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Old 07-03-2017, 04:44 AM
f23.Tetsusaiga f23.Tetsusaiga is offline
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Streets of Willow 7.1.17

Hey Everyone,

So I posted a little while ago that I was getting ready for my first road racing event. Well...I did it! And I thought it would be cool to share my experience and my widened perspective about not only road racing but myself, my car, and life in general!

*Also, mods please let me know if I did not post this correctly or if there are any rules I broke. (I don't think that's the case, but just in case I'm wrong, I wanted to mention it! Thank you.)

Disclaimer: Due to excitement and enjoyment about cars I am very long-winded in my posts (some may have noticed already heh) so be ready with your coffee or beverage of choice and I hope you enjoy the tales of my adventure.

So, I will start with how I came to register for this event. I've wanted to try a road racing event for a while now (like 6months of serious consideration). When I called and looked around I learned of a driving school that goes to Willow Springs, I can't remember the name of it, but it cost $600 if I use my car and $1000 to use their supercharged Scion TC. "Darn" I thought. That's way too much and put my plans to the side. Well, I called back trying to find out different information and learned that I could register for an event for $120 and I just need a helmet (dot approved) and a tech inspection sheet filled out. "WOW!" I thought, and jumped right on it registering within that day. The first school I learned of was advanced driving instruction which is why the cost was so high. Looking back, I probably asked for driving instruction when I called them the first time. Anyway! Sorry to get of... track (pun intended)! Heh. So I registered about 2 weeks before this event so that gave me time to get my car ready. I needed to buy a helmet (top priority), adjust my suspension, and go over everything on the tech inspection sheet. I already had Puma shoes for driving when I first bought the car (heh), and a long sleeve. So I found a Snell rated helmet at a local Honda Motorcycle Shop that my mechanics referred me to for about $140, after a 10% discount I asked for! (Could never hurt to ask!) Great! Then I had my wheels & tires balanced and rotated (Free from America's Tire Co. where I bought them from). I then adjusted my suspension. I lowered the car as low as I could go without the risk of scraping and fully stiffened the suspension. This, I thought, would be best for the track. Reflections on this later... I used a digital angle gauge to measure the camber of each wheel. It was all over the place, and I don't have camber kits so I just prioritized the drop over camber. I ended up getting the fronts to about -1.5 degrees and the back -2.7 degrees (L) and -2 degrees (R). I mentioned the specific measurements in the "How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event" thread that I talked about posting on earlier in my story. After I lowered the car to my liking I had an oil change, 4 wheel alignment, and asked my mechanic to look over the tech inspection sheet for the things I did not feel comfortable doing myself (engine, brakes, etc.).

Ok, so that was the back story and how I prepared for this event. Anyone out there looking to do the same may find use in this thread and I also highly recommend the "How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event" thread as well!

Ok now, for the main event (literally)...enter Streets of Willow. I arrive and I take some pictures, many people are setting up and have stuff out on the pavement. That is one mistake I made, I brought only my suspension tools, and tools to take apart the back seat to get to my rear shock adjustment. Duly noted for next time. Next time I will bring a torque wrench, coolant, oil, and more, but these things especially stuck out in my mind. Sorry, getting off track a bit again...not the best driver and still practicing ; )

