Track Driving 101

Like so many other firsts in life, we all remember our first on track experience.

It was prom night and we just left In & Out . . . wait, nevermind. It was a few months after I bought my Lotus. I happened to see a post about a discounted rate to run at Willow Springs for something like $75. I borrowed a motorcycle helmet from a friend, loaded up all my tools and off I went. And like so many other firsts in life, it was terrible.

There were probably 150 drivers in all, and the beginning group I was in had a guy in a Jaguar who got bored during the lead follow session, passed the instructor, and just started turning hot laps. Later in the day, someone got on the track going the wrong direction. There were spins galore, it was hot, it was crowded, and I was pretty well terrified.

I was one of the only people who coughed up a little extra cash to have an instructor with me throughout the day, and I’m so glad I did. I started slow as the instructor told me to. We worked on learning the line, understanding how to feel the feedback from the car, and focused on improving one thing at a time as we lapped the course. After a lunch break, we went back out and I thought it was so strange that everyone else was driving so slowly. I certainly didn’t feel like I was going any faster, but I just kept catching up to the person in front of me. The guys who were flying around the track early in the day were still doing the same thing and making only slight, if any, improvements to their lap times. I was driving smoothly and turning consistent laps that were 30% faster than my first session.

Had I not had an instructor with me, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed my day enough to ever go back. But just that little glimmer of the tiniest improvement, and a more seasoned driver telling me that there are better track events out there, made me want to try it again. Now, after many days on the track, I know that I still have a ton to learn, but I’m a million miles from where I started.

I sincerely hope that the LCOSC’s Beginner Track Day allows a new track driver to get out and experience how amazing track driving can be with a calm group of like minded individuals who are there to enjoy themselves and work on becoming better drivers. The track event is here: Beginner Track Event and the accompanying tech session is here: Tech Session