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Basic S2000 track prep guide

Old 04-27-2016, 09:07 AM
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Default Basic S2000 track prep guide

I bought my first S2000 in 2005. It was a brand new left over 03 S2000 and shortly after purchasing it, I did my first NASA track day at Pocono. It was a blast and I was hooked. It’s over 10 years later and I just bought my 6[sup]th[/sup] S2000. In between I’ve had 30+ other cars that ranged from Miata’s to Corvettes to Supra’s. Over the years, I experimented with a bunch of different vehicles and always found myself coming back to the S2000. This post is just my findings on setting up a fast, consistent, and reliable S2000 for the track. They are just my opinion and by no way the definitive way on how to prepare an S2000.

Back when these cars came out, we were allowed to run them with factory roll hoops. Many sanctioning bodies now require the use of an aftermarket roll bar. You are required to pass the broomstick test, which simply requires your helmet to be at least 2 inches below the plane created by the top of the windshield and the roll bar. You are allowed to use the roll bar with the factory belts. I personally would not run factory belts on the track. I can’t imagine not making ground contact if I were hanging upside down with 3-point factory belts. Safety equipment should be upgraded as a package consisting of a harness, seat, and roll bar. Nearly all organizations require matching equipment for the driver and instructor. These upgrades are not cheap but are essential.

Note: Certain tracks may allow the use of an OEM hardtop in lieu of a roll bar. The OEM hardtop is made of aluminum and not designed to hold the weight of the car.

The newest S2000’s are now 7 years old now. Stainless brake lines are a cheap and very important upgrade to make on any vehicle that is tracked. Rubber lines deteriorate over time and expand under track use. Stainless lines will add a large factor of safety to your brakes as well as improved brake feel. You should also upgrade your brake fluid to quality DOT 4 fluid. The factory fluid can boil under track conditions and cause a loss of braking performance. I have used ATE and Castrol RBF on my cars and both work well. There are countless options on pads. For your first few track days, you may be ok with stock pads but will eventually need to upgrade. I don’t want to get too much into specifics on what to buy, as there are many threads on the forum on this matter.

Once you have addressed safety and the brakes, just make sure your car is in good running condition and has fresh fluids. You should be able to enjoy the car just like this for the first few days.

You will want to upgrade your tires after your first couple of times out. I do not recommend going to an R compound tire right off the bat. Stick with a quality street tire and really learn how to drive on them. Upgrading to an R comp, even a mild one like an NT01 will mask many driving mistakes and inhibit your learning curve. Get a feel for the car on good street tires and how it slides and feels at the limit.

At this point, you will have a competent, safe, and fun track S2000 to learn on. It is very temping to upgrade components to make your car faster but the best upgrade is the driver. The S2000 is very capable with good tires and brakes. Your money will be a lot better served on track time rather then upgrades.

S2000’s have minimal gains from N/A bolt on performance modifications but there are advantages in upgrading. The stock exhaust is very heavy and an upgrade to an aftermarket unit can greatly reduce weight. Combined with an aftermarket intake the car sounds fantastic. I won’t go much into what setups are good since there is extensive discussion on this forum about it but the best sounding setup I ever had was a AEM V2 Intake, J’s racing header, and Gernpipe going to a T1R-EM dual exhaust. The setup made 210RWHP on an AP2 and sounded glorious.

You will eventually want to start looking at suspension upgrades. Back in the day, stock was best and very few aftermarket systems could out perform the factory suspension. Today, there are numerous options people use. AP1 S2000’s have a reputation of having snap over steer at the limit. A properly setup AP1 will perform just as well as an AP2. A larger front sway bar can help with rear grip on the S2000. There are a number of sway bar options out there. Some people feel you should setup your dampeners first before upgrading the sway bar. I like to upgrade complete systems. I have had experience using HKS Hipermax III with stock sways on my old AP2 and AST4150 with an upgraded front sway bar and Megan Toe Arms on my AP1. My current racecar has a Comptech front bar with custom valved KW V3’s. There are many great combinations out there and this forum has covered them extensively. Don’t cheap out in the suspension or braking department. The S2000 is underpowered by a lot of the new machinery out there but it still has a large cornering and braking advantage over most cars.

