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      07-14-2013, 10:49 AM   #1
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Pocono trackday

In my 3 years of doing HPDEs/trackdays, I've done Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, NJMP, and Monticello, but never Pocono. Finally managed to get to Pocono two days ago. It was a good time, and very different from the dedicated road courses that I'm used to.

Pocono is called the "tricky triangle" because it's a tri-oval, featuring three turns on the superspeedway instead of the more typical four. At 2.5mi in length, the oval surrounds an absolutely huge infield. I felt like I needed a map to get around. At lunchtime I asked someone for directions to the track cafe. They pointed vaguely to the right and said, "It's way over in that direction. You should probably take your car." I found it about 20min later.

The infield, in addition to a huge paddock and lots of garage space, has a road course section. Between the NASCAR oval and the infield, there are multiple configurations that can be run. The infield course has been recently repaved, and overall the facility is pretty nice.

The event was run by NASA, and was part of their 3-day "Grand Slam" weekend at Pocono that features HPDE, races and hyperdrives. I saw a couple of nice race-prepped E92 M3s. A beautiful white one was recently prepped by Bimmerworld, and a mean-looking black one was a former Turner build. The black one had a nice-sounding custom side-exit exhaust.

I ran in HPDE 3 and we started the day with the Southeast course, which is infield only. It's basically a gigantic, dedicated autocross course and was a lot of fun. Since the recent repaving, this was the first time on the Southeast course for all of us except one person, so we initially were just feeling our way around. Also because of the new paving, there was very little rubber laid down, so the circuit was pretty slick. I started off on my daily Michelin Super Sports. You can hear them protesting pretty loudly:



Later on in the day I had my Toyo Proxes RRs on. I think this is the first time I've done a direct back-to-back comparison of the Super Sports and the Toyo R-comps on the same day, same circuit. What a difference! You tend to forget just how much better R-comps stick compared to summer street tires. By the last session of the day it was starting to rain lightly, so I tried a little Scandinavian flick action on one of the tighter sections of the track. Here's my rather lame attempt:



We also ran on the North course, which features Turn 3 of the NASCAR tri-oval. Pretty cool to run on this portion of Pocono. The banking in Turn 3 is pretty mild at 6 degrees, certainly much milder than at most other NASCAR ovals. When accelerating hard into and through the turn, the forces definitely send you up toward the outside wall. The banking isn't enough to keep you low and planted. You definitely get the feeling that if a suspension piece or tire let go while in this section, it would be a direct trip into the wall. I tried to stay on the race line, defined by the darker part of the track. There were plenty of marbles waiting to upset cars up above the line. The transition from the oval into the infield has always been notoriously abrupt and bumpy, but has been somewhat improved by the recent repaving. It's still pretty significant, though, as you're transitioning at 80+ mph, and still with some steering input dialed in. You can see my head bouncing around on the transition down into the infield in the clip:



Running in HPDE 3, we were all obviously signed-off solo drivers, but a pair of instructors ran with us in their own cars. One had an Exige, and the other a track-prepped Porsche 968. The instructors would run ahead of us so we could observe their lines, and then back off and follow us so they could watch our lines. Then after each session we would meet to debrief. It was a lot of fun following the 968. He was really on it, and would typically lift an inside rear wheel and/or spin a tire on one of the tighter turns of the infield. Must not have an LSD. You can see him doing it here at around 0:30. Sorry for the relatively poor video quality of the RaceKeeper system, but you can see a bit of smoke (and hear me laughing like a lunatic):



The transition from the NASCAR oval into the infield brings you just to the left of a tire wall. The closer you get to the tire wall, the smoother the bump tends to be. You obviously have to be mindful of getting too close to the tires, though. When following the instructor in his 968, I saw him get so close to the tires that I thought he would either rip a side mirror off or send tires flying into my car. Here's the clip. Sorry again for the poor video quality. I keep on thinking I need to get a GoPro 3 to run as well:



Overall, a worthwhile experience. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is relatively close to Pocono who hasn't been.
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      07-14-2013, 08:10 PM   #2
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I was there on Saturday with NASA.

