Saturday, October 24, 2020

Track Day Stuff

Here's a few topics related to driving your car on track. I'm no expert, so this is from the perspective of someone just enjoying a hobby and having fun trying to safely drive faster. I won't end up racing at Indy, in NASCAR, or anything, but it sure is fun to drive (safely) on a track. It might be fun to drive fast on your local street or Interstate, but it's not safe and I don't recommend it. 

Like any hobby, you should get better at it the longer you do it. If not, well, I hope it's just fun to do, that's probably a good enough reason for any hobby! Along with that, the more you study how other people do it, read about it, get coaching, or study video of your technique should all help you improve. For me I can relate maybe only 1% to what I see pro drivers doing, as far as how the car is handling, how to best approach a corner, and to have any actual experience driving with other cars around you on track. Maybe with practice I can get up to 2% of what the good drivers do! Two percent isn't much, but hey, that would be a 100% improvement from 1%! BAM!!!

Track Addict App--I bought a free version of this app, and then upgraded to unlimited video recording. This lets me review my driving videos with some basic info like speed, sector times, lap times, etc. In other words, instead of guessing how slow I am, now I can see EXACTLY where I'm slow, and HOW SLOW I am! One feature of this app shows you how much time you are coasting, so once I saw that over the weekend I realized I wasn't being aggressive enough, as in mostly being on the gas or the brake, and not just coasting around the corners. Sure enough, my fastest lap of the day had the least amount of coasting. That alone was worth the huge expense of $8.99 the app cost! If every lesson in life only cost 9 bucks, I bet we'd all be better off. 

Great scenery around the track too

People--Even with technology, I'm sure I learn more from people than from apps, videos, or reading. With a driver coach in NASA HPDE events, the amount you can learn is unlimited, both before, after and during the driving sessions. On one lap I asked my coach about an upcoming corner as we approached it, and got some great tips that way just by asking. 

HPDE--This is not racing, and not really about going faster, as much as it's being SAFE and becoming a more aware driver. More aware of what? Glad you asked! A few of the things to think about on each lap would be how you approach each corner, how you brake, when you brake, when you turn into the corner, when you get back on the gas, how you steer thru the corner, where your eyes are looking, what gear you're in, how the car is performing, look in the mirror for cars approaching, look at the corner workers for any flags, know what all the flags mean, and be aware of as much as possible. That's all, that's all there is to it. Multiply all those things by say 14 corners per lap,  times the 52 or so laps I did over the weekend, and, well, that's a lot to think about!

Gas--This might sound funny, but with all the other moving parts and technical car-stuff to think about, you also have  to have gas in your car. It's a no brainer, but I saw one driver run out of gas during the last session on Sunday, he had to pull over during the session and sit there as the rest of us kept driving laps. It happened right in front of me since I'd been following the driver for a few laps, until he slowed down and stopped on the side of the track. Next time around he was still there, yellow flags were out, so I slowed a bit to get past. Without gas, all the technique and fast high powered cars in the world won't be going anywhere unless you're starting on the top of a big hill.


Brakes--Brakes are like gas, really essential to having fun on the track! Oh sure, you could have fun with no brakes, but it's not going to last long, and there might be some pain at the a really SUDDEN end when you stop by hitting something! As I've heard said, you'd be one of those drivers racing to get to the scene of the accident, your accident because you don't have any brakes. So for driving you have to check your brake pads and rotors, make sure everything is working, and even replace the brake fluid before getting serious. Last weekend I had a backup set of pads with me just in case, but I didn't need them. My plan is to flush the brake fluid before my next big driving event. 

Consumables--At one track event it was pointed out that "nothing you do today driving on track will make your car worth more money!" It's a true statement, which also means that driving will cost you money as your car uses gas, tire wear, brake pad, and other fluids. It's not the cheapest hobby in the world, like sleeping, but it's way more fun!

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