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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first thread on the forums, I wanted to begin by thanking all of the contributing members to this forum - I have been using the site since last December and thanks to the search engine I've never needed to post a question.

Quick background on myself and my car: I purchased my 07 Solstice GXP with the main goal of getting back into a rwd platform car to participate in more HPDE events and hopefully some Time Trials. I began my track day obsession in 2012 while I was finishing up college, and have owned and modified various vehicles for the track with the majority of my time being spent in a Rx-8 and a R53 Mini Cooper S.

I purchased my car from a forum member MattGXP, who some may remember used it, with some decent success, for autox. I purchased it in January 2017 with 66k miles, it is a non a/c car with leather, but he had installed a full set of z0k springs mounted on koni yellows, rear z0k sway bar and had aligned the vehicle to around -2.1 front camber -1.1 rear camber with about 0.6 toe in the rear (very neutral with a good bite on turn-in). He also included a full set of stock bilsteins with gxp springs, the front z0k sway bar, a brand new unopened factory turbocharger and two sets of stock wheels - gotta love having some spares.

To get the vehicle ready for track I found and purchased a color matching smoothline hardtop from member idkfa (great member, helped give me a check list to watch out for), I also purchased and installed a 4 pt chromoly rollbar from RPM, and installed a DDMworks oil catch can. All that was left was an ATE brake fluid flush, diff oil change with Royal Purple, checked the brake pads, rotors, all fluid levels, wrap the stock wheels in some Hoosier R7s and we were off.



I am very fortunate that 2.5 hours away the National Corvette Museum decided to build the wonderful Motorsports Park down in Bowling Green, KY - it is a 3.2 mile road course with 23 corners including on and off camber turns, and elevation changes. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend it.

For my first event in the Solstice I signed up for the July 22-23 weekend, the group I run with does 5 sessions per day of 30 minutes each per group. As the weekend grew closer, I knew that track time wasn't going to be the issue, but the summer heat wave was. Saturday had a heat index of 110 degrees by 11:00 a.m. My first run began at 9:30, and less than fifteen minutes in my coolant temp read 245 degrees and was climbing, flipped the heat on full blast and pitted. As I was letting the car run to cool down I noticed a string of other cars coming off track (I wasn't the only one struggling with coolant and oil temps). Despite learning how the car responded on slicks, despite only being on track for 15 minutes, despite dealing with traffic on track, I had already shaved a full second off of my personal best lap time. Forget the heat, I knew this was going to be a good weekend.

My game-plan was simple, as soon as the coolant reads 185, turn the heat on, stay on track as long as possible before either the car gets too hot or I do, and just get used to the braking zones and cornering speeds in which the car can achieve. The heat soak on the engine was apparent. I'd get about 2 laps in with, what felt like, full power, but I needed 2-3 laps to get heat into my tires before I could push it in the corners. As a result, my times were consistent, but consistently slower than what I had achieved at the 9:30 session.

Sunday Morning: Wake up, thunderstorms surround the track, ambient air temp is only 80 degrees at 9:15, this is my chance. I was running about 10 minutes late, it has been sprinkling for a while but the track still looks dry, I'm staying with slicks. I only had time for 4 laps after my in-lap, but I shaved 3 additional seconds off of my time from the day before! I couldn't have been happier. Sunday's weather was better, but the heat index was still over 100 for the majority of the day. I ran within a second of my best time 3 more times throughout the day, usually on my third lap (when my tires were warm but engine wasn't too hot).

Unfortunately, after a trouble free weekend, Sunday afternoon on my cool down lap, my power steering pump decided it could take no more.. I finished the lap with diminishing power steering, and by the time I made it to the pits it was completely gone. The power steering fluid was a beautiful burned glitter color (metallic). Member Idkfa warned me to look into the power steering reservoir relocation kit, I learned my lesson.