The S2000 brakes are adequate for occasional track use and newer drivers. Faster drivers will experience cracked rotors pretty frequently at the track. A big brake kit is a very worthwhile upgrade for the track. Long term, it will reduce a lot of headache, make your car more consistent/safer, and allow you to continually keep diving deeper and deeper into braking zones. I would say a big brake kit is an essential for any regularly tracked S2000. I have had very good experiences with the Stoptech ST40 kit combined with Urge Flow rotors using Carbotech XP12 front and rear pads. This setup proved to be extremely consistent and got rid of some of the rear end dancing I had with other setups. The stock brake setup holds a lot of heat. It is important to vent the brakes the best you can to help with longevity of both the braking components as well as the hubs/bearings. Going to two piece rotors will help with bearing life as well as help with braking consistency.

Once you upgrade to a big brake kit, you will need to upgrade your wheels. Your wheel options will greatly reduce once you go with a big brake kit. This is an important cost to take into consideration when deciding to upgrade. A big brake kit, new wheels, tires, and pads will easily run you at least around $4,000. There is a large thread on the forum you can use to find wheels that fit big brake kits without spacers.

At this point you may consider changing to R compound tires to take advantage of the upgraded suspension and braking components. There are many options available. The current run of high performance street tires today are good as some of the old race rubber of yesterday. The Nitto NT01 is my tire of choice. It is a fairly low cost and low wear R compound that you can drive to the track. The big concern when changing to R compound tire is heat cycling. The NT01 will allow you to run all the way to the cords without ever heat cycling out. Of course they get slower over time, but thread wear is your concern rather then heat cycles with these tires. They aren’t the fastest by any means but faster then any street tire. I find them to be the perfect balance.

With increased grip and good driving comes increased wear and heat. The S2000’s radiator is fairly sufficient for most climates but an upgraded radiator is always preferred. The oil cooling is insufficient and at this point and maybe even before. You should consider an upgraded toil cooler. I have used the Mishimoto kit and it was very easy to install and worked well. You can build your own kit for less and a search of this forum will show you exactly how.

With an upgraded suspension and sticky tires, people get concerned of oil starvation. Many S2000 engines have been lost due to spun bearings from low oil pressure. Currently there are few options available. The first is an anti slosh shield. These shields weld into your stock oil pan. I am not a huge fan of these because I feel they don’t have adequate provisions for oil return if the oil sloshes over the shield. There have also been a number of drivers who have experience welds breaking off on these and causing engine damage. My AP1 had the welds start to go but luckily this was caught prior to causing any damage. The plate was removed and I ran it as a stock pan from then on with no issue. Blacktrax sells brand new OEM oil pans with the shield welded in and I have not heard of any bad experiences with these. The next option is the Moroso trap door oil pan, which welds into the stock pan. It has provisions for oil return using trap doors. Canton also makes an upgraded S2000 oil pan with more capacity. I am installing one of these on my racecar. There have been a number of S2000 owners that have complained of leaks with these pans and poor fitment. Canton says to have addressed the issues with the latest run of these pan. You can search the forum to get more information on this topic. While on the topic of oiling, the S2000 can spit out tons of oil into the intake under certain conditions and a catch can is a recommended upgrade.

With the mods listed above you will have a very fast, consistent, reliable track S2000. Of course there are tons of other things you can do from extended studs (recommended), bushings, upgraded mounts, upgraded diff, lightweight flywheel, etc. The options are really endless. The intent of this write up was to provide a basic outline on what I consider to be a worthwhile upgrade path to getting your setup for the track. This forum is a highly extensive resource on finding out what components work well on these cars so I highly recommend you use the search function find out more information on specific parts and peoples experiences

Before even thinking about going to the track it is essential your car be in good running condition. This means valves adjusted, good fluids, and all your braking and suspension components in good shape. While at the track, I can not stress enough that you need to continually monitor your oil levels.

I’m hoping more people can post valuable information below in this thread to make it a resource for guys just starting out. There is a ton more information to add to this.
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Old 04-27-2016, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by srproductions View Post
Back when these cars came out, we were allowed to run themwith factory roll hoops. All the sanctioning bodies now require the use of an aftermarket roll bar.
This is not true in NASA. I was an instructor in an S2000 with OEM roll hoops and the top down at Road Atlanta a couple months ago.
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Old 04-27-2016, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by King Tut View Post
Originally Posted by srproductions' timestamp='1461776840' post='23950190
Back when these cars came out, we were allowed to run themwith factory roll hoops. All the sanctioning bodies now require the use of an aftermarket roll bar.
This is not true in NASA. I was an instructor in an S2000 with OEM roll hoops and the top down at Road Atlanta a couple months ago.
Sorry, you are right! It is track specific. Even if you run with NASA at VIR, you need a roll bar.
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Old 04-27-2016, 02:05 PM
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This is all sensible advice, it will surely help people starting to take their cars to the track.
I sold my S2k a few years ago, but from what I can remember there were other significant issues to address:

- AP1 valve retainers: change them to AP2 retainers

- Oil filters coming loose, goodbye engine, possible fire: Tighten the PCX filter with a wrench. It is a metal-to-metal contact filter and needs to be tighter than ordinary filters. An oil bracket is cheap insurance:

- AP1 A-arm bracket reinforcement: Do it.

