Unorthodox Autocross Is Norm at ADSI

What happens when you allow for true variety at the autocross? Amazing fun. That's what. The July autocross at ADSI had a little bit of everything you could ever want! 700+ hp? Yes, that was there. A full-on airport fire truck running the course? Sure. Kids in a Polaris gas buggy? Absolutely. 24 Hours of Lemons race cars? Check. A hill climb car that would kill you just for looking at it? Uh huh. We saw it all.

If it's Sunday, it's time to autocross

This coming Sunday is my first autocross day of the year at ADSI! And I hope you will come join me!

The predicted showers should add some extra fun and challenge. But doesn't look like a washout. 

8am for lessons until noon. Noon to 5pm for open autocross. Morning students get to jump the afternoon lines all day and get in many, many runs. 

So I hope you'll come see Brother Rich break in his new Potenza RE71r tires by whupping us all on the course. That takes the pressure off the rest of us - "he's got new tires, so, of course he's 10 seconds faster and lapped me twice." Just start saying it now and it will roll off the tongue. 

Hope to see you there. Contact me if you want to meet up or need directions. 

A new local option for learning to drive well

The skid pad at Lime Rock - wet and slippery!

For many of us with young kids, the prospect of shipping ourselves off to a far-flung race track in a far away neighboring do something that is all about us, well, it's quite a challenge. Trekking to Lime Rock for the Skip Barber school was great fun when I did it back around 2008 but, amazingly, it feels like we all have even less time for things like that as the kids grow up! But there is a more convenient way to do it suddenly! Skip Barber's instruction is coming soon to Thompson Speedway just 35 minutes from Providence in Thompson, CT!

Smiles Per Gallon

What is your definition of the most fun you can have in a car? As a kid, I dreamed of the chance to drive a Lamborghini Countach. To hear the noise of twelve angry Italian cylinders shouting at Ferraris each time they fired up. Only to then want a Ferrari F40, which I still consider to be the pinnacle of automotive achievement. Or perhaps to slide behind the wheel of a Porsche 959 to get the feeling that when you add classic design and the latest (for the early 90's anyway) engineering, you come away with something so technically marvelous that it defies belief. Over 200mph? In 1986? Wow, wow, wow. I chased the supercar dream right up until about last year. Then I saw the light.

Driving Back to School, Fall 2015

As the kids settle into the new year in school, I'm hoping all of you adult types are also interested in more education - of the driving type, of course. The heat of summer is falling away (after this week, maybe, anyway) so the weather should be perfect for enjoying some fun with cars. The next couple of months have some good things in store so I thought I'd better do a quick review to make sure everyone has the info they need to plan for fun and education.

September is full of driving events for me - and hopefully for you too!! September 12 sees the Porsche Club annual Concours d'Elegance at Larz Anderson auto museum in Brookline MA. It will run all day and all the show-quality cars will be there for this one. The location alternates each year between this great spot and the Elms down in Newport. There is a Waterfire that night in Providence too, so make it a full weekend! Sunday, the 13th, is the summer season kid's karting championship race for my son on the joint track indoors at F1 Boston. He has finished up third in the points for the season and we'll see if he can add any additional hardware to his trophy case this time out.

Is High Performance Driving Safe?

There is an old debate rising up with new vigor lately: is high performance driving getting to be so dangerous that major changes need to be made? There has been a recent major incident (fatality) at Road Atlanta (RA) that seems to be spurring the online commentary and chatter. Heavy hitters like Ross Bentley (one of my favorite authors, of Speed Secrets fame) and Don Salisbury (founder of Blue Ridge SCCA region, Blue Ridge PCA safety head) have weighed in. And they say that horsepower is too high, speeds are too high, and danger is too high. And that changes need to happen.

These two highly-knowledgeable instructors propose that speeds on the straights at tracks for cars without roll cages be potentially limited. Ross Bentley says, "We either make cars have all the safety equipment, or we control speeds." When asked how he came up with the idea to limit speeds on track, Don Salisbury states, "That is easy: Structural integrity, kinetic energy and years of watching high speed incidents "tearing apart" and "balling up" cars in club and pro races with a large part of that being the heavier Showroom Stock cars. You have street cars without rollcages doing 150+ at some tracks. They were never designed to crash at those speeds."

There was an interesting counterpoint made by Mark Hicks, General Manager at Chin, one of the largest private organizers of track day events. He contends, "In the last 5 years, I'm aware of 4 fatalities nationwide in track day/HPDE events: 2 involved running-off into trees after loss of control in a corner at tracks with inadequate safety barriers. 1 was a crash at corner exit that resulted in an injury that was exacerbated by an undisclosed medical condition (a normally healthy driver would have likely survived). And, the incident most recently at Road Atlanta, which happened on a straightaway. Applying a straightaway speed limit cannot be demonstrated to have a mitigating affect on a single one of the incidents described above. Even though the nationwide numbers of participants has increased in recent years, there's not a sudden spike in fatalities. In fact, fatality probability, as a factor of track miles driven, is probably at an all-time low."

Personally, I have enjoyed many side conversations (often on Facebook) on a related range of topics such as, "what exactly is the educational component of high performance driving education (HPDE)?" and "how is progress measured, especially if lap times are no longer applicable?"

Driving three cars at the same time: fun at ADSI on July 19

It's mid-summer and hot. And a great time to enjoy driving! A few ACF members and friends took a trip down to Quonset Point to attend the July 19 session of ADSI's high performance driving school and autocross. I wanted to see how many of my cars I could get down there to experience so I enlisted the aid of Alex SdB and Mike M so we could manage three: the '07 997, the '86 944, and the '73 914. 


Folks, one of our own from Providence and ADSI has had a spell of bad luck at a hillclimb at Okemo. Many of you probably know Jesse Whitsell, proprietor of Banchwerks - a great auto shop in Providence, fierce driver of an E30 M3 which spends most of its time going sideways, and all around great guy who is always ready to provide automotive advice and a helping hand. 

Should you be so inclined, you can help him with medical bills and not being able to work for a while as he recovers from surgery.

Next up: ADSI autocross on 7/19 N.Kingston RI

While you are all planning out your summer activities, block off this day on your calendars: 7/19 8am to 5pm. We'll be headed down to the autocross at Quonset Point in North Kingston, RI to be instructed by ADSI's crew. The morning will start at 8am with lessons until noon. From about 1pm to 5pm, the full autocross course will be up and running for timed runs and refining the skills learned in the morning.

Should anyone have forgotten how much you learn and how much fun it is, I'll just leave this here for you to refresh your memory (link to video):