Preparation is Key

LIKE YOU, I’m looking forward to the 2022 DE program and getting our cars back on the track. I’m also looking forward to getting back into the right seat and, as one of your PCA National instructors, I can say I’ve missed instructing new students these last two years.

As safety chair, my weekends start by arriving at the track on Friday evening and, after unloading, I proceed out onto the track to check cone placements and track conditions. Other groups that rent the track often don’t use cones or have other locations for placement that we don’t like. So, I take the time to ensure the track is ready for us to use. Once again on Saturday morning I do a couple of laps to see if anything has changed. From Friday night to Saturday if there has been some rain or even a heavy dew it’s important for us to advise all drivers of the conditions before they take their first laps.

We all know the goal of the program is to allow you to drive your car on a world-class road racing track where you can learn and develop your driving skills. Whether it’s to have fun and meet new friends, or to use it as a platform to springboard into something more serious, like PCA Club Racing or regional and vintage racing, or even IMSA, our DE Program delivers.

I can recall sitting in the right seat of a burgundy 944 Turbo with Karl Thomson as my student back in the late 1990s. Karl was our Provinz editor at that time and obviously loved the track, which eventually led him to a full-time career in motorsports and nine professional championships.

To prepare yourself for the first event this season, it’s important to have all the safety equipment in order for both you and your car. The one thing we all have in common is we all wear a helmet. There are many brands and styles to choose from. Just make sure it fits properly, because a tight helmet will create pressure points that feel like a headache and, besides being very uncomfortable, it’s also a distraction from your driving. Too large and the movement can also be distracting, so take the time to try them on and get the right one for you.

 Last year we allowed Snell-rated SA2010 and SA2015. However, this year you will need SA2015 or SA2020 helmets. If it has a 2010 sticker inside, it needs to be replaced. With global supply chains in their current state, don’t leave any buying decision to the last minute. You should contact your favourite UCR retailer and order what you need soon, so you and your car can be ready for the first event.

To prepare yourself for the first event this season, it’s important to have all the safety equipment in order for both you and your car.

Over the winter, whether you are driving your car or not, you should plan to have your car serviced and inspected prior to the first track event. A brake system flush is important and is recommended before your first visit to the track. Make sure your tires have plenty of tread and that your brake pads have much more than the minimum 50-percent requirement. Your UCR-approved service centre will help guide you as to what you need in case you are unsure.

I see many students in white and black upgrading their safety equipment to include a six-point harness, race seat, HANS device and driving gloves. For green and yellow students, it’s not necessary to have all of this equipment, however, I personally like the feel of driving gloves and they certainly improve the grip of the steering wheel on a hot day. They also keep your hands warm on a cool spring morning.

I enjoy walking the paddock in between runs and talking to the students. What I often see is amazing camaraderie and the sharing of information. Often you see a group of drivers, all with Caymans and the conversation involves what tires you are running and at what tire pressures, or what brake pads you are using. It’s all part of the fun of a track weekend, where you are guaranteed to make new friends and enjoy the experience of driving your car on a race track, where it was built to be. </>

Photography by Joanne Martin

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