The other day we had a flurry of activity in our Unofficial Pineview Run Fan Group. It started with a brag about lap times, which got to guys (ahem) measuring themselves without anyone having a ruler.
And then my teammate Evan suggested we should have such a ruler, or call it a village bicycle. With a shared vehicle, everyone could compare lap times on a level playing field. Well that makes a whole lot of sense, what would it take?
We discussed different cars for this application. For the first time, Miata wasn’t the answer, because a lot of people don’t fit in one. A BRZ/FRS is better, but initially more expensive. BMW E46 is a great platform at a reasonable price, but maintenance and parts costs are higher. And then my teammate Pat says what about an old cop car?
There are a lot of different models of cop car, but what Pat and probably anyone else is thinking when you say “old cop car” is a 1998-2009 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, often called by its code name, P71. Part of Pat’s reasoning was that most people wouldn’t be familiar with the platform (except the back seat), and that starts people on even ground. In addition, P71s are cheap to purchase and fix, have rear wheel drive with decent power, come with heavy-duty parts more suitable to track life, and will fit just about any driver.
I thought about it some more and there are other virtues to the P71. Being heavy, it’s less sensitive to driver weight, and so correcting for that will be easier. It’s got rear-wheel drive with some have an open diff, making traction sensing an important skill. It’s got ABS so we don’t flat spot tires. Heck, even the auto trans is a virtue, maybe get some millennials on track!
If I can’t convince you, check out the following videos which come to the same conclusion in a very different way.
- Worlds Greatest Car Ever The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor – Someone’s dad waxes enthusiastic about his favorite car. The good part is where he goes into depth on the features that make the P71 different than the standard Crown Vic.
- Ford Crown Victoria – Everything You Need to Know – Hipster gives a history lesson, delivered in a modern style for people with no attention span.
So the car has a lot of merit, and on top of that, there’s the whole police angle. Pineview Run does police training at their facility, and so we might even get the officers to run laps – get a little cops and robbers thing going. Or fan the fires of inter-department police rivalry – which highway patrol has the fastest driver? Or, settle the argument on old age and treachery vs youth and skill, pitting retired cops vs rookies. Or, for manufacturers, benchmark the latest cop cars vs the P71s Interceptor. Yeah, this police car thing has a lot going for it.
But the P71 is not a “county club car”. It’s not selling the image of an exclusive and high-end motorsports club. But IMHO, what the club needs right now is more people coming to the track and driving it, not judging it from a distance. The P71 contest could be a tasty carrot, something that brings people to the track and facility. At this point in time, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
PVP71 Competition format
The Pineview Run P71 Interceptor Cup (PVP71 for short) competition would run all year long. Anyone can rent the car for a regular 15-minute session, start the Aim Solo, and lay down some laps. At the end of the year, the top finishers get some kind of prize, maybe a cash reward, their name on a perpetual trophy, that kind of thing.
To make the P71 competition fair, we’d need tires that don’t change much over their lifespan, and stay consistent over different temperatures. Hankook RS4s will do that. We have data from our last race that shows time of day had no statistical impact on lap time. We used old tires on Saturday, and brand new on Sunday, and so tread depth, heat cycles, and track temperature seem to have a minor effect on these tires.
Stock tire size is 235/55-17. The RS4s are only available in 235/45-17, but maybe that’s not an issue. If we stick to the stock size, the most common cop tire is Goodyear Eagle RS-A (260 TW all-season). Firehawk Indy 500 and Dunlop DZ102 are also available in that size, and I’ve heard similar comments about the DZ102’s indifference and lifespan, but have no data on that.
We also need a way to adjust ballast between drivers, but that should be easy with some removable ballast weights and varying fuel loads. In the future we may be able to have a correction factor for driver and fuel weight, eliminating the need for ballast. So we should keep a detailed log of everything, including air temperature, track temperature, wind speed, and other variables, and correct for those as well.
Aside from the regular on-demand rentals, I can imagine a lot of special events, here are some ideas.
- We’d need an initial weekend event to settle on a standard tire pressure, adjust suspension, figure out ballast, and other baseline tuning and setup.
- We could have a P71 Open Test Day, where many people get to drive the car for shorter sessions, in a non-competitive environment. Pineview is often empty when it’s raining, so this could be a good opportunity.
- It would be great to get some police officers at the track with civilians and do a meet and greet. Try out some of the newer cop cars against the P71. Shoot some guns. No really, because Pineview is also a sportsman’s club, and shooting is a part of that. We could even do a shootout with the cops (competing on paper targets, of course).
Simulated lap times
If you thought I was going to do a blog post without simulating lap times, you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. Here are some optimum laps based on 236 whp, Cd 0.46, Cl 0.40, at 3900 lbs and 4100 lbs. Take this with a big grain of salt.
|Tire||3900 lbs||4100 lbs|
|Older summer tire (DZ102)||1:19.60||1:19.78|
|Newer summer tire (Indy 500)||1:18.21||1:18.38|
|200 TW enduro tire (RS4)||1:16.91||1:17.08|
If those times work out, it’s faster than my Miata. It burns a bit to write that. Nah, that can’t be right. Can it?
Let’s do this
There are three main hurdles to get over.
- Convince Pineview (mostly Todd) that the P71 fits into Pineview’s vision. [updated] We have the go-ahead!
- Someone (me, probably) has to buy the car, prep it for track duty, and maintain it throughout the season.
- We need a pricing model that is cheap, but also pays for the car and track time fairly.
To point number 2, my instinct says to buy the car myself and it’ll all work out. I don’t have the time or inclination to prep it for track duty and do regular maintenance, but if this is a community effort, then people will help. If you build it, they will come.
Point number 3 will take some math. Logistically, the price of the car, plus tires, brake pads, fluid changes, a better seat, and other necessities is probably $3400. If we take $17 per rental and apply it to the car, we need 200 rentals to pay for it. That equals 50 hours of track time, which is another set of tires, brake pads, fluid changes, etc. Consumables will run about $70-80 per hour, so around $18 per 15-minute rental.
If running cost is $18 and car payment is $17, then the minimum price for Pineview members, annual pass holders, and people using a track pass is $35 per 15-minute session.
For non-members doing an arrive-and-drive, pricing would have to include track access, which is around $50 per 15-min session (based on getting six 15-minute sessions and a $300 track pass). But if we base it on the current sale price of $209, that’s $35 per 15-minute session. In which case the price is $70 for non-members.
The $35/$70 pricing is as low as we can do it, and the pricing doesn’t include anything towards awards, cash prizes, etc. We’d have to add $5 to each session if we want those things.
Eventually the car should pay for itself (or rather pay me back), and then it can start paying for its upgrades. And by upgrades I mean in-car video, live timing, four on-track cameras to capture the action, etc. Eventually we live stream everything, so that people sitting at home can watch you set a new lap record. Or go four off.
I’m really liking this P71 Interceptor Cup concept . Who’s with me?