This weekend was my first full-fledged experience of driving on a track. April 17th found me on the Buttonwillow Raceway organized by Tracquest.
More pictures shortly.
Driving on the Buttonwillow Raceway was an exhilirating experience. I thought that since I was in the slow(yellow) group that people would be speed demons. They weren't. Everyone was making a conscious effort to learn their lines effectively. What I experienced were careful instructors(especially Jim, Bob of RennTT Motorsports and Andrew of Pumpkin Inc.) showing me the ins and outs of learning the entrance, apex, and exits of all the complicated turns.
I've been hesitating for a few years to try track events. I've only done auto-cross previously using Jeff's car. Since getting my own performance car, I've felt the need to learn more about what my car can and can't do. Forunate enough one of my first instructors(Andrew) owned a stock E36 to show me the ropes of what our line of cars could do. What I also learned was not to follow the person in front me since they may have different lines than me or they may not be even running the track properly. This was quite a challenge since I couldn't see the cones and he wouldn't let me pass. Of course when I got through the straights I was totally taking advantage of speeding up. It was definitely exciting.
Immediately after running the ducks in the row(with Jim showing me what it takes to do the course at slower speed, which I thought was kind of fast) was my first session, Andrew my first run instructor invited me to join him in his own car for the fast(red) group to see the full potential of my car. It was quite exciting and I never felt nervous through the whole experience. I was more than inspired knowing that my car could handle such as his with more time and practice.
In my last session, Bob showed lots of patience in helping me understand what I was doing wrong. I wasn't braking enough into the turns and was therefore not getting the turns properly since I was still on the brake. After a few laps I was starting to feel the car hug the lines and I could see myself speeding up faster as the car began to enjoy the adventure of both good lines and speed.
It started to drizzle and then eventually rain right after my session. I decided to packup and just hang out. I ended up getting really tired so I returned to the hotel to take a nap before the Tracquest banquet at the hotel headquarters. Boy, Todd really knows how to organize memorable events.
My husband has been quite encouraging and while there were only a handful out of the 40 people there who were female, it was still exciting to see all the encouragement from my husband's circle of friends. They watched me in excitement as I returned to the pit to recount my adventure of my last session. I think it would be exciting to see more women try this type of hobby. If not about the track, but to learn more about what your car can do in a closed and controlled environment.
Tracquest is a really great organization. Todd and his crew really took care of us. What I found most useful was the extensive discussion and instruction for the slow group. I found this really helpful since this was my first time and was still learning the ropes. Even after the first session we had another yellow group drivers' meeting. With open matching with instructors it was a nice free for all to get excellent instructors. The organization of the program was very useful and professional. Each run session had around 25-30 minutes of track time. I believe the most you would get during one day was about 2 hours worth of track time. All day drinks were provided and our meals were really good and catered by very hospitable people. The facilities were very nicely setup. Lots of space to hang out and nice covered area for picnics.
I know for sure I'll be heading to Thunderhill next month with Trackmaster. Lilise commented that she thought Thunderhill was less complicated and the turns were more memorable. I hope she's right because I'm definitely looking for my next chance to be on the track. I also think I'm going to write more about these track experiences including information about the organizer, the facility, the track configuration, my instructors, and my overall impressions.
Posted on April 18, 2004 04:08 PM
Renn TT Motorsports