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rkbuckle

NASA SoCal "spooks" newbies .... but recovers ...

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rkbuckle

I am now into my second year with NASA - and with SoCal. The friendships are great - but the weekend before last we were to run at Cal Speedway (OK, Auto Club Speeway) for the first time. and it didn't go to plan - on arrival it was suggested that we change our schedule - my wife and I both drive the same Vette and alternate sessions. This keeps us both engaged for both Saturday and Sunday - we tried one full day each, only to have one of us completely whacked as to what to do all weekend.

 

But enough - out came NASA instructors with a new instructor, and strongly recommending we change our routine. All happening at a track we haven't been to and where we had developed good communications with a couple of instructors. We were quite literally "Spooked" by it and went home. To drive another day ....

 

Has anyone had similar experieces with NASA folks - all up, they've been incredibly helpful and there were several follow-up phone calls and lots of emails. We will be returning for the weekend at ButtonWillow - but again, I would welcome others feedback on last minute changes looking a little odd.

 

For the full story check out the blog I have been keeping on the whole campaign that started last year:

 

http://buckle-up-travel.blogspot.com/2009/04/best-laid-plans.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

 

Richard

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soundguydave
I am now into my second year with NASA - and with SoCal. The friendships are great - but the weekend before last we were to run at Cal Speedway (OK, Auto Club Speeway) for the first time. and it didn't go to plan - on arrival it was suggested that we change our schedule - my wife and I both drive the same Vette and alternate sessions. This keeps us both engaged for both Saturday and Sunday - we tried one full day each, only to have one of us completely whacked as to what to do all weekend.

 

But enough - out came NASA instructors with a new instructor, and strongly recommending we change our routine. All happening at a track we haven't been to and where we had developed good communications with a couple of instructors. We were quite literally "Spooked" by it and went home. To drive another day ....

 

Has anyone had similar experieces with NASA folks - all up, they've been incredibly helpful and there were several follow-up phone calls and lots of emails. We will be returning for the weekend at ButtonWillow - but again, I would welcome others feedback on last minute changes looking a little odd.

 

For the full story check out the blog I have been keeping on the whole campaign that started last year:

 

http://buckle-up-travel.blogspot.com/2009/04/best-laid-plans.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

 

Richard

 

Richard,

 

I completely understand your reservations with a variation from a pre-set routine, however I would seriously encourage you to consider the advice being given to you. Having different instructors offers a wealth of differing viewpoints, skill-set emphasis, mindsets, and yes, even lines on a given course. If you want an eye-opening experience, do a session with an instructor that runs Time Trials, and then back it up with an instructor that drives American Iron... I've done exactly that, and attempted to drink in the wisdom of each, even when they seem mutually exclusive! Moving from DE-1 to DE-2 is an achievement, and a statement of confidence both on the part of your instructor, and of yourself. Moving from DE-2 to DE-3 is a quantum leap in comparison. The drivers are not only MUCH faster, but they are considerably more situationally aware, and expect the same from you. As you have mentioned that you were interested in going into DE-3, it makes a great deal of sense to pair you with a different instructor (not better, just different), and to get more consistent track time. I've seen the "sharing sessions" strategy backfire badly, where on the second day of a weekend, the sharing drivers were badly behind the curve in comparison to the rest of the DE-1/2 group, and it wound up costing them, badly. Two sessions a day is barely enough to get a sense of how the track is laid out, much less following the progressive change in the racing surface from rubber laid down, tempratures, sunlight, etc. When every time you go out, the "rest of the field" has stepped it up a couple of notches, it can get a bit distracting. Better to have a solid, single day, in my opinion. Even better to bring two cars and BOTH run!

 

As I've said, I understand your reservations regarding sudden changes from the norm, but that is also part and parcel of the track experience. Things DO change, and how you are able to handle that change can define you as a driver. One of the nice things about DE-1/2 is that there is NO pressure (nor should there be) to "go faster" or "push harder." Drive within your comfort zone, and you will be fine, regardless of WHO your instructor is!

