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pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/2/16 7:19 p.m.

So in my turbo Miata question thread I was asked why I'm worried at all about speed at a HPDE, which is ostensibly an event that is supposed to help you be a better driver in whatever you're in.

My answer was that everyone else's hardware is basically ridiculous at this point and I'm not sure my money would be accepted or I would even be allowed to run in a stock-ish Miata when the SLOWEST cars on track are an Audi TT, a Cooper S, a Mazdaspeed3 and a 128i, and even those are getting their doors blown off multiple times per lap by turbo P-cars, Vipers, Z06s and the like! Guys are regularly hitting 150-160MPH on the main straight at Road America at these events; heck my E46 would get me just shy of 140. To be struggling along at 110MPH in a slower car, spending your entire session as a rolling chicane pointing faster people by just sounds like a miserable time.

In 2016, where even a Honda Accord is putting down almost 300HP, the kind of cars I'm seeing at local events are basically nuclear weaponry relative to the .22 pistol that is something like a Miata, and all the "slow" cars are typically putting down 200HP or more. It seems like unless you are willing to commit to actual wheel-to-wheel racing there is no place to go dice it up with slower cars anymore.

On top of that the sense of camaraderie seems to be dwindling as well; aside from us "slow" guys shooting the E36 M3 with each other in the paddock it seemed like the Corvette Club, the Viper Club, Porsche Club etc mostly wanted to function as independent units instead of hang out with everyone else. That's not to say that there weren't a few cool outliers (there are always a few great people who shatter the stereotype) but by and large that was the vibe I was getting. Like it's less about getting together and having a blast with cars and more about being part of some country club where the buy-in just happens to be a $50k sports car.

Is this a nationwide trend, or just a local thing? I don't WANT to spend $8-10k building a car for track use, but it pretty much seems like I have no choice taking into account all of the above.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
4/2/16 7:51 p.m.

It's an issue. I run DE with NASA where DE 1-2 groups require a point by to pass. When groups line up well, there is a bit of sorting and passing the first couple of laps. Then the fast guys at the front catch the slow guys at the back and the session turns to E36 M3 for everyone in that overlap. The fast guys are more concerned about passing then they are about lines and the slow guys are more concerned about getting to a passing zone then they are about learning. The fast guys often get passed off to the 3-4 group quicker than they should based on their speed and the slow guys then deal with the next group of new fast guys the next weekend.
It would be nice to know you could go out and learn to drive with cars that were about your speed and showed respect with good clean point bys and such.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/2/16 7:54 p.m.

Are there other groups who put on events at Road Atlanta? In my limited experience it varies a lot according to who's running the show.

That said, I've expressed similar concerns, and suggested that it might be good to have more handling-oriented tracks - something with closer-to autocross-level speeds somewhere between a Kart track and a traditional Road-race venue.

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
4/2/16 7:58 p.m.

I don't know, I regularly attend a Porsche club event in my sentra and I have no problem keeping up with traffic. It's not Daytona but at Roebling road I pass far more people then pass me.

Don't knock a miata, a well driven spec miata would pretty much crush most hpde cars I have come across.

JamesMcD
JamesMcD Dork
4/2/16 8:08 p.m.

Do Miatas and their ilk need to start participating in vintage events? What is an original Lotus 7 owner to do? Those things have about 40hp.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/2/16 8:10 p.m.

Admittedly, in my case at least, it probably has a lot to do with the track. There are no less than three straights where horsepower rules all else (main straight, between turns 3 and 4, and 10 approaching 12 if you can carry your speed well through the kink).

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
4/2/16 8:20 p.m.
pimpm3 wrote: Don't knock a miata, a well driven spec miata would pretty much crush most hpde cars I have come across.

This would work if the HPDE was open passing where you could use good corner speed, but in everything but the fastest groups I've been in that's not the case. So what ends up happening is you catch the fast cars in the corners and then wait to see if they see you. If they do then they have to not accelerate coming out of the corner so you can pass, or they don't and they put a couple of car lengths on you on the straight and then you're right back on their bumper 1/3 of the way through the next corner. I actually found the V to be more enjoyable than the Civic when they were running about the same lap times because I was driving more like the other drivers on track.
Incidentally, it takes a very high level of trust for me to be comfortable either passing or being passed in corners and there are precious few in DE groups that I trust. Those that have that level of awareness in our region usually end up in the TT group.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/2/16 8:25 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: Incidentally, it takes a very high level of trust for me to be comfortable either passing or being passed in corners and there are precious few in DE groups that I trust. Those that have that level of awareness in our region usually end up in the TT group.