I have not been to Pocono for 3 years, at that time it wasn't my favorite track as the infield courses were narrow and bumpy.

Much different now with the repaving. The infield courses are much wider and smooth. Used to be you did all the passing on the big track portions of the run, you just followed on the infield portions. The straight on the North infield was the only internal passing zone.

Now:

Really like the new southeast, all infield course. Lots of quick turn combinations. If you haven't tried it, I agree give it a shot.
Nice place to practice trail braking over steer or power on over steer to get the fat butt of our M3's around the sharp turns on some of the corners. Our group leader told us that if you hadn't spun out or gone off track on this course you weren't trying hard enough. ( NASA sometimes has a more forgiving attitude ( aggressive?) about driving than the BMW clubs).

The other course we were running that day was the Long course, the infield of the North course plus the long way around the big track. Clock-wise direction this day.
Spooky, I hit 160 mph on the back straight and 152 on the front.
Actually braked for the NASCAR turn ( the tightest of the third corners) to only do it at 120 mph. There were fresh skid marks from a car that lost it on that turn hitting the wall that morning that reminded me not to determine my traction limit.

The turn in to the North course from the front straight went around a 8 foot high tire mound so you couldn't see the right turn behind it. The north infield was now wide enough that you didn't need to use all the width in several corners. Would have been easy to pass in if they let us.

Bottom-line, loved the multi-turn southwest course, a little over awed by the run on the big track ( would prefer more turns and less super speed).
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      07-14-2013, 09:25 PM   #3
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Hey Jason, it looks like you track your car more often than me. Didnt i see you at WGI a few days ago?
I was at Pocono 2 years ago, before they repaved the infield and didnt like it at all. Just like arter said, it was narrow and bumpy, but the worst part was that huge bump right before the infield.
I remember, i missed the drivers meeting that morning and didnt know about that bump. First lap comes, bang, off my car goes into the grass. Its a good thing there was a lot of runoff area.
Couldnt belive they let HPDE cars run in that condition.
Anyway, i am glad they fixed it and after your review i may give this track a shot some time soon.
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      07-14-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
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Nice vids. Which track for next weekend?
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      07-15-2013, 08:42 AM   #5
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Glad to see you guys had fun at Pocono. I vowed not to go back this year after thousands of $$ in suspension and wheel damages over the years due to the nasty infield transitions but it seems they've addressed the issue.

If you have the chance try the full tri-oval run, similar to the run arter described but no infield. hitting the limiter on every straight and then deciding how much to risk it on the turns, quite a different experience than that typical road course. RTR does that run either on a Friday or Sunday once a year I believe.

PS. anyone running at Lighting this weekend? Will be there on Sunday.
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      07-15-2013, 12:00 PM   #6
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Funny, I rarely post on m3post but I got to this thread after googling for reviews of the "new" Pocono courses. Looking at the schedule ahead, it seems the only DE's taking place Labor Day weekend are VIR and Poconos. I told myself I'd never go back to Pocono after doing North course last. The infield transition was terrible and the entire infield felt like a poorly paved autocross course. However this review of past week's NASA event is promising.
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      07-15-2013, 12:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSC_OFF View Post
Funny, I rarely post on m3post but I got to this thread after googling for reviews of the "new" Pocono courses. Looking at the schedule ahead, it seems the only DE's taking place Labor Day weekend are VIR and Poconos. I told myself I'd never go back to Pocono after doing North course last. The infield transition was terrible and the entire infield felt like a poorly paved autocross course. However this review of past week's NASA event is promising.

Chin is also running at Watkins Glen that weekend.......


