Shelby Mustang GT350R Track Review

A few weeks ago Ford invited GGLC members to come down to Laguna Seca and drive the new Shelby Mustang GT350 as part of their North American track tour. I immediately signed up for it but having done a few of these manufacturer events I was not expecting much more beyond some power point presentations and a couple of lead follow laps – boy was I in for a surprise :-)

I showed up at Laguna Seca with some friends in the afternoon and after signing the usual waivers we got down to the days program. It started with a large tent that contained several Ford performance cars including the Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Raptor pickup and a couple of the new GT350s as well. However the star for me was a preproduction version of the Focus RS that unfortunately was locked and so I was not able to get in to check out the interior. That said it is a spectacular looking car and to me much more interesting that the ordinary looking Golf R.

Ford Focus RS pre production car

They also had a GT 350 on an angled side stand so you could look under the car see the many track and aero modification that have been made to the car. My favourite section though was the displays that had several of the bespoke components including the cutaway carbon fiber wheels that you could pick up. The wheels are incredibly light and in fact have foam filled voids in the spokes for additional weight savings. The external CF surfaces are painted black but the cutaway (pic below) showed the interior layers as well as the aluminium hub center and wheel bolt holes that are the metal contact areas on the rim. The wheels are so impressive that I was doing the math to see if they would fit the Evora until they mentioned that list price was $15k which put a damper on those plans.

Carbon Fiber Wheel cutaway

The GT350R includes a host of upgrades over the regular GT350 including better aero, carbon fiber wheels, ~150 lbs weight reduction and fantastically sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Both cars come with the same flat plane crank 5.2L V8 producing 529 hp while reving all the way to 8250 rpm. Ford did a lot of work in making sure both cars were able to deal with heavy track workloads and specifically benchmarked the 350R against the 911 GT3 on track.

After some time time spent drooling over the static displays we were all fitted for helmets and HANS restraints before we lined up to drive the cars themselves. They had 6 cars available with 2 Rs while the rest were regular 350s with the track pack. I was able to count cars and lined myself such that I was able to drive the yellow GT-350R below.

Shelby Mustang GT350R

I was expecting a fairly mellow session as they said that they were going to ask novices to remain in 4th gear for the entire session. However when I got into the car the pro driver in the passenger seat asked me if I had any experience at Laguna and when I said yes told me I could go all out as long as I dont hit the cones they had setup for T7 and T9. Before he got a chance to change his mind I threw the car in gear and went out for my scheduled 3 laps in PP003.

GT350R Pre Production Chassis #3 (PP003)

The first thing you notice about the car is the incredible amount of grip on offer. I was expecting the grunt and soundtrack from the amazing V8 but the tire grip was well above what I was expecting from an american muscle car. The car had very predictable handling and responded well to both wheel and throttle inputs. The traction control on my car happened to be off so I ended up getting pretty sideways coming out of T11 (1:45 mark in vid) but was able to easily control it and keep going without much loss in time. I did not really explore the brakes or the edge of traction but left feeling very impressed by the predictable handling and immense grip of the car.

A few weeks after the event Ford sent me a personalized video (at bottom of post) about my experience at the event as well as the above video of my first lap out of the pits. As any normal track guy would I looked at the video noticed the many flaws in the lap such as braking way early (esp T2 and T7), not maximizing the exit speed (first time out in someone else’s car), late throttle application in some turns and the wiggle coming out of T11. That said I was still curious about the laptime (no timing at the event) so I looked up the time codes at the start/finish and found that this very first lap out of the pits in a strange car while leaving plenty of margin was an incredible 1:40 lap.

OMFG!!!!! To put that laptime in perspective I took my Evora S to Laguna the same weekend and after 3 sessions I was only doing a 1:51. I have also ridden in a well driven Elise doing a 1:40 at Laguna and that car was absolutely at the limit. This Mustang was doing a 1:40 at only 8/10s which means a pro driver would probably be sub 1:35. Hell even I could get it down to a 1:38 or so if I had more time behind the wheel. Not only was the car incredibly fast but it did not feel rushed in any way – I was never concerned about the car or the speeds which shows what a stable platform it is to be able to put down such times with no drama whatsoever.

My hats of to the people at Ford for making a truly incredible track day car which flatters even the novice drivers and will be a true track day weapon in experienced hands. I especially like how they brought out fans of other marques to experience this car and it has really given me a whole new understanding of Ford Performance. While I am not in the market for a track car right now I am seriously considering adding the Ford Focus RS to the garage instead.