 

Just food for thought.

 

Dave Lowum

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TurboShortBus

I might be a bit confused here, but it sounds more like you were trying to change NASA's routine by alternating sessions between 2 drivers in the same car over the course of 2 days, not the other way around as you stated, correct? I'm not saying that alternate session/ride sharing hasn't been done in the past, but I haven't noticed this arrangement as being standard procedure before (not in FL, anyway). If this is the case, then in my opinion, it might be more accurate to suggest that the newbies might have "spooked" NASA...

 

Mark

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rkbuckle

Over the course of nearly a year, we have done six weekends in HPDE 1 - and for four of those weekends, we alternated sessions. I drove sessions 1 and 3 and my wife drove session 2 and 4. We totally agree - it's taking us much longer - but we are prepared to pay the cost as we want to stay engaged and encourage each other. So, having developed our schedule on this basis, the change by NASA instructors was a material change - they were aware of our efforts to date.

 

Two cars? We even bough a second car for this purpose - but in the end, didn't want to drive to from the tracks separately. So we elected to go back to the one car .... and again, are we paying a price? You bet - and that was a conscious decision on our part. Over the course of these six weekends we have had different instructors - including a current winner in American Iron. And we do see the differences ... but we communicate a lot better with one instructor who has grown to know our styles - and we had the understanding that he would "walk us through" first time out on the new track.

 

Did we spook NASA? Somewhere between us spooking them and we being spooked by NASA, lies the truth for sure ... there were some anxieties heading into this event, but we thought we were OK. We have a monster of a car - a Supercharged C6 Z51 Auto Corvette that Andy and the boys at A&A Corvette Performance have worked miracles on turning into a half decent track car - but as a beginners / first time driver car, it's probably not the best. I have spun it once, and driven off the track on another occasion. So, having two cars - we will keep the "torque" 'Vette for Willow Springs and Cal Speedway, but opt for the smaller, nimbler "momentum" Inifiniti G37 for ButtonWillow. For those who read the blog they will be aware of this ... and hopefully, we will get it all sorted out with NASA ....

 

But my point in all of this was anchored on communication - the instructors were rushed Friday morning. And the communication broke down as a result ... and I would just like to make sure others are aware that it can prove to be small things that can throw you and for me, not driving appeared to be the safer option. Appreciate all your feedback ... it's most welcome!

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RodeoFlyer

Wow. Just wow.

 

Before I let it fly i'm going to read your HPDE 1 blog in it's entirely. In the meantime, considering what you have already told us, i'd start editing.

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Renesisfury

So you wrote off the $300+ dollars that you spend because you didn't feel good?

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RodeoFlyer

600+ - he and the wife split the car.

 

My A.D.D kept me from reading more than 2 entries in your blog. Based on your words, here are some issues.

 

First - you have not run 6 events. You split the track time with your wife, so in actuallity you have 3. That is a problem in itself. Is it allowed? - unfortunately. Is it wise? - nope. NOBODY gets much accomplished in 2 sessions a day. Not in HPDE, not in TT, not racers, not Lewis Hamilton. Besides paying double the cost for half the fun, you are hindering the learning process of you and your wife. You are also taking away from the rest of your group, because they are getting faster at an advanced pace. If you were not in a Corvette you would be getting run over.

 

Second - It's not uncommon for newbies to complain about having multiple instructors, however it is uncalled for. At no time were you promised to have your own personal instructor, and have him/her with you at every event. Instructors are provided for the GROUP - not individuals. Personal, individual instruction is invaluable and is definitely not free. If you want your own guarunteed personal instructor you need to make other arrangements. Hopefully you will eventually understand that at your current level multiple instructors will have been a BENEFIT for you. Instructors are FREE, and are unpaid. They are given a discount on entry fees and that's it. If you think a weekend at the track is busy for you, imagine what it must be like for the instructors that have their own run groups, meetings, pit work, and so on to worry about on top of your 4 sessions. Does that sound like fun? I've been with groups other than NASA, and NOBODY does it better. You are given a good product at a good price. NASA is a business. If you seek coddling join a "club".

