Sept26-27 – NJMP Lightning – GWS

Mary back in the drivers seat, our first trip to NJMSP!

A couple video’s to cap the weekend before we dive into writing:
Mary Around the Lightbulb
Mary Passing Before the Bridge
Kyle Passing Before the Bridge

Mary writes:

September 25th-Friday
Kyle and I were very excited for our 1st track event in New Jersey on Lightning. We began our journey north out of Vienna at about 8pm- Kyle leading the way in his M and me following close behind in mine. Kyle had chosen the quaint “Country Inn” in Millville for us to stay on Friday night- (although he toyed with possibly pulling into one of the many “shady” motels along the way just to get a reaction! )

We hit the bar for a night cap- Kyle enjoyed a couple of dixie cup sized Crown on the rocks- then off to sleep for an early morning at the track.

September 26th- Saturday
We arrive at the track, recognizing some of the Mercedes club members from my first event at Shenandoah. I was trying to scope out a good instructor. We were approached by a guy, who appeared to be on a mission directly towards us- he asked who was driving the BMWs- we both fess’d up as being the guilty ones. Turns out he is also a BMW guy and wanted to drive with us. He introduced himself as “_____”. (Neither one of could remember his name). I quickly told him he could be my instructor and Kyle chimed in as well. He was off to do his 1st run with the instructor group so I joined along to get a feel for the track from his POV. I jumped into his E30 and awkwardly tried to hook the harness- he pointed to what I needed to connect so that he didn’t have to reach any inappropriate areas (haha!) and off we went! It was much faster than the track I was used to but that made me even more excited to be behind the wheel- could I possibly be this fast too???

Time for the Green group. “___” seems to be a bit cautious with me. I’m sensing that he is uneasy about my skills as he keeps telling to take it easy and slow down around the turns. He points out the line, I listen closely and feel like I am getting it-yet he is still being cautious with me. I want to go faster! Patience! Learn the track- get the line down. He tells me after the 1st session that it was good that there were no white knuckles- “from me” I ask, “No” he is talking about himself!- I am his first female student!

After a few more sessions I’m feeling more and more confident and getting impatient with him being cautious- turn 5…I don’t fully track out- he waits…pauses… then asks what I was doing. Uh-oh, did I actually just start to day dream?? I seriously just mentally drifted away with lack of adrenaline!
I have to stick with his plan if he is going to trust my excellent driving! It just feels like I am going slowww. He wants me to let people pass-but I want to do the passing.

Finally! Session #4 he lets me pick it up! Oh yea, Kyle has confessed that we forgot his name and tells me it is “Rob”. Now I’m having fun! Get to 125m I think on the straight. After the last run of the day, I finish feeling fulfilled! Can’t wait for Sunday (weather forecast is rain!)

We leave for Sea Isle to stay at Michelle’s family beach house with her and Wynn. We’re exhausted, go to the Lobster Loft for dinner- then back to her place for an early night to sleep again.

September 27- Sunday
Up at 6:20am and RAIN. Get to the track- looks like a lot of people may have bailed out but the show must go on! I’m a little surprised that I had no apprehensions about the track being wet- off I go!

“Rob” is cautious again but appropriate to the conditions. He was testing the grip of the car and pleased with the results. He lets me push it a bit more. Over the next couple of sessions I’m having fun with turn #6- getting a little slide in the rear and happy that he says I handled it perfectly!

Session # 3- yellow flag is out- yikes- someone in front of me goes off track- grass is like ice and into the guard rail! I take special note of that!

I have just discovered that “Rob” is actually “Bob”!! We really need to get better with names!! I have also just discover that Bob- who is from Jersey- knows one of my best friends Billy from Baltimore through work! Small freaking world!!

I complete my last session with Bob with his special test- he “claims” that he closed his eyes for a whole lap to see how I handle it- aside from one more rear dance in #6 on the wet track which I caught him with one eye open on- I pass the test! I’m back up to top speeds (for me). I had to ask if he was ok- I hadn’t any talk out of his mouth for a few laps- I guess that means I was doing a good job! Then we start chatting a bit more, I’m passing lots of people-(that’s how I think I remember it) and we are just chatting and telling stories as I am racing around the track. Bob reminds me to keep both hands on the wheel-oops- I talk a lot with my hands!!

