Track Experiences-Charlotte

Southeast members George Blodgett, Steve Demers, and myself just made it back from Car Guys’ Charlotte Motor Speedway track event (during El Nino’s finest attempt at making North Carolina into an inland sea) and with the exception of some custom body work on George’s Turbo Z, safely.
I’d like to take a minute on the soapbox regarding the wet handling of the NSX.
What: ’92 NSX 49k, completely stock, shod with OEM Yokohama A022 H1 in 15/16 size, new rears, 1/2 gone fronts
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, about 9/10s of the banked oval plus a 1 mile infield, consisting of a good assortment of on/off camber turns on variable/constant radii turns.
Who: A relatively inexperienced track driver, with only one prior event at Road Atlanta under my belt.
Weather: constant, moderate-severe rainfall from midnight to just before the last run of the day, when it quit.
Ok, the field pretty much takes it easy to start with. Especially after watching an instructor with racing experience ball up his Miata on the wall coming down into the front stretch braking zone ~90-100mph and then a Viper GTS spinning through the cones to go infield farming after locking up in the braking zone. Back stretch speeds timidly held in the 90-100 mph range. By the second session, everyone figures, oh what the heck, the weather’s gonna suck both days, might as well feel out the cars. Speeds start to creep up. By session 2, I’m following a ’98 Porsche Carrera S down the straight into the banking at 115, and with 3 car lengths between us I’m almost completely blind, peering out from my windshield into a white sheet highlighted by two faint red lights ahead. This is white knuckle stuff.
The entrance to the infield is described as a ‘moat’ during the driver’s meeting, with a 5 degree banking on the straightaway collecting a 10-15 ft.-across and 8 inch-deep puddle just after the turn-in point, causing all cars with a rear-weight bias of any kind to modify the line so the front wheels are completly straight as you cross this ‘sea’. No surprise, the NSX cuts the rear loose if you have any load on the outside tires crossing the moat at 45 mph+. Infield conditions evolved considerably as the rain came down, with certain corners becoming more driveable and others becoming treacherous with mud and stones knocked on track and water pooling in various spots. The only constant being the rain as your companion both days. I decide to keep traction control on.
Ok, everybody who likes to bash the NSX’s wet handling on Yokohamas go ahead and hit delete. My experience is significantly different. The NSX is a fine car in the wet. Don’t deluge me with private e-mails. You can’t change my mind with experiences of ‘hey, my car did a 360 with no steering input at 50 mph.’ We eventually were doing 125-130mph down the back straight into the banking. There were vastly greater HP cars in my run group, but nobody passed the NSX once I felt out the track.
The natural tendency of the NSX on a wet track is to understeer like a pig in low speed/low throttle conditions such as >90 degree turns. However, the superb balance of the car allowed for wonderful 4 wheel drifts in the wet, with catchable oversteer available if I overcooked a corner or came on throttle too hard unwinding the wheel. The only time that the car became unsettled was hitting standing water deeper than 2 inches at >55 mph WITH THE OUTSIDE WHEELS LOADED. Even then, the car caught itself exiting the puddle if the driver kept his/her cool.
Bottom line, the stock NSX on OEM Yoks ran just fine at high speeds in the wet. Even the track instructors and event organizers complemented me on the field-overtaking runs, which I humbly accepted, knowing that the real praise was deserved by the car. Other drivers of 911s, Supras, Vettes, and Z cars were much less complementary of Gatorbacks, MXX3 Pilots, and SP 8000s– tires widely considered on the list to be superior wet tires. I guess I already knew the Yoks were fine, as my daily driver NSX uses the A022s year-round in the very wet North Carolina climate.
I’m sorry to bash the dogma on the list, but I learned an awful lot about the wet handling of the NSX these past two days. And my ownership experience of the car now includes a very satisfied evaluation of the wet handling.