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!