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Flame me, but the 355 Challenge is the best all around track car...

Discussion in '348/355' started by rob lay, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Dec 1, 2000
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    Ok, this is meant to be a fun post, but I'm just so in love with the FerrariChat.com 355 Challenge right now. This car just gives and gives and gives and doesn't take.

    I have beat this car over my lap every which way and it just asks for more "daddy".

    I just got done doing a PCA track event at Texas World Speedway on the 2.9. On a side topic, yes, I have now been over 150 mph for the first time in my life. :) I ran 7 sessions this weekend. Here's the only work I did this weekend on the car...

    1) Unloaded the car.
    2) Torqued wheels, set tire pressure, and filled up with gas before each session.
    3) Checked oil and inspected brakes after each session.
    4) After first day I rotated tires side to side.
    5) Loaded the car.

    In the meantime I was the fastest thing on the track (expect maybe David Moore in Dana's 355 C). There were Vipers, Vettes, BMW's, almost a dozen 996 turbos, and a couple older cup cars.

    I was even on shot tires and this is the first time I've driven the Challenge at TWS. My best time was a 1:56.9, which is still a ways from the T1 cars that do 1:53-1:55's. I'm not sure what the 355 Challenge cars have gone at the TWS races. Maybe someone can post the results for any 2.9 races, not the 1.8.

    Anyway, I have run the car at multiple track events since I bought it. The rotors are still great, the pads probably still have another weekend on them. All I do between weekends is change the oil and bleed the brakes.

    Driving wise I still think it's impossible to spin this car. I have yet to spin it. I did have a nice tank slapper this weekend, but easily recovered it. The balance and feedback is so great that you can take it to 99.9% and know it.

    What else do you want from a Ferrari track car? In my opinion it's the best balance of the fastest, least expensive, and easiest to maintain Ferrari track car you can have. The 355 C is faster than the 348 C and much easier and cheaper to maintain than the 360 C.

    I think for some a CS or mod street Ferrari would be a nice balance between a track car and street car. I kinda have the philosophy to track a track car and street a street car though.

    Whew, I had to get it out of my system. I just have to pat that car everytime I walk by it.
     
  2. Sean F.

    Sean F. F1 Rookie

    Feb 4, 2003
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    You're not going fast enough. ;)
     
  3. Doody

    Doody F1 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2001
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    lol, sean!

    as a sage man i used to work for was fond of saying:

    "mistakes in the course of learning are acceptable"

    if you're not ****ing up now and then, you're not pushing it hard enough!

    doody.
     
  4. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    6,335
    You're moving right up there!

    T1 record at TWS is 1:52 and change.

    I've gotten my street F355 on street tires (not r-compound) down into the 2:05 range and a better driver should push it down towards 2:02 and change. Like you, I just love the way this thing drifts. I've driven Dana's F355 (1:58) and it feels just like my F355 but with a lot more grip. Lots of feedback, easy transitions, unbreakable brakes, easy to play throw and catch, and rewarding of the smooth driver without penalizing the unsmooth.
     
  5. Brassovaries

    Brassovaries Karting

    Nov 3, 2003
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    Dinah

    I agree on all points...I love the 355C. Easily recoverable (tank slapper less likely to turn into a spin than on my '97 M3), fun, fast, sexy, and surprisingly easy to work on. I currently have the left radiator fan motor disassembled in an attempt to not spend the $300 for a new one - the brushes disintegrated and I should be able to replace them...the only thing that freaks me out is the potential "big" rework down the road, but I should be able to find a way to do it reasonably.

    Unfortunatly, mine isn't streetable, and has no passenger seat to give the amorous cops a ride in. That's what the M3 is for.
     
  6. Chiaro_Slag

    Chiaro_Slag F1 Veteran

    Oct 31, 2003
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    That is awesome Rob - I need to get out to a track day sometime - I would love watching these cars run!

    Post some videos if you made any - I love watching those.

    Thanks!
     
  7. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Yes, a $25k engine rebuild or $15k trans rebuild or body work or... it's all scarry, but for all Ferraris, it's part of it. Luckily the Challenge engines are for all purposes stock, so in theory should be as reliable as a street car that is driven once every 6 weeks bouncing off the red-line and making it scream "daddy". :D
     
  8. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    I haven't mastered the camera angle, glare, and I need a wide angle lens, but here are some in car videos...

    Here's my best lap from this weekend with a 1:56.9 on the TWS 2.9...
    http://www.ferrarichat.com/videos/rob355c/20031207_355c_TWS1_56_9.mpg 35.6 Mb

    Here's my best lap at MSR with a 1:23.29...
    http://www.ferrarichat.com/videos/rob355c/20030531_355c_MSR1_23_29.mpg 25.1 Mb

    Here's a lap on the infield at Texas Motor Speedway...
    http://www.ferrarichat.com/videos/rob355c/20030831_355c_TMS_SPH.mpg 15-20 Mb. or so.
     
