We just returned from our Mid Ohio (MO) DE and I keep thinking about how much I love that track. Quite frankly I really like all the tracks we go to and have a cadre of turns on each that really make a strong impression. No-one (or maybe 1 in 100,000) will argue with you that the whole back section of MO running from Madness through Thunder Valley is one of the most challenging and rewarding series of turns on any race track in America, much less the world. That series of turns can also be one of the most penalizing in that if you get one turn “wrong”, ie Madness, you can spend the rest of the series of turns trying to “catch up”. Crazy and fun at the same time.
By the time you read this, we will have had 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 on a completely different course configuration. Thanks so much to Paul Miller who does so much for NNJR on so many levels. Thanks!! Following that is (was) our famous CAN-AM event at Mosport (now Canadian Motorsport Park) which is a great event with our Canadian friends in the north with UCR-PCA. (Writing articles before an event that then gets published after the event is still soooo strange to me!!) Not to worry, I will report back on these events in a future article as there is much to share.
You certainly know that I am a track junkie (30+ DE days this season) so I felt it would be good to hear from a few of our members and follow them from the first days of their DE careers. This will be a series of articles and photos that will be published from time to time and should be fun to read. Here is the first one written by Curt Barisi.
My First DE
By Curt Barisi
Ah, my first Porsche driver education event has finally arrived. I decided to leave early Tuesday afternoon not knowing how long the drive would take and never having been to Lime Rock. I hope I have all the correct paperwork and all the equipment suggested. I checked it three times so it must be there.
The drive went quicker than I expected. Arrived mid-afternoon and after checking into my hotel, I decided to drive out to track. Just wanted to see exactly where it was and how long a drive.
After an early dinner I met a couple of other members at the bar. Turned in early, 0530 comes quickly. Early get up so I could check cold tire pressures and top off if needed. After a quick breakfast, I headed out to track.
I checked in at front gate and headed to the paddock area. I turned into paddock and my first thought was wow! I was amazed and how many cars, people and activity. I found a spot and unloaded my car. Met my neighbors and got into the tech inspection line. Inspection went smoothly and quickly. Then back to parking.
I had some time before the drivers meeting and novice meeting so I just walked around and looked at other cars and equipment. I met more drivers who were all more than willing to help even with some dumb questions.
Time for drivers meeting: Tom hosted the meeting and made all us newcomers feel at home. He covered the schedule for the day and stressed the importance of safety in everything we did that day.
Next was novice meeting: A lot of info in a short time. Again safety was foremost. I was glad I had studied all the flags and track layout. Once on the track I could see things were going to happen quickly.
I watched the black group go out so I could see where and when to go when my group is called. I walked down to the final inspection point where I was assigned to work before my group.
Went back to my car and made a final check. Lynn Whelchel, my instructor was there. After introductions, he explained what we would be doing and what we would concentrate on. Lynn would drive the first two laps which is protocol; I was glad. Maybe I could see how it should be done.
Time to go: Final check was good and off we went. I tried to take in all Lynn was saying: braking, turn in, apex, exit point, flags and more. I had been on tracks before so most of it made sense but some was a blur.
Now it was my turn. A little nervous with a new car and a track I had never seen. Lynn was patient stressing being smooth and on the line. Things I would dream about that night. I have a lot of respect for these instructors. As a navy pilot I instructed for two years. I had students do many things that could have killed us both, but I had the luxury of a set of controls in the back seat. These instructors get in a car with someone they just met and head out on a track. They have no idea if this guy or gal can drive at all, will do what he says or is some wak job that could kill them both. I appreciate their willingness to do this so I can have fun and improve my driving skills.
The first day went quickly. Between runs you have time to meet new people and talk about driving. By the end of the first day I could see improvement and felt more comfortable on the track. Hopefully Lynn did too.
The second day went well. My speed in corners was faster because of the line that Lynn kept stressing. By the last run both Lynn and I were getting tired. Not only physically but mentally. Concentrating for those 24 minutes on the track is draining.
Overall the whole experience was wonderful. Fun with great people and well organized. I flew for 40 years and many organizations and people would talk a lot about safety but not carry through with it. Not so with this club. Their actions always spoke of safety.
If I have one suggestion, it would be not to have an instructor have back to back students. I know it is to accommodate more students but a debrief of what went on during the run right after while things are fresh is important for the whole experience. Maybe do not run the yellow and green groups back to back. I know the black and red groups are the most experienced and deserve to run first so at the end of the session they can leave first. Just a thought.
There was an expression in the Navy that when you got catapulted off the carrier, it was the most fun you would have with your clothes on. This was the second best. I cannot wait for Mid Ohio. See you there.
In closing, it was so great so see Curt 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.
Your HPDE Chair