Delphix Fall EKO Hackathon 2015

The hackathon is a cherished tradition at Delphix Engineering Kickoff and our recently concluded Fall EKO was no exception. Based on feedback from previous EKOs, we moved away from our traditional a noon to noon hackathon schedule and instead gave a folks a full day to hack with no events scheduled during the time. Additionally we encouraged people from outside engineering to both pitch ideas and participate in the event which led to some great hacks around sales, HR and recruiting.

The hackathon presentations were held the next afternoon and was judges by a cross functional panel of execs. As always the creativity on display was amazing and this is just a partial list of the 35 hacks that were presented:

  • Revamping the Delphix Technology Scholarship program
  • Data Mining Delphix with Splunk
  • HR Tracking Dashboard
  • Conference room tracking via Raspberry Pi
  • OpenZFS Build Server

The judges felt that this was the closest hackathon they have seen and had a tough time deciding on the winners:

Best in Show: Brett Lazarus and Eyal Kaspi took our existing monitoring and reporting tool, Mission Control, and made it possible to hook it up to Tableau. They then created a Tableau dashboard to demo some of the interesting graphs and visualizations one can easily derive from our internal data.

Dan Tehranian & John Kennedy won Best Infrastructure Hack for their Parallel ZFS Precommit Tests project to improve the efficiency of test parallelization by taking into account historical run-times of those tests. By intelligently distributing tests according to their past run-times, they were able to achieve a 2x speed improvement over the previous incarnation of this parallel testing system.

To the Cloud: Self-service upgrade validation in the cloud by Seb Roy and Will Guyette attacked the expensive manual process that a support engineer must go through to verify each and every customer upgrade. It builds an upgrade specific support bundle and uses and AWS based Jenkins Upgrade Validate job with a unique S3 document ID. The upgrade validation job was modified to take a s3 ID, and if present, go download the bundle of that ID and run validation against it. It them monitors the Jenkins job and if successful the customer is able to upgrade on their own without support’s involvement.

Practical Magic went to Rahul Nair for creating a SemanticScuttle based internal social bookmarking tool to keep track of internal links across Confluence, Google Docs, Salesforce and any other internal or external web links.

Peter Vilim and Andrew Li won the Audience Choice award for the Predictable Forecasting application to help Delphix executives and sales managers visualize historical and in-progress sales opportunities on a deal-by-deal basis. Drawing source data from Salesforce, the app creates interactive timelines for deals, color-coded by sales cycle stage, that allow managers to rapidly identify deal stalls and slips. The app also generates summary analytics on conversion rates across sales cycle stages for any given time period in order to help managers arrive at more accurate forecasts for quarterly revenue.

All in all everyone had a great time and we have some fantastic new tools and features that were built in just 24 hours. Hackathons are a great tradition at Delphix and I expect that several of these hacks will impact both internal processes and our external product in the coming weeks.

Evora S IPS Street & Track Review


Lets start with the elephant in the room – what possessed a person like me who has never owned a 4 seater car or any automatic go buy a 2+2 Evora Automatic? While I am a Lotus fan and had driven the original naturally aspirated Evora at launch, it just wasnt sufficiently different enough to switch over from my Elise. That changed when ScottW let me drive his beautiful GP Edition Evora S during the 2013 WCLM and I was just blown away. The car finally had the power to match its looks and the effortless acceleration made it a joy to drive on the highway. However since I already owned a fully depreciated Elise I still couldn’t justify the ~$90k that a new one was going for.

Fast forward to this year and as I getting more and more irritated by my sorry Dodge Hellcat saga I started keeping an eye on the used Evora market to see if the right car would pop up. In July a red 2013 Evora S IPS became available at a steal of a price and I seriously began to consider the car. A red IPS 2+2 was not my first choice (I’d prefer a Carbon Grey 2+0 manual with oyster interior) but with only ~450 Evora S in the country there was no guarantee that a manual in the right colour would ever be available, especially at the price this car was posted at. In the end I bought the car sight unseen and had it shipped to CA from FL.

I was happy to find that the car had only minor cosmetic issues and was basically as expected. I also had DietschWerks give it a quick once over and pronounce it as mechanically sound before making it my new daily driver.

On the Street
The Evora S is ~1100 lbs heavier than the Elise and while that is a significant number, it does not manifest itself as a lumbering weight on the road. Instead the car still feels nimble with the weight manifesting as a feeling of stability under acceleration and braking. If I didnt know the numbers I would have said that it was a 2500 lbs car instead of 3100 lbs. In return for this extra weight you do get a significantly upgraded interior that is a really nice place to be with every surface finished in leather. The car is quiet and comfortable and makes a fantastic grand tourer where you do not need earplugs for long drives.


