Performance Lessons at the Virginia International Raceway

Web Performance, Inc. is a sponsor of Jason Tower’s Spec E30 racing season this year, and he invited me to Virginia International Raceway to check out our logo on his car, and to try my hand at driving on the track in a HPDE (High Perforformance Driver’s Education) event sponsored by the Tarheel Sports Car Club. As you can see above, the logo looks great on his car alongside the logos of several other local tech. companies.

My hopes of driving Jason’s race car at high speed were dashed when I was told that according track rules I not only couldn’t drive his car, but couldn’t even ride in it because his instructor application with the THSCC club wasn’t finalized. Apparently they have this crazy idea that I would get into a powerful car I don’t know how to drive and then crash, taking out someone else with them.

It was then on to part B of the trip, driving my own car on the track with an instructor, the High Performance Driver’s Education which turned out to be a lot more education that I imagined, with several hours of classroom instruction a day. There’s a dozen flags to memorize, emergency procedures to learn, and lots of hand signals to communicate with other drivers that had to be practiced over and over again. And that doesn’t begin to cover how to actually drive the car!

My day consisted of an hour of classroom instruction followed by 20 minutes on the track followed by more classroom instruction, repeated most of the day. The rules were repeated over and over again as when the adrenaline starts flowing in the car your brain goes out the door and you forget everything. Lots of things can go wrong on the track, and the last thing you want is to crash and hurt yourself or someone else. So my colleagues in the Novice run group were lectured, and cajoled, and finally by the end of the first day we managed to go out and pass each other using the right hand signals in the right parts of the course on the correct side of the car.

Once the rules were learned the experience was incredible; you can’t imagine the adrenaline rush from driving as fast as you dare with the chance to spin off the course at any moment. VIR is full of tricky, difficult to navigate turns and elevation changes that leave you flooring the car towards a blind drop off where you can’t see the track and just have to trust there’s more road there. Its difficult, but addicting, and I’m now in the market for a track-tuned sports sedan to get me to work while being safe and fun on track days.

While I was having fun just learning how to drive around a corner, Jason was having his own learning experience, flatting two tires, and figuring out how to shave down his lap times a few percentage points:

spec e30 vir north – coaching from jason tower on Vimeo.

Michael Czeiszperger
Founder, Web Performance Inc.

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