The monthly newsletter of the Maverick Region of the Porsche Club of America
MSR DE: First Time on a Racetrack By Joann Talty Ever find yourself equally frightened and excited about something? That described me before my first DE day at MotorSport Ranch on July 18. My fear had nothing to do with my ability, or admittedly being a female with limited car knowledge, but rather damaging my daily driver and having a prolonged period of discomfort from wearing a heavy helmet. Our day began about 1:00 pm under cover in 100+ degree temperatures. I tightened my lug nuts, inflated my tires, attached my tow hook, and emptied my car of its minimal contents, including floor mats. At the counter inside, I picked up a white helmet I reserved that thankfully came with a white knit balaclava. Upstairs, we registered; signed waivers; picked up the course map, schedule, sticker and checklist; and waited for the driver’s meeting to begin. Both Maverick Region’s first weekday event and one-day High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE) event, DE Chair Chris Tabor told us we’d be driving the 1.7-mile counterclockwise version of the track. He presented a slideshow of flags with their meanings and shared safety tips. With safety the number one priority, followed by fun, he announced their club record of no multi-vehicle collisions. Dr. Jeff Komenda shared with us the importance of hydrating, suggesting bananas and orange juice to keep levels of potassium up. The experienced solo drivers hit the track first, while we novices attended a meeting with instructor Mike Brodigan downstairs. He dove into the nitty-gritty of what we’d be learning that afternoon: 1) the best possible positions to be in on the track; 2) inputs or maneuvers such as turning and braking; and 3) awareness – everything other than driving. Three goals for the day included safety; driving as fast as skills, car, and desire allowed; and fun. Three 20 to 25-minute track sessions were scheduled for the afternoon, followed by a social. In the two novice groups, only seven or eight drivers with instructors drove the track at the same time. The small group made me very comfortable. In Pat’s experience, groups typically have 12-15 cars. The first session was at street speeds without helmets. Mike drove the first three laps and I drove the second three. He told me I’d be driving it entirely in third gear. Huh? I have a manual and I don’t have to shift? Weird. It looked easy enough. Look far ahead, he told me, and if I turn my head rather than just my eyes in the direction of upcoming moves, I’d be smoother. “Don’t have happy hands,” was another instruction, meaning one’s hands barely need to move throughout some of the turns. Over-steering is a common mistake. He showed me the line and told me when to brake. When we switched places, I followed directions as he gave them. After the session, he asked if I had questions. I didn’t really know what to ask but looked forward to doing it again. Faster. 28 October photos by courtesy MotorSport Ranch On the track, I followed Mike’s instructions as best I could. At faster speeds, it’s a little harder. I had those happy hands he warned me about. I needed prompts to turn my head, get in the right line, and brake. I took a few turns too fast, positioned myself correctly in Ricochet and Little Bend correctly every time, and messed up at least two turns repeatedly, not remembering where I was on the track. Awareness of flag stations and drivers on my butt wasn’t easy either. On my second or third lap, I was given a pointby and passed another driver. Typically, I was giving the passing sign, and at least twice I offered it too late in the passing zone. When asked why I slowed down the last few laps, I told Mike I felt like throwing up the second half of that session. Not sure whether it was the heat, the higher speeds, the helmet or all of them combined, I hydrated and enjoyed the A/C in the classroom for 30 minutes. Session three I felt fine. Before heading out, I apologized to the nice man who passed me in the nonpassing zone due to my late signal. The fastest speed I hit was 94 mph in the straightaways, and I continued to learn from my coach. I improved in some areas, but still messed up Horseshoe and Boot Hill turns like the session before. Mike thought I was a quick learner and noticed improvement from the session before. Before the tasty social at the Drive Exotic garage with Cane’s chicken and adult beverages, I changed out of the required long, natural-fiber pants. Soaked from head to toe and a bit exhausted, I was thankful for the extra change of clothing and ball cap I brought. I spoke to several drivers and instructors who enjoyed the one-day experience despite my car reading 108 F at day’s end. One of the coaches wished more women participated in DE days. Whether it’s intimidation, lack of automobile knowledge, or lack of interest, we weren’t sure why. We discussed perhaps the creation of a ladies one-day event or possibly a ladies-only novice group sometime in the future. So, ladies, if this interests you speak up at the socials or drives and we’ll see what transpires.
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