Feb18–VIR–NASA–Part2-CompSchool

Hello FastLap followers, it has been a busy spring so far so I apologize for the delay in updates.

Much of the offseason (Dec-Feb) was spent with final race prep to the 2003 BMW M3 #72 I planned to begin racing. Kill switch, Fire Suppression System, Window & Center Net, Motorola 2way Radio setup (for communicating with Crew Chief & Spotter during races), larger switch panel and a few other race required details along with a full refresh of the suspension components, wheel bearings, etc.

Feb 18th was NASA MidAtlantic’s first Competitive Licensing School of the year and upon successful completion you were allowed to participate in your first races that weekend as a Provisionally Licensed driver. Complete 4 races clean and get your official hard card license, complete 8 races clean and clear yourself of rookie status (R’s next to your #’s & a bright orange rookie plate on the rear of the car).

I passed comp school with flying colors, being challenged by but enjoying the discussions and drills associated with the licensing school. NASA’s comp school is more of a long test day than an actual school like other organizations have. There are certain criteria you must meet before you are even allowed to participate in their compschool, including a fair number of days in Advanced DE, a fully prep’d race car (you can rent one) and signoff by the Race Director for the region.

That Friday Feb 18th was an exhausting day. 4 x 40min sessions on track, 4 x 60min class room sessions, and intentionality little to no break. Students were joined by seasoned racers during the track sessions (on track with you, not in car with you) to evaluate you. The seasoned racers while keeping a close eye on all the students for evaluation liberally “mixed it up” with you during the drills… ie basic harassment to ensure each
student could keep a cool head.

I’ve turned a couple laps here and there totally offline during DE sessions and have had quite a few days experience passing in corners in advanced DE sessions but nothing had compared me for what comp school puts you through.

First session instructions were: 40 minute session, 20 minutes using only the left side of the track and 20 minutes using only the right side, drive at 9/10ths the entire time and no cheating in corners as the corner workers were instructed to radio in cars crossing the center line at any time and seasoned racers
were on track with you driving wherever they felt as they watched the students closely. 40 minutes of driving 9/10ths on parts of the track I’ve never seen before, wow – that was exhausting.

Now an hour of classroom, then on track session #2. Instructions, 40 minute session, 20 minutes on the right, side by side with an experienced racer in a similarly performing car, then 20 minutes on the left, side by side with the same racer — oh and if you (as the student) don’t keep up with the racer, black mark
to you! Nervous driving that 9/10ths with someone next to you? Play it safe and leave lots of room between you and your partner … nope, you were warned, if that happens another random racer would join you by sliding in between you and your partner for some 3 abreast action! It was amazing how quickly you become
comfortable with another car right beside you – this drill was fantastic as it built on the first on-track session.

short break for lunch, more class room and on track session #3 – this time leap frog drills with your partner. Instructions were, take turns passing each other going into Turns 1,4,10,OakTree & 14 (this was at VIR). After 40 minutes of passing 5x per lap I was tired, that is a lot of concentration and your experienced
racer partner didn’t make the passes “easy” either, you had to battle for them with increasingly more effort as the session progressed.

More class room, session 4 was race starts, 2 standing, 2 rolling followed by a 20min mock race … yup the experienced racers were out with us during the starts and race to make it more “exciting”.

Pic of additional class and rookie livery while tearing it up during the mock race at CompSchool.

It was now about 5pm, you are mentally and physically drained from the day of class and drills – time for a written test! first page was a bunch of multiple choice questions mostly with flags, passing rules and at-fault incident rules. The second page was essay situation based – for example, if there was a car off track at the
exit of T3 and an emergency vehicle between T2 and T3 what flag or flags would you expect to see at each of the flag stands 1 and 2.

My class of 12, 11 of us passed. We were told that our class was one of the highest % passing rate for many years. Weak on-track performance noted by either your racer partner or any of the track side “judges” or corner workers, or a non-passing score on the written test would be grounds for failure.

All and all, I felt the NASA-MA CompSchool, for being a 1 day school, did an excellent job of preparing and evaluating student readiness to race. Last year there were many people encouraging me to sign of for comp school and start racing, I’m glad I stuck to my original plan and waited until I had nearly 100 track days
under my belt. Had I tried that school after 40 days I think I would have been completely overwhelmed and failed.

