Well this looks to have been my final track day in Texas before packing up and moving back east.  MSR Houston has been on my short list of tracks to drive, but scheduling conflicts kept making it impossible to make it down to Angleton (no, MSR Houston is not in Houston.)  Fortunately, Chin Motorsport’s westward expansion has opened up more possibilities to make it to the track.

McLaren MP4-12CI signed up for just one day (Saturday) as I would be driving the M3 Sedan, and didn’t want to push my luck on a car not entirely track prepped.  Well my luck might have been stretched a bit, as I discovered a coolant leak upon checking in at the hotel for the night.  Keep in mind I didn’t trailer the car, and this was a 4 hour drive from home.  The OBC popped up the “Check Coolant Level” literally as I pulled under the hotel awning.

I’ll save the details on that fix for another post, but it involved Walmart, JB Weld, and crossing of fingers.

Fortunately my temp fix held for not only my short drive up to the track but also six hard driving sessions.  Note to self: add some JB Weld to track go-bag.


In the shade at MSR HoustonThe weather was fantastic for a track day, dry and just warm enough.  I have a feeling this was probably the last of the bearable temperature days anyways, so a fitting end to my Texas track days.  MSR-H has a strange paddock layout, as it’s sandwiched between the track, making it a bit odd to drive in and out.  They do have a nice set of shades in the center, which were available to reserve for the weekend.  I had a friend hold a spot, a little shade makes a big difference.

The track itself has a very interesting configuration, different from all the other tracks I’ve driven.  I’d say it is most similar to NOLA (of the tracks I’ve experienced), given the lack of elevation change, yet still having a variety of turns.  It’s not a very fast track (at least not in my ’98 M3), but you don’t feel that it’s an overly slow track either.  Where as COTA has massive braking following fast straights, I never got frustrated with MSRH’s slow sections leading to straights.  There just seemed to be a bit more rhythm to the slow sections, where timing was more important to get in and out fast.

Aston Martin The surface is a bit rough, bumpy in places.  Still smoother than Harris Hill, I’d say it’s comparable to MSR-Cresson.  I didn’t get to experience it in the rain, so no comments on how it holds up under wet conditions.  The track is fairly open, with the exception of a wall paralleling the pit straight, separating the pits from the track.  We ran clockwise, which is apparently the less common direction.  This has you coming off the fast sweeping T2 onto the pit straight.  I can see how this section could be a bit of a white knuckler, especially how T1 has curbing on both sides and is also the pit-in entrance.  A few undulations in the pavement can further upset the car, never good when coming off a relatively high speed carousel onto a straight.

MSR-Houston Course Map

Filling Up at MSRHOverall I thoroughly enjoyed the track, I wish I had tried it earlier and more often.  It’s a bit of a drive from my home (4+ hours one way), but certainly something that can be done in a normal weekend.

As for the car; it handled much better following the square setup and getting a proper alignment.  I had also installed a set of Bridgestone S-04 Pole Positions in the stock 245/40R17 sizing all around.  I was seriously considering the Michelin PSS’s (that I run on my M Coupe) but the prices are still quite high.  There’s no doubt that the Super Sports are a better tire, but the S-04’s are quite capable and at a much more affordable price.

One problem that I didn’t anticipate was the Bridgestones being significantly wider than the Continentals I had on previously when the alignment was set.  This led to the rears rubbing on the slightest compression.  I had to dial in more negative camber in the rear to just make it down the driveway without rubbing.  This, of course, negated much of the very specific alignment work I had just finished.  Fortunately the car still handled remarkably well, still a bit on the understeer side, but much much better than when I first drove it.

As always, a little video of a couple laps:

Just to see if I could capture video of my front tires lifting off the ground, I also placed a GoPro down near the ground facing forward.  Unfortunately the lighting and angle weren’t just right and you can’t see it lift, but I could definitely feel it and had numerous other drivers comment on my tricycle action.  And for added entertainment, check out the McLaren and its air-brake action (active aero is pretty sweet.)



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