  9. Cavallino Motors

    Cavallino Motors F1 World Champ
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    I wonder what I would run 1h56min or 1h 55min ??? :)

    Once you have driven the race setup Challenge car you can not go back I guess.
    Although it looks like I sold my 355CH (check is in the mail) I will have her out in Sebring for some final exercise before selling her. Have another one lined up already. I guess you can never be without one after you have had one :)

    Get the florescent green out again guys....LOL
     
  10. Cavallino Motors

    Cavallino Motors F1 World Champ
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    Rob,
    can we agree that we will meet for a show down in New Orleans next year for the French Quarter Classic?

    I am working already on a list of excuses why you were faster :)
     
  11. robert biscan

    robert biscan F1 Rookie
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    I just love tracking my 355 when I had it. What a great car. The new 360 seems more twitchie if thats a word. I haven't tracked it but I have broken the speed limit a little when no one was looking. I feel like I would be faster in my old car.
     
  12. robert biscan

    robert biscan F1 Rookie
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    How much might one of the 355 challenge cars cost?
     
  13. Chiaro_Slag

    Chiaro_Slag F1 Veteran

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    Thanks for posting the videos Rob, I enjoyed them - Now if you can just lose that rearview mirror, I would get such a nice view. :)
     
  14. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Between $60-80k. There are some good deals coming out of Europe, but a gamble what condition they're in. It's worth it to pay $5-10k more for one with a recent engine/trans rebuild and in good condition. I think I got a great deal.

    1) Mine has the history of being Dr. Steve Earle's two time championship car.
    2) Complete rebuild in 2001 with new tub & body (last 355 tub available from Italy).
    3) I bought with fresh engine/trans rebuild and everything gone over by the FoH team.

    So towards the upper end of the price range I got a 355 C with history, the newest 355 tub in the world, and engine/trans fresh rebuild.

    I still have a couple things to make it perfect. they still used several interior and accessory parts from before the rebuild, so eventually I'll restore or replace many of those to get the interior and undercarriage in concours race car condition. I still haven't tried to get the Pi data acquisition system fully working. It spits out all kinds of data on the display, but I don't have the software yet. The passenger door doesn't have perfect gaps towards the bottom. Overall though it's in much better body/paint condition than my 328.
     
  15. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    6,335
    The line into turn 1 can be taken wider (3-4 feet), allowing you to scrub off less speed, and the line into turn 2 can be entered about 1-2 feet farther from the edge of the road (orange rectangle). This allows a larger arc through T1 and T2. It feels greasy and slipery, and has less margin for error, but it is faster.

    The line through T3 can be taken in 4th gear to avoid 2 shifts. Its not faster, but its not slower, and allows you to concentrate on the line not the engine and transmission. The engine has the TQ necessary to allow this.

    The line between T5 and T6 is the perfect opportunity for left foot braking. I noticed you pressing a little too hard into 6. You really want to be neat and tidy here to use all of the trackout available from T6.

    I think you can carry more speed through T7 and still have plenty of road. The gravity cavity will catch the car, its hard to get used to, so work you way up slowly.

    The club line through 10 (carrosel) is what you drove. EFR and others think that a closer line is both faster and protects your inside from opportunitic opponents.

    Finally, there is a line through 13-14-15 that has less distance to travel and allows the same throttle on point as your fast-lap video. Once again, its only a couple feet different, but you can carry more speed, and notice that the flat apron just befor joining the banked straight is nice and wide so you can be pointed strate down the strait and avoid the bump comming out of 15.
     
  16. 95spiderman

    95spiderman F1 Veteran
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    Nov 1, 2003
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    need some controversy here!

    while we all love fcars i dont think a challenge car is nearly radical enough to merit being a dedicated trackday car. if only able to look at it 99% of time (thats if you even have the space to store it at home) then need something much further along from a street car.

    how about the british track day cars from ultima thats got 400+ hp and very low weight, or radical with the hyabusa motor? maybe a racer from a defunct series like the ones in autoweek classifieds?

    ps rob dont kick me off
     
  17. Cavallino Motors

    Cavallino Motors F1 World Champ
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    I guess it depends what you plan on getting out of your track day.

    While I agree that Jenifer Lopez is certainly pretty, she is not Cindy Crawford. I would however still enjoy the ride on JeLo although I may be thinking of Cindy/ :)

    What was my point again ???
     
  18. tracknut

    tracknut Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
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    I picked up my Radical SR3 at Laguna Seca this weekend. I must say, it's going to be hard driving ANY street/modified car on the track again. There's absolutely no comparison, in my experience...

    But it's great to hear the 355CH is such a nice car on the track, it really sounds like a fantastic car - I have not driven one.

