Just did another Track Night in America out at Harris Hill Raceway this week, it was awesome, I got to spend time with a bunch of great folks, catch up with all the amazing people that run the event, and drive my car like I stole it. They give you a pretty cool packet of materials, coupons, and other stuff, and this time the SCCA folks handed out Grassroots Motorsports Trackside Companion booklets. It is really helpful:
Lots of really useful tips about tire pressures, temperatures, suspension setups, I love it, very insightful for a novice/beginner such as myself. One of the coolest bits is in the back for keeping track of each of your events.
Next on my list of items to add for data acquisition is a tire pyrometer. Now I have a great way to keep track of suspension setups, and temps.
SCCA does a really cool event called Track Night in America, I have been to a couple at Harris Hill Raceway, and most recently at Circuit of the Americas it is a relatively inexpensive way to get some track time. For $150 dollars you get three twenty minutes sessions, I like the fact that it starts in the afternoon, which is most convenient for my schedule. You get a wide range of drivers, and cars on the track. Here is short video from my most recent outing at COTA.
So if you read ultimate speed secrets by Ross Bentley, he starts with vision, then goes to vehicle dynamics, then cornering, then putting it all together where you need to think about the line, corner entry, corner exit, and mid-corner. So… how do you practice intentionally to work on all of this? I started by just working on vision, and hands, then started with corner entry, and have now been focusing on corner exit, working with data is the only way I can “know” that its working.
A lot of the guys at the track talked about using Harry’s LapTimer (HLT) on their phones to record their track data, so that is where I started. First I just used the app by itself without a mount, and just picked up my speed, GPS, and G-forces. After doing some research, and asking around I decided to upgrade my setup slightly by adding a higher frequency GPS receiver, and an OBDII sensor. Harry’s site has a link to compatible accessories. After I was able to get data into the app, it was a question of how to get it out, and analyze. After more research I figured out that you can export .vbo files out of HLT to dropbox which are compatible with Circuit Tools. This is a nice little inexpensive setup that is pretty powerful. Now the real question, what to do with it?
Luckily, Courtney is awesome, and we setup a morning to work with just data, so here is what we did:
Data Acquisition Experimentation Exercises Session 1:
Drive 2 laps for warm up.
Set baseline on 3rd lap.
4-9 Different Braking Techniques 10-11 Hands 12. Cool down
We captured all of the laps using HLT, and then analyzed them in Circuit Tools, it was easy to see what worked, and what didn’t, and translate that to vehicle dynamics, a really amazing, and powerful lesson.
I needed help to start working on car control, and how to improve my skill. I started working with Scott Dollahite doing the two courses (Foundations and Advanced) at Driveway Austin it was an incredible experience, I got loads of track time. Scott is a very patient, and experienced instructor, and driver it really helped me get comfortable with the Cayman R, which is an amazingly forgiving, and balanced car to drive.
Driveway Austin L3
Additionally, I started working with Courtney Rivers who I met while spending time with Longhorn Racing Academy (LRA) she has really helped me get comfortable with car control. The first thing we started with was trail braking, and we then moved on to data analysis working out at Harris Hill Raceway.
Additionally, I have done a number of HPDE events at Circuit of the Americas both with LRA, and later through the Hill Country PCA. The PCA events have started bringing instructors in as well, and I have taken the opportunity to work with them as well. I think it is really good experience to get as much variety of tracks as possible as you begin learning.