I have decided to finish the weekend with that great last session and skip the final round out! I’m exhausted and fulfilled the adrenaline rush I was looking for during this event.

The rain that I thought would put a “damper” on our driving turned out to make the weekend so much more exciting! I definitely learned from it and look forward to advancing these new skills to other events!

My overview of this is that while Bob was cautious with me in the beginning- I received many claps from him during my sessions. I think I made him proud!

Mary @ NJMP

On to the next…maybe I can get solo’d at Shenandoah next weekend!


Kyle writes:

After a 3.5hr drive from DC to Millville, NJ on Friday night Mary and I check into the Country Inn in Millville just 5 miles from the track…we have to be there for tech and registration at 7am on Saturday morning. Dreams of racing fill our heads until the alarm sounds at 6am.
We will be driving the Lightning track at New Jersey Motor Park, a highspeed circuit, 1.8 miles long, 7 turns, 5 right handers and 2 lefts, the slowest of which we find out shortly can be taking at 50mph.
Mary is in Green group (Novice) and somehow I get put in Blue (Advanced) … having never driving this track before I was a bit nervous! After a tech, registration and a short 8:15 drivers meeting Mary and I unload the cars, check tire pressures and check to be sure all our tire lugs are torqued to spec. During our prep a fellow BMW instructor comes over introduces himself and offers to be our instructor. I’m relieved because now I have someone to “show me the line” on this new track.

Day1 – learning a new track
Session 1 – going slow, learning the track, drive at 4/10ths, nice and easy…a line is always easier to learn at low speeds when it’s easy to place the car where you want on the track.

Sessions 2&3 – got the line down, keeping it smooth and going quicker, up to 7/10ths.

Session 4&5 – head out solo and start pushing 8/10ths, a few extra mph out of the lightbulb and I’m hitting nearly 130Mph on the straight.

Day2 – rain, rain, puddles and more rain

Session 1 & 2 – back out with the instructor, more grip than expected in the wet, still hitting 120mph on the main straight.

Session 3 – solo in the rain, taking it easy, get the DSC to engage a few times on the tight left turn #4, definitely leaving DSC on while it’s wet out!
It stops raining, the sun comes out and the track dries up with the exception of a few puddles at the edges where are easy to avoid.

Session 4 – this was going to be my last session of the day, DSC off because it kept killing power out of the lightbulb (turn7) and the blind right hander (turn1). Pushing hard 9/10ths, passing my red Porsche buddy (not David) and others, now I’m taking 2,3,4 & 5 in 3rd, putting the peddle all the way down between 4 and 5 and between 5 & 6, passing under the bridge at 105mph, then braking hard for the tightest turn (6), up to 110mph before the lightbulb.

Session5 – over ½ the drivers in attendance have headed home announcement is made that Blue and Red groups will be combined for an extended 30minute session, yup that’s right I’m headed out with the other advanced drivers and the instructors…wow, a few of those instructors are really quick in their race prep’d cars, I’m humbled, pit in after 20 minutes, want to avoid the Red Mist (end of day mental exhaustion) and call it a great weekend!

Kyle @ NJMP

Track WalkThrough
Entering Turn1 from the back straight, hard on the brakes at the faded white line between start/finish and the #3 braking marker, last part of the braking zone is uphill which means you can save yourself during those late braking moments by holding the brakes just a bit longer and digging into the incline before turning in late for Turn1. No need to hug the inside apex, ½ a car width away is fine, up over the crest then tracking out all the way to the left. I wasn’t getting back to WOT until after the crest of the hill but I see myself in the future putting the foot down prior to the crest, DSC was consistently kicking in after the crest as the car got light and would 4 wheel slide to the outside of the track with good speed. Having downshifted into 3rd from 5th during braking you can wind out 3rd and shift into 4th before a quick 1second but firm brake before entering turn 2, a sweeping right hander, shift down to 3rd. Another corner best not to tight apex, a car width from the curbing feels about right, heading about ¾’s down the track before turning in harder for turn 3. Import to get parallel with the right hand side of the track to set yourself up properly for a tight left hand turn 4, once turned into 4 crossing the apex tight knowing you are in the clear to track out just as the right side of the track comes in you can put the pedal down and start winding out 3rd as you head for the turnin point (left side curbing) before turn 5, medium 1second brake before turning into 5, important to apex late and very close to the curb, track is off camber and downhill to the left as you are turning right, back to WOT! Track out left straighten the wheel a bit as you are parallel with the curbing on the left and shift to 4th, continue 5 a long sweeper to the right that straightens out just before going under the bridge, I was hitting about 105mph here toward the end of the weekend, I could see 115 coming easily as you carry more speed through 5. On the brakes hard midway between the bridge and #3 braking marker, downshift to 3rd, late apex the sharp left hander and track out at the end of the right hand curbing, wind out 3 going uphill, shifting into 4th as you run out of gear and head back a gradual decline toward turn 7, the lightbulb…hitting about 110mph, medium braking for a second to pull speed down below 90mph (at least this weekend), entering the lightbulb about ¾ track left, looking around to the very late apex at the bottom end of the lightbulb, if you are looking there you will naturally and gradually turn in to meet the right hand apex at the curbing as you move from maintenance throttle to WOT at the lowest point on the track. Trackout after the lightbulb shouldn’t happen until after you crest the hill on the back stretch and are into the passing zone, then shift into 5th, I was cresting the hill at about 100mph, winding out 4th and shifting to 5th will put you upwards of 130mph before braking hard and returning to turn #1.

