The old question...where to start? - MY350Z.COM - Nissan 350Z and 370Z Forum Discussion



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Old 12-23-2017, 11:49 AM   #1
FairweatherZ
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Default The old question...where to start?

Hello all. I purchased a 2003 base 350Z about 7 months ago. Very clean original low mileage car that is bone stock. I have put on about 2-3k miles of spriting driving and I really enjoy it. For my current needs and budget it is an excellent fit. Myself and a close friend plan to use our vehicles for HPDE next year at Lime Rock. Realistically 1-2 events. The remainder of the driving will be weekends and pleasure. Not a daily.

Now the age old question. Where or even if to start mods? I am no where near a seasoned track driver, however my father and I have been collecting for years, so I have experience driving some high HP and good handling cars. I agree that I driving a car stock for the first several times on the track gives you a good baseline of the car and where you want to go from there.

My only concern is the current wheel and tire package (base 17" with what may be the original tires). I do have concerns about the age of the tires and also it just looks so pedestrian with the base wheels. I have researched the forums and am leaning toward a square 17" or 18" set up. I would like to make the investment into wheels, tires, and suspension bites the right way the first time. Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 12-23-2017, 12:25 PM   #2
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First, brakes on your '03 base Z will be an issue. They will limit the amount of time you spend on track and will cost you money as you burn through pads and rotors (particularly the rears). Upgrading to the Brembos (or Akebonos or ??) should be your first upgrade, and you might as well spec new SS lines and fresh DOT 4 fluid.
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Old 12-23-2017, 12:50 PM   #3
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Driving school
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Old 12-23-2017, 03:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dkmura View Post
First, brakes on your '03 base Z will be an issue. They will limit the amount of time you spend on track and will cost you money as you burn through pads and rotors (particularly the rears). Upgrading to the Brembos (or Akebonos or ??) should be your first upgrade, and you might as well spec new SS lines and fresh DOT 4 fluid.
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Driving school
Welllllll, he is talking about going to HPDE so the school part is sorta covered as one does learn stuff doing that with the experienced "co-drivers".

If I were prepping a new-to-me car for a few events in a year, I'd pretty much do the following:

1. All fluids and consumables freshened up. That includes brake pads, early enough in or before the season to get 'em run in on the street before heading to the track. (Or following dkmura's suggestion of an upgrade to higher heat tolerating pads - at least - to get started. Then consider upgrade to four-pots.)

2. Tires - you don't need to upgrade your wheels for HPDE but an upgrade to some competent rubber is definitely called for (upping to 18" wheels is a bonus). Run these at least a thousand miles (couple dozen heat cycles at least) or more on the street to scrub them in before your first session. New tires on a track outing is not only scary but can be downright unsafe. Tread squirm will also take away your fun.

This isn't just a physical thing either... not only do the tires need to be scrubbed but the driver's awareness of how they're working on the car is a BIG DEAL.

3. Alignment (to the new tire setup, NOT before) - if no adjustments to ride height made, get the toe set to OE spec then go from there after you've driven on the natural toe settings. Once you've done the HPDE, you'll start to get the feel for what the car is (or isn't) doing to your liking and/or particular track(s) configurations.

This should be adequate for first season where you are getting used to the basic car and driving said car at speed. THEN, and only then, should you make other changes because you'll be making said changes for YOU, not what the consensus of a forum is telling you is right.

===========

Side note: really wish I'd done that when I first started out. It was advised to me but I didn't listen well enough and gave in to temptation. I modded my first Z car and THEN went to driving school. Big mistake. Found that the stuff I put on the car was a crutch for what I thought were MY exemplary driving skills. Psh.... if anything, my first go-round at driving school was a lesson in humility and I learned PDQ that I wasn't nearly as fast as I thought I was. Once that was in check, I could apply what I was learning.

Last edited by MicVelo; 12-23-2017 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkmura View Post
First, brakes on your '03 base Z will be an issue. They will limit the amount of time you spend on track and will cost you money as you burn through pads and rotors (particularly the rears). Upgrading to the Brembos (or Akebonos or ??) should be your first upgrade, and you might as well spec new SS lines and fresh DOT 4 fluid.
+1 a brake upgrade (fluid, pads and lines) are pretty much a requirement for tracking any car. The stock Z's brakes are undersized given its weight IMHO. Thus the reason the Track and Sport versions came with upgraded stock parts as the years went on.