The rear seats are essentially useless unless you have some headless double amputee friends you can stuff in the back. However they do make for excellent storage as does the trunk which is larger than the Elise and can even fit some folding chairs (I suspect it was designed to fit golf clubs). The practicality of the Evora is much higher than the Elise though you still cannot parallel park it due to the fragile and expensive bumpers.

2013_Lotus_Evora (2)

The power is fantastic and it is great fun to drive on street in a car with some real acceleration. The IPS gearbox is actually quite nice on the street as it is very good at quick downshifting in sport mode and just blowing past the traffic. In general the sport mode with the higher readline and more aggressive gearbox really makes a huge difference to the car and transforms it from a grand tourer to powerful sports car. All in all after 1000+ street miles I am very satisfied with the Evora S IPS as an comfortable but still fun daily driver.

At the Track
While the Evora S IPS is an amazing daily driver, I was very curious to see what it would be like to drive on the track so I took it to Laguna Seca to see whats what.


For the first session I started out in sport mode and let the gearbox stay in automatic mode. However this did not go so well as it seemed to upshift too early (6k) in some spots and actually hit the rev limiter in others (entering T10). After a couple of laps I got pretty frustrated with it and decided to use the paddles myself and see if I could get it to work any better. The first thing I tried was to try and time the upshifts to happen later in the rev range and used the first shift light (of 3) as my cue to pull the upshift paddle. However I found that the gearbox was too slow to respond and I would often hit the rev limiter despite having pulled the paddle in plenty of time. Similarly I was not sure of my downshift points which meant I would often be very low in the rev range and thus have very little power coming out of turns. Basically I absolutely hated the IPS gearbox and after much cursing pretty much decided that I would never be tracking this car again

However since this was only the first session and I had already paid for the day I decided to do session 2 exclusively with manual paddles. Plus having done a full session I now had a better idea of which gears I would be using and what my shift points would be. This time I started upshifting at either 6500 rpm or as soon as the first shift light illuminated which meant that I did not use the full 7200 rpm but I also did not keep hitting the limiter on the straight. I also started down shifting earlier in the braking zone more in line with where I’d shift in the manual Elise. After these changes the upshifts were still a little clunky (there is a distinct surge on upshift especially into 4th) but the downshifts became excellent and were much better than my decidedly average heel and toe skills.


After some thought I went out in session 3 and changed my driving style to suit the particular capabilities of the gearbox and the relatively long gearing. I became more aggressive with the downshifts and started going down to 2nd gear in T2, T5, T7, T10 and T11 whereas in the Elise I would only reach 2nd in T11. Additionally I started staying on the power and upshifting on the straights whereas in the Elise I would often not upshift just before a braking zone and would instead feather the throttle to hold off the redline. After these changes I was able to get in a bit of a rhythm and actually knocked out a 1:51 lap which is much faster than I expected on the 400 treadwear tires the car was on.


The chassis itself felt very settled and tended towards understeer while I was not able to get any power oversteer which is likely due to the open diff on the car. The balance of the car felt good and it really does encourage you to push it harder. The braking distance was ok and had a lot of tire squeal but I attribute that to the bad tires as well. I plan on getting some more aggressive street tires on the car and with some practice should hopefully be able to get around the 1:45 range.

So all in all I’d say that the Evora S IPS is a fantastic street car and an ok track car. While it can be pretty fast on track with a modified driving style, I’d suggest that you get a manual gearbox if plan on doing any serious track work. In may case the IPS going to be my daily driver and will only be pressed into track duty if the Elise has any issues.

I’ll close this post with a pic of all three Lotus together – its quite interesting to see the size differences between them.

WCM Ultralite and trailer for Sale

UPDATE: Car has been sold!

Starting a new lap @ Laguna Seca

After 6 glorious years of Seven ownership I am looking for a new owner to care for my 02 WCM Ultralite. The car is in great condition and is for sale only because I no longer have enough time to drive it as frequently as I should. This makes it the perfect opportunity for you to pick up a very fast, well sorted and most importantly reliable track car that is both 100% street legal and comfortable enough to be driven on the street.

The base specs of the WCM Ultralite are:

  • 1400 lbs
  • 240 hp Honda S2000 motor (F22C)
  • S2000 gearbox
  • Subaru differential
  • Wilwood brakes
  • 0-60: 3.5 sec (traction limited)
  • Fully adjustable independent suspension (camber, caster, toe)
  • Adjustable pedals to fit different drivers
  • Adjustable shocks

Entering the Corkscrew

Over the years I have made several significant improvements to car to make it both safer and more reliable as a track car. The following are just some of the things I have done:

While this list may appear very track focussed, they have also been made with an eye to keeping the car usable on the street. I have ~10,000 street miles on the car including a 2000 mile road trip to Seattle for the 2013 West Coast Lotus Meet

Required photo op

Additional spares/items included with the car

  • Spare differential
  • Extra adjustable shocks (softer than current)
  • SDS EM3 tuner
  • LiFe Balance charger for Lithium batteries
  • lightweight trailer

Included in the package is this lightweight custom trailer that specifically fits the Ultralite. With just an 11 foot bed and weighing an around 600 lbs, this trailer is the easiest way to get the Ultralite to events that are further away. With a combined weight for car + trailer of less that 2200 lbs, this trailer can be towed by most sedans and will not need a trailer brake controller or a 7-pin connector.