Lightning at NJMP

Sept19-20 – Summit Point Shenandoah – NJBMW

Mary is recovering from surgery and her own set of “bolt-ons” … guest writer Mike Holland provides the following:

So….Kyle invites me to drivers school at Summit Point Shenandoah Circuit. It seems Mary will not be participating this weekend, but will attend to record the carnage. Hmmmmmmm should I? ABSOLUTELY!

Friday evening we arrive for early tech. We miss it by 5 minutes so we decide to walk the track. We stroll out. It’s dark, and getting darker. I see for the first time that this is not a Nascar track. All those left turns I practiced for nothing. Time for dinner and some sleep.

Summit Point - Shenandoah Circuit

We awake Saturday morning. Damn it’s early, and cold. We stroll out to the cars parked at the far end of the hotel lot. The sun glistens off of the dew covering every inch of glass. It’s my first time ever driving a BMW, my first time paddle shifting, my first time on a track……This is either going to be really good, or really bad.

I fumble around trying to start the car, then trying to figure out how to put it in gear. Kyle comes over to help me not once, but twice. Now to find the defogger setting. I might as well just press every button and turn every knob. Ok, so I just roll the windows down and hit the wipers. Lets roll to the track.

The first classroom session begins. Kyle’s busy taking notes and laying out a spread sheet with the ambient temp, the humidity, and spots for the tire pressures to be recorded throughout the day. I’m trying to pay close attention to the instructor while struggling to keep my head from bobbing, and hitting the table, as I slide in and out of consciousness. I knew I should have worn my helmet.

I now know that the crossed furled white and yellow flags mean “Bambi” is on the track. I thought I would probably figure it out on my own when she comes through the windshield…..

Track session #1.
My instructor climbs in the driver’s seat to take me for a few laps. Shit, this is going to be a lot harder than I thought. My goal of completing a lap sporting the “Detroit Lean” is crushed. I’m far too distracted to remember his name. Oh well.

I’m behind the wheel, stabbing the accelerator and brake pedals like they are on/off switches. Smooth steering? Not so much. If I had a cup of coffee between my legs my instructor would have had the burned crotch. Checkered Flag! We are ALIVE and spend a few minutes working through the myriad of things I’m doing wrong.

Track session #2
Ok, time to start thinking. Hey the stuff he told me actually works! I settle in and start learning the track. A little progress is made and we’re done. My instructor goes through another tutorial and its lunch time.

Track sessions #3 & #4
I get more and more comfortable. I still am very aggressive with the speed, but I’m making the turns better. I’m chasing Kyle around the track. This by no means is successful, but it’s a ball. WAIT! We are done for the day and I realize that I had not waved anyone by all day. No one passed me! Maybe I should check my mirrors a bit more tomorrow?

Day 2

It’s too freaking early, and it’s colder this morning. UGH!

Track sessions #1 and #2
My instructor challenges me to slow down and be smooth. He advises me he is not wearing a Depends undergarment today. What a vote of confidence! I heed his wishes and I’m slow and smooth. I wave Kyle and a few more around. I hate that but I’m learning quickly. We have our post track talk and he says if I want to drive solo, he’d have another instructor ride with me. I decline.

