Walk the Walk

I LOVE IT WHEN A GOOD PLAN COMES TOGETHER for everyone’s benefit. Over the past two track events, our instructors have been slicing through the driver evaluation lists and getting the program moving again. On Friday, June 3 we hosted an instructor day with the red and black run groups, in order to train and evaluate Instructor candidates. With a combination of classroom sessions and in-car mentoring, we’ve added a dozen new instructors to our ranks. These drivers have proven their ability behind the wheel and are able to communicate these skills to others. Their progress into the instructor group ensures the long-term viability of the program and creates room for the lower run groups to advance.

This was the first instructor day managed by our newest Chief Instructor Peter Carroll and he did a brilliant job of managing the event. He started by having all current instructors view a video of racer David Empringham driving the line that every instructor should be teaching. It’s easy for long-term drivers to make slight alterations over time, but it’s very disconcerting for students, who will have a combination of instructors during any one season. It’s important that everyone is teaching exactly the same things, to avoid confusion at speed. No instructor wants to hear, “That’s not what my last instructor told me.” It’s hard to make progress if you have to start over each time.

During the check-out process we’ve been stressing that what we are looking for is precision and consistency. Your actual speed is irrelevant during the check-outs. Speed varies due to track conditions, the model of car you’re driving, and how much money you spent on tires. So regardless of what you are driving we want you to hit your marks smoothly every time. Precision and consistency are always how you advance while maintaining your margin of safety.

The track team is still working out the new iteration of novice pre-track training. At the moment, the June and July events have enough registered students to keep us busy. Provided we don’t have a lot of cancellations, we are looking towards the August event as our first opportunity to invite novice drivers into the new pre-track program. We will be opening a registration for those who want to participate fairly soon. The novice program will take place on the Saturday and you will be on track with your instructor on Sunday. Those who sign up for the last three events of the season will be accepted first.

As we slowly and methodically build the DE program back up, we will start to add value to the weekends again. One bonus that we are adding in July is a track walk. For those who are new to the program, or if it’s been years since you’ve done one, a track walk is something you should participate in. At the end of the day on Saturday, July 9, a large group of DE participants will strike out on a walk around the full race course. This is not just a social event but a very important learning experience. Despite following a beverage car, the purpose is to follow your chief instructor as he shows you the track surface that affects your driving. Being able to stand at the entrance or exit of any corner and experience the track’s elevation changes will do more for your skill set than several driving events. That’s why the pros walk any track that they are unfamiliar with. You will become a better driver, so don’t cheat yourself out of that experience.

In any organization there are stewards who take it upon themselves to preserve and protect the club for future members. They work harder, do more and support the structure for others to enjoy. John Adam is such a person.

In any organization there are stewards who take it upon themselves to preserve and protect the club for future members. They work harder, do more and support the structure for others to enjoy. John Adam is such a person. Throughout the history of UCR, John has filled every position from president to taking the garbage out. He has attended Parade too many times to count and helped with everything from socials to board meetings. As an avid trackie, one of his greatest contributions has been as clerk of the course for our DE program. Along with the “old clock on the wall,” John has kept us safe, on time, and organized for decades. His ability to manage incidents, get us back on schedule, and keep the event moving made hosting a DE event easier. We didn’t have to worry about getting the best results from the tower.

Like those who served before us, a combination of age and health requires that someone else step into that position and perform those duties moving forward. True to form, John is assisting Robert Martin in taking over his tower position, so with his help the transition should be seamless. For those of you who don’t know Robert, he is a retired Cathay Pacific pilot and a very organized person. We will all be in good hands as he methodically manages the tower. The track team would like to welcome him on everyone’s behalf.

As for John Adam’s retirement, anything I say here wouldn’t be adequate. I have a great deal of respect for the man and it’s been a pleasure serving the program with him. Thank you, John! </>

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