Yeah, in all but the very fastest run groups here even point-bys are restricted to a few defined straights. I think the rule has validity but the side-effect is that momentum cars are disadvantaged even further.

asoduk
asoduk Reader
4/2/16 8:26 p.m.

I run with a PCA club (NORPCA) that has 2 advanced/instructor groups: 1 for fast cars, and 1 for slower cars. I feel very comfortable in my miata in the slow group.

Boris3
Boris3 New Reader
4/2/16 11:23 p.m.

To the OP, I've been running at DE events at Road America since 2001, initially with a 1.6 Miata with nothing but Flyin Miata suspension and good tires and later with an e30 street car that eventually developed into a Spec E30 race car.

You are right about the changes that have taken place with DE events. Regardless of which organization is hosting the event, new folks in the Road America beginner run groups rarely show up in older, lower horsepower cars. Part of this is the nature of the track--it's a place where high hp cars can play say compared to Bkackhawk.

But until, and if, they get into the upper intermediate and advanced groups, most of these folks don't know how to drive and will tend to point and shoot using hp to cover poor cornering skills.

You're more likely find older cars in the instructor group. Get a ride with one of these folks and you'll get a sense of what a well setup and cornering car can do.

With a well set up Miata, and more so in a SM or turbo Miata, and with detailed knowledge of and experience with Road America you'll drive most folks in higher hp cars in the beginner and intermediate groups nuts.

With a good instructor you'll learn how to go flat out from the entry to the Carousel to Canada corner with no lift through the kink. This will limit the cars that will catch you from 11-12, let alone catch up to you by 14. You'll probably get caught on the 14-1 straight and have to point by but not until after start finish and the high hp folks will have to start braking early for turn one while you can go much deeper with less braking and then ride their rear end through the exit of turn three. You'll catch them again by turn five due to the braking differentials again and can stay with them all the way through the kink and they'll have to point you by on the back stretch.

Anyway, something to work towards. In the meantime find the folks in your run groups that have comparable cars. There will always be a few GRM types to hang out with. Just wander the paddock til you find them. Line up together near the back of the run group and let the point and shoot folks head out first. Road America is a big track and it will take half the beginner session before they catch you.

chuckles
chuckles HalfDork
4/3/16 7:19 a.m.

Hallett "HST" does a good job with this and the sorting of experience levels into 15-20 minute sessions that they keep moving right along. No passing in corners, nor dive-bombing into them. I have heard they've had one car-to-car impact in over 20 years. My one experience at High Plains was much looser: "Be careful, pass at will." HP is a stunning track and the people were great. I am more comfortable with the Hallett approach to track days. They get everybody paying attention, a good thing.

Road America is an extreme of speed differential on long straights. Pick your racetrack to the extent you can travel. At Hallet, the guy in a Miata who knows the place and can drive will figure out how to pass heavier, high-horsepower cars. Being stuck behind a car that jets out of reach out of corners is very educational.

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
4/3/16 8:39 a.m.

The last HPDE I did was in early 2015 at Road Atlanta. We were shaking down the truck in my avi prior to returning it to LeMons racing. It had a whopping 85-90hp. Even in the novice group we were running in, we were in the same group as a Ferrari, an R8, 'Vettes and heavily modified Mustangs. The term rolling chicane doesn't do it justice. But it actually wasn't that big of a deal. With maybe 15-20 cars on a 2+ mile course, there's plenty of room. I just kept a close eye on my mirrors.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
4/3/16 8:40 a.m.

This conversation has been a topic of instructor seminars lately as well. In a world where beginners are showing up with 500+ HP cars it isn't just traffic management that is feeling the change.

We have guys who don't want to ride in the right seat with a 1st day student in a car capable of 175 on the straights without roll cages. The intermediate groups - where people start to learn to go fast but the poise and recovery skills haven't caught up yet are no place for the timid when the slow cars are C5 vettes these days.

