Project Racer- Back to the Track With NASA
By Annie Sam
All this talk about the car! What about the driver?! It’s been several months since we’ve had the opportunity to take our little NX2000 back to the racetrack. Many countless hours were spent WORKING on the car rather than DRIVING the car, leaving us fiending for speed like any addict suffering from withdrawal. So for a breath of fresh air, I’ll bring this month’s column back to track to talk more about NASA's High Performance Driving Events (HPDE).
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NASA’s High Performance Driving Events (HPDE)
Of all of the various sanctioning bodies I have run with, I feel that NASA has the best program for the beginner driver by far. NASA’s HDPE or High Performance Driving Event program can take a driver safely from a raw beginner to an experienced track driver ready for driving school and wheel to wheel racing.
|Digging in our archives, we found this really old picture of Annie back in her HPDE days.|
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s give a brief run down of each level of HPDE and what to expect at each level. Initially, you will be given a booklet in which you will log your track time. Consider this your report card as you pass through each level. As you become more experienced in driving, your head instructor will allow you to proceed to the next level by signing off your passport.
HPDE 1 – Learning the car
In this level, you will always ride with an instructor; I preferred to have the instructor drive my car for the first session on the track so that I could get an idea of how I was supposed to drive.
|This little booklet is your NASA Passport. It will stay with you through your learning experience and will be used to document your progress and experience all the way up to getting your racing license.|
Here, passing is extremely limited. Passing zones vary from track to track, so be sure to attend each driver's meeting, as they will determine the passing zones for your run group. Usually for HPDE 1, the passing zone would be the straightaway of that track designated by certain landmarks. Your goal here is to become familiarized with the track settings, and to learn your car. As you become comfortable with those two factors, work your way up to more technical aspects of driving. Be wary of faster cars; it doesn’t hurt to be liberal with point by’s. I would mention that people in high powered vehicles should let by faster drivers in lower powered vehicles, but usually those guys don’t realize they’re slow. So let me reiterate from my previous articles, check your ego before you get on the track.
|This is what the inside of your passport looks like. It has several evaluation areas for your instructor to score you with and instructor notes.|