When I’m learning a new track, one of the things I try to do is find a fast instructor who knows the track better than I do and see what I can learn by following them. Even better if that driver is in exactly the same car, in this case an E46 M3. I had the opportunity to be a classroom instructor for GVC BMW CCA in early August. Friday was an open track day for instructors so made the most of the opportunity to enjoy this world class facility. This was only my second time to the Glen, but I think I will make an annual pilgrimage out of it.
This video shows a full lap behind a faster car. I’ve been working with the Garmin Catalyst system to focus on specific areas of the track which have the greatest opportunity for improvement. In this session, I was working on carrying more speed into T2 and all the way up the climbing esses as well as my line through T9. The key for me in increasing speed in T2 is a good entry and apex in T1. That gives me the confidence to stay on the throttle. T9 is a different story. I need to find the right place on the track to turn in, and then find the visual reference to repeat it and be able to teach it.
The video shows that I am still working on carrying more speed out of T1 and not scrubbing into T2. I could probably carry more speed into the Karussel with a wider entry. I’ve been working on a double apex for the toe of the boot so I know there’s a bit more speed in the traditional line. I’m still struggling to find the right turn-in reference for T9. You’ll see the faster car take a bit of an earlier turn in and find a wee bit of camber on the table top. I tried that later in the day and got my fastest lap of the weekend which was a 2:15.05.
If you know the track well, what do you see in the video that I missed?
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.
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.
After destroying two upper motor mounts and two exhaust flex joints in successive track weekends, I decided to try a more robust motor mount to see if I could reduce some engine movement. Vibra Technics makes two versions of this mount for Gen 1 MINI and this is the track (harder) version.
My first thought when it arrived was that it belonged in a museum. It was beautiful.
Installation is actually fairly simple. Get the car up on jack stands in the front. Remove the right road wheel and fender liner. Support the engine from below with a jack to relieve pressure on the mount. Remove the grounding strap from the mount carrier and the vapor return line which is in the way. Loosen but do not remove the nut at the top of the mount. Remove the four bolts holding the mount support to the top of the engine. Remove the nut at the top of the mount and carefully remove the upper mount support. Remove the stock Torx bolt from the bottom of the mount. Remove the side bolt and the stock mount should pull free. Installation is the reverse of removal.
I also replaced the lower dog-bone mount earlier with a semi-solid mount from Torque Solutions.
So what was the net result? I accomplished my first goal, completing over 200 track miles without breaking anything. An interesting side effect was to lower lap time by almost a second. To be fair, I made two changes to the car for this weekend: I replaced the motor mounts and I ADDED 50 lbs to the rear end of the car. I think the combination of better balance and less wheel hop gave me higher apex speeds. Here’s a lap.
How is it on the street? It’s probably not a combination you want to use on your daily driver. NVH is definitely increased. Depending on your RPM, the vibration through the steering wheel could make your fingers go numb. On the track, or any time you are constantly working through the revs, I can’t say I noticed. But cruising at steady speed — brutal.
Since the upper mount can be changed in about 30 minutes once you figure it out, I swapped back to a new OEM top mount and left the lower mount. That does have some increased NVH over stock, but it’s a good compromise. And next time I have a track weekend, I’ll drop the Vibra-Technics back in before heading out.