GETTING READY FOR YOUR DE

Now that you have signed up for the HPDE, you need to get your car ready.

Download the Technical Inspection Sheet from Motorportreg.com (where you initially registered). If you are getting your car tech’d at Bluegrass (they do this for free for our two DE events), they will already have forms for you. If you are having the car tech’d at another shop, you will need to bring the form with you and the person performing the inspection must sign, date and stamp (form states: …”Porsche mechanic or other person authorized by the Region to conduct such an inspection”. It’s best to have it done at the dealership or another Porsche shop.

The tech inspection must be performed at most a month prior to the event. If you will be doing a lot of driving (and potentially wearing your tires or brakes), it might be best to get the car inspected the week prior to the event.

PREPARING YOUR CAR FOR INSPECTION

You can perform these checks yourself, prior to the inspection, and any deficiencies can be corrected at the dealership. The two biggest are typically tires and brakes. Here’s what the tech is going to look at. Any deficiencies must be corrected before your inspection is completed.

WHEELS & TIRES – The wheels should be round without any dents or damage to the mounting surface. The tires should be in good condition. The tread should be above the wear bars. No cords or belts should show. Flat tires repaired with plugs should not be used as these could fail under the high stress of track conditions. Hubcaps or beauty rings should be removed. They can come off causing a dangerous situation for you & other students.

STEERING & SUSPENSION – Check the wheel bearings by grabbing the tire & trying to move the wheel from side to side. There should not be any play or clunking sounds. The front wheels should move when you turn the steering wheel. There should not be any excess play.

ENGINE – The engine should not have any leaks that will allow liquids to fall onto the track. These fluids will cause slippery conditions on the track. This includes radiator fluid (antifreeze) which is very slippery. The battery should be secured with two (2) bolts. The battery terminals should be covered to prevent any arcs in case of accidental contact.

BRAKES – The brake system should be in good working order with no leaks in the system. The brake lines should not have any cracks. The brake fluid should be clear & at the maximum level. The pads should have plenty of life left in them, as the high speeds on the track will wear them out faster than the street. The brake lights should function properly.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT – Seatbelts must be in good condition. Factory seatbelts are OK. Cars without fixed roofs are required to have roll bars or, the manufacturer installed roll over protection. Boxsters and 911 Cabriolets come with those protections already installed. If you a roll bar into another car, it must pass the “broom” test: “The broomstick test reveals clearance for your helmet clad head while sitting in the driver’s seat with a broomstick” (or similar device) set atop the roll bar and the windshield frame”

Natural fibers are recommended for clothing. Minimum allowable clothing is jeans, a T-shirt & closed toe shoes. It can get hot at the track so I advise wearing a long sleeve shirt to prevent sun burn. You will be required to wear a helmet when on the track. The minimum rating is SNELL 2010 (SA2010 or M2010). Newer helmets with a SA rating are recommended. Eye protection is required (face shield, goggles, safety glasses). The more and better the safety equipment you have & use, the safer you will be.

MISCELLANEOUS – There should be no exposed wires. The car should have a good gas cap that seals.

AT THE TRACK

When you get to the track, you will need to go through a tech inspection again. This is to be sure your wheel hubs are torqued properly and nothing has changed on your tires or brakes. Be sure you also check your fluids. Running your car oin the track will greatly increase operating temps inside the engine.

You may want to remove your spare tire & jack. Nothing loose should be in the car itself: remove floor mats, hats, towels, gloves, CDs, anything that can come loose or fly around in the car. You will not be allowed onto the track with anything loose in the car. I carry a plastic bin and put all of my regular car stuff in the bin.

You will need to have numbers on the sides of your car. You can either purchase reusable decals, magnetic numbers (check your body panels to be sure magnetics stick) or use plastic tape. The numbers must be a minimum of 6 inches high and a contrasting color. It’s a good idea to all post numbers on the front and back as well. I use 4 inch high latex numbers I buy at the hardware store. Use the same numbers you registered with.