17"s wheels are going to limit your brake rotor size too much, so I would move up to 18"s. I recommend the Akebonos as they are good value for the money. If you can afford it you can offset the weight of these bigger stoppers with a 2-piece rotor setup and some light-weight 18" wheels.

Tires make a huge difference in grip levels so move up to some summer ultra high performance rubber.

Next you'll see most people getting adjustable sway bars once they feel the car out and start to understand its handling traits. This is pretty much the point I am at. I've done some other mods but they were mostly to improve the sound (intake/exhaust) and next up is cooling since I live in FL.
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:30 PM   #6
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New fluids. Give the car a good check over. Book some track time!
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the great info. With this Siberian cold in the NE no plans on any work until the spring. Brakes seem to be the consistent theme. Sounds like I will refresh all the fluids, upgrade the pads/lines/rotors and log some seat time.

Anyone on the forum planning to attend HPDE/SCDA at Lime Rock next season let me know. Would be great to connect with fellow Z forum members.

Thanks again!
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:18 PM   #8
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I get there pretty frequently. Def lets plan some days.
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Old 01-10-2018, 12:55 PM   #9
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Often overlooked but imo the best track mod... bucket seat and 6 point harness... you will get way more feedback to ur buttometer which will allow you to learn limit handling way faster.
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Old 01-10-2018, 01:59 PM   #10
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Often overlooked but imo the best track mod... bucket seat and 6 point harness... you will get way more feedback to ur buttometer which will allow you to learn limit handling way faster.
My brother echos this statement on his VW Golf R. Because once your strapped in you are no longer fighting the car and instead working with it. He said the drop in fatigue and general improved feeling (weight transfer, etc) improved greatly after his harness went it.

I could see where it would be helpful because, for example, I can heel/toe on the street but can't do it on the track because I have to use my foot to keep myself centered in the seat. Having leather seats isn't helping either as my butt-o-meter is all over the place... literally
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Old 01-10-2018, 04:31 PM   #11
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^^^ Nailed it.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:41 AM   #12
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Often overlooked but imo the best track mod... bucket seat and 6 point harness... you will get way more feedback to ur buttometer which will allow you to learn limit handling way faster.
Also overlooked is the safety factor in using race seats and harnesses in a street car with no cage or rollbar. The seat and harnesses do keep you planted and upper torso upright, but they also have the unfortunate side effect of keeping your head and neck in that position if the car ever went upside down. While track days always mandate helmets, HANS devices to prevent basal skull fractures are not, and won't work unless you have a properly fitted rollbar with harness support.

This was vividly illustrated by a crash at Big Willow 13 years ago. The car in front of me went off at the infamous turn nine. It barrel rolled to the inside of the turn and the roof deformed badly. Fortunately for the driver and passenger, their OEM seats broke and threw them into the backseat (Scion). They suffered multiple injuries, but otherwise that shunt would have taken at least one life. Be careful out there, folks!
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:16 AM   #13
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Personally I would do tires, brakes, and suspension, subframe, and diff bushings to start. I was surprised at how much slop there is in the bushings
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Old 01-23-2018, 09:16 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by dkmura View Post
Also overlooked is the safety factor in using race seats and harnesses in a street car with no cage or rollbar. The seat and harnesses do keep you planted and upper torso upright, but they also have the unfortunate side effect of keeping your head and neck in that position if the car ever went upside down. While track days always mandate helmets, HANS devices to prevent basal skull fractures are not, and won't work unless you have a properly fitted rollbar with harness support.

This was vividly illustrated by a crash at Big Willow 13 years ago. The car in front of me went off at the infamous turn nine. It barrel rolled to the inside of the turn and the roof deformed badly. Fortunately for the driver and passenger, their OEM seats broke and threw them into the backseat (Scion). They suffered multiple injuries, but otherwise that shunt would have taken at least one life. Be careful out there, folks!
2nd this. No seat or harness without a roll bar & HANS. Either use the stock safety or go all the way. Safety is a system, you can't pick and choose.
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Old 01-30-2018, 05:38 PM   #15
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Just getting my Z last year the best thing I did was Pads, Stainless Steal Lines and Tires.
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Old 02-06-2018, 06:38 AM   #16
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All your fluids and brakes! The stock brakes are really pitiful. Other than that stock should be perfectly fine. I would also suggest a better radiator. I do like the square setup on the Z. However, I have no experience with the stock staggered setup. When I bought the car the guy had 20 inch chrome rims on it. I went with 275/18s on all four corners and a 370z brake upgrade.
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