Motorsports – Q2 2018
Alright everyone, it is time to start thinking about going to the track!
It has been a mild winter and spring is just around the corner, so get ready. I am itching to get some seat time! Are you daydreaming about taking that freeway on ramp with no other cars on the road except you? Are you dreaming of going to the track to drive but think you need “the right car” rather than your daily driver? Are you still thinking about how long it will be to the next track day? Your dreams will soon come true.
We have posted the days for the High Performance Driving Education and Car Control Clinic days in the previous Zündfolge and on the website. Come out to our first of the year High Performance Driving School event or take the Car Control Clinic on May 11, 2018 and get some seat time! Your BMW was designed to be the Ultimate Driving Machine by engineers who did not go to school to make toasters! Enjoy using your car like it’s meant to be driven with some of the Northwest’s best cadre of driving instructors in the right seat. We will have four track days at Pacific Raceways- all Fridays, and one at the Ridge Motorsport Park at Shelton, on a Sunday.
The dates for the 2018 Track Season are:
Pacific Raceway HPDE and CCC
- May 11
- June 8,
- July 13
- August 24
The Ridge (no CCC)
- Sept 23
Prices are: CCC $125, $290 for all HPDE events.
What do you need to do in order to bring your car to the track to attend a Car Control Clinic or High Performance Driving Education event?
The answer is nothing except to make sure it is in safe operating condition, it has gas in the tank, and you are ready. For the CCC, you do not need to have the car inspected, you do not need a helmet-glove-driving shoes-or fancy sunglasses; just be ready to learn new driving skills.
If you are attending your first HPDE event, there are only a few things will need to be prepared. You will need to a safety inspection performed on your car by a certified mechanic and have them stamp your inspection form. You will need a SNELL 2010 or 2015 rated Motorsport helmet, no motorcycle helmets. That is it. Yes, you can bring a pop-up tent, some chairs, coolers, cold drinks, an air gauge, and a torque wrench if you like. But in reality, once your car passes inspection, just make sure you have a helmet and full tank of gas.
What about if you are really into the HPDE events? I have some suggestions:
- Everyday is a track day. When you are commuting to work, use the skills learned at the track and Car Control Clinics: keep your eyes up, look down the road, vision, hands at a comfortable position on the steering wheel (9 and 3), use throttle-brake modulation, and always engage in defensive driving. What you learned on the track is completely applicable to driving on the street and highway.
- Learn to heel-and-toe brake and downshift. If you have a manual transmission, try to learn this technique. This is an important skill to master if you want to move your driving to the next level. Practice this in a parking lot or while you are commuting. There are many web resources available if you are a video-learner. Maybe you could contact one of your instructors via email and ask for some advice. What if you do not have a manual transmission? That is perfectly okay; your car will still go fast, handle wonderfully, and you will have a great time! Remember, the new M2, M3, M4, and M5s and other BMW are all “automatics” and can be driven on the track at speed without ever touching the paddles.
- Improvements to your car. Learn to work on your car (or not—Editor), change the oil, change the air filter, clean the engine compartment, clean the inside, crawl under the car safely, and give the car a good wax job. Your BMW might need some work for the coming year and if so, get it inspected early. Remember, you do not need fancy suspensions, super sticky tires, or aggressive track brake pads to drive your car on the track. Yes, as people get more involved in this sport and move up into faster run groups, some consider getting a dedicated set of wheels just for the track. You might consider getting some brake pads for the track and learn how to install them yourself. But, they are not required and in most cases are needed. Will getting some driving gloves and driving shoes help (and look cool also)? Probably, but again they are not needed. I know some real fast, smooth drivers using bare hands and running shoes!
- Do some indoor go-karting. There are three really nice indoor go-kart facilities in the Seattle area. When it is cold and rainy outside, a fast gasoline powered go-kart is just what you need to satisfy that driving addiction. Get a bunch of friends together and go karting! Driving simulators and video driving setup are becoming more popular and useful. The Pro3 drivers tell me that karting is a good way to keep skills sharp.
