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 country...like Connecticut...to 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!

When It's Time To Call In The Professionals

Have you ever wondered how much faster than you a pro driver would be in your own car? I often have. But how would you ever find yourself in a situation where you could find out? Well, I found myself there just the other day. And here is how I did.

Photo of Lee Carpentier, Lamborghini Trofeo race driver, from his Facebook page

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 Motorsports.com, 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. 

A Real Guide to Palmer Motorsports Park

I hope everyone is having a good summer and is getting excited for ADSI at Quonset on July 19th!! 

Here is some breaking news! A very experienced driver–and a person I'm very happy to have recently met: Ron Savenor–has posted a much more in-depth look at the right way to get around Palmer Motorsports Park at speed. I found it pretty fascinating to compare his impressions to mine. The big takeaway for me is that I was throwing out too much of the theoretical line, thinking I was finding a faster way around the track. I now realize that it was faster largely because of my own limited skills! This info has helped me to see that I was on to something by observing the helpful camber in places on the track, but I was also leaving a lot of speed on the table by trying to cut corners too sharply. That was also probably hurting my tires a bit more than I should have been. 

I hope you find it as instructional as I have. Thanks, Ron!