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Old 03-04-2012, 05:35 PM   #1
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My first track day

What a blast. This saturday I did the Hooked on Driving track day at Homestead. I had raced motorcycles a handful of times at Homestead but this was my first time in a car.

As a first timer, I was assigned an instructor, Ryan, who was really good and really cool. He was driving an open wheel, Mazda spec racecar, rotary powered. He was flying around the track in the A group.

First order was the classroom training session for first timers. Basic rule is, passing on the straights only, AFTER the car in front gives you a point around. The instructor said take it easy in the first session, get a feel for the track, none of you are going to set any track records. Good advice.

So we go out on the first lap. As I am going down a short straight to turn 8, I hear a turbo whine and see a Japanese something flying down the straight on the inside. He goes right past me, not waiting for the point by. Ok. Turn 8 is a left hand, hard braking hairpin, he goes through, not too cleanly, I take it easy, its my first lap after all, get into 2nd gear, get past the hairpin and into left hand turn 9 which opens up to a long straight on the Nascar oval. I go up to 4th gear, around 4k rpm, setting up for turn 10, a fast left hander where you get off the oval track and into the infield circuit. You can carry a lot of speed into 10, and I'm not too far behind Mr. turbo when I go in. Turn 11, another left hander, is fairly shallow, and while you can carry a lot of speed through it, you definitely have to brake hard for it. I take it easy, and as I come around 11, out of the corner of my eye, I see Mr. Turbo, in the grass, smoking. He overcooked 11 and hit the wall to the left of the entrance of pit lane. Black flag in less than 1 lap.

Once we get going again, I start to get the slow speed sections of the track fairly quickly, and after the third session, I'm starting to get a good feel for braking and carrying speed into the corners, slide around a little and getting the tires to squeal a bit but I'm still a little timid in turns 1 and 10, which the fast guys run flat out, 100-120 mph. Both turns are pretty intimidating, with big bumps right at the apex.

By the afternoon sessions, in the turns, I'm getting better and and I start to be able to pressure guys in Vettes and Mustangs in the turns, guys that have well over twice my HP (217). Getting pointed by by these guys guys is sweet. But then again, I am also consistently getting passed by a spec Miata and a couple of other japanese coupes that have the course wired. Ryan says he's getting a bit of motion sickness.

With Ryan's coaching, I start to get more comfortable in 1 and 10. I follow his advice to unwind the wheel after I'm in, let it drift wide and use the whole track, and carry more speed into turn 2 and 11, which are fairly open turns. I'm able to go into 1 and 10 without lifting a couple of times, but I'm still a little hesitant. I'm passing more guys than are passing me, so thats good. Before the last session, Ryan tells me you're on your own, go solo. Nice.

Now begins my tale of woe. Theres a guy in a BMW SUV (X3?), yes, a truck, on the track. I saw him on the grid in the first session and said to myself. What? Really? A truck on the track? Well, in the last session, all of a sudden I see him filling up my mirrors at the end of a straight. Where did he come from? Am I going to have to give a point by to a truck? We're too close to the turn for me to point him by, so I late brake and set up for a 4 to 2 downshift. I blow the downshift and put it back into 4th by mistake! So I point him by at the first chance. I'm able to get closer to him in the corners, but on the straights, he has way more HP than me and he eventually gets out of sight. Good driver.

So with my tail between my legs, I continue around the track. A couple of laps later, I blow turn 3, a left hander and get way too far to the inside for the set up to turn 4, a slight downhill right turn. I get in too hot and I'm pushing, pushing, the car won't turn, then all of a sudden, the back end comes around and I spin, past 180, with traffic in back of me! Luckily, the driver in back of me was able to slow and didn't hit me. I back off the track in reverse and let everyone by. How embarrasing. I take it easy for the next couple of laps, get the checkered flag and I'm done.

So learned my lesson, never underestimate someone, its the driver, not the car. And most importantly, don't try to get your moneys worth and go out for every session. In retrospect, I realize now I was starting to lose my concentration at the end of the day and I should have passed on the last session.

But am I going back to the track? Hells yeah.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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Man. I'm pumped just reading it. That is something I may have to look into. Do you have to mod the car?
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:34 PM   #3
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Sounds like you had fun and brought the car home safe... A good day!

Why is it that the Turbo guys always seem to go out too hot and shunt their cars in the morning It happens out in Calif. too.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:35 PM   #4
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Good job; sounds like you had great fun and escaped a spin with no damage.

A car closing on you fast can be unsettling and break your concentration--it's happened to me and I've gone off as a result. You start paying more attention to the guy behind you than what's going on in front of you--not good.

