NH_S2k_Guy visits Watkins Glen and catches the track bug
Don’t we all have fond memories of our very first track day? The feeling of excitement, slight uncertainty, latching onto every word from the instructors mouth, the surge of adrenaline as we get into the braking zone prior to turn-in and the massive feeling of achievement and bond developed with the car at the end of school. That first track day has turned many of us into addicts that live to race on the proper line and get our highs from safely passing others on track. Track events are fun and make us better, safer and more focused on the street. Our member NH_S2K_Guy discovered the joy of driving on track and wanted to share it with the community.
When plans for New England’s drive to the dragon were canceled, NH_S2K_Guy found that he had the whole week off from work and needed a contingency plan. Along came the opportunity to go to Watkins Glen, and after two days in some harsh weather, we have a convert folks. Lets congratulate him and make sure he keeps going back 😀
NH_S2K_Guy decided he wanted to share his thoughts with the community so that it would encourage more of us to learn car control in a safer environment so we continue to enjoy driving the S, the way it should be driven.
“When I was driving in the rain, I was VERY apprehensive. It was a combination of several factors…never being on a track before in my car, not knowing how the car would respond in the rain and worrying about all the standing water and rivers running across the track and having my car hit those the wrong way and making friends with some sky blue ARMCO.
Mark, my instructor, was very good. He talked me through every corner, giving me insight on how to enter the turn, hit the apex at the proper time and track out to maintain the most speed, even in adverse conditions. He was also very good at pointing out when the car would lose traction so that I would know what it felt like. I mean sure some of the times it was obvious but others it wasn’t and Mark pointing those subtle losses of traction out to me made me more cognizant of them and I could react to them faster as I started to sense them happening. This was especially important on the first day in the rain.
The second day was so much different mostly because of the weather. After having 2 hours in the car on day one, I began to understand how the car would respond along the different sections of the track, the layout of the track and some of the nuances of it.
I noticed a change in my instructor as well…Mark sensed that I was taking instruction well and that I had a good feel of what to do out there. As the sessions progressed, Mark went from telling me where to track in, apex and track out to telling me to “PUSH IT! you know what to do, LETS GO!”.
What a rush of adrenalin during those times! As I got more familiar with the track and the car’s behavior in the rain, I was approaching the car’s limits (or at least I felt I was) and going through the corners faster and more confident with each passing session. The feeling of getting more comfortable and passing cars with way more horsepower and costing way more money was SUCH a rush!
Mark was very supportive and constantly pushed me to go faster and do better. It really made me feel like I had a good idea how to hit the corners and we went from figuring that out to running down cars in front of me! To me that was the most fun part of the day! It brought all the lessons together and resulted in my ability to begin to totally understand the track and use the various sections to my advantage in progressing along it to approach and overtake superior cars, but not necessarily superior drivers.
The main lessons I took from the experience was to be as smooth as possible to keep the car in control, also that the car isn’t what matters, but the driver, as evidenced by some of the cars I passed, and finally, in order to be fast, you have to track in, apex, and track out properly.
And I can’t wait to do it again!!!!”
Here are his thoughts right after completing his best sessions on day two. Notice how much more confident driving on track can make you:
“It was CCCCCOLD, windy and SNOWY all morning! Coming down so hard at some points that I wondered if they would shut the track down due to lack of visibility.
GREAT day for me! The dry really had an effect on my improvement, I think because I felt more comfortable with running in it along with my skills improving. I got close to 120mph on the back stretch, passed Lotus’, Corvettes, Porsches and one Civic Si during the day today.
When you get comfortable with it, the cornering this car can do is nothing short of incredible! I was keeping up with GT3 RS’es today as my confidence grew and my comfort with pushing the car more and more, searching for that fine line between in and out of control. Of course they would pull away a bit in the straights, but when the corners returned, I would gain back on them rather quickly, to the point where several times I had to back off to keep from running up the back of them.
I had a terrific instructor who took it easy with me for the first couple of sessions but once he realized I had somewhat of a clue what to do and that I take instruction well, he was pushing me more and more with each passing session. I felt some apprehension about going into corners faster than I ever had before because I wasn’t sure about the limits of the car, but he put me at ease and said “the car can do it! GO GO!” and I did and the car responded beautifully! At no point during the past 2 days did I feel like I was out of control and I think I came close to pushing to the very limits of the car. The Bridgestone RE01-R’s gave a subtle warning when I was starting to possibly go over that line with a little squeal, so I would apply a little more brake, back off the throttle or the line ever so slightly then get back on it, HARD, shortly thereafter.
By the end of day 2, my cool down laps after the checkered flag were faster than “my” flat out runs at the beginning of day 1. Some of this had to do with the rain but I feel that the improvement can be more attributed to learning more about what the car can handle.
Anyone that has an S in my opinion has not FULLY enjoyed what the car can do unless they have participated in a track day or two, because there are very few opportunities to push the car safely and legally on the street and in my opinion you can’t get the car to that ragged edge any other way without putting yourself or someone else in danger.”
Images courtesy of NH_S2k_Guy and aashish2. Watkins Glen elevation map courtesy of Trackmasters (www.trackmasters.com )
NOTE: S2KI welcomes the opinions of its members on the S2000 and on all topics related to the S. Should you feel the creative urge to pen a few words then by all means do so and PM Energetic, Aashish2 or Onehots2k OR send us links to what you would like us to write about and we will feature you (or your community) on the S2KI Home Page.