2010-01-01 12:40:00 +0000
“WHAT ARE YOU SLOWING DOWN FOR?!” my father shouted over the screaming engine of our BMW e30 racer. I managed to fugitively tear my eyes off the apex for a split second, just enough time to stab a glance of horror towards the passenger seat, but before I had the chance to vocalise my “Because we are going to crash!?” my father rejoined with “THIS IS A FLAT OUT CORNER! BURY THE GAS!”
That was lap 2. But I am probably ahead of myself.
The day started fairly early, on Saturday and headed down with my father to Phillip Island Raceway on a beautiful sunny cloudless day. Arriving at the track, we signed in and had the car checked over by the officials. After a short driver briefing we went out for some practice laps, I was in the passenger seat and my father took the wheel for a lazy, slow drive around the track.
We went around once, my first time in a car on the Phillip Island track, albeit in the passenger seat, and I got to see first hand just how complex this famous race course is. From the hair pins to the blind hills that end in very tight corners, I was amazed just how quick we were going around, and this was only at about 75% speed!
After my father went out for a few laps, I donned the helmet and dove into the drivers seat and headed out.
Probably like you, I have watched my fair share of motor sport, I stay up until 3am some nights to watch the Grand Prix live, I enjoy wincing as I virtually sit inside rally cars as they fly through impossibly small gaps of trees and I stare dumfounded that anyone would be crazy enough to go round a corner on a 500cc motor bike at 160kms and 70 degrees with only 1 square inch of rubber holding them to the track.
But you really have no idea just how FAST they are going, until you try it yourself.
If you have never driven your car on a track day, you simply have never driven fast Taking your car to YOUR limits is an incredibly intoxicating activity. I say “your limits”, because it will take you many hours of practice before you begin to really approach your car’s limits.
Sure, you will push to hard and send the car skidding off the track into a sand trap, or break too late and run off the end of the corner, taking the scenic route to the finish line. But driving a car and knowing where that final bit of traction is before you slip and slide is a skill that is only earned through hard, long, and most importantly, FUN practice.
And if you do like driving, you will find that going out on a track day will teach you a lot about how a car handles and how to recover from stuffing up.
You also get the satisfaction of seeing your lap times steadily drop. I managed to shave about 6 seconds off my starting lap time to my final lap time, which might not seem a lot, but believe me, I felt every one of those seconds, AND I know where I could gain another 2-3 without any real problem.
So the day ended, I had managed to go out many times, and, I am sad to say, my father absolutely trounced me on the course. I won’t bother comparing our times here, because, really, at the end of the day, it’s not about who wins or looses right?