August Track Weekend

THE TRACK WEEKEND OF AUG. 21 AND 22 WAS HOT AND HUMID, and the track was hot and dry. The weekend was an amazing experience and with the added twist of lead-follow. I’m in the yellow run group and therefore experienced this novel way of receiving driving education. Ron Green, my instructor, has had many decades of teaching and racing experience, not to mention his intimate knowledge of many models of Porsches. For example, he was also able to provide an impromptu repair on a Boxster sufficient to allow the owner, Brian, to get home without calling for a tow following a leak in his coolant reservoir.

I found the weekend to be a great experience in meeting old friends and making new ones. Trackies seem to be a special bunch and everyone has a personal reason for attending these weekends — ranging from simply improving one’s skill on nailing the correct lines to working towards getting a race licence.

The following are some points that I wanted to share with Provinz readers.

Track Chairman Dave Osborne’s intro: You can never overstate the need for safety and courtesy on the track, and Dave makes a point of going over these requirements every morning before sessions begin. He also goes over the meaning of the various flags and, for me, that’s a great reminder of the variety of issues that can arise on the track and what to do if and when they occur. He didn’t have any specific tips regarding a groundhog encounter though. Will the little critters always signal a pass?

Lead-follow: The lead-follow track instruction was quite different from in-car instruction, but I did find it interesting to work on maintaining a certain pace (quick) and learn how to efficiently negotiate braking zones, apexes and corner exits. I found that I could push my limits beyond what I thought reasonably possible. Ron is not the biggest fan of lead-follow because he feels that the student doesn’t get immediate feedback. However, from my point of view, I would still rather be getting track experience given the choice of lead-follow versus no track time.

Check tire pressure: With the ambient air temperature being as high as it was, I found my tires were running hot. Each time I came in from a session, I saw that my pressures were at about 20-percent higher than recommended. At one point, I felt the rear-end waggle and had the opportunity to apply counter steering on corner two (whoa!). I had to let air out to keep them at a reasonable operating pressure and also to maintain grip.

Be smooth: Sounds easier that it is in practice. Especially when the adrenaline starts to flow. Easy inputs on steering, throttle and brakes carry the day. Ron gave me some great feedback after one session where he had me touch my wheels and then touch his wheels. Mine were rather warm. His were not. He said that I was braking for too long so his little demonstration really brought it home for me. He also pointed out that if I set my steering input correctly on some of the turn-ins, I would not have to make adjustment while in the corner. I think I got it right once.

Ron was on me pretty hard about turn four, and for good reason. It has lots of debris and marbles on the outside of the turn. It’s very unforgiving if one goes a bit wide on that corner. It’s a fast corner but it needs full attention to get it right.

Eyes up: It’s amazing how keeping eyes up smooths out the inputs as when one looks far ahead. I was able to see any upcoming hazards and react with plenty of time. My peripheral vision was doing the work of “seeing” braking zones and apexes.

Turn four: Ron was on me pretty hard about turn four, and for good reason. It has lots of debris and marbles on the outside of the turn. It’s very unforgiving if one goes a bit wide on that corner. It’s a fast corner but it needs full attention to get it right. Of course, I went wide a few times but PSM (Porsche Stability Management or Please Save Me) kept me from experiencing any accentuated drama. Ron was less charitable than my PSM.

Final comments: All in all, the track weekend was superbly run, organized, educational and lots of fun. The flaggers and track staff are to be thanked for their diligence and attention. I miss the volunteer aspect of prior-year track events where we attendees were given job assignments but, on the other hand, I was able to spend more time with other participants, talking about their cars and learning tips.

Thank-you to all the instructors, without whom there would be no HPDE (High-Performance Driver Education). Special thanks to Dave Osborne and his team for organizing everything and coming up with a way to include the yellow run group. I also look forward to more instruction from Ron at some point in the future. </>

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