The BMW CCA Track Program
The Track committee met in December to discuss policies and philosophies regarding our track program. We have not made any significant changes to the program as compared to last year. Here is a refresher of the run group descriptions:
- A-B groups. A and B group drivers are in these groups because they have demonstrated excellent car control, very safe driving practices while in traffic, and have proven to senior instructors (or chief driving instructor) that they can drive solo comfortably. We’ve tried an experiment over the past few years giving the A drivers much more freedom, and having most coaching occur outside of the car when they’re not on the track. This has worked very well and we will continue. This will continue to be the case for B group as well.
- “Why am I in a particular run group and how do I move to the next level?” Drivers are classified simply based on experience and recommendations from previous instructors. If you have never been on the racetrack before but completed a Car Control Clinic or similar training, you will be in D-group. If you have not been to the track in some time and feel like starting over again, you will be placed in D-group. Drivers, who have attended either BMW CCA or PCA track events and have at least one year of experience driving, will most likely be placed in C-group. This is not a hard and fast rule, but is a good guide. There is no requirement that you move to a run group where you might not be comfortable. The move from C-group to B-group is a determined by the CDI after careful review of the driver’s written record. We expect B-groups drivers to have mastered car control, can handle their car at speed, are profoundly safe drivers, and are able to manage speed in traffic.
If at any time you feel that your driving skill would benefit from moving to a different group, talk it over with your instructor. Together with the CDI, you may be moved to the next faster group or asked to remain in the assigned run group. We want to optimize your experience on the track, but will do so in a manner that does not compromise safety for you and others on the track.
- Instruction vs. Coaching. “It is easier for a tutor to command than to teach.” John Locke (1700). Much has been written about how people learn and how to understand how people learn. As instructors, we sit in the right seat with someone we have never met before and must figure out how disseminate a great deal of information quickly and understandably. This indeed is a challenge, but simply is a requirement of becoming a driving instructor. Participants who are first starting out need more “instruction” and this are why call this group D. We spend more time talking and truly instructing drivers to develop skills needed to successfully drive Pacific Raceway or The Ridge safely and quickly. At some point though, we transition from the role of telling the driver what to do to talking less, analyzing the situations, and offering advice on how do things better. That’s the transition from “instructor” to “coach.” As opposed to having someone riding with you in the sessions, we may assign an instructor to you that can talk to you after the session about how things went. What are your goals and how to best get there? We will continue to have down-load session by group leaders at the end of the run. Each group have a dedicated leader: I am in charge of C-group. We will try to keep these sessions brief.
- Ross Bentley and Speed Secrets eBook and on-line information. As I mentioned above, you need to read as much as you can about high performance driving told by Ross Bentley. If you have a chance to attend seminars by Ross Bentley, do it. If you cannot, then read as many books by him as possible. Yes, this means actually buying and reading some books. As a place to start, you need to visit Ross’s site: http://speedsecretsweekly.com/. For a mere $12 per year, you can get weekly driving tips and information every Tuesday morning via email. Probably the most important eBook you can read on high performance driving is called Brake, Brake, BRAKE, the HPDE Instructor Manifesto: http://hpde-instructor-tips.com. Ross has specifically given us permission to allow anyone to download this book. It is important for HPDE participants to understand what we as instructors/coaches are trying to do from the right seat. Read this book over and you will understand not only the approach but also it will make you a better driver. Not only will you become a better driver, but you might incorporate Ross’s concepts in your own everyday life and work environment. You will be surprised how much of what Ross described is applicable to many non-driving situations. Ross Bentley is our home-grown instructor, but there are others authors who write about this topic.
So, it is still March and May seems like a long time in the future. But, May 11 will be here sooner than you think. You have some homework assignments to do until then; there will be a quiz at the track!!
See you out there,
President, Senior Instructor
Driving Events Coordinator