Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My day at Miller Motorsports Park

So today I did the first day of the Miller Motorsports Park Driving School. Yes, day one schools like this are typically for beginners. Some of you know I'm not a beginner while some would argue that perhaps my skills still warrant beginner status, but be that as it may, it was easy to say I was the fastest person in the school today.

It started with hours of classroom stuff followed by some fairly elementary drills in the cars and in a skid car. For those not familiar, a "skid car" is a car that has special outriggers on it with their own wheels on hydraulic jacks operated from within the car. It can be used to simulate different handling characteristics at very low speeds. I mean you can spin out under 10MPH (again, some who know me probably think I can do that without special gizmos). It's a great tool for beginners, but I really didn't get much out of it. Neat to be able to say I've done it, I guess.

Another drill was heel-toe downshifting. Any road racer with a couple years experience can do this with ease, so again, this was annoying. But when they found out I already knew how to do it, my instructors let me demo for everyone else and then let me opt out of this exercise. I used that time to make calls on my cellphone while literally standing on the track (watching the other students). You don't get to do that every day. And no, I wasn't acting at all like a primadonna. They offered, I accepted.

Then we got on track for some basic lead-follow. That was fine since I didn't really know the track and is a really good way to learn it. Then in open sessions I got to have some real fun. There were only ten of us, so you could get plenty of room on even what amounts to a relatively "short" course. We did the East Course today, which is 2.24 miles in length.

The school car is the Ford Mustang GT with a few bolt on modifications and a full roll cage. I was actually quite impressed with the car, even on street tires. That was, until I cooked the brakes. Yeah, it took just two relatively short lapping sessions before the brakes went from normal to nothing in about four corners. Fortunately I noticed the signs quickly and backed out of it and babied it back to the garage area. We were only ten minutes from being done at that point, so I called it a day.

Tomorrow is supposed to be much more track time, but this time on the West Course, which is 2.2 miles and should be easier on the car. It's awful hot out here, but I'm still looking forward to it. In September I'll be running the Koni Challenge race on the Full Course, but this was the only way for me to get any useful seat time on most of the corners. Should be close enough.

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