And the Angels Sang!
For such a big event in my motorsports endeavors, the moment passed without much fanfare – no flashbulbs, no video – just me, my 911, and Barber Motorsports Park. Well, and about 20 other cars! But that just made it more fun! I guess I really have come along. I used to say that I loved driving on the track…except for all the other cars! My head is now in a totally different place about that, to say the least. So finally it’s behind me, my first solo outing at Barber.
I was super extremely nervous sitting in grid. I thought about how relaxed I was about all the things that used to practically keep me up the night before a driver’s ed weekend – everything from what shoes to wear, to how the seatbelt fit over my boobs. You would not believe how much I worried about the damned seat belt and my boobs. As I yanked the thing into place today, I had to smile. Over the 3 years I’ve been doing this stuff, all the goofy crap has fallen away, and my focus was on the driving.
The funny thing is, leading up to this event, I joked with my club guys about who would be my instructor. I think more than anything, they were just flat tired of pairing me up after three years! I think I did my first DE back in 2008 just after I first got my car. 2009 was a busy year, but as you know if you’ve followed my notes here, I was sidelined for most of 2010. So this weekend, they were all, “What? You don’t need an instructor!” and I was all, “OK then, hook me up for a check ride, please!”
In the end, I sort of rounded up my own instructor, an awesome friend I know from NASA-SE, who is now starting up the new NASA-Midsouth. Matt bravely rode with me in the rain yesterday (and may I just add again here…OH. MY. GAWD. THE RAIN!). And this morning, my first session was my check ride, and I was pushed out of the nest!
Of course, me being me, it couldn’t just be a normal thing. Normally one would be “checked out” of the novice group, and advance to the next group. But today, the next group was sooooo full, and I was still the slowest thing in my own group, still. So I ended up in my own little category, a group 1.5 or 1.75, Solo Novice? They just called the grid and told them I was going out alone. And then some of the guys put this on my glass to mark the occasion. Yes, that’s right, a pair of blue balls. Gotta love it!
So..all this yackity yack and nothing about the driving. Well it’s hard to know where to even start! My weakest point right now is still braking. Street braking and track braking are so totally opposite, and I really had to get a feel for that again on the racetrack. And I don’t think I really got where I want to be either, not consistently. Yet. I did improve, and got much MORE consistent, but I have a ways to go. I did not lift in the Esses/Kinks, and I did not brake around the back of the track AT ALL until I got to the turn-in at the last turn that leads onto the front straight. Someday when I am going faster I will need some brakes around those turns, but at my speed, I just did not. And NOT braking where I was so accustomed to at least a tap? Woo I earned those balls!
But then once I got used to it, it was awesome! I really got into feeling the momentum of my car, the weight transfers, the changing sensations from different levels of tire adhesion. So much to think about. Traffic management was not nearly as distracting to me today as it had been in the past. One time, I found myself following a car that had passed me – bad idea! There are some people driving some strange lines out there. MY line is where I need to be. I can change it any time I want or need to, but where I am on the track has to be by MY intention, not the result of mindless following.
I only nailed the hairpin maybe twice the way I really wanted to. Early with the braking. I just have such a hard time staying in the gas going down that little hill into the bowl! I worked so hard on this on a previous weekend, and I reaped the benefits of late brakes and late turn-in there, just never quite got back into that groove completely. Where I did feel much better was the Museum turn. Wow that thing is fun! Hard brakes, then hard turn-in, then back on the gas down the blind hill, then a quick hard jab, hard turn and when done right, you basically get kind of flung out of that thing by momentum. LOVE!
Ok well once again it is late, and I am tired. Back to the grindstone tomorrow, must grab a few winks. I’ll be back with some photos soon.
And I am going to go look at your schedule right now and see what you are up to!
Be well, drive purrrrrty!