Once at the track, you will also want to install your tow bar. For Porsches, the two bar screws in to the front with a round hook at the end. In the event something happens to your car, the track will tow you back in using the two bar.

THINGS TO BRING

Here are a few things to bring that will help make your HPDE more enjoyable. The list can be changed to suit your region & climate/season. For the car: glass cleaner, wax, and a quart of oil, rags,  a battery operated air compressor, a tire gauge, a bin to put all the stuff you took out into, a torque wrench (the tech guys at our HPDE will happily torque your wheels during the event).

Also bring, sunscreen, a sun hat and folding chairs. We provide water in coolers around the track and there is a snack bar for lunch.

 

Learning The “Line”

You will hear folks talk about the “line”. The line is the path around the track, that when driven at the limit, will yield the fastest lap time.

The line through any particular corner is accomplished using a “connect the dots” approach. There is a specific “turn in”, or “corner entry” point, which is the point where you begin turning the wheel. At the approximate middle of the corner is the “apex” which is the point in the turn where the inside wheels are closest to the inside edge of the pavement. At the end of the turn is the “corner exit”, which is the point where the car is no longer turning, and the wheel is straight.

Going quickly requires that you learn the line and drive it consistently and precisely. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to learning the line is overdriving the car while trying to learn the line. (Particularly at corner entry).

If you are going slower than the traction limits will allow, you can place the car exactly where you want to. If you are going too fast, the car will be controlling you, and you will be forced to follow the line established by the speed of the car.

Racing drivers are all aware of the adage “In slow, out fast”. The most important goal of most corners is to carry as much speed as possible onto the straight following the corner. It has been said that the race winner is not the guy who goes fastest around the corners, but the guy who gets between the corners fastest.

The proper line can often be felt. Some things to look for:

  • At the “turn in” point, the car should be as close to the outside edge of the track as possible, this will allow the car to travel the arc of the greatest radius through the corner.
  • At the “apex”, the car should be as close as possible to the inside edge of the track
  • At “corner exit” the car should be all of the way to the outside edge of the track again.

Many turns have “candy stripes” (a rubber curbing surface curbing) at the apex and corner exit. The candy stripe gives you additional roadway and also helps you identify where you want to be, or you may target a farm house, or trees or pavement lines.

Hot tip: You will know when you are on the correct line when you turn in at corner entry and do not have to change the wheel position again until you begin to “unwind” (straighten) the wheel about 50-75% of the way through the corner. You must hit your apex, and wind up at the outside edge of the track for this to be meaningful.

This is what you will want to feel: At corner entry the car should turn in easily. The car will lean on its suspension, and “take a set”, when it does you should gently begin to apply a small amount of throttle (the car is more stable under throttle than if just rolling free). Gently increase the throttle, feeling how much the car can take, if the car begins to go wide (remember, you must hit your apex!) either stop increasing throttle application, or lift very gently. Lifting quickly will probably spin the car if you are anywhere near the limit, but lifting gently will just point the car in to the apex.

As you pass your apex point you should be able to gradually apply more throttle, as you do you will feel the car tell you it wants to go straighter (because you are going faster) and you will have to unwind the wheel. This unwinding should carry you all of the way out against the edge of the track at your corner exit point. If the entire corner felt smooth, and felt like the car was developing a consistent “G” force from the beginning to the end of the corner, you probably nailed it. Remember, none of this means anything if you do not “connect the dots”!

Most drivers use visual reference points to establish where they apply their brakes, the turn in point, the apex and corner exit points. It is the easiest way to be consistent, particularly when learning a new track. Look for objects that will always be there, and that won’t move. Cones are a bad idea, a missing chunk of pavement is a good idea. When establishing a braking point, be conservative. First, because of “slow in, fast out” and secondly because as the day progresses you will probably be exiting the previous corner faster, and therefore carrying more speed into the braking zone.