 

Third, you weren't told you could NOT drive at Cal Speedway. YOU made that decision. Given that you basicly have 3 events under your belt, and in that time you have admittedly had 2 incidents - you probably made an unfortunate but wise decision. Corvettes, Vipers, and the like in HPDE at Cal Speedway always seem to be the ones that brake in the oval, which is highly dangerous and unnerving for other drivers. You are definitely in the wrong car to be learning in. From reading your blog you have done a lot of work to a car that was way more than you can handle before you touched it. At the very least, you should have checked your ego and Corvette at the door, and split time with your wife in the slower car.

 

So what do we have here? A driver with almost no experience, going about driving in an unorthodox way (car sharing, highly modified car, etc.) poo-pooing NASA because he was given exactly what he paid for, and advice from people with TONS of experience - and somehow talked himself into walking away. Frankly, that says a lot more about YOU than NASA.

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sscguy

Richard, something to keep in mind going forward in your driving career: situations are constantly changing on and off the track. Weather, temperature, track surface condition, that guy spinning out in front of you, etc. You have to be able to deal with quick changes at the drop of a hat if you want to drive the car home in one piece. I agree that it could've thrown you for a loop switching instructors up, but you should try being a bit more flexible. If you can't handle something like a different guy jumping in the shotgun seat, I'm not sure you'd be able to handle another more significant change. This isn't an exceptional ability, but rather something I expect in all my students, HPDE1 through HPDE3 and beginning-racers.

 

As suggested, you might want to seek hiring a personal instructor, if that works better for you. Also maybe look into a two-car trailer with a tow rig (these days trucks and trailers can be found for crazy low prices).

 

As was also said, the stinkin' fast 'Vette isn't helping anything for a noob. I just drove my brother's 250whp 240SX for the first time (with ~7 years track experience under my belt), and it was a bit of a handful at times.

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Renesisfury

Yeah, seems to me from the story that you need to figure out exactly what you want to do. If you want to move to HPDE3 as you claim in the blog, you would really need to develop thicker skin and take input from wherever you can find it.

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Ev

Personally, I liked having different instructors over the course of the weekend. They often have different points of view.

 

I guess after reading the blog, and this post, I don't understand what "spooked" him...

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dollar
Based on your words, here are some issues.

 

So what do we have here? A driver with almost no experience, going about driving in an unorthodox way (car sharing, highly modified car, etc.) poo-pooing NASA because he was given exactly what he paid for, and advice from people with TONS of experience - and somehow talked himself into walking away. Frankly, that says a lot more about YOU than NASA.

I agree 100% with this post. Situational awareness is very important while tracking a car and racing. Getting disappointed with something as simple as this is NOT a good mindset to begin with.

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Dynamite924s

Richard, I am completely sympathetic to yours and Margo's situation; however I do agree that there is no way you should be splitting your time. One in HPDE 1 and one in HPDE2 no problem, but you need to be getting all the track time you are paying for, and why wouldn’t you want to? I would think that it also has to be very hard on a single instructor. You may not see it that way as you and Margo are so close and can think or act as one, but for your instructor it may just be overwhelming. You each need your full share of track time and you each should have a different instructor just to be fair to the instructor.

 

If you are returning to tracks you have been to, suck it up and sign up for HPDE 2 and let Margo sign in to HPDE 1. The next weekend switch it up if you want and she is comfortable. I cannot speak about your region, however when I inquired about doing something similar because I couldn't get out of work on Sunday my region administrator basically said the same thing you are hearing as feedback here, no way no how.

 

Good luck and stick with it.

