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Discussion Starter #1
I've always wanted to have an IS300, but I wanted one in good condition with a factory manual. After a bit of searching, I found one for sale in Atlanta with 195k miles. High mileage, but very well maintained. Has every option available in 02 - full leather, nav, LSD, manual. Mods were minimal with Hotchkis lower springs, anti-roll bars, and an HKS Carbon muffler.
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Being so close, I took a detour to the Tail of the Dragon on my way home.
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Spent 24 hours continuously driving home, with only stops for gas and food.
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The previous owner was kind enough to include a brand new OEM dash as the 02 dash was a little sticky. Immediately tore out the old dash and installed the new one, and began with the nav-tablet retrofit.
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Home was near Boston, MA, but not for long. 2 weeks after getting it home, I loaded up the car with all my belongings and moved to Austin, TX.
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During my period of unemployment after the move, mods remained minimal and cheap. I did small things such as changing the interior lighting to LED's, white gauge cluster/center console lights, smoked side markers, and painted the OEM foglight housings. I also installed a Megan catless header. The car stayed like this (as my daily) for quite a while. Other maintenance items included radiator cap, lower ball joints, alignment, air filters, etc.
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After several months of steady income and buying a daily (read: project car that I fixed into a daily), I was ready to start preparing the car for its true purpose: road course track time.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Prep for Track Day #1

The car drove nicely and was reliable. Sitting over 200k miles now, it had served me well and never broke down.

However, it wasn't ready for track duty. The all-season tires were worn and hard, the brake pads were old and noisy, the brake fluid hadn't been changed in who-knows how long, and more.

I took this opportunity to really go through the car and take care of several maintenance items.

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Every fluid in the car was flushed - brake fluid, gear oil, diff oil, engine oil, power steering fluid, and coolant. Other goodies shown in the pic are StopTech stainless steel lines, new PCV valve, EBC Yellowstuff brake pads, and a BLOX sandwich plate for temperature and pressure sensors. I also installed my Megan catless y pipe, meaning now the car had no cats at all and a straight through exhaust leading to the stock resonator and HKS muffler.

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Most importantly, I had a set of Bridgestone RE-71r tires in 225/45/17 fitted. Enormous difference in grip level!

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Innovate oil temp + pressure gauge at home in the gauge cluster via an Ortizcustompods bezel.

With this, the car was ready for the first track day.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Track Day #1 Results

Lots of fun! I did a novice day at Circuit of the Americas consisting of 2 20 minute sessions, each with an instructor. I was slow but predictable and smooth. The instructor complimented my driving and liked my car; he said it was a very balanced car and the low power levels keep things sane for a new driver.

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Overall, the car did well. The brakes slowed the car from 120mph on the back straight without issue, the tires had unrelenting grip, and the car sounded great.

However, oil temps did creep up to about 265f; pressures were still good (60psi @ 6000rpm) but I felt that that was the highest I'd like the temps to get. Track conditions weren't bad with ambient temps around 82f and high humidity.
 

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Prep for Track Day #2

I decided to do something about the oil temps. I bought a Mishimoto 25 row oil cooler kit. Included was the cooler, tubing, thermostatic sandwich plate, and a 180f thermostat.

I don't have any pics of the kit itself, but I took a lot of time to do a clean install. I wanted everything to appear stock to the untrained I. I wrapped the raw stainless lines in heatwrap and nylon sleeving, fitted the sandwich plate (fitting the sandwich plate with two -10 fittings and two sensors was a huge PITA), and ran the tubes out by the driver side headlight.

I ended up removing the stock power steering "cooler" to clear up some room on the passenger side, and installed a small Derale power steering cooler to make up for it.

The large oil cooler was mounted via brackets that I made which secured to riv-sert nuts installed in the lower core support and the middle support. Everything was painted semi-gloss black to match the surrounding.
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Track Day #2 Results

Same track, same event.

The oil cooler made a massive difference. It was 10 degrees hotter and much less humid, and oil temps stuck around 225f toward the end of the sessions.

I improved quite a bit from the beginning of Day #1 to the end of Day #2, and my instructor recommended I be moved up to Intermediate group.

Again, the instructor (different guy this time) complimented my car and said it's good for learning. He was surprised to see such a high mileage manual IS in such good condition!

Again, the car did well. The old sandwich plate (for sensors only) had been slowly weeping oil, but with the new sandwich plate and cooler setup not a drop leaks.

Because I was driving quite a bit faster, I got lots of body roll. You can even see the outside tire lifting up here.

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I ended up catching and getting passes from a C7 Z06 and a V10 R8.

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Driving faster means hotter brakes. Could feel the gas buildup a bit when slowing from 125 mph, but with a bit more pedal effort braking remained. Rotors turn blue.

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Discussion Starter #9
Track Day #3 Results

No prep took place between day #2 and #3, other than the typical checklist and tire rotations.

This time I spent the day at Driveway Austin, taking their Foundations of Road Racing course. It was a progressive course, starting off at a cruise and ending up at the car's limits by the end of the day.

For those that don't know, Driveway L1 is a short course consisting of various hard left turns, with lap times about 40 seconds each. Throughout the day we got 6 or 7 30 minute sessions, so quite a bit of track time.

The progressive nature of the course meant that I got to learn what each technique does and how the car behaves. I learned a lot as a driver and improved greatly.

The car, however, didn't fare so well. The oil temps were still great, and on such a small track the brakes didn't even get hot. However, due to mainly left turns the front right tire took a beating.

