VIR Trip (start of the season)

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by s a x m a n, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. s a x m a n

    s a x m a n New Member

    Nov 16, 2003
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    So Neal, Erin and myself packed up the car Friday morning and headed South. Took us about 11 hours to get to Danville where we checked in, grabbed dinner and then headed off to bed. The trip down was easy and uneventful (except for seeing foamhenge).

    Saturday morning we woke to wet conditions. The rain had stopped, but it was still very wet on the track, which for me, was ok. The first two sessions were kind of treated as follow the leader by most people. An instructor would lead 10-15 people out. This was a good start for me. It forced be to go slow, learn the track and learn about riding again. I was able to focus on body position and being relaxed while I ride. By the time the 3rd session started, the track was dry and I could turn it up a click.

    South Course is very interesting and alittle challenging to learn. A lot of it is off camber and decreasing radius. It was a great exercise in “late” corner entrances. The front straight is fast and has nice elevation change (both down and up). I started to get more comfortable as the day went on. One of the instructors (TC) spent various sessions through out the day with me. Which really helped me get back up to speed with my riding, and learn the track on the next level.

    Sunday I was scheduled with participate in the Cornerspeed Level 1 school, which I did. This is the stepping stone for me to get my race license. The school was good, and I learned everything that I was hoping to learn about racing (flags, starts, grid, etc;). As the school names states, they focus on cornerspeed, and corner mechanics. Although not much new information was presented to me, the drills and discussions that were had forces me to focus on each aspect of what I am doing while cornering. This proved to be very beneficial for the day on the North Course.

    The instructor I had for the one on one session was not helpful … didn’t give me anything to work on, so that was kind of a waste, but I hooked up with TC for the last session of the day and he gave me some more things to think about.

    We (students in the school) finished the day with a Mock race. I was on the grid as front row, spot 3. I had an awful start … I went right down to 9th, but worked my way back up to 5th by turn 4. I stayed there for the entire race. Everything I had worked on for the day went out the window. I was pretty disappointed in myself and my riding.

    I successfully completed the school though and got my certificate which will allow me to get my race license now. LRRS, here I come … hope I am ready.

    Both days were chilly which made tires cold and the track cold. This again was fine with me; it really gave me time to work on my mechanics again and not rush everything (like I did at my first track day of 2005, which resulted in a crash).

    Monday was the North Course, which was highly anticipated for me. I have heard nothing but amazing things about it. Everything I heard is true, plus some. It is a beautiful course that is A LOT of fun. It took me 3 sessions to learn the flow of the course and figure it out (except the “rollercoaster” which I never got).

    So I started out my first session, first lap with a minor “moment” if you will. I didn’t look down the front straight enough and when you get to the kink at over 100 MPH you need to be already turned in, which I wasn’t. So I went VERY wide and touched to outside white line. I was able to keep it on the track and learned a quick lesson. After that moment, I didn’t have another. Everything went very nicely and smoothly for me.

    Alex watched me in one of the morning sessions and commented on my head position and gave me something to work on. This was huge for me, as I thought I was looking through the corners, but in reality I was not. I was still focusing on my reference points until I was almost to them. So I went out and follow Pete around for the 3rd session and tried to do what Alex had told me. What a difference it made in my riding and the flow of the track. Everything started to tie together, and all the turns worked together.

    After the lunch break I did a session with TC and my riding went up a notch. I had so much fun and I really increased my cornerspeed in all the corners around the track. I couldn’t believe the pace I was riding at, and doing so comfortably. Everything seemed to click, and looking far down the track was the key to that. TC let me know where he is looking in a couple spots when out there; one key turn was turn 3. He said look at turn 4 as you turn in for turn 3, this made turn 3 a much faster turn for me and connected turns 1-3, making them effortless.

    For the last two sessions I moved up to the racer group where I was passed on the straights like I was standing still and passed in some of the corners. This was a GREAT experience for me. It showed me that I was able to keep my concentration on my riding and my line even when being passed. The last session I wasn’t passed as much, or as with much authority as the previous session, but was still in the bottom 50% of riders out there. I’m ok with that though, because I feel that I improved in the last session just because there were faster people all around me.

    My weakest section was the rollercoaster, because you can’t really see it when you start it. Once you turn in for the first turn, it’s too late to get it right if your make the first turn wrong. Talking with TC about it, you just have to visualize it when you are coming up to it and once you start it, just look all the way down the hill to where you are headed. By the last session I was starting to attack it a little better and get more confidence, but still have a long way to go.

    Highlights of the North Course for me … EVERYTHING! If I had to pick a few, turns 3, 4 and 5 where great, and felt so good to get right. Turn 7 which is the uphill was a nice loudonesq turn which I was able to carry nice speed through. When I got the bottom of the rollercoaster right and carried good speed, the little dip at the end that would send your internal organs north was great, and the kink in the front straight at high speeds (as the front end got a little light) was very cool.

    I’m already trying to plan to get back down there in November. The course and the organization (Cornerspeed) was outstanding! My only complaint is not riding during lunch, which wouldn’t be an issue if Tony didn’t spoil us. I really think these three days will help me with my riding at Loudon. There were a lot of similarities, and I was able to over come some of the issues on certain corners at VIR, that are similar to corners at loudon. I hope that this will be the case when I return to Loudon in a couple weeks.

    I haven’t mentioned the bike yet because well, you could almost forget that it was there.

    All the suspension work done do it made it so solid and really allowed me to focus on just my riding. It handles so well under heavy braking now (doesn’t dive straight into the ground) and really has great feed back overall. It’s solid as a rock when turned in and just floats along the track. There is one bump on the North Course which is starting up turn 7 (think loudon turn 4). The suspension would compress and instantly return allowing me to get right back on the gas. This is 100 times better than what I had with stock. The stock stuff took half a second to settle (even with compression and rebound adjusted) which made for getting on the gas a little sketchy. This was just so nice.

    Every so often I get a weird hop, which didn’t happen often. Not sure if the tires are not balanced correctly or what (the same wheel weights that I had put on last year are still on there (i think)), but it never happened at high speed, and only felt it in the corners a couple times.

    Power Race tires … amazing. Just amazing. They talk to you the entire time you are out there. I knew everything about my traction with them. They never made any drastic slides or sudden steps out. Everything was gradual and they made subtle reminders that they were still there, but not to push them much more.

    520 Conversion (-1/+2), what a change. The power is much easier and quicker to get too. I have to work on my throttle control now with this new gearing, but I was starting to get smoother and smoother with it as the weekend went on.

    Some of my favorite pics:
    Turn 7 (knee on gaterstrip):

    Turn 4:

    Turn 3??:

  2. Jerm

    Jerm I

    Jul 23, 2002
    Likes Received:
    West Coast, sporting Dodger Blue

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