Hitting Apexes…. August 2014

Since my last article we had our June 13-14 DE at Thunderbolt with a great turnout and great weather. I witnessed some pretty nice driving and many smiling faces. We had a great time reliving our best laps on Friday with a nice Beer, Wings, Chicken Fingers, etc… get-together. We have just returned from our Paul Miller Ladies Day/Instructor/Advanced Driver Day at Pocono, nicely capped by a great banquet held at the Blakeslee Inn and followed up by a regular 2-day DE at Pocono. Thanks so much to Paul Miller who does so much for NNJR on so many levels and sponsored our Ladies Day. Thanks!! Next up is our famous CAN-AM event at Mosport (Canadian Motorsport Park) which is a great event with our Canadian friends in the north – with UCR-PCA. Following right behind that is our marque event at Watkins Glen on August 1-3.
Last month we started a series of articles from a few of our members which will follow them from the first days of their DE careers. Here is the second one written by Bart Grochowski.
Lime Rock was my first DE event in my 997TT, which I got about a year ago. Deciding whether to sign up for DE, I was concerned about everything starting from my car’s well-being to my ability to handle the track without letting it over whelm me. My biggest fear (besides crashing the car obviously) was that I would be too nervous to have a good time. This fear was soon forgotten. When you are like me, a total gear head looking for nothing less than perfection in maintaining your car as well as in the ability to drive it, the track is a natural thing to come.
So, I got up bright and early and arrived early on the first day just to make sure that I did no’t miss anything and to give myself time to adapt to the new surroundings. Pulling into the parking lot I noticed cars on trailers that looked like they were there overnight. Then soon after there were more cars arriving on trailers and I started thinking to myself that I am totally unprepared. Most of the cars had custom numbers, the drivers came with extra wheels and tires (of course slicks) professionally stowed on their trailers along with a ton of tools that most repair shops would have less of. As intimidating as this looked I quickly realized that they are most likely in more advanced groups and that I should not be too worried about having no tools or spare tires even though we are all on the same track doing basically the same thing.
I soon found some people that looked as “amateur” as I did that I could talk to and exchange my thoughts with. I was happy that we had very good weather and felt good about being able to take part and go on such a great track surrounded by amazing scenery. I think the setting of the track and friendliness of people was making me very relaxed. Besides I was about to drive the car of my dreams on an immaculate track with no speed limits. This is what I have been dreaming of.
My instructor was Dr. Brain who found me in the morning before the first run. He was older than I expected based on the email exchange we had prior to the event and I did not expect a smart brain surgeon to take part in this type of an event. He was also driving a turbo, but of course on a trailer with all the extra parts and tools, which came in handy already after his first run when he got a flat. This he said is less likely to happen to me because I was not using slicks. When my time came he got into my car, asked about my experience, which I did not have except for a bike race on a track in Canada. He then drove my car for the first couple of laps showing me the line and explaining the basics. Then I finally got behind the wheel and it was great! The car was very fast and we kept passing others which really gave me lot of confidence not only in my ability, but also the cars capacity to handle high speeds and sharp turns. The street tires gave good feedback and I felt that I was containing the extremes well. With every lap I was looking further ahead and picking up speed. I was not as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. Maybe I was concentrating a bit too much since my instructor kept asking me to reply and talk more. I have always been a conscious driver on the street and I felt that trying to understand the dynamics of the car helped me on the track that day.
Unfortunately, the day ended for me with a mechanical failure and now I understand why folks who do this often have trailers for their track cars and come prepared with tools. The breakdown of my car ended up being a loose fitting on the coolant system. Some coolant leaked out and I had to get the car towed back to NJ. Fortunately I got all my runs in except for one before the failure. The car was fixed under Porsche warranty. The incident did not faze me and my car is now ready for the next event which I am really looking forward to. I am already thinking about getting a track car just for HPDE sometime down the line once I move to more advanced groups. Anyway, I am definitely hooked on HPDE and recommend it to anyone who is looking for safe, serious fun.

In closing, it was great so see Bart and all the other first time drivers come on out and enjoy this very addicting sport and begin their slide down the slippery slope of HPDE. Also, a heartfelt thanks to all the Instructors who really came out en masse and enabled us to get 100% of the students into the event.
Tom Iervolino, Your Track Chair
(862) 206-9610