It always seems to be a huge slog getting ourselves to a track day, or in this case a track weekend, that’s normally because of a number of factors like, money, availability, car prep and last but not least – money.
It’s a big consideration for anyone who’s just starting out in track days, its difficult to budget for and the costs aren’t always obvious when you take into account wear items like brakes. We like to try and maximize our bang for buck and combine it with as many of the extended BOFI family as possible.
Our latest outing was to 5Fest, a track weekend with some of the most experienced people in the UK MX5 scene, with most of them having been in it for 5 years or more – one would assume there is considerable sentimental value attached to a car you’ve had for 5 years or more but most of the people there drive the wheels off them. (special note to James Cribb here – MVP of the weekend).
With that being said, this event is like little other in the calendar – a combination of 2 nights camping, a full MX5 centred track day and an unrelenting eye widening blast through the welsh mountains.
One of the biggest concerns when you first start out attending track days is the worry around how well everyone else performs on the track and how much you may, or may not be in their way. An MX5 centric trackday makes that really simple.
You end up with a three categories;
- Boosted Cars
- Fast Drivers
- Novice Drivers
Obviously, boosted cars are cheating – but it’s quite nice not to have to look in your rear view too often as you’re generally able to put a good distance between the other cars.
BUT. If you are getting pushed, let the other car by – regardless of how good a racecar the dyno says you have – it’s much less stressful for everyone involved.
Anyway, for 5Fest this all happened last minute, with last minute tickets available (2 of them) which wasn’t really enough for the 4 cars we could have brought..
We hatched a plan to bring the 2 most reliable cars to the track, Leaf and Gail. The green NA and the Silver NB, and we decided to share driving too – which certainly tested our friendships as we had to get these cars home preferably on their own wheels not some low loaders.
The plan was to leave Huntingdon at 2pm and get to the campsite around 6pm, so inevitably we left at 5pm and got to the camp site just gone 10pm.
Aligning leighs car, packing the 2 cars to leave and the last minute change of participant meant we left in a usual, timely fashion and then sat in traffic for an hour and a half, with leigh managing to gently rear end leaf as well as a bird managing to leave a huge dump in the car! With the hardtop on! We had a long way to go and we seemed to be having a lot of bad luck – but it did at least keep us entertained.
But anyway, the other last minute addition was Fred – with his 1.6 NA running near the same setup as leaf, which was great to see.
Oh, and another last minute addition – Tim! With his recently turbo’d Orange (ginger) NB1, which was great to have on the track and it also proved incredibly potent with a little coaching – this was Tims first track outing in this car and the first ever boosted, no small feat!
The Track / Organisers
The organisers were frankly, hilarious, a great atmosphere in the briefing room which isn’t typical of your usual large track event – certainly all very serious and informative but it was a very memorable part of the event!
Llandow is a small and fairly technical track, easy to learn with good areas of runoff – it’s perfectly suited to the gearing on an MX5 and even with boosted cars we were only getting up to the top of 4th on the back straight (110~20mph).
Here’s a rundown as written by Fred;
My first (and overriding) impression of Llandow circuit were the bumps. Both the tarmac and kerbs, as you’ll read later in this post, were not kind to our cars.
This feature of the circuit made all the more prominent the shortcomings in my dampers. While Dan and Leigh run Meister Rs, and Tim BC Racing Coilovers, my own HSD Dualtechs were sadly not quite up to the task of dealing with the undulations. Having driven Leaf, the effective sister car to my own, I must say that upgrading to better dampers is now high on my todo list.
On to the track, and my word what a track it is. Only a short lap, 40 seconds or so, but it has such an energy and flow that I could happily lap all day. Which, in fairness, is exactly what we all did (minus a couple of mechanical mishaps and breaks to cool off).
The first section begins with a hard braking event from the top of 4th gear (~100mph) into a 2nd gear complex that many an autosolo competitor would feel at home in. Turn 1 and 2 are a flick-flick left/right chicane, blink and you’ll miss them. I found that riding the kerbs on T1, then clipping the apex of T2 was the way to go before sweeping in a smooth arc towards T3.
This is another right hander immediately following, stay in second and don’t run wide on exit because you’ll be wanting as straight a line as possible through T4 and T5, another left/right chicane that sees you balancing the throttle as you attack both kerbs.
Now comes the high speed section of the track. T6 is an almost flat out (at least in my car) right hander immediately following T5. Keep the rear end in check by balancing the throttle and maybe a dab of opposite lock, but don’t overdo it or you’ll compromise your run through T7, a flat out 3rd gear corner that fires you out onto the back straight.
This gives you a little time to breathe after the hectic first section, but don’t get complacent because coming up is, in my opinion, the best segment of the entire track. Braking from the top of 4th gear down to 3rd, keep to the centre-left of the track and make sure you hold on tight. T8, 9 and 10 are a blindingly fast right/left/right ‘sling’ chicane into a flat out right hander. If you trust your car, straight line the chicane as much as possible by taking all the kerb you can before running foul of the cones. Keep it pinned through T10 even if your fillings have been shaken loose, and let the car run out to the left hand side on the exit.
T11 is probably the hardest corner of the lot to get right; all of us had close calls here. Approaching at the top of 3rd gear (it may be tempting to change to 4th here, but I found that letting the engine rev out made for a more stable turn-in), trail brake and stay in 3rd into the deceptively long right hander. You want to get onto the throttle early here, as it leads into the pit straight and a good exit is vital. Don’t overdo the braking or acceleration though, as you may find yourself somewhat sideways at a moment’s notice. Smoothness is key.