At some point during these sessions Kyle came in hot and blew through a turn and off of the track (safely). I missed it. Dammit!

Track sessions #3 and #4
I’m back to full speed and hitting my apexes much more often. THIS IS A BLAST! I don’t want it to be over! I’m hooked. We pull into pit row the final time. I DIDN’T WRECK THE CAR! My instructor complements my progress and my skills. I done good, I guess.

I need to build another car. I see a divorce in my near future…………..


Colin one of the NJBMWCCA drivers was kind enough to post the video linked here, Kyle (Black M3), David (Red Cayman) & Mike (Silver M3) all wiz by during the course of this 10min segment!

Aug21 – Summit Point Shenandoah – FATT

Mary & Kyle race together @ FATT!
Mary meets Uncle Al.
Kyle provokes female instructor to remind him not to let his “sense of self-preservation” get away!
Mary gives Kyle the point by.
Kyle gives Mary the point by.
….and Kyle never caught back up to Mary thanks to Uncle Al pushing Mary to the maximum limit of breaking techniques…yikes! but what a RUSH!  I want to go faster!!!
Mary decides Racing Gloves might not be a bad idea … wait, wait, wait, THRESHOLD BRAKE!!!!!
Yep- after that session- now I understand how sweaty your hands can get when you think you can’t possibly make a turn like that at maximum speed!  Again… Wow-what a RUSH!
Uncle Al tells me its okay to make the pass in a turn, which I did, then quickly realizes that he forgot which group I was in (Beginner)-oops- because of how well I was driving!  I rocked it!
End of day review- Uncle Al writes that I am ready to move up in status.  Only my 3rd track day- Looking forward to many more!  Also look forward to Uncle Al as my instructorMary & Kyle race together @ FATT!
Mary meets Uncle Al.
Kyle provokes female instructor to remind him not to let his “sense of self-preservation” get away!
Mary gives Kyle the point by.
Kyle gives Mary the point by.
….and Kyle never caught back up to Mary thanks to Uncle Al pushing Mary to the maximum limit of breaking techniques…yikes! but what a RUSH!  I want to go faster!!!
Mary decides Racing Gloves might not be a bad idea … wait, wait, wait, THRESHOLD BRAKE!!!!!
Yep- after that session- now I understand how sweaty your hands can get when you think you can’t possibly make a turn like that at maximum speed!  Again… Wow-what a RUSH!
Uncle Al tells me its okay to make the pass in a turn, which I did, then quickly realizes that he forgot which group I was in (Beginner)-oops- because of how well I was driving!  I rocked it!
End of day review- Uncle Al writes that I am ready to move up in status.  Only my 3rd track day- Looking forward to many more!  Also look forward to Uncle Al as my instructor again-awesome teacher! again-awesome teacher!

Mary & Kyle race together @ FATT!

Mary meets Uncle Al.

Kyle provokes female instructor to remind him not to let his “sense of self-preservation” get away!

Mary gives Kyle the point by.

Kyle gives Mary the point by.

….and Kyle never caught back up to Mary thanks to Uncle Al pushing Mary to the maximum limit of breaking techniques…yikes! but what a RUSH!  I want to go faster!!!

Mary decides Racing Gloves might not be a bad idea …  wait, wait, wait, THRESHOLD BRAKE!!!!!

Yep- after that session- now I understand how sweaty your hands can get when you think you can’t possibly make a turn like that at maximum speed!  Again… Wow-what a RUSH!

Uncle Al tells me its okay to make the pass in a turn, which I did, then quickly realizes that he forgot which group I was in (Beginner)-oops- because of how well I was driving!  I rocked it!

End of day review- Uncle Al writes that I am ready to move up in status.  Only my 3rd track day- Looking forward to many more!  Also look forward to Uncle Al as my instructor again-awesome teacher!
Mary on grid ready to start her next session
Mary on grid ready to start her next session!

Aug6 – Second M3 – Black

No car sharing @ Nocab Racing, time for a second car since we now have two drivers!

Found a second ’03 M3 SMG w/under 30k miles

July 12th – First AutoCross

Mary & Kyle @ Summit Point AutoCross with National Capital Chapter BMW

Our first event was going to be an AutoCross, of course neither of us really knew that autocross is NOTHING compared to a road course at speed, so we were very excited about getting the chance to try out this new beast in an environment off the street.