You'll get better with each event as you learn the course and your car's capabilities on it.
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:08 PM   #5
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Good job; sounds like you had great fun and escaped a spin with no damage.

A car closing on you fast can be unsettling and break your concentration--it's happened to me and I've gone off as a result. You start paying more attention to the guy behind you than what's going on in front of you--not good.

You'll get better with each event as you learn the course and your car's capabilities on it.
True. One thing I liked about racing motorcycles is there are no mirrors. Only have to worry about whats in front of you.
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1973 Opel Manta
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1985 Porsche 944
1989 Porsche 944
1981 Triumph TR7
1989 (?) Alfa Romeo Milano
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:39 PM   #6
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Excellent! Sounds like you had a great time and make good progress through the day. Be careful, its really addictive. Pretty soon you'll be jonesing for a fix if you haven't been to the track in a month.

And don't worry about skipping the final session of the day if you're feeling tired.
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:26 AM   #7
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Nothing will deflate ones ego faster than being passed. For me it was a corvette, the guy drove past me like he was driving to the corner grocery.
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:31 AM   #8
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Nice story......and yes been there; after two days I am tired and the car is tired little bit of an oil drip (turned out I popped the RMS); shifter cables are too hot not shifting; or my tires are going off in the cold rain and its time to park it

All the guys in my run group are much better and experienced drivers and have more powerful cars carrera 4s and TTs and better tires so on a high speed (dangerous and intimidating) circuit like Mosport I get passed quite often. You just have to let go of the ego......but I really like the wet because I am right on them and trying to get past! Spinning can be serious here. I really like the videos of CA tracks there is room for error!

Yes down hill to an apex can be a problem if you are still braking....if its off camber you will likely get a nasty suprise. I learned to finish all braking before the crest and then get on the throttle down hill to the apex settle the back end of the car. This is very scary at Mosport as there are some serious elevation changes
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Old 03-05-2012, 06:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by thstone View Post
Excellent! Sounds like you had a great time and make good progress through the day. Be careful, its really addictive. Pretty soon you'll be jonesing for a fix if you haven't been to the track in a month.

And don't worry about skipping the final session of the day if you're feeling tired.
Already looking at the schedule of upcoming track days. Theres one about every month at either Homestead or Moroso in Palm Beach. But Moroso left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Last time I was there I was racing a motorcycle, fell off and broke some ribs and had a slight concussion, I think.

I'll just take it slow and do homestead a few times this season.
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Previous cars

1973 Opel Manta
1969(?) Fiat 850 Convertible
1979 Lancia Beta Coupe
1981 Alfa Romeo GTV 6
1985 Alfa Romeo Graduate
1985 Porsche 944
1989 Porsche 944
1981 Triumph TR7
1989 (?) Alfa Romeo Milano
1993 Saab 9000
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by san rensho View Post
Already looking at the schedule of upcoming track days. Theres one about every month at either Homestead or Moroso in Palm Beach. But Moroso left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Last time I was there I was racing a motorcycle, fell off and broke some ribs and had a slight concussion, I think.

I'll just take it slow and do homestead a few times this season.
Once a month, turns into a weekend a month, which turns into .... you get the idea!
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by san rensho View Post
True. One thing I liked about racing motorcycles is there are no mirrors. Only have to worry about whats in front of you.
If everyone is following the rules, the guy closing behind you can't go anywhere till you point him over. If he's in your group with an instructor, the instructor should be able to keep him from doing something stupid--the operative word is should.
This is especially important in the novice group where the drivers don't have a lot of experience and are reacting to a lot of stimuli for the first time. The last thing you want to do is get on somebody's tail going into a turn in the novice group and spook them into making a mistake.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:06 AM   #12
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Next month, on the 15th ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by san rensho View Post
Already looking at the schedule of upcoming track days. Theres one about every month at either Homestead or Moroso in Palm Beach. But Moroso left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Last time I was there I was racing a motorcycle, fell off and broke some ribs and had a slight concussion, I think.

I'll just take it slow and do homestead a few times this season.
... Gold Coast Region PCA has a DE weekend at Homestead-Miami.
PCA events, in m y opinion are much more structured and adhere to the rules a lot more than some of the other clubs.
that's why we have fewer track incidents.
We're much more strict as far as point-bys and a student is not advanced to solo on his first day at the track.
We have two student levels: Green - beginner and Blue: Advanced , but both ride with an instructor until they get to the Solo - Yellow group.
I agree with you in that PBIR is not a great track anymore. When it was Moroso it was awesome, but after the reconstruction, it lost it's luster.
Sebring, on the other hand, is really something else!
Hope to see you at our event next month at Homestead-Miami.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro
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