Project 200SX: Time Trial Bound – Part 1
by Wes Dumalski
Track Photos by Tom Hitzeman
Let's pretend you spend years of your life, thousands of your hard earned dollars, a pint of blood, a gallon of sweat, and countless four letter words building a car. It goes through various stages in its life, and the end result of the project is a car destined for the track…. Two possible outcomes for this somewhat common scenario…. You either become a hard parking car show stunta with a track worthy car or you actually take it to the track. Obviously we chose the latter. The next question was if our last name isn't Johnson, Coleman, or Kojima…. How do we enter the competitive world of motor sport?
The answer….. Time Trials.
We are well to remember that Project 200SX is located in the midwest and is pretty much a one man effort in terms of car preparation. So for all of you “Average Joe's” out there, this is the story about how we went through the National Autosport Association's H.P.D.E. ranks to earn our time trial license.
Nothing fancy here, just a tow vehicle loaded to its max towing capacity, a rusty trailer, and a front wheel drive shitbox. The makings for some great track time.
For those of you not familiar the National Auto Sport Association they are a fast growing business whose primary focus is to both promote and coordinate racing events around the country. That's right folks, N.A.S.A. is a for profit business! This allows them the freedom and flexibility to pioneer different race classes that cater to everyone from the full blown professional racer to the average enthusiast who simply wants a little track time. Regardless of your skill level N.A.S.A. has a place for you to get your car on the track in a fun and safe manner! Nearly anyone can become a N.A.S.A. member which is the first step to getting your car on track.
While N.A.S.A. offers many different classes of wheel to wheel racing, they also have competitive racing in the form of Time Trials. If you are familiar with Time Attack then you are familiar with Time Trials. Essentially car's are classified according to a base class and then points are added for modifications, ensuring a relatively level playing field. Once classed, racer's take to the track to compete for the fastest lap time. While all cars are on the track at speed simultaneously, it is not a wheel to wheel race, however due to the open passing rules, TT driver's are required to obtain a TT license by successfully completing 4 High Performance Driving Event run groups.
When entering your first HPDE event you will be provided with a passport. This is used to document your progression through the HPDE ranks.
H.P.D.E. 1- This is the track newb group. If you have NEVER been on the track or only have one or two track events under your belt this is the place for you! Each participant is paired with an instructor that rides along with them every session. In this group you can expect to learn the very fundamental's of track driving. Things like finding the correct driving line, the 4 points of a corner, braking points, flags, and track etiquette. The Chief Instructor defines the allowed passing zones and you can only overtake someone with their permission (in the form of a point by) in the designated passing zones. Each session on track is followed by a classroom discussion that allows driver's to share their experiences and download after being on track. Once you have mastered the basics your instructor will give you a check ride to make sure you have the skill set to advance to the next group.
|HPDE 1 milestones. Learn it, know it, love it.|