There has been talk about speed limits for certain groups, power based groups, increased safety equipment, making the never-ever 1st group an auto-x in the parking lot... but all of those are going to hurt market share in an increasingly competitive space. There was a time when you had to sign up months in advance for a track day they were so few and far between - but today there are so many options that as soon as one group makes it slightly more difficult to participate they are history.

I don't have a good answer to traffic management except to say that I am on record as an advocate of getting rid of all point-by rules from the very beginning - like after the first couple acclimation sessions on track. Then teaching the awareness to drive like that as part of the curriculum. It wouldn't alleviate all of the problems but no one would ever be holding up everyone and they would be learning an important part of high speed driving and racing at lower speeds. We normally can't give those lessons until almost the advanced solo / TT groups today. Not because there isn't some consensus that it's beneficial but because insurance says "NO!". I teach club racing school and it is amazing how many "advanced" students with many years and 10 to 100s of events show up having never taken an offline pass or been 2 wide in a corner. That is not their fault - it's a product of a flawed education system.

RX8driver
RX8driver Reader
4/3/16 8:49 a.m.

In a slower car, you'll rarely be held up, so you can drive your line, learn and have fun, then just point the fast guys by on the straights, rarely having to lift depending on how slow it really is. If you're in a fast car, you'll often be held up, compromising your fun. It seems to me that the slower cars get the better deal.

I know HP and speed have really increased, but at my last event I still saw a stock Civic on track along side a C7 Z06 and they played well together. Partly it'll depend on how many cars are on track too, with fewer cars making it less of an issue.

Mike
Mike GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/3/16 9:06 a.m.

I've been putting off signing up for a Track Night in America event in my CR-Z. I'd have a power to weight ratio slightly inferior to that of a Miata at 0.05 HP per lb. My 0-60 is in the high 8 second range. My fear is that I'm going to get there and be a hazard to navigation.

sesto elemento
sesto elemento Dork
4/3/16 9:37 a.m.

I think sadly, it's time for us to realize that an NA chassis miata is a vintage class car in stock form. Technology has moved on. Here's an example... In the movie "rush" they are arguing about if it's safe to run the ring in the rain, during this argument, someone says that Lauda is just scared, to this he replies that he has the track record, close to 7 mins flat (I don't remember exactly what his time was). That 's in a formula 1 car on slicks. A stock grr runs that fast on street tires now. There's a huge gap between current sportscars and a simple car that's meant for driving enjoyment.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
4/3/16 9:37 a.m.

In reply to Mike:

I don't think you should put it off - but choose a track known for it's technical and handling aspects rather than it's speed.

The Del Val BMWCCA is doing a beginner friendly school event at Summit Point April 16,17,18 that would be perfect. http://www.delvalbmwcca.org/events/eventview.aspx?EventID=74

It starts on the jefferson circuit for two days which is a real tight, super technical track where you are unlikely to exceed 100mph in any car (and 80 in most) - then after that on Monday everyone moves to the main track - where speeds go up and the challenges are different but it's still a driver's track and has good passing opportunities to keep traffic flowing.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
4/3/16 9:43 a.m.
mazdeuce wrote: This would work if the HPDE was open passing where you could use good corner speed, but in everything but the fastest groups I've been in that's not the case. So what ends up happening is you catch the fast cars in the corners and then wait to see if they see you. If they do then they have to not accelerate coming out of the corner so you can pass, or they don't and they put a couple of car lengths on you on the straight and then you're right back on their bumper 1/3 of the way through the next corner. I actually found the V to be more enjoyable than the Civic when they were running about the same lap times because I was driving more like the other drivers on track. Incidentally, it takes a very high level of trust for me to be comfortable either passing or being passed in corners and there are precious few in DE groups that I trust. Those that have that level of awareness in our region usually end up in the TT group.

And this, in a nutshell, is why I stopped doing track days. It is frustrating to be stuck behind someone in a high powered car driving gently through the corners who then refuses to give a point-by.

I can't and won't claim that this was due to some magical driving prowess on my part. Just good tires and a desire to use them, vs. people who don't want to ball up their exotic.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
4/3/16 10:58 a.m.

