2010 January

TDE @ H2R

Last weekend was TDE at H2R. My favorite track with more people than I could imagine. It’s a bit of culture shock to see that many cars parked around the pavement, on the grass, everywhere the cars can be put. And to see that many people in the clubhouse, on the grounds.

Thankfully, the TDE participants have a lot of respect for boundaries. They only came into the garage if they needed to. As a result, I used the garage almost as a sanctuary. I could go there and be away from the hustle and bustle, to have a familiar place that wasn’t busy. It was windy up on the porch, too, so few people came up there. I’d sit up there with Bo and Amber and whichever other H2R staff member was helping with the lights at the time and watch the cars go ’round the track. That was a fantastic way to experience the “busy” while managing to be somewhat isolated from it.

This was my first time to run in the red group with TDE, and I had an unfair advantage. Most of the TDE regulars have only occasionally been at H2R as TDE rarely runs there. They don’t know the track. I’ve been there so many times with my car in so many configurations and driving so many other cars. I’m very familiar with the track. I noticed many cars position themselves a bit behind me and just follow for a few laps. I figure they were learning the line from me, and I enjoyed that. I hope I was sufficiently consistent and accurate to be helpful.

I did manage to wear out my brakes in my first session on Saturday, but I knew that would happen. Bo and I swapped out the pads – he did the rears and I did the fronts – and all was well. In other mechanical issues that weekend, an S2000 had an oil seal problem and needed a tow back up to the garage so it could be fixed. I went with Bo (in the Audi) to go fetch the S2000 and learned a bit about towing and Bo’s expectations from the trip. A friend of mine also had a problem with his BMW that necessitated the car being towed home and repaired at a shop. Said friend has an SMG transmission in his BMW and isn’t very familiar with manuals. Still, I loaned him my Miata as, well, he needed a car. He seems to have figured out lightweight flywheel + racing clutch and is able to get around without stalling the car most of the time. He did say, though, that he refers to the process of entering the car as “folding.”

Overall I had an enjoyable weekend and I’m looking forward to going back to H2R next weekend.

By admin on 27 January 2010 | Track Time | A comment?
Tags: , ,

Mother at the Track

Last Saturday my mother came out to the track.

Getting my mother to drive on track was something I’ve wanted for some time. She’s been daily driving my old ’94 Miata for some time. On one TejasMiata drive, I caught her sliding through a corner. Later, she complained at me that the back was sliding too much as she accelerated through a turn. Note, that wasn’t “sliding,” that was “sliding too much.” I figured Mom needed a closed course to play on. She refused to autocross because she was worried about slowing down everyone else. But when we became members at Harris Hill Road, I discovered something. This was the perfect place! On a slow day, she could have the track all to herself. There’d be no one else on track for her to worry about.

So on a particularly cold, particularly slow Saturday, I invited her out. She arrived, and we went out on track. I made the mistake of forgetting to give her a proper introduction-to-the-track speech – somehow, I thought she’d just know it! So once she was behind the wheel, explaining the line, looking ahead, etc. was challenging for both of us. Additionally, I had lost my confidence in my mother and left my car’s traction control on (she was in my car, rather than hers, as hers lacks a roll bar).  My mother had a hard time understanding that we wanted the cornering and inputs to be smooth. She enjoys the forces and instability of throwing the car around a corner. While I agree that’s fun, I want her to get the basics of proper track driving, to understand why “the line” is what the line is, so that she’ll be able to make informed decisions about how and when to toss the car.

Eventually I came to my senses and turned off traction control. While that seems risky, the entire reason I wanted my mother on the track was because of her great car control skills! As soon as the car started responding to her as a car should (rather than as traction control would), her driving improved.  By this point in time, she was understanding why turn in, apex, and track out points are where they are. She tracked out beautifully coming out of corner 4… Except that left her in exactly the wrong place for corner 5! So while she came to understand “the line” as it applies to a single corner, she wasn’t yet able to string corners together. She complained that she couldn’t see corner 5 while in corner 4, and she kept forgetting it was there!

Mom said she had a great time, and she asked me to give her a track map with the braking points and turn-in, apex, and track-out points. We’ll see if she makes it out again!

By equiraptor on 15 January 2010 | MX-5, Track Time | A comment?
Tags: , ,