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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:18 pm 
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Location: Fres-yes
Delivery Date: 0- 0-2011
Leaf Number: 1925
Well it was quite a weekend at Laguna Seca. The third annual ReFuel event was held on Sunday, June 26 at Laguna Seca Raceway. Admission was a mere $10 (that's basically free track time at Laguna Seca). I started my drive from Fresno Saturday mid-morning and stopped for about 5 hours at the KOA campsite off Highway 152 in Santa Nella at the base of the San Luis Resevoir (where is my 6.6KW charger Nissan?). I took mostly country roads to get to Los Banos (Avenue 7, Road 33 etc). My destination for the night was Aptos, CA. After eating at the nearby Petro, making a few phone calls and catching up on some blog reading I left for Aptos with a full charge drafting a semi-truck up 152 at about 55mph. Made it to Aptos about 7pm with 3 bars to spare. Got a full charge that night. At 6AM I headed out for the 40 mile trip to Seaside where I topped up at Cardinale Nissan (thanks guys!) for about an hour. When I arrived I saw another Leaf charging. That was Mike Newell (aka Fiestatrio) who was in from Santa Rosa. After a brief intro we headed out to the track. Registration was quick and easy and helmet and transponder rentals were available for a nominal fee. We plugged in immediately to the available 50 amp RV outlets and had full L2 charging with the 16 amp Ingineer EVSE's (sweet) all day. After a brief driver orientation and tech inspection we headed out for our first of two practice sessions. The goal of the day was to achieve your best time during the Time Trial Event. I started session one with 10 bars and drove in ECO mode for max regen. Brakes performed well and were very predictable. The tires and suspension were clearly the weak link. Best time that session was a 2:13 (3 laps total for session one). In session two I had a brave ride-along so my time stayed about the same. At the end of the 6 lap session the tires were getting hot and starting to get a little unpredictable. The brakes were starting to get hot too. With only 1.5 hours between sessions and the longer run time of the 2nd session I ended up with 2 bars SOC at the end of session two. The time trial started about 3:30pm so that only left me with 2 hours of quality charging time. No matter though since the time trial was only 2 laps. We also started at turn 10 (near the end of the track) to minimize power consumption. I clocked my fastest time of the day with a 2:10 lap. Tires were definitely angry. After the TT event I came back to the paddock and decided to skip the last open session of the day in order to maximize range for the trip home. It gave me a chance to watch the other EV's rip around the track.

The Leaf drivetrain and battery BMS are solid. To my surprise almost every other EV out there (production or otherwise) had heat management issues after 2-5 laps. Tesla's were hitting power cut by lap 4-5. Most of the other kit cars could do one or two laps due to heat or range issues. Conversely, the Leaf was pulling strong all day and the battery temp gauge didn't move over 6 bars. Energy efficiency on the track was a stellar 1.2-1.3 m/kWh. Ha!

Hopefully some aftermarket suspension companies are reading this and will consider designing some parts for the Leaf. While it lacks the power necessary for big tracks like Laguna Seca I think it would be great fun at autocross events. With the weight slung low I think it has some great potential. Hopefully at next years event I'll have some new suspension and stickier tires to test out. With any luck I think shaving 5-10 seconds off (or more) is doable.

Pit Photos: http://www.naderassemi.com/photography/refuel-2011-laguna-seca-pits/
Track Photos: http://www.naderassemi.com/photography/refuel-2011-laguna-seca-track/
Video:


In Car Video (Having some fun on the warm up session):
http://vimeo.com/25694725


Media Coverage: http://www.examiner.com/green-transportation-in-national/refuel-brings-tesla-s-and-more-to-laguna-seca-for-3rd-year-of-electric-racing#ixzz1QWBQHF1i

It's a long article covering the entire event but here is the best part IMO:
Quote:
Where the production car class (Mini-E, Leaf and Tesla Roadster) becomes interesting is the results achieved by the Mini-E and Leaf owners. Unsurprisingly, they were beaten by the Tesla Roadster drivers, but beaten by less than one would imagine. The slowest Tesla Roadster had a best lap time of 2:08.007, the Mini-E (driven by J Dow) had a best lap time of 2:08.779, and the Leaf (driven by Nader Assemi) had a best lap time of 2:10.223.


