Sunday, February 15, 2009

Racin': Skip Barber Days 1 & 2

Last night, I felt tired and a bit disgusted and so I went to bed early without posting (sorry to all of my readers (all one or two of you) out there)). Bill and I had finished the first day of the Skip Barber 3 day school and, while the exercises we did were valid, I didn't feel like I was getting my money's worth out of it. We did a bunch of autocrossing in the morning and that was ok for getting a feel of the Miata's and what they were likely to do. In the afternoon, we started lapping Laguna Seca after we had had a van ride around the track.

The Miata is a fairly neutral, tossable car. The SB examples are in Miata Cup trim, more or less. They have the interiors stripped down, racing seats, a full roll cage, a cold air intake and header, straight through exhaust w/SuperTrapp muffler (and probably some software mods to go with that), racing pads in the brakes (though the brake calipers and rotors are stock) and perhaps some suspension mods (don't know for sure). They go pretty well for having only 175-200 hp.

On Friday afternoon we started using the 'stop box' technique. This involves driving around the track for one lap and then stopping near the start/finish line to get feedback from the instructors who were stationed at various spots around the track. On the one hand, I was thrilled to be driving on Laguna Seca after only having run it on one video game or another. On the other hand, we were only doing a lap at a time and they were having us keep our rev limits, first at 3800, then 4000 rpm. In addition, we were working on heel-and-toe downshifting. So, I went away from Friday a bit disappointed.

Today, made all the difference in the world. I don't remember what we did in the morning, but the afternoon was certainly worth the price of admission. We did a deep braking exercise leading to a trail-braking exercise. What they had us do was accellerate from a standing start through the first 3 gears. We had to accellerate all the way to a cone that was much closer to the first apex of Turn 2 than I had ever been before. The only thing that got me even close to believing that I could make the stop was the first half of the exercise. We entered the track, drove all the way around it, came around Turn 11 (the sharpest corner on the track), accelerated to a cone placed in the middle of the track and then hammered the brakes. When I saw how fast the car stopped, I began to believe that I might be able to do this.

This has been my main weakness in working on the track all these years. I have never really trusted just how well the car is capable of stopping. When I came to SB this morning, I told one of the instructors this and then we went right out and did the one exercise that would help me begin to trust that. Coming over the hill on the front straight at Laguna Seca, hitting the apex of Turn 1 blind and then starting down hill toward Turn 2, ccelerating to the top of third gear,and then waiting what seemed an impossibly long time before braking. Having just come from the panic stop I had done at the other end of the straight, I knew the car could do it, so I put my faith in the car and the intructors and it worked out.

I know I'm going to have to work on this a bunch more tomorrow, but it was definitely worth coming, if only just for this.

1 comment:

Nardpants said...

Sounds like you're having fun AND learning, a perfect combination

These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


About Me

My photo
I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.