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Old 05-20-2012, 09:52 AM   #1
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My First Track Day

This track day was at the Thunderbolt track in Millville, NJ

I was put in the novice category with the other member guests and beginner members.
No passing was allowed but all the cars in the novice category had at least 80HP on me so I had my hands full trying to keep up.

In the first few laps, we had no instruction on what lines to follow, when to brake, or when to accelerate. They just told us about what the flags mean and how to enter the pits. The first car had to try to keep up with the Subaru STI pace car and every car behind had to just keep up.

Here is my first lap on a race track. A slow time of 2:26.
My First Track Day: Part 1 - Boxster Chasing Ferrari - YouTube

After the first few laps, we had an instructor ride along for another 3 laps where they taught us what lines to follow, when to brake, and when to accelerate. Then we had an hour long meeting teaching us more about the track, heel toe shifting, and how ABS works versus no ABS braking.

Here is my second try. My camera recorded 4 laps then the battery died so I did not get to record the times in my remaining 5 laps. But I know I shaved off at least 33 seconds from my first lap to the last recorded lap. 1:53 is my best recorded time.
First Track Day: Part 2 - Boxster Chasing Audi R8 - YouTube

I assume I shaved off at least another 5 seconds in the last 5 laps.

Pics of rare expensive Porsche's and other great cars at the track day.
NJMS Thunderbolt Track Day - a set on Flickr

I was impressed by what my little Boxster can do. I was making those sharp turns at 50-60mph and no tire squeal. I reached 105-110mph on the straights. I am guessing I averaged 75-80mph around this track. 90% of the track was in 3rd gear. I switched to 4th once or twice on the straightaway.
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:13 AM   #2
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It stinks that there was no passing. My first and only track day there was passing allowed but only with a point by on the straights.
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:49 AM   #3
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It stinks that there was no passing. My first and only track day there was passing allowed but only with a point by on the straights.
Yeah that was the rule for the intermediate and advanced groups. Passing was only allowed in specified areas, but not allowed during a corner.

Still, I don't think I could have passed the cars I was chasing. I was barely keeping up.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:33 AM   #4
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They had you go out for your first laps on a track with no instructors? That seems pretty irresponsible. Was this a PCA event?

The way it sould go is that you should have an instructor with you all day halping you improve your smoothness, your vision, and the line. You are not supposed to be concerned with time. Without passing, I don't understand how faster drivers are supposed to get anything from the experience and how slower drivers are supposed to concentrate.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:03 AM   #5
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They had you go out for your first laps on a track with no instructors? That seems pretty irresponsible. Was this a PCA event?

The way it sould go is that you should have an instructor with you all day halping you improve your smoothness, your vision, and the line. You are not supposed to be concerned with time. Without passing, I don't understand how faster drivers are supposed to get anything from the experience and how slower drivers are supposed to concentrate.
Nope, it was part of a club called NJMS or something like that.

First few laps were no helmet, no instructor. Just the pace car leading the group around. They said the pace car will reach highway speeds at most, but that was a huge lie. haha.

Then after that session and after the instructors gave us pointers, we went out with helmets and started driving faster. Half of us had instructors sitting in for the entire event. I only had an instructor for maybe 3 laps, but the instructor felt I was good enough to go out myself. They were short on instructors so they tried to focus their attention on the slower drivers.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:56 AM   #6
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Nope, it was part of a club called NJMS or something like that.

First few laps were no helmet, no instructor. Just the pace car leading the group around. They said the pace car will reach highway speeds at most, but that was a huge lie. haha.

Then after that session and after the instructors gave us pointers, we went out with helmets and started driving faster. Half of us had instructors sitting in for the entire event. I only had an instructor for maybe 3 laps, but the instructor felt I was good enough to go out myself. They were short on instructors so they tried to focus their attention on the slower drivers.
That's totally inadequate. There's no way you're ready to go without an instructor after 3 laps and whatever you did in the beginning.

You need to go to a PCA DE day or an independent that will give you an all day instructor.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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That's totally inadequate. There's no way you're ready to go without an instructor after 3 laps and whatever you did in the beginning.

You need to go to a PCA DE day or an independent that will give you an all day instructor.
Well how much does that cost? Sounds expensive.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:14 AM   #8
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Well how much does that cost? Sounds expensive.
$200 with my region. Every one is different.

But I just want to stress that it's important to get the right instruction for your safety and everyone elses.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:57 AM   #9
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+1 on signing up for a PCA DE with National DE Instructors in the car with all novice drivers. Your learning curve will be much more rapid and it tends to be a safer event.

Caveat: Since I am a PCA National DE Instructor and also the DE/TT Chairman for PCA Zone 8 I do tend to be a bit biased, but it is a very safe and well run program that serves drivers at every skill level.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:13 AM   #10
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$200 with my region. Every one is different.

But I just want to stress that it's important to get the right instruction for your safety and everyone elses.
Then I guess I got ripped off. I paid $200 too. With the in-class lessons and instruction and track time, it was about 2 hours total. I spent more time in the driver safety meeting than on the track.

I was thinking of joining RTR Philly region. I have the form filled out already. I just never mailed it in.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:36 PM   #11
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Then I guess I got ripped off. I paid $200 too. With the in-class lessons and instruction and track time, it was about 2 hours total. I spent more time in the driver safety meeting than on the track.

I was thinking of joining RTR Philly region. I have the form filled out already. I just never mailed it in.
PCA is super cheap for what you get. Normally a track day with an instructor can be double that from a private company.
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Old 07-07-2012, 08:16 AM   #12
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In the first few laps, we had no instruction on what lines to follow, when to brake, or when to accelerate. They just told us about what the flags mean and how to enter the pits. The first car had to try to keep up with the Subaru STI pace car and every car behind had to just keep up.
The first few laps WERE your instruction on what lines to follow. There was no passing and no lap times so you could concentrate on the lines and the track. I guess this wasn't adequately explained during your classroom session?

What you just paid $200 for sounds equivalent to the Taste of the Track or Intro to DE day that is offered by PCA RTR. I recently did this (also at NJMP, which is the name of the track, not a club that I'm aware of).

It started off two weeks before where we met up at a local Porsche-friendly shop for Tech Inspection. This was a great experience in itself - a lot of good knowledge being traded back and forth between some really great enthusiasts... and a very thorough inspection of your car, from top to bottom.

The track day started off with an hour long classroom session with Brian, the RTR co-lead instructor. He did an excellent job explaining everything to us, The track and what we will experience, and what we will learn from it. followed by about 10 laps at 'parade speeds.' This was done similar to your experience - everyone lined up behind the instructor learning the lines, when to brake, what markers to look for and so forth. This was a great foundation for learning the track.

We then met back up with the instructor, talked for a while, and then paired up with an instructor for another ten or fifteen laps at much higher speeds. Another great experience, and while I was not keeping lap times, I noticed myself picking up a lot of speed in the corners (we weren't too worried about the straights)

A little after that we did a third track session, this time in an instructor's car. AMAZING! My instructor had a GT3 that completely blew my socks off. He was so smooth and fast around that track, it really highlighted the difference between jamming your foot down and controlled, fast driving. I learned a lot from those laps, he was explaining his lines, braking, etc as we were passing everyone else on the track (at the appropriate sections only, of course)

From a dollars and cents viewpoint, it cost $50 for the day, and that included tech inspection. Having been through it and realizing how much I learned, I would gladly pay ten times that to do it again.

The next step for me will be signing up for a full DE weekend. That offers lots more classroom time, lots more track time (three days worth!). Anyone have a 944 with harnesses for sale???
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