Wow, my first Porsche. A 2010 911S Cabriolet and it is gorgeous. It is silver – a gift from my wife for our silver wedding anniversary (did I marry up or what?). And I can drive it any time I want…er…whenever I can. It’s got all this engine and torque and speed. Let’s see, I can get it up to 35 mph on the way to the store – if there is no traffic. Once I think I actually got it to 45 mph between speed traps on the Turnpike. There are some nice twisty roads around me and driving around a curve is a blast in a 911. But there are other cars, and deer, and people…and it is New Jersey…and I have to pay for insurance…and I wouild like to keep my driving privileges. What is a new Porsche owner to do?
Fortunately for me, an old friend and club member, Grant Lenahan, and a new friend and club member, Tom DePascale (who sold me the car – thanks Tom), were involved with something I had never heard of called “Autocross” and they suggested I give it a try. “What is Autocross?” I asked. They explained that Autocross was a timed event where you compete against others with similar types of cars in a parking lot over a course laid out using ubiquitous orange cones. I hoped that they could not see my lack of enthusiasm. But what flashed into my mind was an old Brady Bunch episode where Greg and Marcia competed in driving skills and Greg lost when he knocked into a cone upon which a raw egg was nestled. Snore.
I attended the NNJR DE NJMP event on May 16-17, 2011 and unbeknownst to me, the PCA National DE Instructor Program, which was developed and taught by the PCA National DE Chair, Pete Tremper, was given to the NNJR instructor candidates at this event. Thank you again, Pete.
This intensive all day, National Program was designed to provide a basics of instructor training by use of three on-track mentoring sessions followed by a check out ride and three in-class theory and use of real world experiences followed by a ten question “quiz”. The well experienced Pete provided many funny and practical stories about actual instructor experiences. Many stories included his good friend and current PCA president, Many Alban. Some very interesting stories were revealed. My NNJR mentor instructor, Alan Soberman, pretended and talked to me like a track ‘newbie” and performed crazy maneuvers on track to simulate the beginner student.
Every car buying decisions will require an accurate assessment of paintwork quality to determine a vehicle’s value. A paint thickness meter is a great way to verify paint quality and originality.
Paint thickness meters are hand-held, non-destructive coating thickness gages that are ideal for use by any used car buyer. They enable a quick assessment of the quality of the paint finish and to verify that the condition of a vehicle matches its reported history. It will also determine if the vehicle has been in an accident or experienced other types of paint damage.
Historically, buyers and inspectors relied only on visual inspections such as checking body panel alignment and looking for gaps that might indicate bodywork or panel replacement. They looked for signs of repainting such as paint overspray on seals and body openings as well as differences in paint color and finish throughout the vehicle.
Subtle changes in color, texture or gloss often go undetected unless the buyer invests significant time to view the vehicle at different angles and under different lighting conditions. Visual inspection techniques are particularly limiting in dimly lit areas, in bad weather (rain, sleet or snow), or on dirty vehicles.
In recent years, buyers have begun to rely increasingly upon electronic paint thickness meters to accurately assess paintwork quality. Unlike visual inspections, these instruments provide reliable and quantifiable measurement results.
Many say consistency is the key to being a good racer, but consistency means nothing if your technique is wrong to begin with. Fortunately, technique is something that can be learned, so if you get out on the autocross course and run the slowest time, do not give up. Instead, learn from your mistakes and alter your driving style.
Being smooth at the controls is the key to running fast. In order to be smooth, you must have the correct seating position, foot position, steering wheel grip, and a good mental map of the line you are planning on running through the cones. Each of these items must be understood and perfected before you will be able to run fast consistent lap times. Fortunately, seating and foot positioning will be the same on all autocross courses, so once you have perfected those, all you will need to worry about is running the correct line.
A quick look back to June had NNJR at Mid Ohio for three days. As opposed to some dodgy weather last year, the conditions this year were ideal and some drivers new to Mid Ohio found out why this track is a favorite of many, including myself. Last year when I wrote about Mid Ohio, I caused a bit of a stir by trying to dispel the notion that the signature right-hander after the back straight was called the “Jump Turn”. Locals refer to this particular turn as “Madness”. At the event, I ran into a few of the long-time local drivers and queried them on the “Jump Turn”. Apologies to a few, but I was vindicated. The turn in question is most certainly “Madness” and there is no “Jump Turn” at Mid Ohio (sorry Bill). Actually, if there was a jump turn, that distinction would more appropriately go to Turn 11, which is the right turn that exits to Thunder Valley, the short straight on the back part of the course. Turn 11 used to have more of a crest to it, and cars used to hop over the hill and take a jump to the left. After the re-paving a few years ago, the crest was flattening so the “jumpiness” was significantly reduced.