In the past I have instructed at track days, given plenty of rides and have ridden with plenty of people, but with my desire to progress towards a time trial license I found myself nervous for the check ride. The instructor would be judging my ability to master the HPDE 1 and 2 techniques and also assess my skills under ALL conditions. While I was confident in my car control I was worried about missing a flag or something silly along the way. The icing on the nervous cake was when we were leaving grid I welcomed him to offer insight and pointers and his exact words were “I cannot do any of that on a check ride, I can only determine if you are ready to proceed to the next run group”. GREAAATTT…. With my instructor harnessed in I strapped on the helmet intercom so I could clearly hear any expletives he may be shouting at me. We were pointed out and were in the middle of the run group with plenty of cars in front of us. I took my usual full warm up lap and went deeper in to the throttle, being mid pack with plenty of cars in front and back of us gave the instructor plenty of time to analyze my ability to drive in traffic as well as to assess overtaking skills on both sides of that coin.
This being my first time in this situation I was somewhat reluctant to attach myself to the bumper in front of me too much however my instructor eased me in to doing so and expressed his comfort with me being much closer than I was practicing. We wanted to set ourselves up very plainly in sight to look for the point to pass on the next passing straight and just before that came the driver in front of me was unable to recover from an oversteer situation in his high hp RWD car and spun. When it happened it was almost like that slow motion feeling you get when you are going to bust your ass playing sports…. Only in this case I could clearly see what was happening and it was easy to read where his car was headed after the spin. This allowed me not to panic and I simply maintained steady state throttle (to avoid lift throttle oversteer) and carefully drove to the inside where I passed him unscathed. While not exactly a pucker moment in the world of motorsports, for me it was eventful having the instructor in the car. He did not appear uncomfortable with how I handled the situation (I based this on the fact that he did not cuss loudly into the headset) and thus I proceeded in speed. Unfortunately for the editorial (but fortunately for me) the rest of the session went off without a hitch. I worked to faster speeds, shorter braking markers and followed some unique lines (based on his instruction) so that he could check my ability to drive off line and explore the width of the track. As we pulled in to the pits he had some positive things to say about my current skill set and he signed off on my move to HPDE 3.
|I learned more in these 2 days than I ever previously had on the track. I highly suggest you start at the entry level group and work your way up!
SUCCESS! In our first event with N.A.S.A. we were able to progress in to H.P.D.E. 3 with confidence! For our next event we will register for H.P.D.E. 3 with the goal of progressing to H.P.D.E. 4 and who knows, maybe even time trials….
|I used my lap timer on my third session to get a nice baseline by which to work from. While not a fast time around the track it is respectable for it being only my second time there.
Stay tuned as we continue to move through the ranks of mediocrity on our way to the ranks of the motor sport elite… Well err maybe not the elite but certainly on our way to more fun with the car!