Paul

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Cheap_Thrills

Not trying to spook you any further, but maybe your title should have been, "SoCal newbies throw a fit when they don't get their way." It just comes across as some kind of pissing contest for you to say, "If we can't do it our way, we're leaving because we paid extra to do it." You can't buy everything.

 

Since you said you had tried it the correct way before, you should know that it does affect everyone else on track by the way you are doing it. You should know that a full day helps you learn to adapt to changing track temp and conditions, changes in vehicle responsivness, changes in driver attitudes (more confidence, risk taking, etc). I know I see differences between every session.

 

With Group 1, especially if it's on a new track, it's expected that in the 1st session people are way off speed. Racing lines are all over the place, their not sure of passing zones, etc. By session 2 you kind of expect that they got some good advice from their instructors and better understand the next time. The drivers get faster and safer with each session.

 

I split weekends with my son when he was group 1, and on his driving day I enjoyed the time to spectate, take pics, socialize, and maybe even nap while he's stuck in download meetings.

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Renesisfury

Maybe the OP is coming back with his Nomex on.

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DarkSideDE

It is interesting to read - you, from the novice point of view being on the track.

From the instructor's point of view that it is difficult to teach every other session.

 

Here's another point of view you may not have considered:

When HPDE 1 or 2 group out on the track, the cars all get to know each other and can anticipate "the moves." Each time a group goes out, it becomes a little smoother, a little faster, a little more aware, etc. By not being out with that group each time, you can very easily become an unsafe safety factor. You most likely will be struggling to play catch up because those on the track now have more time than you do.

 

You know, it just doesn't seem fair to the "whole" run session.

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Renesisfury

I wonder if the OP will ever come back. I think he was thinking that we were all going to flock to his side.

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TurboShortBus
I wonder if the OP will ever come back. I think he was thinking that we were all going to flock to his side.
He hasn't blogged since the day before he started this thread, either...whatever that means.

 

Mark

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badass55

i can say they both were at the Button Willow this past weekend with a new look on their track days. they left the high HP Corvette at home and ran a stock G35. I spoke with then on the end on day one and they both said they learned more that day then in some of the past events and after taking time to rethink their track days they cant wait to return to the track.

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RodeoFlyer

I'm presuming they still split the sessions?

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Shawn M.
I'm presuming they still split the sessions?

 

 

They did. Everything worked out great. They both drove very well and last I heard, they both had a good time.

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rkbuckle

Hey - great responses and no, I was reading but wanted to see how this played out. And yes, I can suck it in and yes, I fully anticipated many of the responses. I was just surprised I wasn't subject to even more "unfavorable" feedback.

 

OK, for those that know me I am not the lad who wants it his way or no way - so let's put that to one side. But I have to admit I gave you all plenty of input to get to that point. But that's OK. And yes, I am doing everything wrong by most books, and that's OK too - I have always turned left when everyone else turns right - that has a lot to do with the success I have enjoyed in my business life and that has given me the opportunity to be even able to attend NASA HPDE sessions.

 

Yes, I sucked it all in, smiled a lot - enjoyed some light banter from my mates - and just went back to the track and had a go at it. Anyone who was with me out on the track first session Sunday morning would have seen that driving the Infiniti G37 Coupe I put down a couple of my best laps ever - and so yes, I'm hooked. Charlie, driving his Porsche Carrera in the same session, let me go after his instructor told him not to worry, it's not Richard - it must be his instructor showing him the line and a couple of fast laps ... oh well.

 

But bottom line guys - if I am recognized by my instructors that I am ready for HPDE 3 then I will consider it at that time. And not before. I’m cool! A very good friend of mine recently told me that the track remains the same whether I am in HPDE 1 / 2, or 3, or even 4! And I kind of figured that out along the way. Having the "momentum" car now rather than the "big torque" car is giving me an opportunity to put distractions to one side and just pay attention to the track - and ButtonWillow is now a circuit I really enjoy driving. Go figure .... HPDE 2 looks just fine, thank you all very much!