So first we have the driver's meeting where the instructor goes over flag meanings, track etiquette and rules. He was a cool guy and was also really funny. Being my first time, I was in the beginner group. There were quite a few beginners so we were split into 2 groups. Each group had an instructor lead (the entire time) and each person took turns being behind the instructor so each person could see first hand the preferred/recommended line he was doing. Also, everyone was driving at "half speed." I felt like I was going at full speed here...lol. After this instructional session. We were to go out on our own in our groups (ranked by skill level), for 20 minutes. I was getting passed left and right! I couldn't believe how fast these guys were able to go, it was incredible. I was very nervous/anxious/apprehensive to get on the track. After about the 6 or 7th corner, I...was...hooked...haha. I remember feeling very happy and contented, that I was doing something I enjoyed. Just as a side note, I had a few fears going into this that I knew would become settled after this event. One, that for some unbeknownst reason, I just flat out wouldn't enjoy it. Two, that I would be afraid of the speed and not enjoy it. And three, that I would damage/total my car somehow. None of these would prove to be true... I digress.
After my first solo session a man by the name of Steve (cool old-timer, sorry old timers!) told me I could I ask for an instructor to drive with me on the session after lunch. He introduced me to 2 instructors and told them my situation and they told me they didn't know how long they would be staying, but if they were still there one of them would take me out. Well come 45 minutes before my race, Steve comes up to me and tells me he spoke with them again but that they were leaving. However, another instructor by the name of A.J. could drive with me. AWESOME! I could really use some pointers. I was, and still am very inexperienced with road racing, as this was my first event ever! I also did not even think about looking up videos of people driving the track, haha. I laugh at myself now thinking about this. But the truth is, it never even occurred to me to do this! Sorry anyways, I first drive A.J. in my car and he talks about how to drive the track, how to be smooth, how to aim for the cones, how and when to brake/accelerate, some preferred lines to take and how to take them. It was awesome. Next, he drove my car with me in it, so he could show me the application of the things he was teaching me. WOW! It was crazy to see what you could do with a car, honestly, that was probably one of the most defining eye-openers I took from this event! As we wrapped up the session, he told me to try and find him later, and he would take me in his car which was an S2K with a hardtop and gutted. I had seen him on the track, and he looked fast! He also mentioned that he would just have to put the passenger seat in. AWESOME! I made a mental note and waited for my groups' next event. Well, a Nissan 370 Z (I believe?) needed to be towed off the track, so all the groups were delayed. By this time though, half of the people had already left. As a result, we hear over the PA system that it is now an open track! Another side note, I met a really cool guy by the name of Jeremy there who had (incidentally) a 350Z and spent a lot of our free time talking. I also forgot to note that either the guy from Van Halen or his brother rented out part of the track, and would have their own private sessions. Heh, just some little fun fact I suppose. Anyways, so after we hear about the open track, Jeremy and I (and others of course) hop back on the track. I really enjoyed and valued this opportunity because I was able to apply the things I was taught and there were less people. Also, I was able to get many (maybe like 8-10?) laps in to practice! Oops, I forgot to mention... On the first or 2nd solo lap, I noticed a guy really close behind me on one of the corners and thought he was trying to pass me (beginners could only pass on straights). Well...I think I focused a little too much on this and when I looked away from my mirror I was heading off the track. Immediately I fought it but remembered the initial meeting where he said if you're going off it's better to go off straight. So that's what I did. The next time I passed I got a black flag, but forgot what that meant so I kept going. I thought back to the initial meeting where he talked about it and thought it meant a warning, and if he displayed it again you get kicked off for the day, so that's how I took it. After talking with a couple guys after, I learned (relearned) it meant that because I had 4 wheels go off the track, I was suppose to get off the track so they could quickly inspect my car to make sure there were no small rocks in-between the wheel and tire bead. When I kept going, the guy probably figured I was new and just let it slide and didn't give me any signals. Ok, so back to the open track! After several laps I notice the guy in front of me getting of, unsure if we had to stop, I got off too. Well the guy in front of me turns away from me and low and behold who do I see in front of me, Mr. S2K! I speed up a little (speed limit is 5mph in the cold pits, so maybe to like 6 or 7mph, heh) and get next to him and honk. I ask him if I can ride with him for a little. He says sure, just gotta put in the passenger seat. AWESOME! So we go to his trailer and we chat while he is installing the seat. He is fitting me for the safety belt which was a cool 6-point one, and I noticed that his car is gutted and looks very cool! Haha. He's going over safety stuff, like how to get out in the event of a crash, it scared me a bit, when he said that word.."crash." But I quickly realized it's important for him to prepare me in that event, as it is a reality and possibility. Jeremy comes up to the car when I am buckled in and says he is leaving and just wanted to wish me well. I thought that was really cool of him and I appreciated it. I wished the same to him and that I would see him at another event. He told me to buckle up for this car as it is really fast! So I think that also contributed to the nerves lol. He heads out and now I'm all set and we set off toward the track. Adrenaline is definitely pumping! We start out and I notice how well the S2K and he is gripping the track. He goes really fast at the first straight away (we were running counter clockwise) and he brakes for the first turn. WHAT THE HECK! I was stunned by how late he could wait to brake, wow! And he said, that he wouldn't be going as fast because he needs to warm up the tires. He's mentioning all the things he told me during my instruction and applying them. I was flabbergasted by his driving, I didn't even know cars could perform like this. This truly was the most amazing epiphany of sorts, that realization about what cars and people can do! I think we did another warm up lap and then he unleashed hell. Everything was faster, except the time to brake! He broke later, I was astonished, and thanked him many times. I didn't know what to say half the time because I was just in awe and enjoying myself so much. It truly was awesome. His fastest time was 1:27:05 I believe. We did a couple more hot laps and then a couple cool downs, and then it was time to close. I remember thinking wow, where did the time go! We got off the track and I heard my name on the PA system to get my id. I was still with A.J. so I rushed to get in there as soon as I could. Wow, what a great experience.