Rob Robinette has a really useful page too:
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:48 PM
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I know what you mean about the r comps early in one's career. I went to A048's when my street tire experience during long Chin Motorsport sessions, 30-60 mins, were hampered by greasy tires. I was newly intermediate solo at the time. As it turned out i was only good at the slow corners on the track and with the r comps my times only improved a small amount at first and were very slow to improve further. 2 sets of R888 burned up and eventually I went to a 200TW tire and low and behold Ive beaten all my track records set with R888 using RS-3s. I wasnt scared of the fast corners any more. The 200tw segment is perfect for mid level drivers. I plan on trying the NT01 once I use up one more set of 200tw tires. I still need more practice at Sebring before I try r comps again.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:00 PM
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All great information. I tracked my 2007 ap2 this weekend for the first time since I bought my car back In 2012. It’s been babied and is in mint condition at only 20k miles on the odometer (oem hard top) (wise sports wheels) eibach springs, tokiko yellows, high flow cat, UK modded exhaust, K&N filter, HONDATA tuned. It was difficult to to take it out to the track , lol my mind was fighting me on it but my track car was out of commission and I didn’t want to lose my registration $ ($400). The car did great but I as the driver didn’t so much:/ first time to ever track a RWD car and I just didn’t prep the car enough, it was a last minute car change. I was slower than I’m used to due to learning curve but I still had a blast. I’ll get faster now that I’m going to start taking it to the track more often. Anyway thank you for the good info, I was looking for tips on how to track the S2K. So far I’ve learned to keep that throttle in on turns. My biggest weakness currently is my brake setup (stock) and I definitely need racing seats and harnesses. Will be working on that between now and next event.
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Old 06-10-2019, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by AngrybirdS2k View Post
. My biggest weakness currently is my brake setup (stock)
Stock pads are limiting but I wouldn't write off the whole OEM brake setup just for casual tracking and even low level competition.

Last edited by freq; 06-10-2019 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Nurburgring View Post

- Oil filters coming loose, goodbye engine, possible fire: Tighten the PCX filter with a wrench. It is a metal-to-metal contact filter and needs to be tighter than ordinary filters. An oil bracket is cheap insurance:
Go Tuning Unlimited
I saw this for the first time last month. Never knew about this but tighten those oil filters good. One car has a loose oil filter, dumped oil on the entire track, and somehow didn't lose the motor. Person got really lucky no fire or failed bearings.
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Old 07-03-2019, 02:02 PM
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Good write-up as a 'first read' for someone looking into tracking their car. Have a few comments.

"Of course they get slower over time, but thread wear is your concern rather then heat cycles with these tires."
Minor typo here. "Thread" should be "Tread".

SCCA Track Night in America (HPDE) states 2006+ convertible cars with stock roll hoops is fine. Other tracks or sanctioning bodies may differ.

Oil filters.
The OEM oil filter is perfectly fine without the need of a 'anti-rotation' device if torqued per spec or by angle as noted on the filter.

Street tires teach driving skill. Race tires exploit driving skills. Decide if you're learning or if you're going for a target.

S2000 (most cars) is more stable at the rear with maintenance throttle. Have to approach a corner knowing you'll be providing some throttle mid to late corner.

Oil temps.
Heat 1 -
Ambient Air Temp = ~90F (~33C)
Track Surface Temp = 110F (43C)
S2000 (stock AP1, 9000 RPM redline)
Initial Oil Temp = 95C
Oil Temps (C) per lap = [Lap 0 - 10] [95,105,118,125,129,131,???,133,134,135,???] -> Lower Shift Point by ~300 RPM -> [Lap 11 - 14] [135,135,135,135]
H20 Temps stable at 101C max.

Heat 2 -

I don't think an oil cooler is needed if the driver loosely monitors the oil temp and reduces RPM as needed.
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