My first trailer trip

The Ultralite is also fantastic fun at autocross and is usually the fastest street driven car at most events. The video below is from me winning the top time of the day at the 2013 WCLM autocross. You can see some more videos on more open autocross courses here, here and here.

Current photographs of the car and trailer (scrollable, higher resolution on Flickr)
WCM Ultralite for Sale

The following is some video from a recent (July 6th) track day at Thunderhill West. This was its first track day in almost a year and it did not need any maintenance beyond a fluids and pressures check. Once at the track it did over a hundred miles in 100 degree weather with zero issues. Excuse the bad lines as it was my first day on Thunderhill West.

Location: Daly City, CA
Current mileage: 15,575 (will increase as I am still driving it)
Price: $27,000 (includes trailer and listed spares)

For more information about the car you can find my old blog posts about it here, while my Flickr account contains hundreds of pictures from the last five years. You can also contact me by leaving a comment on this blog post.

UPDATE: Car has been sold!

Delphix Hackathon June 2015

For the past few years the Delphix Engineering team has been holding hackathons where all the engineers get together and build fun and interesting projects. They are held during our biannual Engineering Kickoffs and have the additional advantage of having the engineering team co-located in the same office. Our last hackathon was such a rousing success that we decided to try out our first distributed hackathon and additionally we went beyond just the engineering team and opened it up to the entire company.

The event was held two weeks ago and featured a glorious 24 hours of hacking where people from around the company collaborated to build a huge variety of things ranging from internal tools to customer facing products. Hackathons are a great way to get to know and work with folks you dont normally interact with and this one was no exception with several new employees and interns experiencing it for the first time. Being a distributed event meant that communication was an additional challenge as several of the teams were split across offices and even time zones. Slack was an extremely effective communication tool to keep in touch and setup great teamwork to solve any tricky problems that people ran into. In fact two of the hacks ended up being improvements to how we use Slack internally.

After a day of furious coding, the hackers put the finishing touches on their projects and presented them over Webex to both the participating hackers and judging panel comprising our CEO and other senior execs at the company. The creativity on display was amazing and this is just a partial list of the hacks that were presented:

  • Interactive company org charts using D3.js
  • Microsecond accuracy monitoring of TCP/IP connection latency
  • Automatically surfacing CVEs to the Delphix security team
  • Auto hotlinking bug mentions in Slack to JIRA
  • Automatically flagging failed tests with known bugs
  • A mobile HTML GUI for Delphix

Our judges had some really tough decisions to make and in the end awarded the following prizes:

CVE MonitorBest Internal Hack went to Aaron Garvey for the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Monitor which streamlines the process for keeping up with newly public vulnerabilities in the software we use. A scheduled task periodically checks a feed of new vulnerabilities, searching them to determine if they reference products or libraries Delphix uses. When a match is found, a notification describing the vulnerability appears in the slack channel, allowing people to further investigate the issue, and optionally create a bug in JIRA with a single click.

Best Customer Facing Hack was awarded to Sebastien Roy, Brandon Baker and Peter Washington for their TCP Connection Latency tool which allows you to measure network latency between a Delphix engine and its target hosts with microsecond accuracy. This allows us to quickly and easily diagnose any network issues that may be present.

Rahul Nair, Venkat Krishnamani and Simon Persson won the Audience Choice Award for their Mobile GUI for Delphix. It is a mobile optimized GUI that allows customers to monitor their Delphix Engines and perform simple operations (snapshot, rollback, etc…) directly from their phones without requiring computer access. The intention is to allow Sysadmins and DBAs to do lightweight monitoring of the engines without requiring a computer.
Hackathon Mobile GUI

All in all everyone had a great time and we have some fantastic new tools and features that were built in just 24 hours. Hackathons are a great tradition for the engineering team at Delphix and I expect that several of the hacks will impact both internal processes and our external product in the coming weeks. It was a pleasure to open this hackathon up to the entire company and it led to some good collaboration across the company. People are already looking forward to our next hackathon and planning the new and amazing things that they will build.