I also would rather do VIR or the GLEN over Pocono, I will do the new SE course again some time in the future ( better than the old infield courses for me).
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      07-15-2013, 12:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
Transitions are still pretty bumpy, but that's part of the challenge and is the most fun part of the track IMO. If I had to choose between VIR and pocono, I would go to VIR 10 out of 10 times.
There's no question VIR over Pocono any day but with DC traffic, I'm looking at a 9.5 hr drive to VIR vs the 1.5 hr to Poconos. Eh, guess I'm a glass half empty guy but if I wanted bumpy, I'd go to Englishtown's "road course." I've seen 2 cars get wrecked at Pocono because of the bumpy transition and not to mention it takes a number on your suspension.

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Chin is also running at Watkins Glen that weekend.......


I also would rather do VIR or the GLEN over Pocono, I will do the new SE course again some time in the future ( better than the old infield courses for me).
Thanks, I'll look into Chin.
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      07-15-2013, 02:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
In that case I've heard there is indoor go-karting somewhere on route 17 that might be more your speed. V-17.com
If that's where your wisdom and expertise comes from, no thanks. But while you're at it, get off your high horse. I've done my share of track days -- I just prefer courses that weren't built as an afterthought to the main speedway. I'm willing to give Poconos a chance again hence why I posted here. I've been there 2x and both times were quite disappointing despite their claims of repaving the infield.

And rather continue this banter online, feel free to approach me in person. I'll be at NJMP on 8/24-25 with Del Val CCA. I'm certain I'll be the only one in a silver Z4 coupe. Couple of us from here will be attending and you can share with all of us your speed secrets in person.
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      07-15-2013, 03:26 PM   #10
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I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.
I'll reserve judgment till I see you on track. What car should I look for next month?
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      07-15-2013, 03:37 PM   #11
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I don't DE. I know they've got club racing too and someone had asked me to co-drive but I am not available that weekend and 5 minute mandatory pit stops are dumb and defeat the purpose of endurance racing. I am aware that probably sounds like big-man internet bs. What else is on your schedule?
started out the year at lime rock but now wrapping up with njmp and the glen. tenative schedule:

8/24-25 njmp light - cca
9/20 watkins (waitlisted) - cca
10/4-6 njmp thunder - pca
11/2-3 njmp thunder - pca

and i may give it my first go at TT with EMRA if i can squeeze in an event or two.
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      07-15-2013, 05:10 PM   #12
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Noticed you had WG 9/20/13 as waitlisted...... GVC BMW event.

Didn't think that this was filling up so fast so I signed up too, so thanks for the reminder. I have gotten used to waiting til the last minute because of the weather.......
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      07-15-2013, 10:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arter View Post
I was there on Saturday with NASA.

I have not been to Pocono for 3 years, at that time it wasn't my favorite track as the infield courses were narrow and bumpy.

Much different now with the repaving. The infield courses are much wider and smooth. Used to be you did all the passing on the big track portions of the run, you just followed on the infield portions. The straight on the North infield was the only internal passing zone.

Now:

Really like the new southeast, all infield course. Lots of quick turn combinations. If you haven't tried it, I agree give it a shot.
Nice place to practice trail braking over steer or power on over steer to get the fat butt of our M3's around the sharp turns on some of the corners. Our group leader told us that if you hadn't spun out or gone off track on this course you weren't trying hard enough. ( NASA sometimes has a more forgiving attitude ( aggressive?) about driving than the BMW clubs).

The other course we were running that day was the Long course, the infield of the North course plus the long way around the big track. Clock-wise direction this day.
Spooky, I hit 160 mph on the back straight and 152 on the front.
Actually braked for the NASCAR turn ( the tightest of the third corners) to only do it at 120 mph. There were fresh skid marks from a car that lost it on that turn hitting the wall that morning that reminded me not to determine my traction limit.

The turn in to the North course from the front straight went around a 8 foot high tire mound so you couldn't see the right turn behind it. The north infield was now wide enough that you didn't need to use all the width in several corners. Would have been easy to pass in if they let us.

