a few clicks of compression/rebound out in order to help give some compliance over the rough jarring inside lines. To address the crank ventilation, we fabricated a simple Gatorade bottle catch can and routed it into the system. At this point, it was time for another practice session.
The rear suspension immediately felt happier and more stable, and the louver puke was now contained and no longer an immediate issue. Unfortunately, this session didn’t last long because I quickly noticed a different sound coming from the engine, as well as a significant drop in power. “Great, what now!?” I thought, as I limped back to my pit. What I found was a bit frustrating, but entirely my fault. In the midst of integrating my fancy new catch can, I forgot to replace a bolt that secures the charge pipe coming straight off of the compressor housing, which, in turn, tore the silicone coupler joining the two. What this means is that under full boost, being 30 PSI, the charge pipe tried to do a little dance, and the coupler just wasn’t up for coping with it. After a second trip to AutoZone, that issue was resolved and I strapped the helmet on once again. By the end of day one, I managed to get about three issue-free laps in. Not exactly ideal, but I at least ended that day with the car ready for race day.
Sunday came, and with a now solid machine, it was time to start pushing. I only ran one of the practice sessions in the morning before timed runs. The reasoning behind this was to avoid risking the car any more than we had to before the runs that actually mattered, save as much tire as I could, and, ultimately, because I was happy with the qualifying time I had set, which put me in front of my class and second overall on grid.
Once the 5-minute call for Group A Redline drivers was made, I headed over to pre-grid and claimed P2. At this point, we were ready to run our first timed session and to put down a lap that could make or break us. I felt confident in the car and was ready to let it hang out a bit. I ran that session with the goal of putting down a 1:21.766, which is the track record for my Street class. I charged hard and the car felt solid overall. After the initial adjustments the previous day, the suspension was now inspiring the confidence that I was after. The engine was happily ingesting the 30 PSI that the EFR turbo was producing. The Gatorade bottle was successfully accumulating excess oil and leaving my intake clean and dry… Overall, we were looking and feeling good as I pushed through my laps. Once the checkered was waved, all I could think about was the track record, and how close I may have come to it. I eagerly awaited times to be posted while the anxiety and excitement built within me. Once I saw the printouts being walked to the office, I quickly rushed over for the moment of truth…
What I saw was a time of 1:21.891. It was definitely my best time to date and I was very happy about that, but all I could focus on was that I was only 0.1 seconds away from the record! This was frustrating and motivating, all at the same time, and I immediately began working on a way I could grab that extra time. The plan I came up with was a little unorthodox, but it was something… Being that this track has primarily right hand corners, the front left tire always takes the most abuse and wears the quickest. Since I had a brand new spare wheel/tire that happened to be mounted as a driver side, it made sense to swap it for my worn front left. Normally, I wouldn’t try something like this, since it can negatively affect the overall balance of the car. But, my hope was that it would give me a little more grip through all the right handers and shave that 0.1 seconds off my time!
It was time for the final timed session, so I headed over to pre-grid once again, only this time to ensure that my name would be stamped next to another track record. We headed out for the warm-up lap and I knew that whatever I was in for was about to be interesting, since the car would likely have significantly more grip in one direction than the other. I rounded the skid pad and headed onto the front straight giving it everything I could up through the first corner and into T2. Once I reached the bowl, it had become extremely evident just how much more grip I had turning right, as compared to left. It was certainly strange charging hard into right hand corners, then immediately backing off and taming it down for lefts, but I did my best to use it to my advantage.
I was nearing the end of my first hot lap, which I thought for sure was my fastest yet, when I completely missed 3rd gear, just 200 feet from the finish line! I’ve never felt so frantic in my life. It was as if I could feel the clock just ticking away as I repeatedly tried to slam 3rd, but the transmission just wasn’t having it. Needless to say, that lap was now trash and I had only one more chance at a record-breaking run. I proceeded with my cool down lap, giving the tires every chance I could to come back to a happy temperature. Knowing I had just one more chance at this, I knew I had to go big… Which is probably why I entered T1 extra hot and ended up sideways (and smiling of course) at 115 mph heading into T2. Through careful counter steer, some gradual brake modulation, and a solid suspension setup, I was able to settle it right down and maintain my line. Running through corners sideways is fun and all, but generally isn’t the fastest way through them. There’s a fine line between pushing hard and simply over-driving. I did my best to attack the remainder of the lap with an aggressive, yet clean line. Overall, I really wasn’t sure if it was fast enough for the record, but I wouldn’t know the results until the awards ceremony a couple hours later.
After nearly two hours of wondering whether or not I had accomplished my ultimate goal for the day, it was finally time for the ceremony. My name was called as the overall street class winner with a best time of…. 1:21.8. Which was still just 0.1 seconds behind the track record that I had been after! It felt great to win the overall, but I still couldn’t believe that such a small amount of time was keeping me from adding another track record to my resume. To put things into perspective, the average human would have completed only 30% of a blink of an eye in the amount of time standing between my time and the time of the record holder.
Time Attack is truly as precise and demanding as it sounds. Every aspect of the car must be operating at 100% with no exceptions. All I can say is that I’ll be back later this year for that record… maybe even with new tires J. All in all, I had a great weekend surrounded by friends, family, and racecars and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I mean, honestly, what fun would any of this be if it came easy?
Huge thanks to all the sponsors who continue supporting my passion, and most of all my family for dedicating their entire weekend to my racing efforts to ensure that I had the team I needed!