So now for my reflections and some of the personal things I learned.
I told A.J. my future plans for my car, pretty much to turbo charge. And he advised against it until I was, as he put it, "faster than the car as it is." Although, I hadn't planned on turbo charging anytime real soon as I may have come across as, I knew in that instance, I learned something. I had relearned the value of experience, about practice, about earning. In some ways, I feel that I wasn't fully ready for the mods I made to my car, in that I felt that I hadn't completely earned some of them. On the other hand, I know that I was pursuing my hobby and was pretty set in what I was doing and planned to do because of skepticism. It was a process I had to go through, and if I had to do it again, I would have done it exactly the same. But that's also the fun of it. You entered something new, were cautious, started how you wanted (what you felt was right), see mistakes (subjective/objective) you may have made, and learned to go about things differently. I picked the brain of A.J., I thought I would be faster if I did "this" or "that" to my car. He would, throughout my time with him, say the number one thing you can do to get faster is "seat time" which is driving your car, or in other words practice. I felt truly and deeply humbled. This experience gave me a renewed appreciation for my car, all that I've done it it and all that it is, and other drivers who have worked hard to improve their skills. This will not be my last event, I am very excited to my next one. Oh, I almost forgot, my fastest lap time was 1:50. I can still hear the sound of A.J.'s S2K screaming down the straight away, the smell of my brakes, and I can remember the smile on my face when all my fears melted away and I realized that this is something that I most definitely want to keep chasing.

Thank you very much for reading about my experience and allowing me to share this with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.


~ Avery



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Old 07-07-2017, 06:26 PM
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Re: Streets of Willow 7.1.17

sounds like u had a great time.. pretty cool tht u could get an instructor to sit with and drive with u...i'd def want to track my car once it ages a bit more haha
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:21 PM
f23.Tetsusaiga f23.Tetsusaiga is offline
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Re: Streets of Willow 7.1.17

Originally Posted by DarkSideAccord View Post
sounds like u had a great time.. pretty cool tht u could get an instructor to sit with and drive with u...i'd def want to track my car once it ages a bit more haha
Hey Darkside,

Thanks for the reply! I did, it was a relief to have done it and enjoyed it. I believe I had said in my post that in my mind I was worried I may not like it, the speed may scare me, or I may damage my car or someone else's. My mind was eased once I got on the track after the instructor follow-along.

Yeah! I knew I definitely wanted some instruction as I had never done anything like this before. You are entitled to 1 free session of instruction or I believe you can pay $75 to have an instructor with you for the day. It was awesome getting to drive in his car as well, wow that S2K was quick! I think one of the biggest things I took away from this event though was the feeling of humbleness to really appreciate my car as it is, and become a better driver as it is, and move up when my skill gets better.

I would totally recommend getting out there. Streets of Willow is a good starter track the instructors say, and I can see why. I would just make sure your car is good. They have you print out and return a self tech sheet, you can look it over at this link: http://www.extremespeedtrackevents.c...ection-form-19

One recommendation I would make is switching your brake fluid to dot 4 to reduce brake fade. Other than that, if everything checks out the the tech sheet you should be good to go.

As they say on the description it's open to beginners, so no need to rush to become faster, just get out there and go at your comfort level. Like we have been talking about, get that free instruction and also see if you can go in one of the instructors cars! It's cool to also see where you can take it.

Oh, and I registered for one more event before I go back to school.
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