Bottom-line, loved the multi-turn southwest course, a little over awed by the run on the big track ( would prefer more turns and less super speed).
Thanks for the info on the other configurations--sorry I had to miss it, since I could only do Fri. The S/C must have been fun on the superspeedway!
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Originally Posted by Groundpilot View Post
Hey Jason, it looks like you track your car more often than me. Didnt i see you at WGI a few days ago?
I was at Pocono 2 years ago, before they repaved the infield and didnt like it at all. Just like arter said, it was narrow and bumpy, but the worst part was that huge bump right before the infield.
I remember, i missed the drivers meeting that morning and didnt know about that bump. First lap comes, bang, off my car goes into the grass. Its a good thing there was a lot of runoff area.
Couldnt belive they let HPDE cars run in that condition.
Anyway, i am glad they fixed it and after your review i may give this track a shot some time soon.
It's worth a try again. As arter said, the new infield is super, super smooth.
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Originally Posted by bigjae1976 View Post
Nice vids. Which track for next weekend?
Texas World Speedway, my man!!!
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Originally Posted by mid-corner fun View Post
If you have the chance try the full tri-oval run, similar to the run arter described but no infield. hitting the limiter on every straight and then deciding how much to risk it on the turns, quite a different experience than that typical road course. RTR does that run either on a Friday or Sunday once a year I believe.
NASA was offering this for the end of the day on Saturday for HPDE 3 and 4 drivers, I believe. Would have been fun to try, but I was limited to Fri. I'm sure I would have partially chickened out in the turns.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSC_OFF View Post
Funny, I rarely post on m3post but I got to this thread after googling for reviews of the "new" Pocono courses. Looking at the schedule ahead, it seems the only DE's taking place Labor Day weekend are VIR and Poconos. I told myself I'd never go back to Pocono after doing North course last. The infield transition was terrible and the entire infield felt like a poorly paved autocross course. However this review of past week's NASA event is promising.
Yep--I never saw Pocono in the old condition, just heard about how terrible it was. But the new infield is the smoothest track I've been on. Worth a try if you have a free weekend, but I wouldn't do it over VIR. And I've never been to VIR! I've heard it is amazing, though, and it's definitely on my list.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
Transitions are still pretty bumpy, but that's part of the challenge and is the most fun part of the track IMO. If I had to choose between VIR and pocono, I would go to VIR 10 out of 10 times.
Agreed. Never been to VIR, but agreed.
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Originally Posted by arter View Post
Noticed you had WG 9/20/13 as waitlisted...... GVC BMW event.

Didn't think that this was filling up so fast so I signed up too, so thanks for the reminder. I have gotten used to waiting til the last minute because of the weather.......
The Glen is a track of highs and lows, no pun intended in reference to elevation changes. I've been there when it's been 80 degrees and sunny and perfect, and I've been there when it's been 45 degrees, misty, and so foggy that the corner workers couldn't see from station to station--sometimes on the same day! Seriously, though, it's like a mini Nurburgring. Last week there were times when it was sunny in the toe of the boot, while simultaneously raining on the front straight...
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      07-16-2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by arter View Post
Noticed you had WG 9/20/13 as waitlisted...... GVC BMW event.

Didn't think that this was filling up so fast so I signed up too, so thanks for the reminder. I have gotten used to waiting til the last minute because of the weather.......
That or they don't have enough instructors as of yet...
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      07-16-2013, 11:57 AM   #15
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That or they don't have enough instructors as of yet...

they have 91 instructors signed up, but 22 of these are also waitlisted so they should become available later.

they have 35 B/C students ( which run together as a group) and I thank they go up to 40-45 max. And 15 A students so the 91 instructors is plenty.
No novices this event as the racers are another group running.

I am a A-solo so they don't assign anyone to the likes of me ( they just shake their heads and look away). There are 21 A-solo's signed up and they run with the A students and also with the instructor group ( and some racers).
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      07-16-2013, 02:36 PM   #16
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I just tried to sign up for this and my application is pending as I'm not a CCA member (I used to be, but was just lazy in renewing) and am not sure what run group I'd be in (think I picked advanced b???) but am really hoping on a 3 day bender at the glen in a few months... Fingers crossed, and yes, VIR is awesome too!!!
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