Hot tip: While learning the line, if you find yourself running out of pavement at corner exit, move your turn in point closer to the turn. If you have pavement left over at corner exit, move it back. You must hit your apex for this to work!

 

MY 1st HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVER EDUCATION (HPDE)!

…and I’m a little scared. Will I trash my expensive car? Will be thrown to the automotive wolves? Will I classically screw-up and be laughed at?

Relax…the point is to have fun and learn what you and your car can do, in a safe and friendly environment.

Remember, everyone you meet at the track at some point in their life, was just like you.

Before you get to the track for the 1st time, it is strongly advised you study track maps, the meaning of the various track flags (how track workers communicate with you), what they mean and seek out youtube videos of drivers running the track. The more prepared you are, the quicker you will learn and the more enjoyment you will derive from your experience.

On the Event Details Page at motorsportreg.com (where you first registered) click on the Participant Package link to view background on the event. For first time attendees, we strongly recommend you print and read the package documents a few times.

RUN GROUPS

When you 1st register, you are assigned to a “run group”. Our HPDE has four run groups:

  • Green: Novice with little to no prior experience
  • Yellow: Novice, with some prior experience
  • Blue: experienced with sufficient experience to drive “solo”
  • Red: experienced with normally more experience and faster times

Be sure to read the Pacesetter post “Run Group Descriptions” for a more complete descriptions of each of the run groups.

GREEN RUN GROUP

All first time drivers are placed in Green, and this run group must will go through mandatory class room sessions, where they are introduced to the track, the various flags, what those flags mean and what your response should be. You are also introduced to the basics of high performance driving. The meaning of “slow in, fast out”, “line”, traction management and so forth. You will have 3 class room sessions over the weekend, each one helping you better understand your car and the track.

After your 1st classroom, you join up with your instructor who will spend the weekend riding with you in your car. They may start off by quizzing you on the meaning of flags, how to signify your going into the pits (left arm in a fist held out the window as a signal to other drivers). They may also help you check your car: tire inflation, tow bar, wheel torque, car empty.

Your instructor will be helping you by giving instructions while you drive. They will first direct you to the “grid”. You will hear the track announcer call your run group, meaning it’s time to head through the paddock (slowly, don’t run anyone over) to the pits to grid. Once you enter the pit, the grid team will guide you into location.

All drivers in the run group will be in line together and will be signaled to enter the track at one time. At the start of your run group, you will enter onto the front straight. Let your tires warm up (they help provide grip) and try to follow the line. Even at a slower speed, learn where you want to be, where you should be braking, adding throttle, turn in and markers on or around the track to help you with position. Go at your limit, but, keep an eye on the rear view mirror letting faster cars pass. You control who passes by giving a “point by”.

Again, be sure to read the DE Frequently Asked Questions post “Run Group Descriptions”.

As you become more comfortable with the line, with braking, throttle and turning, your speed will rise.

YELLOW RUN GROUP

The Yellow run group also goes through class room sessions, for more advanced topics. The class room will reinforce concepts learned in Green and also cover advanced techniques. Normally, by the middle of the 2nd afternoon, after demonstrating car and track control, the Yellow student may be “signed off”. The instructor signifying the student is ready to now go out alone.

At this point, the Yellow student will experience a lighter car with different braking and acceleration points, just from the absence of the instructor. The Yellow student may be well on their way to exploring additional tracks.

Always remember: have fun and be safe.

 

 

Run Group Descriptions

All beginning drivers (zero experience) will be placed in the Green group.  All other drivers will range from some past experience to an extensive amount and will be placed accordingly in the upper run groups.  Through the course of the event your driving skills WILL BE critiqued and you may be asked to move down a run group.  Conversely, exhibiting skills beyond your assigned run group may result in a request to advance.  These decisions will be the sole discretion of the Chief Instructor.  The following outlines the minimum skills expected from each run group. Read more