Red Velvet Cake Makes You Drive Faster

Hi Pat,

I wanted so badly to write about the day last night, but I was exhausted! I got a METRIC TON of track time. Turns out, it was just what I needed!

The photo of the red velvet cake that I posted here in my last entry was also posted to my facebook page, and I got a comment back from one of my Honda friends saying simply, “I hear red velvet cake makes you drive faster!” This was the guy who’d told me about this track day, and I had plenty left, so I packed some up and brought it to the track to give him.

But first, I needed to get my plug wire situation worked out. Sadly, My Real Driving Coach did not make it out there as planned to do this before the event started. But my Honda buddies? Oh my heavens. They just jumped in there. The red velvet cake guy? He found the wire that needed replacing, and rigged up one of my new wires in place of that one. Turns out many braces and brackets have to come off the engine to replace the entire set and it’d have taken a good couple of hours. No time for that. Replacing this one clearly bad one (and rigging it into place with zip ties) fixed me right up. My Real Driving Coach showed up in time to go out with me for the first three sessions. He was not feeling well, though, and riding shotgun was not sitting well with him. He ended up leaving after about three sessions.

Again, my Honda buddies bailed me out. One of them, whom I’ve seen in the paddock at SCCA AX events, the plug wire fixing red velvet cake commenting one – turns out to be a licensed racer, and a Porsche nut. He used to race a 79 911, and has had his 86 944 since 86. Who knew? He loves my car, and insisted that he would be my instructor for the rest of the day. How completely awesome is this? Of course, it was a bit of a risk in both directions. But it turns out he is an incredible teacher.

I’m still having a hard time coming up with the words to put on the whole experience. It was mindblowingly incredibly good. Having run this track twice already this year and once last year, it turns out I actually know the line around there pretty well. I had gotten used to doing it mostly in 3rd gear. I was ready to step it up, and changing that is ultimately what was THE NEXT LEVEL for me. Learning how to use my engine’s power. Throttle steering. USING the back end’s tendency to step out to my advantage. Taking turn 1 with NO BRAKES and carrying more speed through there than I ever had, and doing it faster and faster each time. Pushing the limits until, one time, I pushed too hard and around came the back end by about 90 degrees. I reacted by doing the wrong thing, letting up too quickly, and started into a tank-slapper – and it all happened so fast – but I saved it, keeping all four wheels on the track the whole time. I still got in my share of pointing folks by!

But very best of all, I got a real feel for the WHOLE thing, a real sense of the rhythm of the whole and the balance of the car as it moves through the course and and different ways of placing the car on track and using the balance and and….

Really, can you believe it? I’m nearly speechless. My instructor insisted that I shaved 5 seconds off my time in the afternoon with two crucial changes in the last two sessions, and it really felt like I did. I know from looking at some of my onboard video that in the morning alone, I took about 4-5 seconds off my time from the first morning session to the last before lunch. So all in all, I may have cut about ten seconds off my time over the course of the day (about 1:32 to 1:22). We’re talking about a tiny road course, 1.4 miles, so the change was dramatic. Utterly thrilling. So gratifying.

Pat, I am telling you, on the drive home, I just wept. Endorphin rush and physical release and…I’m so serious – it was that completely intense on every level, and I was completely overcome, in a good way, I guess.

Sometimes it’s like this for me with something new. I trudge along with the basics, a little part clicks in here, another little part there, but overall I feel I’m progressing on a very slow incline. And just when I start to feel bogged down, BAM a big leap. It was like this for me playing the violin. And it’s been like that learning high performance driving. It’s not always so dramatic, but wow…just…WOW. I cannot wait to get out there again!

Here’s the feedback from my instructor:

You drove GREAT! Your lines were almost perfect from the start . I am guessing you cut 5 seconds off of your lap times from the beginning to the end. I must admit you surprised me most all of the day. Very good job.

Here’s a video that starts with early laps and finishes with laps from around midday:

TGPR 11-28 snipets for comparison from VroomGrrl on Vimeo.

So I guess what my buddy said is true: Red velvet cake makes you drive faster!


Now I have next weekend to look forward to: PCA party at Barber Museum Friday night, then straight from there to Atlanta in my 911 to work pit & grid for NASA at Road Atlanta (LOVE). The Sunday race is a charity run and last year they had 83 cars in a single charity race that was a total scream! Then Monday, it’s off to Franz Blam with my car to introduce them. In between, miles to travel for work and much, much to do.

Hope this finds you happy & well!

Finally living up to the name….


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