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  • Miller Motorsports Park: Day 2

    Posted on March 29th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Two days down and one to go! After spending another day on track I’m feeling more comfortable and confident, but I am still reminded (quite often) just how much more I have to learn!

    Today started out with a van session on the new track… Yes, the new track! Unlike yesterday where we were on the “East Course”, today we headed over to the “West Course”

    Being on a new track for the second day was really different than any of the other schools I’ve done. Yesterday I was getting fairly good at the “East Course”, but not being able to pick-up from where I left-off was challenging. I was able to learn a fair amount from the van ride, but it took me a while to get this new course down.

    The first on-track session was a lead/follow at a fairly slow pace. Not only were we learning a new track, but the temperature was ~40°F (aka. cold) and there were couple wet spot on the driving line. I’m getting better at picking-up the driving line after a couple laps following someone.

    In the morning we had another chance to get into the skid car for some additional practice. This time the car was setup with very little grip. When driving into a corner the car didn’t want to turn (understeer), but when you started through the corner the rear-end would step-out (oversteer). I was doing quite well at balancing things, but got a bit overconfident. When I started to drive the other direction into an off-camber corner, around I went… at least there were only two cones stuck under the car!

    Today we had only a single lead/follow session, and for the second session I ended-up going solo the entire time. It didn’t take me long to get a good feel for Turns 1 through 4, but I was having a really difficult time with Turn 6. I kept turning-in too early, making the corner into a “V” rather than a smooth arch. After letting one of the faster cars past, I observed their driving line and noticed just how long they stayed against the outside curbing before turning in (midway between “Right Hook” and “Knock Out”). Once I saw that line, I was able to make the adjustment and I started taking the corner much better.

    Unlike the “East Course”, the “West Course” is very flowing. The first few turns link together and really encourage you to carry speed through corners. Once you start your turn-in for Turn 3, you very quickly get back into the throttle and carry it all the way into Turn 5. The speeds felt much faster than yesterday, but I never once thought to look down at the speedometer.

    While it was fun to blast into Turn 5, I often times found myself not slowing down enough, and the more time I spent on track, the worse it became…

    After lunch we again headed out on track, but this time I had my first passenger! Having an instructor riding along really helped me learn, but for this session they were with me at the start of the session. I found that while I was driving slow I was able to maintain a good line, but when I started to pick-up the pace (as the tires warmed-up, etc.) I would start making more and more mistakes. While I learned from the instructor, it would have been nicer to have them ride along later in the session (when I was making the mistakes).

    My real problem area was getting the car turned-in for Turns 5 and 10, both really slow corners, because I was trying to go too fast. Late in the fourth track session of the day I had an instructor in the car with me and he noticed I was not applying enough brakes at the start of the braking zone… and as a result wasn’t getting the car slowed-down enough before turn-in (which is why I was always pushing through the corners). For the remainder of the session we worked on getting the car slowed-down, and I really gained a better understanding of just how slow those two corners are.

    In the last session of the day I took the knowledge I gained throughout the day and tried to put it all together. I did a much better job slowing down into the corners, resulting in driving a much better (and smoother) line. It was very rewarding to see things come together so well, compared to the first sessions on-track it was night and day!

    The final session was also very fun because I spent it chasing-down another car. While for most of the time we weren’t nose-to-tail, I was able to judge our distance to figure-out where I was driving faster/slower.

    During this session I was doing such a great job in Turns 7 through 9 that I was able to get quite close to the other car going into Turn 10, but driving the course in 4th gear… he was running away from me onto the front straight. I was then able to catch back-up into the breaking zone for Turn 5, but would again loose ground coming out of the slow corner (‘sigh… 3rd gear would have been nice).

    At the end of the day, I was very impressed with the progress I made. Towards the end I was consistently running good laps. I’m having a hard time remembering if there were any corners in the last session that I really butchered.

    Tomorrow is the final day of the school, but we will be returning to the “East Course” to apply everything we learned today. I’m really looking forward to getting back onto this track, especially since I get to drive the Mustang FR500S!

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