The National Capital Chapter held their last Driver’s School this past weekend at the Jefferson Circuit at Summit Point. The Jefferson is one of my favorite courses — very MINI friendly. The weather was beautiful, and unlike last November, sunny and warm. The GeorgeCo MINI ran like a top. (Watch me chase the M5 in the video above.)
No major changes to the car from the last track day. The suspension has settled a bit, so I now have more negative camber up front which helped with tire wear. I replaced my stock hood scoop with the M7 Extreme Hood Scoop which may have helped with intercooler temps, but it wasn’t that hot to begin with. The Falken RT-615s continue to wear evenly and remain predicable through multiple sessions, never exceeding about 125 degrees in the front and 98 in the rear.
Because of the suspension work and sticky tires, we’ve been having trouble making the car misbehave on the skidpad. For my second session, we tried something different. To get the car into oversteer, I lowered the fronts to street pressure and over-inflated the rears by about 10 pounds. With a little application of the emergency brake, the tail came out quite easily. But with all front-wheel drive, it is hard to sustain oversteer for any distance. You can see at the end of this clip that I managed to get the car almost completely sideways and still recovered.
One thing that drives me nuts about the “bottle cap” rims is that they’re impossible to clean. If you leave the brake dust on the wheels it eats into the surface and you cannot really get your fingers in the slots to keep them clean when you wash the car.
Since I had a little time off around the 4th of July, I thought I’d repaint the wheels and apply a more durable clear coat that’s supposed to resist high heat and brake dust. If nothing else, for a brief period they will be clean and dust-free. The photo above shows the worst wheel of the set. I’m not sure how the previous owner got that gash in the wheel, but at least it’s on the thickest part of the rim (knock on wood).
I have another set of the same wheels with snow tires on them. At some part I’ll swap this one out, but for now, it looks much better. From 10 feet away you can’t even see it. And that’s the goal of this car anyway — a decent 10 footer.
And the set.
All in all, pretty good for a couple of days of work and about $20 in paint.
I talked to the experts at Paint World and upon their recommendation, added a third coat of clear to the hood. That made all the difference to get the repainted hood to match the shine of the fenders. I had some paint and clear coat left over so I also repainted the rear panel around the taillights and license plate. Considering I only got a single coat of primer, single coat of color, and single coat of clear on the rear, it looks pretty good.
We’ve had the car for just over a year now. Here’s what the hood looked like when I started:
And here’s the rear panel:
It took a week longer than I planned, and many more cans of paint, but I finally finished the hood. I still need to polish it, but it looks pretty good.
The hood on the BMW has one of the worst paint jobs I’ve ever seen. It’s like the history of paint. I think there’s at least 4 layers, the top coat being a very cheap, very thick respray one of the previous owners had done after something fell on the hood. The paint was burned in several places, and had about a dozen significant chunks missing. The entire leading edge was one chip after another. While washing the car on Saturday, the water pressure from the hose was enough to dislodge a big chunk of paint. When I first bought the car, I painted the larger chips in as best I could with touch up paint as seen in the photo above. After I finished the Aero Grille on the MINI, I thought I’d try to fill one of the holes.
It was fairly easy to clean out and fill. Once I got to sanding, I started to wet sand out some scratches.
Which of course lead to more grinding.
Which lead to more filling.
At some point you just have to stop or you’ll go nuts. I’ll never get the thing to look like new. And with a new hood running only about $300, it’s just not worth it to try. It can’t look worse than when I started so why not try to prime it up and paint it and see what happens.
I got the first coat of primer on last night. It still needs to be sanded and there are a couple of rough spots to work out, but it’s about 90 percent there.