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      11-20-2010, 10:13 AM   #1
dizzyj
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first day on a track

I know there is a track forum, but I figured this was more about the car then hard core tracking so Im posting it here.

I went yesterday to Harris Hill Road in San Marcos Texas for a mini track day. Its basically an introduction to the track, and an introduction to driving on tracks period. I have never been on a track in any car, so im looking forward to the day.

We started the course by fist doing a short bit of classroom time. There was only one other driver in the class, so this went fairly quick. They covered the basics of driving a line, what to do if you spin out etc. The track is pretty wide open, and really nothing serious to hit, so its perfect for beginners to learn on.

Then we got into our cars. The instructor drove his miata and we followed trying to mimic his lines. The other student has a c5 vette convertable, and im in my 09 e90 m3 6mt. The instructor gradually got faster each lap. After a time, he gave a signal, and the other student and I swapped places so the other had a chance to follow behind the instructor. This part was fun, but was fairly slow as we were learning the track.

After a half dozen laps, we pull off into the pits, then the instructor climbed into the other drivers car. I'm following, and we start getting faster. Right off the bat, I notice that I have to be more careful. The other driver is taking wrong lines, braking when I dont expect it..etc. Its obviously not the instructor driving. The whole time, I'm riding him. We were going faster, but I was able keep the car in 3rd the entire time. I really got to appreciate the linear torque curve and the high rev's. There was no way I could keep it in 3rd without it. We start going fast enough to start squealing tires, but we are still letting off the throttle long before we brake, so I dont get a sense of hard breaking.

After another 6-10 laps, we do a cool down lap, then pull into the pits. Next its my turn. After a short brake, the instructor hops into my car, total stock, ps2's, etc. the car is still warm, so I gun it. Up to this point I had not driven anything close to my limit, and certainly not nearly to the limit of the car.

After 2 turns, the vette is way way behind me. After 4 turns I dont see him anywhere. I'm pushing as hard as I feel comfortable, even starting to feel a bit of understeer on some of the corners. The instructor really likes my lines, and says that im doing the late apex's perfectly. After about 4 laps I start trying to power oversteer on one of my favorite corners. I mean, what better place to learn what it takes to walk the back out a bit.

after about 4 laps, im fast enough that im running out of 3rd. The instructor has me shift into 4th on a couple of the straights. Adding the downshift into the brake adds a whole new level of complexity. I've been practicing rev matching and heal toe on the street and try to put it into practice here. Im doing well enough that the instructor is laughing and having a great time being a passenger. Hes giving me great instruction on things im doing wrong, where to shift, when to brake and turn in..etc. I nail a couple of heal-toe and it feels great. The car through all this is the happiest its ever been. temps were fine and it just felt like it wanted to go.

We do probably a dozen laps or so. I'm heal-toeing, and carrying what seems to me to be a good bit of speed through the turns. I'm really surprised just how much grip I have. Turns I was worried of at the beginning, Im now taking twice as fast, and still dont feel like im pushing the car. We get passed by a regular track member in a z06, and I try to keep up with him, but I just dont have the experience.

We do our cool down lap, then pull into the pits. The instructor seems impressed and says that I just need seat time and I have a good feel for driving on the track.

After another break, the instructor lets the two of us take our cars out by ourselves for a few laps. I work on more of my technique and really try to slide the back of the car out. I think I really understand what they mean by the car being "balanced". Its really easy to drive and its almost hard to make it do bad things. The other student in the vette while following me had apparently spun out trying to keep up with me. I'm done with my laps and im in the pit watching the vette who had just gone out for his laps, and we watch him spin a full 360 on one of the turns (to his credit, he kept it on the track). I dont feel like I could have spun out. Im sure the vette has more torque, so maybe he would break it loose easier. not sure.

All in all, it was a great time, and well worth the money. We did not record lap times, but the instructor predicted we would hit ~85-90 on the main straight by the end of the day. I was hitting 105+ . Unfortunately, the track is fairly far away and membership costs are high, but they do have HPDE events several times a year. I could really see going to those. I really got to appreciate a sense of what this car is capable of. All with a baby seat in the back

One thing that I still have to work out is the dsc. People on here talk as if your crazy to drive with out dsc on. but on the track, trying to slide the back end, it was not easy. I could do it, but the way people talk it seemed like as soon as I turned off that button, I'd have to be really really careful. Even without dsc, the car is so well balanced, that I dont think its that big of a deal (on dry roads at least). I dont have MDM mode on my m3, so Its all or nothing on the dsc. I think ill be spending more time with no dsc.
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      11-20-2010, 10:32 AM   #2
shamoo
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Great post man. This was exactly the way my first track experience went (although it was in my S2000). The M is a very capable car on the track and I was pleasantly surprised that it performed just as well, if not better than my S2000. I can't wait to take it to more events.
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      11-20-2010, 10:36 AM   #3
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It begins.....
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      11-20-2010, 10:37 AM   #4
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Sounds great! Congratulations you now have the BUG! BTW at least 2 Corvettes crash every track weekend I go to. Great cars, lots of torque but relatively inexpensive and a lot of guys who have them like to show off at the track.
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      11-20-2010, 10:55 AM   #5
N8dawg
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DSC off is suitable for an experienced driver on a track
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      11-20-2010, 11:31 AM   #6
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Great post man and nice write up. Glad you had a fun day.
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      11-20-2010, 12:01 PM   #7
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Sounds like fun. I live in San Antonio, and plan on checking out Harris Hill Road when I get my Cayman S next year. No reason to take my 335i there, wouldn't trust it for track use.
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      11-20-2010, 12:35 PM   #8
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I had the exact same first experience this summer... just incredible. The problem now is finding the time and the dollars to feed the track addiction!

For me, I used MDM on the track and it was about perfect for someone without a lot of experience. Someday, I can imagine turning DSC off completely but that is a while away before I would feel OK about that. MDM allows you to kick the tail out without too much fear of losing it.

Couple of comments you made around having a car seat in the rear were interesting. I too have a car seat but for the HPDE day, they required me to take everything, and I mean EVERYTHING (including floor mats), out of the car. Also, until you progress a couple of levels, they won't allow you to drive without an instructor in the car. You start in green group, move to blue and then to orange before they allow solo driving... red and black group are instructor levels. It's interesting to see the differences between track events.
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      11-20-2010, 05:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizzyj View Post
One thing that I still have to work out is the dsc. People on here talk as if your crazy to drive with out dsc on. but on the track, trying to slide the back end, it was not easy. I could do it, but the way people talk it seemed like as soon as I turned off that button, I'd have to be really really careful. Even without dsc, the car is so well balanced, that I dont think its that big of a deal (on dry roads at least). I dont have MDM mode on my m3, so Its all or nothing on the dsc. I think ill be spending more time with no dsc.
Try practicing drifting to get comfortable on how the car behaves with DSC turned off & counter-steering.
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      11-20-2010, 06:43 PM   #10
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Awesome write up and glad that you had a blast! Also, very cool that you were able to improve so much by the end of the day. I love it when other cars try to keep up!

I run in MDM mode 90% of the time at the track. I don't feel like I have enough experience for the DSC off yet at the track all the time. However, the instructors that drive my car always have it off! They love it, but have a ton of experience too.

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      11-21-2010, 06:50 AM   #11
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Smile

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your first time on the track...certainly is an eye opening for me about my car and the next level of driving.

Here is my first time experience on the track.

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=436276

Also some input on how to proceed with track corner.

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=436924
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