Learning How to Race Drive

Racing the RSX

I went to Blackhawk Farms‘ Automotive Track Days and took the beginning course on how to drive on a race track. It was a fun day. Here’s a recap with the highlights.

I got there, signed in and then went through Tech, which is where they inspect your car. You need a helmet, long pants, a long shirt and your car needs to be in good shape. They check tires and look under the hood. Your spare tire has to be removed and you don’t want any junk in your trunk flying around. :-)

After Tech, I met the instructors. They took the novice/beginner students out on the track to show us around. I went with Ray and another guy who had a Corvette and we did a few laps. I had been there on Memorial Day and did a few, so I new the track a little already.

There were 6 of us students in the beginner course. With 3 instructors, each instructor had 2 students but the guy I was paired up with was actually an intermediate driver, so after a few laps, I was one on one with my instructor, Ray. Ray went out in his Porsche and the two of us followed him for 2-3 laps just so that we could see the correct line to take around the course. The other guy went on his own at that point and then Ray got into my car as a passenger. He helped me with the line and where to start turns, etc.

We had a break after that. Our group got 20 min each hour on the track. There were 2 other groups. We then got 2 more on track sessions before lunch.

At one point in the morning, I was a passenger in Ray’s car. I forget when that was but I know it was before lunch. I also found out that you can get a little car sick being a passenger. You don’t really get that being the driver. I remember going for lunch and not feeling 100% yet. I heard another student saying the same thing later.

After lunch, our group met for 20 min or so and they asked us if we had questions and we talked a bit, reviewing things. Ray and I then went over to turn 7, which is right before the main straightaway. We watched cars take the line around the corner. It was good to watch the other groups since I now knew what to really look for.

I got back on the track but before that, I asked Ray what to do if it would rain since the skies that were good all morning were starting to get dark. He said to tip-toe through the corners and hit it hard on the straightaways. Then, just maybe 4-5 laps into that next session, it started to rain. For a while, it was only raining on half of the track. You’d need your wipers and then it would be dry.

Then it really started raining. Wow. We had to have our driver’s side window open, so I was getting a little wet but not much. I wanted to stay out and see how things worked on wet pavement. At the start, I let a BMW 135 pass me since he was moving good. Within 2 laps of that, it was really raining and I was on him. He let me pass at the straightaway and then he disappeared from my rear view. My car was doing amazing in the rain! I was so impressed with my Acura RSX. It was holding really well around the turns. It just stuck!

They let us stay out there past our session since it was really just him and I out on the track. I think I was out there 40 min or so just having fun driving in the rain. This reminds me of when I got my "temps" when I was 16. I really wanted to get out and drive. My dad was hesitant because it was raining but he let me go out with him. I did fine then, too.

All of a sudden, it really started pouring. I came in and ran for shelter. The dude running the start gave me a thumbs up as I came in because I was out there so long and in the rain. The driver of the 135 came in and turned to me and told me I did some nice driving out there – probably the highlight of the day. He apparently didn’t have control around the corners like I did. Maybe he had too much power to deal with.

There was a group of us still there and we were waiting for the rain to stop but it was coming down like crazy. There were a few strikes of lightning a few miles away but not much, which was good. I haven’t seen rain that hard in years. It was probably doing about 2-3" per hour. The crew there said they’d go back to their stations if we wanted to go out but the rain just didn’t let up. Finally, they closed the track but gave us a $25 credit for next time.

So it was a really fun experience. I was able to drive the car back in one piece, which is definitely one goal besides keeping myself in one piece as well. The car handled really well and I’m glad I used that car – my RSX. I think the tires made a big difference. The next upgrade is the brakes and then maybe the exhaust. This is not a cheap sport by any means. I also have some things to work on – like learning how to double clutch. I can even work on that in my daily driving. I also noticed that I’m watching turns a lot more when I drive. When I get into something new, I soak up all I can and really get into it.

I plan to do more of this for sure! Some more pictures and also a video of the rain are below. There’s also a video of the track when I rode on Memorial Day with Don.

-Tony

Pictures:

Video of the Rain:

Video on Memorial Day With Don: