M3 at the Jeff

After a long break, we finally got back to the track in September. The weekend of 11-13 September saw the National Capital Chapter of BMW CCA back on the extended Jefferson Circuit at Summit Point. The format was a bit different with all lead-follow instruction, but the instructor run group was still a blast.

I’m still getting used to the M3 and have to remember three key differences from the MINI:

  1. It’s wider.
  2. You have to actually steer OUT of corners as you get back on the power.
  3. When the back steps out, MORE GAS is not the answer.

I also need to get used the pedals to improve my heal-toe downshifts. If I can remember that I don’t have to square every corner, I think I’ll get to be pretty quick in this car. My best lap was already 3 seconds faster on the same tires.

Remember that bit about the car being wider? Here’s a small clip from my second track session in the car and I was finally getting up to speed.

There are a few lessons to be learned here. I’m driving an unfamiliar car that’s about a foot wider than what I’m used to driving. I finally got the apex right at the previous corner and as a result, arrive at the braking zone here about 2 MPH faster than usual. I come off the brakes too soon, and as a result don’t get far enough around T13 when I have to brake again. I run out of track at the entry to turn 14. I come off the brakes as I leave the track, but still have enough brake force on the front left that I spin around the front left when 3 wheels are off. I straighten the wheel and almost pull off the 360 before heading into Pit-In. So next time, be more aware when making a step increase in speed. Adjust the brake point so I apex T13 at the same speed. And keep the last 18 inches of apron as a buffer. Oh, and know how wide your car is.