    Dave
     
  19. teak360

    teak360 F1 Veteran
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    The Radical looks phenominal. In another thread you can read how the Ford GT is a couple of seconds faster aroung Gingerman than the Modena, well I don't remember the exact lap time, but against the Ford GT's 1:32 or so the Radical is in the low to mid 1:20's. A radical also did one flying lap at the Nurburgring in 7:19. I remember when Ronnie Peterson in the Lotus Formula One car was lapping at just over 8 minutes. I never dreamed I would someday be able to buy a reliable inexpensive race car that would lap the 'Ring 45 seconds faster than Ronnie's Grand Prix Lotus. Dave, can I PM you about your car? My partner and I plan on getting a Radical next spring.
     
  20. JSinNOLA

    JSinNOLA F1 World Champ
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    PLEASE make a post about your SR3 in the Off Topic section. Pictures and a full write up are REQUIRED:)
     
  21. JSinNOLA

    JSinNOLA F1 World Champ
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    PLEASE make a post about your SR3 in the Off Topic section. Pictures and a full write up are REQUIRED:)
     
  22. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    LOL - Where do I start? :D

    1) This is about "Ferrari" track cars. A 333 or 360 GT or even a 360 Challenge takes a crew and more money. The 355 C is very easily a one man show.
    2) This is about a track car and not a race car. You know, where everything is low key and you can only pass in the straights. I'm lapping 3-10 seconds faster than new 996 turbos, a radical would be even that more frustrating not getting clear laps. Many track events frown on proto style racers like the radical and SRF's. Radical would be great if you can rent your own track or are a member somewhere.
    3) Again, my personal philosophy is to street a street car (328), track a track car (355 C), and race a race car (SRX7). SRX7 is the perfect race car because it's a very close racing class and you can total the car and only be out $4k. The SRX7 isn't slow either, I do 2:04's on the TWS 2.9, the 355 C as you know was 1:56.9 this last weekend.
    4) The 355 C isn't just a once every 6 weeks track car. I attend a show with it every couple months. It gets much attention not because it's better than other Ferraris or the nice muscle cars, but you don't see very many at shows. People are attracted to something different.
     
  23. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
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    Teak360,

    The Radical that did 7:19 around the Ring is not the standard SR3 but a turbocharged one that was made in limited quantities. It could likely lap even faster since the driver, BTCC touring car regular, Phil Bennet only got one ride around lap before making his run. He had never been to the Ring before.

    As for what Neal points out, you need to consider the limits of a full blown purpose built race car and if you will ever be able to approach it's limits.

    Some of the cars like Radicals, Stohrs, Formula cars (take your pick...FC, FA, FM, etc) don't drive well at 6-7 tenths because the downforce isn't being generated. A Formula Atlantic feels very loose at 7/10ths but at 9/10ths sticks like glue.

    The majority of people at track days don't drive anywhere near the limit for various reasons. I just finished two days at VIR in my Acura Grand Am Cup car which make all of 140 hp. I was chasing down ZO6's, BMW race cars, PCA cars through the uphill esses and hounding them through all the corners in a car that had 200-300 less hp.

    The Racicals and Stohrs are not about straight line speed, though all of them will be fast there too, they are all about cornering grip and cornering speed and this is where most track day folks lack the skill.

    Just to give you an idea at Summit Point turn 3 which is a fast left hand turn and quite technical. In my 355 Challenge I come out of that turn in 3rd gear at 95-98 mph. This is my home track and I gather that maybe a professional could wring another mile or two out of that turn.

    One of my friends who is a FC national champion tested a Toyota Atlantic car and came out of that same turn at 123 mph....that's a whopping 25 miles per hour faster.

    You can get a used FA car for about 60K, but how many of us are going to reach this limit at a track event and if so what's the point of having one if you are 20 seconds per lap faster than everyone else.

    Everyone thinks it's cool to lap everyone but I can tell you from experience at track days it gets quite boring (one of the reasons I will be selling the car shortly). It's much more fun running bumper to bumper with an equal or faster 355 or 360 Challenge. And if you can't drive the thing and get passed by lesser cars it's looks downright stupid.

    Kinda like driving a 3333 SP and being hounded by a 355 C.

    Of the Radical and the Stohr the Stohr is a much better race car but for track days the Radical may be more user friendly and a bit more forgiving.

    The Radicals were cleaning up in SCCA two years ago but now the Stohr is winning everything. You can race either car in both C and D Sports class.

    As for the Ultima, I sat in one in England a year ago. It's not a race car by any means or more of one than a 355 C and the engineering looked quite crude. One was raced in Grand Am for a few races but often broke down or couldn't meet the minimum lap time to make the field.

    Just my 02 worth.

    Regards,

    Jon P. Kofod
    1995 F355 Challenge #23
    www.flatoutracing.net
     
  24. tracknut

    tracknut Rookie

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    Sure, or send me a note at dmills@go-fast.org - I've never used the PM function, not quite sure how I'll know I have one :)

    I'll do a write-up when I get some pics in...

    Dave
     
  25. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Action photo from this past weekend (Jon, I didn't use tape for my numbers either ;))...
     

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