And, well, that concludes this guide. What a lap! What a circuit! If it’s not already, this little Welsh beauty should absolutely be on your list of tracks to visit. Its almost go-kart track first section combined with the blisteringly fast second half makes for an adrenaline rush that’ll leave you shaking by the end, and asking that eternal question: “When’s the next track day, Bro?”
Convinced? We sure are.
I’ll take this from an individual cost basis, it’s easy to split the costs if you share a car. The pricing for llandow is generally ~£115 through 5fest and that price is per car, not per driver.
If you have a boosted car you will get through at least 1 tank of fuel over 40 laps, an NA car wont be too dissimilar. We recommend using premium fuel as with heat your engine will benefit from the added pre-ignition (det) protection.
Depending on how you drive, you may use 1/3 of your brake pads, or more.
You’ll likely use up 1-2mm of tread on your tyres depending on how you drive, the pressures you choose to run and the type of tyre you use – AD08R is a good example of ~1mm tread wear.
You’ll need to camp, that’s £15 or AirBnB if you’re feeling flush.
You’ll need to get there and to eat, this is pretty much in your control – if you live far away, it’ll be more but you can always eat cheap tins of beans to keep costs down.
We spent around;
£3-400 per car for the weekend, not including consumables or wear.
You’ll probably knock your alignment out, in fact, you very much WILL knock your alignment out – factor that price in as well.
So, as it is basically the cost of a small holiday – that’s why the weekender is structured to make the most out of it, camping with a group of mx5 nuts, a track day and a convoy hoon with a pub lunch.
What broke, breakdown
Leaf – NA BRG 1.6 GT2554R
Those kerbs are evil, they fully knocked out leaf’s passenger side front alignment bolts which didn’t exactly hurt the day but made the car very lively! That highlights the need for bolts that can be properly torqued down like the Skidnation Locking Set.
The downpipe on leaf was still rubbing on the subframe, as well as the front being too low causing the arch to rub – it needs raising up.
The ebay aluminium ‘tuner’ read; chineseium nuts basically melt, proper steel ones are needed.
Gail – NB2 1.8VVT TD04
Leigh has been beside himself with his new radiator and oil cooler ducting, he managed to spend the day out in 30c+ heat and not see the water temps move and inch and the oil temps just touched 105c where previously they were at 135c!
The oil cooler really was the key to keeping everything happy and its done using our cheap and cheerful kit – https://bofiracing.co.uk/product/mocal-thermostatic-oil-cooler-fitting-kit-for-mazda-mx-5-na-nb/
But as always the entertainer, when poor Matthew (our resident caged animal) took the car out – and it just had to happen to him – the td04 decided it didn’t want most of its bolts holding it to the manifold so it blew the gasket out.
Which was good fun rushing to screwfix to find some bolts that fit – I’ll give the td04s this, they’re damn cheap to sort out hardware wise, a couple M10 bolts later and we were good to go fitting it back together with a liberal application of goob (exhaust paste, no gasket!) while about 2-4 cans into the evening session. A proper laugh.
Fred – Cheryl Mariner Blue 1.6 GT2554R @fredbawden
So, freds into hillclimbs, which you’ll hear more about later on in another blog post. I had the pleasure of letting him drive leaf around the circuit and to his credit the speed rose every lap to the point he was muscling the car around the track.
His car is harsh, manual steering – you need to be a big Cornish lad to hustle it around and while I’m afraid it’s not for me, it was damn fast.
The main issue with freds car was running out of injectors! He’s running the same setup as leaf (GT2554R, 1.6, 3” exhaust) and we were hitting 95% duty cycle – not great! A set of BOFI EV14 640ccs are on the cards we think!
Tim – Nudes 1.8 NB1 GT2560R @timbomfg
This was Tims cars first outing on a track and his first time boosted. Certainly a daunting task for anyone, I went out with him for the first 2 sessions and offered some coaching, the biggest part of that is just letting the driver know how late and how hard they can brake.
With the Rodders Magical Mystery Pads – we were breaking consistently from 50 meters at 110/20mph at the back straight, sometimes 30 meters if we felt brave. They’re very good pads for the money but we all managed to heat soak the fluid and braking systems, which means the next outing we’ll have brake ducts.
That aside, with a bit of coaching Tim managed to put down some whisper quiet and consistent laps, keeping leigh at bay for all but a cool down lap.
Buy proper wheel nuts because ones made of tin foil tend to undo with heat.
Spigot rings stop your wheels from moving, but also melt.
Remove expensive centre caps before going on track! (Tim)
Don’t judge a track by a picture taken from space.
Take a spare set of budget pads, or good ones, or both – all of them.
Bring a camping chair.
Listen to Tim and order takeaway like team Horney did.
James Corders (@captaincorders) aka where we’re going, we don’t need brakes.
James Cribbs @wheelynutz (– For treating his Supercharged corns roadster like a £300 rot box (Gwyneth) and destroying a set of brake pads and AR1s on unreplaceable wheels! Monster.
Chris The Black Rotrex NB2 (@rotrexmx5) you couldn’t stop hearing all day, top work – pushed very hard and didn’t manage to fall off. (not for lack of trying)
The grey NC1 driver who managed to find the limit of the car, consistently and thoroughly without falling off.
Marc Ains the Suzuki Idiot @thesuzukiidiot – ‘nuff said – (probably the best car of the day)
Trackdays, weekends or events like this will always be split up into Novice, Inters and Advanced – unless it’s a straight OPL (open pit lane). A little PSA – it’s always OK to go in the Novice class, even if you’re a road warrior, it’s not so much about the cars capability but yours and on a track that’s new to you it’s expected to take a morning to get up to speed with everyone else.
Everyone’s out to have a good time, make yourself comfortable and get stuck in.
We hope to see you there next year.; http://mighty5s.proboards.com/board/68/5fest-2018-29th-june-july