Sunday, April 29, 2012
A Series of Unexpected Events - NASA HPDE @Autobahn 4-21/22-12
[B][SIZE="3"]Video here:[/SIZE][/B] [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imcEMTbAqQI&list=UU1Ym-QzJM8N1lmMV0_bS6UQ&index=1&feature=plcp"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imcEMTbAqQI&list=UU1Ym-QzJM8N1lmMV0_bS6UQ&index=1&feature=plcp[/url]
Apologies for getting this out so late. This thing called college got in the way.
I had the privilege of attending NASA's HPDE at Autobahn's south track.
I started my morning waking up at 7:30 after turning off my alarm clock set for 5:00. To my dismay, my sister had already made off with the '07 328xi I meant to take. However, there was a car in the garage I could take instead; my dad's '05 Mercedes C240. Seeing as though this was all I had, I figured its rear-wheel-drive and lack of run-flats may prove even better on the track than the Bimmer. When life gives you lemons, go to the track.
On my way there, I was skeptical of the C240's capabilities. I arrived at about 8:30 and walked gingerly into my already-in-progress class. There, I was introduced to our classroom instructor, Aaron. He asked what I was driving and if I'd been to Autobahn before. I said a "Mercedes-Benz C240," feeling as though I came off as pretentious afterward. Soon after, he called the HPDE 2 group, and we were released early.
For the first session, I got a feel for the track with the train of cars that toured around the corners. I suppose this is where first-timers can get acquainted with the track layout.
For the second, I was over-steering through nearly every corner. I was frustrated and thought I should have woke up earlier so I could have brought the BMW, what with its "superior" handling, or so I thought. Like always, I blamed my lack of smoothness on my all-season, 500 tread wear tires. And for good reason.
Before the third session, a fellow HPDE driver named Matt Turner (he was the one in a white Evo X) let me use his air compressor and gauge. He recommended I add two pounds of pressure and this made nothing short of a world of difference. My turn-in was sharper and my car's ability to hug the road at speed was unbelievable to my powerslide-filled slip-'n-slide run before. I took corners that I could only dream of taking before. I was impressed with my [dad's] OEM pads that held up for this session when I was doing everything in my power to brake as late as possible and trailbrake so I could gain on drivers ahead. I passed more people in this run than I ever have at a track day before, which boosted my confidence.
The fourth session proved to be my smoothest yet. And this was the last thing I was expecting on my roughly 30-minute trip to the track. Although I experienced some brake fade thanks to my late-braking, I was increasing my speed through the corners.
By day's end, I chatted with "Zee" (?) or as he's known here, bimmerforums, Kyle Burkhardt or cosM3os, Jeff (owner of a white S50 E30) or jeffmn8, Zack (owner of a silver E36 M3, and a really, really good driver who moved up to HPDE 3 actually), former instructor of mine, Calvin Brandt or 99MPower, Luke Perkowski or LukeP, and three nice guys who were in my run group (although they were in HPDE 1 and I was in HPDE 2), Iurii Logvyn (driving a black Hyundai Genesis), Neil Bartkowiak (behind the wheel of an oragne Dodge SRT4) and last but not least, Matt Turner (who drove his white Evo X).
NASA had an amazing vibe. No one was afraid to talk or was particularly snobbish about their cars.
To make this weekend even more unexpected, for the past couple of nights, I had been under the weather. While trying to sleep with a horrible case of insomnia, I would inadvertently wake up surrounded by gallons of sweat. This happened on both Saturday morning and to a far worse extent on Sunday. I went to bed Saturday night with a temperature of 103 and woke up the next morning shivering out of my mind. My mom refused to let me go when she saw me in this state, so I continued to sleep. I then woke up at 10, had a brief breakfast, and was feeling better (or so I told my mom so I could go for the remainder of the HPDE). My temperature was then 97. I contacted Kathi Jorgensen and she said a refund could not be arranged. I then called my mom and told her that a refund is impossible and that if I don't go, "it's $200 down the drain." She was still reluctant to go, but said if I have to, I can.
I left my house at 1pm and arrived with only two sessions remaining. I figured I had the upper hand on the other drivers thanks to my additional sleep and that I'd be fresh for the third and fourth runs.
My first run, yet the third run of the day begins with two laps under a yellow flag, and we are not to pass, brake or exceed 40-60. This helped me with my approach for turn 1, where I always turned in too soon, I should have been patient and wait to turn in, so that way, turn 2 and going to turn 3 would be smoother. After this, I found I hit all the apexes a lot more effortlessly and emerged from those corners with a lot more speed.
The next run was the cherry on top. It was an absolute joy. And thanks to this being only my second run of the day, and everyone else's fourth, my [OEM, no less!] brakes were in better shape than most others. This helped with my late-braking/trail-braking maneuvers. I was so much smoother than any run before, and I totally fell into the groove.
Thanks to NASA and everyone there for making my time so enjoyable! I wanted to go to Autobahn for the Windy City BMWCCA school, but money and college are holding me back. Thankfully, I only have until May 11 to wait before I can hit the track again!
[I]I'd like to think of myself as a competent photographer who's limited by his measly iPhone camera. I could have easily brought my "real" camera, but laziness with a dose of forgetfulness got in the way.[/I]
[I]These two Porsches look like absolute sex.[/I][/CENTER]
See you all next time!