In Reply to: A Day on the Track (long) posted by David on September 24, 1999 at 21:39:08:
: The local Porsche club organized a day at one of the local tracks as part of the 3rd annual 928 Frenzy (928's having been known as 'Sharks' by their owners for many years.) As the event wasn't full, I got to play in the water with them.
: The event was on Summit Point's Jefferson Circuit, a 1.1 mile road course with 7 turns, designed primarily as a teaching facility. The turns include a slow righ hander, some esses, a slow entry sweeper that allowed for foot-to-the-floor accelleration all the way through it, a downhill, off-camber turn leading to the longest straight and a nasty decreasing radius finale that managed to bite a few folks.
: This is only the second race track I've ever driven on at speed, and the first time I've been out in my M-Coupe. This made things 'interesting' my first (of four) session out.
: The other car I've driven at the track was a 924S, which, while it handles fine, doesn't inspire when it comes to acceleration.
: The group was divided up into 4 run groups, but even the nominal group 2 had instructors in the cars, as none of us had driven the Jefferson Circuit before. My first session was an ego deflating disaster (just what I needed, actually), as I could see the line, but couldn't nail an entry to save my life. Luckily that wasn't on the line, and after I had gotten some of the adrenaline out of my system, my second session was a blast, and I was cleared to go out solo my last two sessions if I wanted.
: The coupe, as I learned autocrossing it last month, is a handful. There was one point on the course where I couldn't decide if I wanted to downshift to 2nd or just keep it in 3rd. Now, I'm sure that the correct answer is "downshift", but the M puts down so much power that being in second has its own problems (not to mention that, given the following esses, where to up-shift is problematic as well.) Even third had its problems, though I think that at least part of that is that I was running on the stock tires. As it was I would crest a small hill and hit the sweetspot of the torque curve right as I was entering the esses, and that kept making things difficult (with the 924S, I'm either on the power or on the brakes, there wasn't anywhere where a middle setting is appropriate. In the M, a moderate amount of power is now a requirement at times, and I'm used to moderation on the track!)
: As you would expect, the car got a lot of attention (there were maybe 3 non-Porsches, over 30 928s of various vintages (from 220hp '78s to a 350+hp '94 five speed (one of 28 built) to a race prepped S4 bored and stroked to over 6 litres, producing something over 600hp.) If I wasn't the fasted car in my group I was close, and there was one section (entering the long sweeper) where the Coupe just pulled away from everything in my group. Admittedly, that was probably as much the fact that I already had some track experience and most of the other folks didn't, but I think the car acquitted itself nicely.
: The course has three straights; a short one after the fast sweeper, where I was getting close to redline at the braking zone; a long one with a slight kink at the end where I was in 4th for most of the straight (I'd guess up around 100 or so) and a short straight (2/3rds the length of the longest one) where it was either feather the gas for 100 yards to avoid hitting the rev limiter or shift to 4th half way down it (well before the red line.) In the end I probably split the day pretty evenly, but finished with the car in 4th on the two straights.
: I ran with the traction control on for the first three sessions, and from the way the light flashed it got quite a workout. It turned it off for my last session, and while I could certainly tell a difference, I didn't have any problems with it off (this time...) As a guardian angel (or angle, as I almost typoed that), it is a great backup when learning a difficult track. For the best times around it, as you'd expect, turn it off.
: I had fun, the car seemed to have fun, and it was a great day to be on the track (75 degrees, clear skys, and only minor off road excursions on our track.) Over on the main track they had 7 or 8 red flags as people coped with newly replaced pavement. While everyone I spoke to loved it, it caused some problems for some folks, with several formula cars off into a tire wall in turn 9 (a fast right hand turn coming after an ess where the rough nature of the old pavement helped keep speeds down.) I'm looking forward to getting the coupe out over there, since I know that track better and it will be fun to compare it's times with my and friends times.
: Take your cars to the track. You'll learn a lot, and have a lot of fun.