 

As for switching sessions - this is my wife and my way of cheering each other on, and keeping each other completely involved. We tried doing all sessions one day and watching the other – but we quickly became bored and felt out of it. Yes, our children think we have completely lost it - but I wont participate in this sport without the presence of my wife. It's just that simple. If I do not progress as quickly - then so be it. On the other hand, from some sources I have talked to, she may be a lot better than I am and that's fine by me ... in fact, I’m quite tickled to hear that! It may cost us twice as much in the long run but yes, that's more or less our call to make.

 

So, laying it all out for you.

 

(a) Cal Speedway came at an emotional time - was it our fault or NASA's - in hindsight, NASA was simple a catalyst and weren't fully aware of the situation we were in. Yes, we took it out on them - but did they really spook us? At a track we had never seen? Yes, it did catch us off-guard and irrespective of some of the nice comments I didn’t feel that going onto the track not fully focused was a smart move.

 

(b) ButtonWillow - did we have different instructors? Yes we did - and yes, I benefited from that and put down my fairly significant improvement in part down to the instruction I received. Did we continue with switching sessions? Yes – and it kept us both engaged. But Margo did let me go out for the final session Sunday as I spun during the third session and she wanted me not to have that on my mind for a month, Again, Fulton Haight was terrific with us both ...

 

© Finally, we just registered for WillowSprings and again, will leave Frankenstein in the garage .... on it's trickle charger. Loved, but used with caution ... and we will see how the Infiniti handles Big Willow!

 

Many thanks ... and I do appreciate all, and I mean all, the feedback. Your fellow NASA HPDE participant, friend, and part-time (occasional) idiot .... Richard

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RodeoFlyer

Good stuff.

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rkbuckle

Thanks - and if you can manage to make it through to the end, I have posted a more comprehensive description of the weekend at:

 

http://itug-connection.blogspot.com/2009/04/feeling-good-or-praying-for-guardian.html

 

In case some of you missed the point - tension, and handling tension, makes for a little drama. OK, so yes, come end of year, I will be working through the blog, editing posts, and developing a short story ... kind of fun, and what I like to do. And I really do appreciate and enjoy the feedback and "analysis" as for the most part, you weren't too far from the mark.

 

And yes, I just registered for Willow Springs come May ... for those who will be participating, I look forward to catching up with you. A little unorthodox, eh? Would never have thought that ... who me?

 

Cheers .... Richard

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rkbuckle

And if I provided the right link, then that probably would make more sense:

 

http://buckle-up-travel.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-we-humans-or-are-we-dancers.html

 

Just returned from a week in Prague, the Czech Republic - ave registered for Willow Wprings and plan to do the next three weekends (Willow, ButtonWillow and Cal Speedway) with the Infiniti ... the Vette really needs major maintenance as brakes (rotors and pads) and tires are pretty much shot ... so OK, have your say.

 

With what's been written - what should I be contemplating as replacements? Just more of the saem, or ....

 

Rotors have been stock and part of Z51 package - but drilled. Should we contemplate an OEM like DBA's 5000 / 4000 combination? Pads are Hawk HPS - should we stay with them or are they contributing to the dramatic wear on the rotors? And should we move away from the Pirelli P Zero Rosso's to say a Toyo R888?

 

Thoughts - and input from you all's wealth of experience ... and thanks!

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99HOSS

As far as the brakes on the vette and I believe you're still running it in Grp 2, get a set of Brembo OEM rotors and start running Hawk DTC60 pads up front and Hawk 'Black' or HP Plus in the rear.

 

Until you get into driving 10/10ths in TT, and you've added a BigBrake Kit to the front and moved the front calipers to the rear, the above rotor pad combo will allow you to learn how get faster, smoother with a consistence lap after lap of not having to worry about you brake system.

 

And don't forget the proper fluid with regular bleeding of (at least) the fronts during the week-end.

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