Trade #4: 1 canvas print = VIR track time

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Virginia International Raceway is one of my all-time favorite US road course. It’s a proper driver’s track: The full course measures 3.27 miles and has a mix of fast and slow corners, elevation change and features technical sections coupled with some good ol’ “high risk / high reward” (also known as Big Balls) sections. You’ll encounter off-camber turns, surface changes and even blind sections. In short, it’s a complete track that requires a complete car. VIR also boasts a proper straight that lets you experience the thrill of high speed – I encountered 185+ mph in the Porsche 918 on the back straight. No wonder IMSA races there every year.

Although VIR isn’t exactly on the way from Nova Scotia to California, we did make a detour as I wanted to see how the GT3 would do, specifically in regards to its gearing. I reached out to my good friends Alex and Gail Smith whose son, Kerrigan Smith, is the Chief Operating Officer at the track. In exchange for a canvas print, Steve McQueen “Between Scenes” Kerrigan carved out some precious track time. Not only that, I had the entire track to myself!

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“Between Scenes” Steve McQueen Trilogy | Canvas print | 40″ x 26″ | Limited Edition of 12

The goal of my track session wasn’t to set an all-out quick lap time, the 5-year-old tires wouldn’t gives us a meaningful benchmark anyway. But another reason for giving the GT3 a shakedown at VIR was in regards to its gearing. The G96/96 gearbox in the 996 GT3 has a 3.44 ring and pinion and 6th gear is 0.85. Theoretical top speed in 6th gear is 220 mph. In other words the GT3 has very very long legs, especially for a car that tops out at 190 mph. Obviously the long gears help to keep fuel consumption down but in terms of useable performance, the stock gearbox leaves some performance behind. Sure enough, on the long back straight at VIR, I didn’t even need 6th gear. With the stock gearing, 5th gear is good for 178 mph which is enough for VIR. Conclusion: The gearbox will have to be rebuilt with shorter gears.

Having a go around one of my favorite tracks in this GT3 also helped me get a benchmark for the suspension and brakes, but more about that later.

Thanks to Alex and Kerrigan Smith for facilitating our visit and private track time to VIR. The Steve McQueen canvas print is now at VIR and I can’t wait to go back!

 

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