This is a great DE track, but it often makes instructors sick in the right seat. I once did a lead-follow event here where I was in the lead with three students following me. While trying to keep an eye on that third student I managed to make myself sick while driving.
Here’s a video with a few laps where I’m following a group of instructors who don’t drive this track much. It’s a good example of how most drivers approach those three corners and don’t drive the line I’m recommending.
The road is crowned in many corners so an inside line that shouldn’t work is often very fast here. You’ll also notice my FWD roots in the way I take some of these corners. This video shows a couple of different lines through the signature Karussell as well. I think the inside line through the Karussell is only about half a second slower than the banking.
I tend to drive a different line than most drivers in these three corners:
The Loop: The hairpin at the end of the longest straight. If the track were flat, the fastest line would be to set up far right and make a really late apex. That way you maximize your speed at the end of the straight and make the biggest arc you can. But the road is crowned, so if you stay right, you have to fight the crown at turn-in. Better is to finish your braking on top of the crown, and then use the negative camber on the inside to maintain mid-corner speed and double-apex the corner. You also have the added benefit of an extra 30 feet of track available for braking should you over-cook the entry.
The Pistol Grip: This is the triple apex at the end of Stone House Straight. I often see drivers swinging right before starting the arc rather than braking straight and holding one arc for the triple apex. Any extra speed you can carry through this larger arc is lost by going a longer distance. Brake once, see the wheel, get back on throttle – lift for the third apex and accelerate down the hill for the next right.
Old Ram: This is the cross-over after The Loop that takes you to the Cave Esses if you are not driving through the grid straight. The entry is off-camber and down hill, but if you get your braking done before you crest the hill and enter from mid-track instead of going deep, you can make a really tight double apex out of the corner. The entry is blind so it takes a while to build up speed, but it can be very rewarding when you figure it out.
I’m often asked where’s the best place to mount the camera for HPDE instruction. Like many things in life, it depends on what you want to get out of it.
If you want to talk about car placement and the line, then behind the rearview mirror is probably the best spot. This allows for a good view of the front fenders relative to entry, apex, and exit. It’s also the best view for coaching the line.
If you want to be able to talk about driver inputs, then the best placement is between the driver and the passenger. You have to adjust the exposure so the bright view out the windshield doesn’t overpower the darker interior. But this placement lets you talk about hand and footwork, as well as watch the driver’s head movements. It isn’t so good at showing the line being driven. This video does a side-by-side comparison of those two views using the same lap as reference. The windshield view is from a Garmin Catalyst camera. The interior camera is a GoPro Hero 9. The GoPro does horizon leveling so the accelerometer pans against G forces, but you get the idea.
Lap from recent HPDE with NCC BMW CCA on the Jefferson Extended Circuit, Summit Point WV. E46 M3 on Michelin Pilot PS2 tires with full tread. Only my sixth track day in this car.
Video is interesting because you can see my struggles as a former front wheel driver. I’m leaving about 3/4 of a second on the table as I try to find the right way to deal with the road crown on turn-in. Watch the red time in the lower right of the frame. That’s the delta to my optimal lap. I loose time on the turn in for Turns 1, 4, and 14. I do get a good launch out of T14 at the end, where I’m immediately up on the next lap which was ultimately not completed due to the end of the session.
My best lap ever in the MINI on Pilot Super Sports was a 1:27.5. Previous best in this car was 1:26.2. New best is 1:24.9. I continue to be impressed with how easy and effective the Garmin Catalyst coach is to use.
Track season is finally upon us here in the mid-Atlantic. I had the chance to spend three days at Summit Point Main with PCA at the end of March. Here’s a 12 minute video I put together talking about how I used the Catalyst to improve. Please let me know in the comments if you have any features you’ve found especially useful.
On the whole, the Garmin Catalyst is a rugged tablet. The case will protect the internals from an accidental drop or bump in the car, and there is a lip on the face to protect the screen should you set it face down. But there were two aspects about the screen we didn’t like so much: It’s very reflective, and likely to get messy with all that touching. The auto makers have teams of engineers who work out where to best places screens in a car for maximum utility and minimal reflections. You’re just trying to figure out where you can place it so it has good line-of-sight to the GPS satellites and you can reach the screen while driving.
So what is our suggested solution? Generic tablet screen protector. We bought and tested two different ones from Amazon. They were the cheapest 7 inch matte screen protectors we could find. Here’s a video that shows the result of our tests.
Both worked well. The SuperShieldz pack came with 3 vs. 2 for NuPro and it was less expensive. But you would be satisfied with either one.