Just grabbed a perfect 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom the other day. While I realize it’s not a 71 or other older model that might be a bit more desirable, it plays just like them and looks exactly the same with the exception of the “Twentieth Anniversary” inlay as shown in the photo. Extra Fat, beefy sound, lots of sustain and no back breaking weight either. This one has a slimline 60′s style neck and all original hardware. Plays like butter and it’s nice and dinged up which is just the way I like it.
I’ve been on the lookout for one of these for a long time. Not because Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead played one just like it because, frankly I never really cared for them. Not because Greg Brown the guitar player for Cake played one either and I do like Cake very much. I just love the look, feel and nostalgia that comes with a guitar like this.
This beauty has a single single sharp cutaway like the Gibson Les Paul and it has two pickups. This one has a sweet cherry finish with bound top and back. Looks like an original Bigsby tailpiece (AKA Whammy Bar or Tremolo) along with a metal bridge to round things off.
Born in 1965 and probably prettier today than it was on it’s birthday. I know very few people who can say that. Sure hope I find the right one but this one would do nicely.
After spending close to $3,000 on new BF Goodrich R1 tires and D-Force LTW wheels, it seemed documenting the purchase, installation and following track days was the right thing to do. It took me no less than (10) solid hours of searching the web, reading articles, speaking with professional drivers, instructors and track junkies to make up my mind. But I’m pretty sure I did the right thing and my first track days with the new tires and wheels confirmed it.
My car is a 2008 M3 E93 (hard top convertible) and it has about 420+HP but weights close to 4,000lbs. While this car is clearly not track ready out of the box, it only takes a few thousand dollars to get you to the promise land, as I’ve learned. My ongoing dilemma has been that all I did was use racing brake fluid (Motul 600 or 660) and pop on racing pads before each event. The stock tires are Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 265/35/19 rear and 245/35/19 front, which are great tires but at 6,000 mi I’ve shredded the fronts and the rears have less traction than the reunion tour of New Kids on the Block. My goal is to be safe, go fast, finish track days without mechanical issues and save money without tearing up my street tires or my wallet. This all led me to the purchase and now I’ll outline a few reasons why I decided to do this.
Slicks provide better grip which allows me to go faster. Also I dropped close to 20lb of unsprung weight going from stock 19″ wheels to these super light 18′s which makes the car easier to stop, keeps the brakes cooler and lightens the load. 20lbs might not seem like much but it’s huge when unsprung.
Dropping the weight on the wheels really does allow them to run cooler which will positively affect the entire braking system and will hopefully allow me to get through events without significant brake fade.
Since my stock tires are staggered (larger in rear, smaller in front) and the new ones are 275/35/18 square (same size all the way around) I can rotate the tires front to back, sided to side, corner to corner, flip them or whatever I need to do to extended the rubber life.
While I had to drop $3,000 to buy everything, I can sell the wheels, spacers and lugs for pretty close to what I paid for them and I can even resell the tires if need be. So my actual cost when it’s all said and done will be far less than $3,000.
One issue is that since I am still relativity new to tracking my car, I’m learning in leaps and bounds as opposed to tiny increments. The events I frequent use different “run groups” which separate drivers by skill. Everyone starts in green, then blue, then yellow and after that you go red. After red you can probably be an instructor if you want to but I’m still trying to figure out why anyone would want to do that aside from the free track time in the instructor group. We are running at Texas World Speedway this weekend and I will be starting in the yellow group which is a step up for me but I have earned it by consistently driving fast in my run groups and by being safe, no spins and never had I gotten more than 90 degrees sideways. Which brings me to my next point that these tires are not very “audible”. In other words they are pretty quiet on the track so if you start to slide you don’t really get a warning, it just happens all of the sudden. The PS2′s scream like Richard Simmons at a George Michael concert. They let you know what’s going on and you can use that sound to make corrections. Slicks are not that friendly so when they let go (as I’ve heard) they just let go really quickly. So I’m a bit apprehensive as they also require a couple more laps for warm up. In fact I run (2) laps briskly and midway through the 3rd lap, lower the boom. At Eagles Canyon I got to run this new setup for a couple sessions and got sideways in a turn only to later lose all (4) wheels in another. Luckily I was able to reel it in quickly on both slides. Texas World Speedway is much faster so I will have less time to react but it also flows better so I’m not running 140mph to a hairpin turn and wailing on the brakes. On to the purchase and installation..
BF Goodrich R1 275/35/18
Two words.. Tire Rack. They kick ass, heat cycled them for me, had them in stock and I got tire totes so I can transport them in the car without messing up the interior.
$1,048.00 – (4) tires
$ 30.00 – Competition heat cycle all (4) tires
$ 39.90 – (4) tire totes which are great BTW and highly recommended if you don’t have a trailer.
$ 82.64 – Shipping to Dallas TX
$ 1,230.54 – Grand Total
D-Force LTW5 Lightweight Forged Alloy Race Wheel 18×9
Bought these at Turner MotorSports which is a great place but they did muff the shipping. They quoted me an extra $100 for 2nd day and when they realized they under quoted me, rather than calling me to ask what I would like to do, they shipped them regular ground. This could have caused me to miss my Sat track day because if they didn’t arrive on Friday, I would have been out of luck. We were lucky and they arrived at 1PM on Friday so I had time to get them balanced, installed, spacers tested and then uninstalled and put in the tire totes. They sent me a sweat shirt as a “sorry about that” gesture and I appreciated that. Decided to go with flat black since they looked nasty and I like it like that.
$1,159.80 – (4) wheels
$ 89.95 – pair of 12.5mm spacers (front)
$ 96.95 – pair of 18mm spacers (rear)
$ 69.60 – (10) 75mm studs (12 x 1.5)
$ 69.60 – (10) 90mm studs (12 x 1.5)
$ 45.00 – (20) 17mm (12 x 1.5) open lugs
$ 0.00 – (2) loctite 262 thread lockers
$ 204.32 – Shipping
$1,735.22 – Grand Total
Here are the tires delivered to my office and the wheels delivered to Autoscope with the spacers and lugs..
These things obviously look great and the weight savings combined with added grip means they should absolutely kick butt at the track.
Fast forward a couple weeks after I did Texas World Speedway, Nov 2009
Got to run the entire weekend (4 sessions per day) on these new tires and wheels and as expected they made a huge difference. Had one spin coming off the front straight which caused me to slide at least (75) yards off the track into the grass backwards. Don’t really blame that on the tires because I has just passed a good friend and was going way too fast into that corner. The spin was going to happen one way or the other simply because I was way carrying too much speed into the turn and I’m apparently not good enough to convert a rotten corner entry into a blazing exit. On the bright side, my lap times were cut by about (13) seconds which for me is HUGE. I also ran more consistently and on (3) complete sessions, all of my laps were within a few seconds of one another. Best time for me around Texas World Speedway clockwise was 2:04 and my goal there next time is to get under 2:00 by a few seconds.
Here is the spin:
In closing, for anyone trying to figure out which tires, wheels and spacers to buy for an E92 or E93 M3, I can honestly say that I feel as though I made the right choice. It was cost effective, everything is very high quality, the tires are awesome, the wheels are light like you would not believe and the results are in the (13) seconds I shaved off my lap times.
I switched to Castrol SRF brake fluid for this last track day at Texas World Speedway and completed the entire weekend without any brake issues. Highly recommended over motul (which is still great stuff).
Till next time ~ John