It’s not often that you get to drive a new circuit at your home track. But for our recent HPDE at the Summit Point Shenandoah Circuit, we got to do just that by driving counter race for a session.
The Shenandoah Circuit has a couple of different configurations in the normal (counter clockwise) race direction. Most of these involve adding chicanes or extra corners in the Pistol Grip section which just make an already busy track even busier. If you don’t want to drive the Karussel, there’s the inner apron, or the outer apron available to you. You can also cut off the Karussel entirely by taking the bus-stop cut over to the Corkscrew under the Bridge. I wanted to try something completely different. So for the first session on Friday, I had the instructors drive the track clockwise with the corkscrew to bus-stop cut over. As you can see from the video it was a very different track.
I have a greater appreciation for the elevation changes in various parts of the circuit, and also a sense of just how many of the turn entries and exits are off camber. And on a predominately right handed circuit with off camber entries, I realized I sit too low in the car now and cannot see the majority of the right hand apexes. Given that no one in the group really knew the line, it was a great learning experience and will be repeated in the future. I think next time, I’ll have the instructors and advanced students drive this direction for a half-day on Friday.
Assuming that you’re not going back to a stock wheel with airbag any time soon, you just need to grind back the connectors, leaving the two pins circled in the photo for the horn. Use a continuity tester to figure out which is ground and hook up your connectors on the Quick Release hub. Then hook the horn button to the wheel half of the QR and you’re all set.
For a more detailed write up of how to do this yourself, see this post from 2017. The parts on the E46 M3 and the R53 MINI are almost identical.
I have the opportunity this month to have two events on the same track. At the beginning of June I instructed with PCA at the Shenandoah Circuit, Summit Point Motorsports Park, and at the end of June I return with BMW. I’ve always wanted to see if I could gather data to answer two common questions: How much faster will I be on track tires? And, how effective is coaching an experienced driver?
So the answer to the first one is fairly straight forward, but since this track can have several different layouts, let’s establish some controls. We will not use the banked Karussel, but instead take the inside apron. We will run the Old Ram cut-off instead of running through the hot grid, and we will drive the Range Straight instead of the Range Esses.
I have 75+ days on this track and data on several hundred laps, that until now, were always on max performance summer tires (treadler 200 or greater.) My best recorded time was 1:44.73. At the start of this first weekend in June, I did a few sessions on Falken 615Ks (treadwear 200) and then switched to Toyo RRs (treadwear 40.) The best on the Falkens was 1:44.87 (so 0.14 sec off of my best). The best on the Toyos was 1:42.96, an improvement of 1.77 sec over my best, and 1.91 sec better than the Falkens on the same day. Average the two together and that’s a 1.84 sec improvement or just about 1.75%. So, just by spending money on better tires, I was faster, but that doesn’t mean I was better.
Armed with my new faster tires, I then asked one of my fellow instructors, Paul Bylis to ride along and coach me. I listened to his advice for a session, and then went out on my own again. This time, my best lap was a 1:41.97. A further improvement of 0.99 sec. So now I have a rough comparison of the value of coaching (which for me is free since I just have to ask for it) vs. spending money on more expensive tires.
The Catalyst tells me I’m still leaving a three fourths of a second on the table.
On Monday, it was my privilege to be able to instruct at the Ferrari of Washington track day at Summit Point. It was a beautiful fall day, with great people and wonderful food. Thanks to all who pulled this together.
Most track event organizers (myself included) require in-car cameras and mobile devices to be securely mounted and tethered. This is to prevent the device from coming loose on track and possibly getting under the driver’s feet. This video looks at two solutions for securing the Garmin Catalyst: The Garmin Cage Mount as well as a 3D printed clip mount.
So whether you’re using the stock Garmin suction mount or have attached a fixed ball mount to your car, you need to think how to secure a tether. This video can help.
Click here to purchase the Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer.
Click here to purchase the Garmin Cage Mount. (Which should be back in stock mid-November 2021)
Click here to download the files to 3D print your own clip.