Nov6-7 – Summit Point Main – NASA-MA

Hello everyone – welcome to another issue of “Fast Lap” – from your track addicted friend.

Fall means cool temps, extra horsepower, and patience to make sure you have adequate temp in your tires before you try to go “flatout”.

Fortunately patience was mostly on my side along with a set of quick hands. –you’ll see in the video I get a little too greedy with the throttle coming out of T5 – according to the data that “catch” and consequently poor entry into T6 cost me ~.2sec — oh how I would have liked to have come home with a 1:20.x lap…next time!

I hadn’t driven Summit Main since May – I was there for Hyperfest in August but only turned 1 lap before a broken brake pedal sensor put the car out of service for the weekend. Having driven so many nice, smooth tracks with plenty of run off, Summit Point felt a bit more intimidating (and a lot bumpier) than I remembered.

Here is the FastLap video for the week –

I wanted to continue my tech discussion this email with a note about “time dilation” and toss in a bit of projective imagery.

(I’ll keep this short – I’m not actually trying to teach a class here!)

Paraphrased and tweaked slightly from the dictionary definition to line up with what we experience on the track. Time Dilation is the point of view that the clock is ticking at a slower rate than the local clock. When we all first started driving we were “overwhelmed” with everything that was going on at the track and by how fast everything was happening. As we gained experience on the track, things started to slow down — now we had time to look at every flag stand, check our mirrors more often and look further ahead (eyes up, eyes up!)

I’ve read about levels of time dilation beyond time slowing down enough to “become comfortable” driving “at speed”, but never experienced anything near the levels I’ve read about until the past few events. Driving, watching flag stands & watching your mirrors becomes second nature and now you have extra brain cycles — with those brain cycles I’ve been working to intentionality slow time even further providing the ability to look further and further ahead.

Heading down a straight into a corner – you look through the corner to the track out, you envision your car entering the turn, hitting the apex and tracking out all before you’ve even reached the braking zone. Now you have laid out a “ghost trace” trajectory of where you want your car to be, the attitude you want the car to have during each segment of the turn – and time is moving as if you are watching a movie in slow motion – you feel the car sliding beneath you but since it is all happening in slow motion you stay relaxed because it is easy to compensate for a mistake or the unexpected “at this slow ticking of the clock rate”.

I had a car spin off the track in front of me at the apex of T3 this weekend – what I’m sure unfolded in a couple tenths of a second seemed a life time – I casually watched the rear end of this WRX get light, come around, and slide backwards into the gravel trap – to me it felt as if I had all the time in the world to react – analyzing the trajectory of the WRX and being able to determine with good certainty that it wasn’t going to come back onto the track, requiring an evasive maneuver. I simply slowed a bit extra for the turn, watched the WRX slide off the track, drove by the incident and never tensed up.

You can practice time dilation and forward projecting imagery while on the street – it will make it that much easier to implement on the track.

Mary participated in her first TimeTrial Event this weekend. She was very nervous (as I was before my first TT) – I kept reassuring her she would do great and would soon be looking forward to her next TT weekend. 🙂

After a close battle with a Pontiac GTO – Mary took 3rd place in the TTB class both Saturday and Sunday with a fast lap of the weekend of 1:26.49! Way to go!

An on the topic of practicing on the street, then applying to the track. This coming weekend we are headed to VIR with Audi Club. Since this is a non-competitive HPDE event I plan to take the left foot braking I’ve been practicing on the street and begin applying it on the track. Wish me luck! I’ll report back next week how the experience went.

And here are a couple pictures courtesy of Scott Cain –

For those of you who were at Summit Point this past weekend, hope you had a safe drive home – to those of you who weren’t, hope I see you at the track soon!


Oct30-31 – NJMP Thunderbolt – NASA-NE

Another great weekend at the track and another new fast lap.

This time @ New Jersey Motorsports Park – Thunderbolt Circuit

I really like this track, it is fast and the massive amount of run off is confidence inspiring. This past weekend was a NASA-NE event and I participated in my 2nd Time Trials event.

Since the car was built for NASA GTS3 class, no specific attention was paid to the “points” classification of time trials – consequently I fall into the TTS class which is an “unlimited” modifications class where the only restriction is your weight to horsepower ratio.

The TTS class limit is 8.7:1 (8.7lbs for each 1rwhp), that is car weight with driver at the end of a session. My #72 car with me in it and 1/4 tank of fuel tips the scales at 3100lbs and dyno’d 297rwhp (call it 300) with current mods. That puts me at ~10.33:1. SIGNIFICANTLY below the Weight to HP limit. I could drop 500lbs or add 50hp and still run in TTS class!

My purpose of TimeTrials this fall wasn’t to be competitive in TTS but use it as a stepping stone to racing next year with the following two objectives:

1) Practice getting into the “Race Qualifying” mindset quickly. 1 or 2 warm up laps, then GO GO GO. This is significantly different than the DE routine of slowly bringing the pace up through the session and frankly through the day. In qualifying you head out cold and in 5 minutes you need to bring it up to a 9.5/10ths or 10/10ths level AND drive that perfect qualifying line, often times having only one chance at a flying lap – gotta make it count!

2) Experience in an environment that does not require point-by’s. In the dedicated TimeTrials run groups no point-by is required, if you catch someone, simply make a sensible pass. This turned out to be a pretty big step, since all along in DE’s I 100% knew that the car I am about to overtake is aware I am going to pass them because I sat and waited (Alan, hahahaha) for that point by from them. The first few passes were a major leap of faith in the other driver.

Even with an “uncompetitive” car from a weight:hp standpoint in TTS I managed to take 1st place in the TTS class both days by nearly 3 seconds to the 2nd place finisher in a class of five cars, one of which was the NASA-NE Regional TTS Points Champion for 2010.

For those 1st place finishes I earned my first “Racing Trophy”, two free tires from Hoosier through their Contingency Program – (that’s $600 worth of tires!) AND set the NASA TTS lap record at the track!

This was weekend 4 of our “5 different tracks in 6 weekends Fall Run”. It has been a great learning experience in car development. The changes I made to get the car to work at VIR didn’t work so well at Mid-Ohio, nor did the VIR or Mid-Ohio setup work very well at Thunderbolt – I didn’t make any changes at Watkins Glen because I was simply learning the track that weekend.

YAY for an OCD-Datalogging personality and the .xls session log book I keep so I’ll be able to quickly dial the car in for a specific track next year and waste less practice time figuring out what works. I’ve forwarded my .xls session log book to a couple of you, if any others are interested in a copy because it sounds like something you may want to start keeping for yourself, please let me know, I would be happy to share a copy in our mutual efforts to improve our cars and personal driving capabilities.

For those of you who were there, hope you had a safe drive home – to those of you who weren’t, hope I see you at the track soon!