Track Daze: Project 318is at Buttonwillow, Day One

Imagine your perfect track day. A dozen cars, dry tarmac and absolutely zero loose nuts behind the wheel. That's been our experience so far at Buttonwillow. We've had the pleasure of being invited to a private track event organized by Jack Fried, co-creator of the Lotus Challenge Series and all-around genuine gent. For the majority of Friday, the track has been open, so whenever the urge strikes, you just head out and go. With only a half-dozen vehicles on the track at any given time – primarily Porsches and Loti – we're in our own private nirvana. And Project 318is is holding its own, despite being thoroughly outclassed by the rest of the field.

The H&R Cup Kit had paid for itself three-times over before noon. Body roll is minimal, transitions are easy to gauge, and coupled with the lightweight Koseis and Advan A048s we fitted this week, the Bimmer has achieved its goal: providing us with a competent track tool that proves the old adage about driving a slow car fast.

But despite the perfect conditions, our day hasn't been without a few hiccups. After our first lapping session this morning, the "check engine" light came on, and shortly afterwards, the little-four-banger-that-could began to lurch and buck no matter the revs or load. We pulled into the pits, popped the hood and checked for loose wires or bad connections. All seemed well. We unplugged the battery to reset the ECU, and gave the Bimmer a brief rest. With everything reconnected and the idiot light extinguished, we headed back out. Two sessions later, the light popped on again. We pulled off track and double-checked what we could, but everything seemed in order. The light's still on, and although we haven't had any issues since, we're not pushing as hard as we did this morning.

Tomorrow, we'll have access to some diagnostic equipment to see if we can scope out the problem, but otherwise, things are going smoothly. Our brakes have been fade-free and the grip provided by the ultra-sticky gumballs (31 psi hot) has us second-guessing our intestinal fortitude. With just over an hour left, we're itching to get back out. Is this our 10th or 11th stint? We don't know. And in this case, ignorance is bliss.

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