Feb18-20 – VIR – NASA – Part1

Mary writes …

The first event for 2011! Kyle was scheduled for comp school to start the new season and I was signed
up for time trials. The plan for me this year is to try to walk away as the 2011 Mid-Atlantic TTB champ!!

Kyle and Barry Battle headed down on Thursday night – he had comp school on Friday. I decided to work and get there in the evening, missing out on Friday’s open track day.

I was so excited for this event after what seemed to be a long wait during the winter (although
technically it was only about 9 or 10 weeks!). However, I was disappointed to learn that I was the only
one running in the TTB class- no one to compete with, and not able to win any tires!

I shook off the dust on Saturday; only doing 2:16 laps when my previous best was a 2:15 last year. I was
getting back up to speed and relearning the track. Kyle passed his comp school and had his 1st race on
Saturday taking 2nd place behind Josh Smith!! Way to go Kyle!! We head off to the awards banquet
after having our own BBQ at the trailer in the paddock along with some cold Coronas.

I push my way through the crowd being prepared to take photos of Kyle getting his 2nd place award
when much to my surprise, I hear MY name announced as taking 1st place in TTB! What?? I didn’t
realize they gave out awards when there is only 1 person competing! LOL. Oh well, I guess I still get to
chalk that up as a victory towards my year end goal! As a joke, I posted the plaque photo on facebook
and was mortified when the continuous congrats started rolling in over the next 24 hours! OMG- how
embarrassing but I had to just let it go….

Day 2- I manage to run a 2:15 during my 2nd session before lunch but I have my eye on doing a new
record of 2:14 before going home. The day seemed to drag a bit, having almost 5 hours to kill until I
return to the track. Kyle has a big 40 minute race in the afternoon. This was my opportunity to learn
the radios. Barry worked the start/finish line and I stood at the fence at T10 (remember this!). Here I
had a view of the ess’s, around oak tree, and most of the back straight. I would be able to give Kyle a
heads up should there be any incidents in those areas. I couldn’t imagine how exhausting it would be to
race for 40 minutes! Kyle does a fantastic job battling through this race, taking 3rd place as a rookie! I
am sure that he will share the details of his experiences.

I am now heading out for what will be my last session at 4:00, knowing that we plan to leave quickly
after I come off track and change my wheels.

Not so much… I was elated when I looked down after my 2nd lap and actually saw 2:14.3!! My best
time ever and goal for the weekend!! Hmmm…if I did that, then I must be able to find .4 seconds more
somewhere on the track to make it to 2:13. Eric Wong did a 2:13 in my car last fall so I know that it
is possible. I’m going for it!! I travel up the ess’s feeling like I am really pushing it as I feel the car get
light here and there. I had felt previously that I was over braking into T10 AND if you remember, I
watching the race from this point of view so I felt that I could carry much more speed through here. I
do a quick tap of the brake and get on the gas a quick as I can. Well, just as I am approaching the track
out, I realize that the rear got light again and I started to spin. The whole thing happened so fast that

I’m not really sure exactly how it went down but as soon as I hit the grass there was no stopping. I went
sliding sideways and right into the tire wall on the passenger side to left of the track. O-M-G! Did that
just happen?? Once I stopped and realized that I just crushed my car, I beat up the steering wheel and
yelled several choice words! The EMT/Tow arrived to drag me back. I was so embarrassed and feared
the shame of my car being paraded around the paddock for all to see my screw up! Ugh!

I felt much better when it was clear that everyone wanted to make sure that I was okay and assured me
that it has also happened to most of them as well!

Against all odds, Kyle and Barry randomly had spare parts (a much needed tie rod), and banged out the
wheel wells to make it possible for Kyle to drive it home 2 hours later. We all did get a good laugh at
how it appeared to other drivers on the highway; all smashed in down the right side.

So we did an evaluation last night to see what it will take to get my car put back together and ready for
the next March event—thankfully I am not experiencing a fear to get back in the seat but rather cannot
wait to go for that 2:13 again!!