^It's called a drive through of the hot pits, get some space, and go back out.

Had to do it more than once. Then you go grab someone from the event and explain what's going when it's a habitual offender.

I've seen more than a few drivers (after myself and others doing something like this) have to go back out with an instructor, sometimes for more than 1 session (killing their seat time) because they aren't paying attention.

Or you know, take your ball and go home.

Mike
Mike GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/3/16 11:35 a.m.
Huckleberry wrote: In reply to Mike: I don't think you should put it off - but choose a track known for it's technical and handling aspects rather than it's speed. The Del Val BMWCCA is doing a beginner friendly school event at Summit Point April 16,17,18 that would be perfect. http://www.delvalbmwcca.org/events/eventview.aspx?EventID=74 It starts on the jefferson circuit for two days which is a real tight, super technical track where you are unlikely to exceed 100mph in any car (and 80 in most) - then after that on Monday everyone moves to the main track - where speeds go up and the challenges are different but it's still a driver's track and has good passing opportunities to keep traffic flowing.

I appreciate the input. It'd be NOLA Motorsport Park, mostly because of time constraints.

Assuming it's this layout:

The straight is really long. Turn 1 is where I fear the most interesting would occur.

oldtin
oldtin PowerDork
4/3/16 11:50 a.m.

Try to spend more time at Blackhawk, autobahn or gingerman than road America to tighten up the tracks a bit. Also think about some vintage groups for lower hp groups

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/3/16 12:03 p.m.

If you need to pass someone on the straight in a low-powered car, the key is the last corner. Don't sit on the slow car's bumper and then expect them to pull over. Give yourself a cushion coming into the corner so you can take the corner at your full speed, and you'll have some closing speed when you hit the straight. Makes a big difference.

The problem is local or restricted to a given organization. I often run with the Nissan club at High Plains, and we have a wide variety of cars in attendance. Vintage racing 510s are slugs, but they still get out there to play. I've run an ND Miata with upgraded suspension amongst fairly quick hardware and never had any trouble. The open lapping days at HPR are very open, but the Colorado attitude is mellow enough that it's not a problem. I can't think of the last time I saw someone decide to make a risky pass instead of giving up the corner, very different from running in California.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/3/16 12:23 p.m.

IMHO z31maniac's advice is spot on - give yourself the space and you should be OK. Yes, you might lose half a lap of track time but it's worth it.

I run SCCA Club Trials and we have a wide variety of cars on the track at the same time. I'm usually one of the back markers - more a feature of the loose nut behind the wheel than the car - so I give myself the space and then get to run about 10 clear laps out of the 12-14 we're running per session. That's with about 15-30s/lap difference between me and the guy at the pointy end of the field. Well, if the two nutso GTRs come out to play I probably get lapped twice (they're close to 30s/lap) but we make it work with a wide variety of cars ranging from expensive and fast to Spec Miatas and mostly stock AE86s.

Mind you, we've recently run at Thunderhill West only and that's a course that favours lower powered cars but it wasn't that big an issue when we were still able to run Reno-Fernley with its pretty long straight.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/3/16 12:33 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

Yeah, for some reason the "heroic" behaviour seems to be especially prevalent at MRLS.

I haven't seen that much when we run at T-Hill, but we have the occasional driver who's more special than the others - had one dive bomb us into turn 1W (big no-no in SCCA PDX) and the guy I was instructing nearly put his car into the scenery. Can't blame him, it was his first time on a track ever. First session, too.

Had a quiet word with the safety steward after the session and the same driver was much better behaved in the next session . But if you're not willing or able to piss off one of your paying customers (or you don't care), then you occasionally get somebody who flips their car or accidentally uses it as a battering ram.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
4/3/16 1:06 p.m.

At Hallett before I stopped going, they had my 1.6 open diff Miata out in the A group with the big boys because I can handle myself on track.

Never an issue for me to be on track with Viper/'Vetter/BOSS 302's shod with Hoo-Hoos. Hallett is a tight, techincal track so with those cars talking about a perhaps ~13s a lap difference. But stil 40mph difference closing speed into a braking zone is exciting.

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