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This was after I already rotated it to the rear. Less than 500 miles and it's just about shot. Shame is that all the other tires have 50% tread life left.

But that's not where the broken parts end...

After the track session, on the drive home I noticed an awful, familiar clunking when going over even the smallest bumps.

Limped the car home and checked things out; the Mevotech lower ball joints were completely shot (with only 4,000 miles on em), the caster arm bushings were gone (could move the caster arms 3" up and down with a little pry bar), both lower shock mount bushings were destroyed, both front sway bar links were popping, and the front lower control arms were gone.
 

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Prep for Track Day #4

Picking up where I left off, I replaced both lower ball joints with Moog greasable parts. The passenger side had an insane amount of play, and the driver side was bad as well. Unfortunately the noises were still there, and very bad.

The bushings had put up their best fight, but at 204k miles and 3 track days they gave up.

The next step was to order a full poly bushing kit from SuperPRO.
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Also ordered a set of FIGS front upper control arm ball joints.
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Dropped off the car with a friend of a friend looking for some side work.

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This was one of the bushings. Basically every bushing he pulled off the car was in this condition.
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Unfortunately the rear toe arms were damaged while removing the bushings. Replaced them with FIGS adjustable toe links.
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New alignment specs as well. Before I had a road alignment (no camber) and now I have -2* up front and -1.7* in the rear.
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That takes us to today. I picked up the car this morning. The car drives much, much better. The steering is much more direct thanks to the rack bushings. The car holds dynamic alignment a lot tighter now, meaning much less slop in the suspension and no more squirming under heavy braking.
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Unfortunately, some clunking/popping noises are still present. The mechanic that worked on my car diagnosed it to be from the sway bar end links.

Prep for the next track day will be ongoing.
 

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Thanks, I plan to soon. These tires are pretty much shot and I don't want to buy new tires for the dinky stock 7" wide wheels.
I'm impressed you got 4 days out of them, but max grip for sure for 200tw. I was trying to stick 17x9.5 all around but need to do more research. I've got 17x9 +35 wrapped in 245/40 rs-rr's which tires are you considering?

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm impressed you got 4 days out of them, but max grip for sure for 200tw. I was trying to stick 17x9.5 all around but need to do more research. I've got 17x9 +35 wrapped in 245/40 rs-rr's which tires are you considering?

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My next tires will be R888r's in 245 width.

I haven't ordered the wheels/tires yet but I've decided on which to get.
 

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Great thread! Road racing is a whole lot of fun, but like you experienced it does magnify all of the shortcomings of the car - especially all of the soft Lexus bushings. I've almost got all SuperPro poly bushings on my car and it makes such a huge difference. I'd also replace the diff bushings with the Figs poly ones, it makes the transition from on-off gas on corners much more crisp.
 

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Great thread! Road racing is a whole lot of fun, but like you experienced it does magnify all of the shortcomings of the car - especially all of the soft Lexus bushings. I've almost got all SuperPro poly bushings on my car and it makes such a huge difference. I'd also replace the diff bushings with the Figs poly ones, it makes the transition from on-off gas on corners much more crisp.
likely my next mod when the 4.1 goes in

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So awesome to see another track focused IS300. The progression looks good so far. I haven't had great experience with EBC Yellows on various cars I've tracked. They don't fade, but they never feel great either. I have a feeling when you upgrade to a more track oriented pad you're going to be much happier.

Everything else looks good. I need to look into the oil cooler for mine as well I think. I recently got oil analysis done (have been running Rotella T6 5w-40) and everything looked good, but it can't hurt to have the extra cooling.

You're going to love the car once you get a proper coilover on it with better spring rates. I did a similar progression in the car driving it on stock suspension first and then slowly upgrading it. Coilovers and tires are, predictably, the biggest difference by far.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Great thread! Road racing is a whole lot of fun, but like you experienced it does magnify all of the shortcomings of the car - especially all of the soft Lexus bushings. I've almost got all SuperPro poly bushings on my car and it makes such a huge difference. I'd also replace the diff bushings with the Figs poly ones, it makes the transition from on-off gas on corners much more crisp.
Yeah, I haven't tracked the car yet (I will next Saturday briefly) but even just on the road the car feels much better. I left the diff and rear subframe bushings alone - I'll attack those at some point in the near future.
So awesome to see another track focused IS300. The progression looks good so far. I haven't had great experience with EBC Yellows on various cars I've tracked. They don't fade, but they never feel great either. I have a feeling when you upgrade to a more track oriented pad you're going to be much happier.

Everything else looks good. I need to look into the oil cooler for mine as well I think. I recently got oil analysis done (have been running Rotella T6 5w-40) and everything looked good, but it can't hurt to have the extra cooling.

You're going to love the car once you get a proper coilover on it with better spring rates. I did a similar progression in the car driving it on stock suspension first and then slowly upgrading it. Coilovers and tires are, predictably, the biggest difference by far.
Thanks. The EBC yellows haven't done me dirty, they have good bite and a good mix of streetability/track use. Then again I've never had aggressive pads so I don't have much comparison. My next set of pads will be more aggressive, but on stock motor I'm not going fast enough to need much more brake.

The oil cooler massively improved operating temperatures, it was a pain to clock the sandwich plate with two sensors but worth it imo. I can run the motor hard all day in 100f Texas temps and never worry about temperatures.

Coilovers are being built as I type this. :)
 
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