Obviously I enjoyed the weekend, but all of the credit goes to the car. In it's current form, it is very neutral at the limit with slight under-steer (any of the performance tunes will cure this if you are comfortable with rotating the car under throttle, but mine, for now, is stock). There are three sections at this track that I was exceeding 105 mph, and I did notice that the car was a little twitchy in the rear for these sections, dialing in rear toe may be the answer - if anyone else has advice please let me know. My favorite part of the car was the front end grip and turn-in capabilities though, all I had to do was look where I wanted to be and the car would follow. That, combined with the stability of the vehicle in transition, created confidence in the vehicle for me which allowed me to get comfortable with the vehicle over a short time. I still have a lot of time left to shave from my laps, I have goals for myself and have already began a list of the corners I want to work on next time (hopefully returning in October). I also have a checklist of things to do to the car before October, all reliability based, no performance modifications until I hit some goals I have set for myself.

I am far from a great driver, but we have a special and underappreciated/underutilized platform here. There are very few front engine, rear wheel drive vehicles available with double wishbone suspension on all four corners. The list gets even smaller when you add in a curb weight under 3,000 pounds and a limited slip differential. This is a fantastic vehicle to learn about performance driving, and not just for beginner/novices, but for intermediate and advanced driver's as well. I hope that this post inspires others to see what their car can do, whether it is an autocross event or a track day, I am sure this car will teach you something, and you will have a great time doing it.

Here is a (boring) video of my fast lap of the weekend (I will get a rollbar mount for the gopro for the next event to show driver perspective):
https://youtu.be/k93mx-59CUI

 

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Great video! Just like sitting in the passenger seat with you. Even found myself leaning in the curves. Good luck. Keep us posted on your next event. :driving:
 

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I am not sure if the owner before updated the intercooler, but if he did not, you need to do this and your heat soak should go away.
You have 3 vendors to get one from, so good luck.
 

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http://www.gmperformancemotor.com/parts/88958697.html $21.74
132 pages show how to take advantage of the performance capabilites of the Pontiac Solstice. Loaded with almost 900 images and detailed technical information to help everyone form the beginner to the expert. Shows how a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) road racing Solstice is created, along with the build up of a drifting Solstice and a brute-performance Solstice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am not sure if the owner before updated the intercooler, but if he did not, you need to do this and your heat soak should go away.
You have 3 vendors to get one from, so good luck.
It is the stock intercooler, first step is getting a dual row radiator to keep coolant temps down. That should help other components as well, with the stock tune I'm hoping the stock intercooler will be okay for a while.



Solstic Performance: GM Performance Motor $21.74
132 pages show how to take advantage of the performance capabilites of the Pontiac Solstice. Loaded with almost 900 images and detailed technical information to help everyone form the beginner to the expert. Shows how a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) road racing Solstice is created, along with the build up of a drifting Solstice and a brute-performance Solstice.
That is awesome, I did not know it existed. $21 well spent and looking forward to reading
 

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The 1st thing the GM drift team did back in the day, was to change the intercooler on their drift Solstice.
You can also get a race type radiator from WERKS.
 

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I agree with Latin on this, get the inter cooler. The cooling is sufficient on the cars unless there is another problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry, I wasn't arguing against an upgraded intercooler being beneficial. I've had two forced induction track cars in the past and I have seen first hand the difference a bigger intercooler makes on charge temps. That being said, my first priority is that the coolant temps would have hit 250+ if I had stayed on track for the full session, or if I had not been running the heat on full blast. Even with all of my efforts every session ended prematurely with the car in the 240s which would cause me to lift, get out of the boost, and pit out. Not to mention the oil temperatures were probably right there with the coolant temp. Too much heat is a great way to ruin an engine.

So I am going to point out for others, if you plan on tracking this car in a humid climate during the summer, the stock cooling system will NOT be sufficient. And it isn't me slighting GM for the cooling system, Bmws, Minis, Evos, R32 VWs, they were all having fluids over heat on them (dual clutch trans fluids, oil temps, coolant temps) unless they had substantial cooling upgrades.

I'm not sure which companies are vendors for this site and which are not, but a google search will show several decent options for dual core aluminum radiators for our cars, Werks is one of them.
 

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Congrat's on the fun day, and thanks for posting. It is great to see your car still be enjoyed on the track.
 
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