Last edited by nader on Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:16 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:23 pm 
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nader wrote:
The Leaf drivetrain and battery BMS are solid. To my surprise almost every other EV out there (production or otherwise) had heat management issues after 2-5 laps. Tesla's were hitting power cut by lap 4-5. Most of the other kit cars could do one or two laps due to heat or range issues. Conversely, the Leaf was pulling strong all day and the battery temp gauge didn't move over 6 bars.


Very cool!

Thanks for the writeup!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:02 pm 
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Location: Fres-yes
Delivery Date: 0- 0-2011
Leaf Number: 1925
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:15 pm 
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Location: Fres-yes
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:01 pm 
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Cool, Nader, thanks for sharing everything. Sounds like a blast, and quite an odyssey from Fres-yes to the track and back. Good on ya.

One comment about the pics, if you can, please resize them down for web viewing, perhaps 1,000 pixels wide, max. Apparently some folks have trouble seeing them on smaller screens, iPads, etc.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:54 pm 
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Boomer23 wrote:
Cool, Nader, thanks for sharing everything. Sounds like a blast, and quite an odyssey from Fres-yes to the track and back. Good on ya.

One comment about the pics, if you can, please resize them down for web viewing, perhaps 1,000 pixels wide, max. Apparently some folks have trouble seeing them on smaller screens, iPads, etc.

Actually 800 wide for HQ and 640 wide for lo-res is more like it. Took forever to load this page.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Location: Union City, CA
Delivery Date: 04 Aug 2011
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Nader, I'm so jealous I could puke! I'm only 100 miles away from LS but had a family event. Next year!

Did you leave the car in ECO? While I prefer the resistance at accelerator lift-off in ECO to control the car, I like D better in general. Also, did you really get much regen? When breaking hard the foregoes regen and does only friction.

I'm not surprised that the Eco tires got greasy in the heat. Brakes too. Does anyone know which car the Leaf may share it's brakes with? It would be good to tap into a larger pool of brake pads.

Thanks for writing this up!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:59 pm 
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nader wrote:
...The tires and suspension were clearly the weak link.

This is my main desire to modify. I find it also safety issue, as collision avoidance is the name of the game in street driving.

nader wrote:
It's a long article covering the entire event but here is the best part IMO:
Quote:
Where the production car class (Mini-E, Leaf and Tesla Roadster) becomes interesting is the results achieved by the Mini-E and Leaf owners. Unsurprisingly, they were beaten by the Tesla Roadster drivers, but beaten by less than one would imagine. The slowest Tesla Roadster had a best lap time of 2:08.007, the Mini-E (driven by J Dow) had a best lap time of 2:08.779, and the Leaf (driven by Nader Assemi) had a best lap time of 2:10.223.

Can you imagine how it would have read if you had bested the Tesla Roadster. You must have some driving skill! With tires, wheels, and suspension I bet you would have beaten the Tesla!

Well done EV adventure and excellent write up!!!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:18 pm 
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Delivery Date: 27 Jul 2011
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Nice pictures. Is that a GoPro camera I see in a few of the pictures? If so, did you take any video, and will you be posting that sometime?

Good stuff! Track days are always fun :D

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:25 pm 
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Nice writeup! - the tires are definitely the weakest link, but they appear to have held up OK. I did an auto-x school on similar tires in my old car (WRX) which absolutely ATE the fronts up.

What you'll find is that especially after getting some sticky tires, you'll need a lot more negative camber or significantly stiffer springs/rollbars to keep car from eating the shoulders of the tires for lunch. Body roll actually looks fairly controlled in the pics - how'd it feel on the track?

The good news is that there are a lot of sticky tires available in the stock tire size - and even more if you go with a 225/50/16 where you can basically get race-rubber.

You have some work to do to catch up to the 1:50 the fastest Tesla posted! ;)

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