I went with the S2000online guys to Thunder Hill raceway this Wednesday and had an absolute blast! It was my 7th or maybe 8th time at TH and I love the track more and more every time I go. The crowd was about 50 people large (half S2000s, quarter NSXs, the rest misc. BMWs, Vipers, etc) and we had the entire track to ourselves all day long. All in all, we got about 3 hours of track time per group, with a faster and a slower group running. Let me tell you, that's enough to make you sore the next day and take a good quarter inch off of your tire tread. To make things even more interesting, we were actually running turn 5, which is a sharply cresting 90+ degree turn, instead of the bypass which much faster, easier way around that hill.
In any case, the fact that there were only about 20 people on the track at once really let me concentrate on my line and driving technique without distraction. I started focusing on my braking points and, by the end of the day, was able to take my car about a third farther into the braking zone than I ever had before. It was the first time I really began to utilize trail braking correctly and, let me tell you, it really helped me get on the right line and exit corners SO much faster. Another thing which I kind of discovered on accident at the beginning of the day and had a good grip on by the end is throttle steering. I thought I’d had a decent grip on this technique before when I was lifting drastically or hammering the throttle to induce over and understeer. This worked okay in certain situations such as exiting turn 2 and drifting (actually, understeering) to the outside on exit. But Wednesday, I started playing around with using very subtle throttle adjustments, while on the limit of adhesion, in order to point the nose of the car. I found that by doing this, I could hold the steering wheel nearly steady through the longer turns and use equally subtle modulations of the throttle in order to fine tune my line. Again, this resulted in MUCH faster exits out of corners and nice, smooth, on-the-verge-of-four-wheel-drift cornering. I can't even tell you how good it feels when you begin to get this stuff down. I know I still have a TON to learn, but I really feel like I'm beginning to get the hang of the limits of this car. For all of you who are almost there, or even those who have just begun, keep at it! Go to the track, attend car control clinics, take HPDEs. Its SOOOO worth it once you start to really explore the car's limits. Keep in mind that all of the above techniques aren't necessarily things that someone can teach you in a day, they're just things that you begin to *feel* after you get the basics down pat an practice them over and over. For me, something just “clicked” on Wednesday. All I can say is: WOW, I love this car more than ever!!!
After reviewing my in car video and taking my lap times down, I was running the same time (2:17) while using turn 5 as I was last time when we were running the bypass. Obviously, the good feeling that I’d had while on the track had translated to my lap times as well. If you want to see in car video of one of my laps, here it is. It’s around 12 megs, but I’d really appreciate and comments or tips that you guys have (Karl?).
Side note: After one of the sessions, some guy came up to me and told me that I was lifting a front inside wheel on turn 5 and in turn 3...cool! He said that he’d seen 911s do it in the past, but never any other car. I guess that says something for the stiffness of the M Coupe’s chassis, huh?
Sorry if I rambled a bit too much, but I’m as giddy as a school girl about this last track experience (as if you can’t tell) and can’t wait for my next time out! Practice, practice, practice, practice....
‘00 M Coupe
PS – Here are some interesting movies and stills from the day...
In car footage of me getting a bit too loose in turn 3.
Footage of me almost losing it approaching the top of turn 5.
Coming around turn 3 behind Loki
Coming through turn 3 with Chaos
Cresting turn 5 with Chaos’ M3
Cresting turn 5 with Chaos’ M3 v2
Coming over 5 on my own
Makin’ my way through turn 5a