They're 1.6L Renaults that make about 150 horsepowers. About the same as my Celica, but the car weighs less than half as much so that's >300 bhp/ton. 0-60 in around 4 sec. Not super fast by any means, but when your bum is only 1.5" off the ground it sure feels quicklyish. One thing that was really cool was it had a sequential-shift gearbox instead of an h-pattern. That also meant the car actually doesn't have a 'neutral'; you have to hold the clutch in when you're stopped or else the engine will bog and stall. And it doesn't idle, so you have to maintain about 2000-2500 revs on the throttle to keep the engine lit. Still had to use the clutch, but it was a lot easier matching revs on downchanges when you weren't worried about finding a box full of neutrals. It would always be in gear.... just maybe not the right one.
First time driving a single seater and slicks/wings. You can actually feel the downforce build as you accelerate, which was a little odd. Ordinarily this class is run on the infield circuit at the California Speedway in Fontana, but for some reason yesterday's class was held in the parking lot around a cone track that probably wasn't more than 500 yards long. Four turns (3L, 1R) Top speed into turn 1 probably about 110, highest cornering speed (T4 past the flag stand) probably 85-90. The shortness of the track and the lack of the telemetry data debrief were really my only complaints about the experience. The infield track is probably close to 1.5 miles around with a couple sections that would have gotten up to 120-130 mph.
The video does not even begin to explain how incredibly bumpy it was and how savagely harsh the ride is in a stiffly sprung racing car. It's one thing to intellectually know that going in, but until you actually experience it there's nothing to prepare you for it. My right thigh has a nice bruise on it from banging against the gear lever. I angled my mirrors so I could see the rear wheels and suspension working, but as soon as you start moving the vibration is so bad you can't make anything out in the reflection. I will never chastise a driver again for failing to see someone in their mirrors; the things are useless! Also, there was a slight incline heading up to the first corner, and it began right around the braking point. (Well..... my
braking point...) On my second (?) flying lap I hit the brakes right at the same time as the suspension compressed as I hit the incline, the car bottomed out and I swear like half a pint of spinal fluid fired out of my ears. Overshot the corner by like 20 feet.
But yeah, I was really mad at the guy in front of me. He broke the rules about how to let a faster driver by, and as a result he thoroughly screwed my two last laps.
Two biggest areas of improvement; proper braking (I was early in both brake zones), and brake-throttle transition (not exactly Alain Prost here....). But it was far and away the most fun I've ever had doing anything, including the day I did the fighter pilot thing 7-8 years ago. Would do it again in a heartbeat.