I was nervous about tech inspection since I didn’t know how close the techs would be looking at the car, turns out they just verified that the wheels didn’t feel like they were going to fall off, that the car was empty (so “things” wouldn’t fly around and hit you while you were tossing the car around on the autocross track), and verified that the throttle cable was unobstructed so it didn’t get stuck at WOT!  that would be a bit scary (have had it happen on the street before in my RX7).

I drove the first sessions, Mary drove the second sessions.

My sessions were uneventful, I tried to drive smooth but quick, think I ended up 7th for the day in our class.

When it was time for Mary to drive, we asked if I could ride along and instructor her since she had never done anything like this before and she was nervous about finding her way through the cones.  Nervous for a good reason!  We line up at the start and I tell her I’m going to let her drive through the course herself the first time and that I would stay quiet.  That lasted about 3 seconds when I realized that she completely drove OFF THE COURSE!  hahah, oops!  Here I am shouting and pointing, “The course is over there, go right through those cones over there and get back on the course!”  she was a bit embarrassed and I think we scared a few corner workers but no harm was done.  Her next 3 runs she got quicker and quicker and ended the day placing 8th in her class, just 1 second behind me.

after a fun and wet day at summit point auto-x we drove home a bit tired from the adrenaline and excitement.
Kyle AutoX
Kyle @ the AutoCross
Mary @ the AutoCross
Mary @ the AutoCross

June2009 – Upgrades!

Many will take their completely stock street car to the track their first time, nothing wrong with that, but since I had been to the track once a few years ago, I knew I needed to have tires in good condition and brakes that would standup to the abuse of the frequent hard braking at the track.

Since the rear tires on the M3 weren’t in great condition and the fronts were new,  Michelin PS2 to match the front were ordered from TireRack.com and installed at the local Mr Tire.

The stock brakes on the E46 M3 are great for the street but I wanted something a little better to make sure we would be stopping at the end of those 140Mph straights before entering the sharp turn sure to follow!    I chose the Hawk HPS Pads having had a pretty good experience with the Hawk HP+ pads on my RX7 at the previous track day.  Hawk HPS on the track = CRAP with a 3400lb car going 120Mph+, brake fade after one hard bit of braking I find out, but oh well, you live and you learn.  To compliment the pads I chose to replace the stock rotors with M3 cross-drilled Euro Rotors and Racing Brake Fluid.

After my first event on the Hawk HPS’s and major brake fade I took the advice of my instructor who also owned an E46 M3, upgraded to Performance Friction 06 Compound pads and have never looked back!

Now that the car was ready for the track Mary and I needed a few essential items, starting with Helmets, so one Saturday we drove out to OGRacing.  I quickly found a white Bell M3 helmet on sale which fit my head (so many helmets to choose from and not much to distinguish them apart looking at them externally, M3 style sounded fitting since I was going to be driving a BMW M3).

Mary had a bit more difficulty finding a helmet that would fit her head, her head isn’t big like mine, hahaha.  Mary finally found a G-Force helmet that fit pretty well and added a headsock to make it snug.  HAHA, trying on the headsock in the store I thought she looked like she was ready to rob a bank!

Now with RRT, GForce, Hawk & OGRacing stickers we thought we outta slap a few on the side of the car to show off our suppliers of choice and add a few extra HP, LOL!

Silver M3 needed stickers!  Obnoxious stickers installed!

June 20, 2009 – ’03 M3 – Like I needed another car!

and it all started here…

I started talking about wanting to Race…started looking at car options for the track, the first question was 911 or M3?

Mary reminded me that during a trip to Paris I was talking to her via Video Conference and started rambling about wanting to go racing and wanting to buy a car for the track… I think she thought it was just one of my crazy ideas for the future…little did she know I already started looking at cars.

Then a few weeks later, we wake up on a Saturday morning and I ask her if she is ready to go, she asks, “where?”, I answer with a smirk, CAR SHOPPING!

I had found a silver ’03 BMW M3 with SMG and only 31k miles on it, which appeared to be in excellent mechanical condition but had a few cosmetic flaws, I thought perfect, need a good running car, but didn’t care about a few blemishes since the car was sure to get beat up on the track!  a few hours later we ended up driving that car home … and we were off to the races…

Silver '03 M3