H2R Teen Driving School, Coming Soon

This is IMPORTANT !

Paul, the CTS-V driver I featured a week ago, mentioned he had all his children participate in a number of autocrosses.  This was to allow them to better experience how their car would handle at the limit.  He has seen too many young & innocent teens killed from car handling ignorance.

This is a topic near & dear to my heart, as I have 2 driving daughters I love.  I have had them experience some “beyond normal” driving instruction assistance.  But I feel they would benefit from more professional instruction.  Our youth need to be taught practical, real world driving skills and road safety.  I’m sure we can all agree on that.

Ronn Langford lost his youngest daughter to a speeding drunk driver when she was only 18 years old.  This inspired him to create the renowned MasterDrive Experience.  Ronn states in the development of his driving programs teaching emphasis:

Having two daughters who had gone through the “learning to drive process”, I knew what the typical driver’s ed program was like.  The problem was not what they did, but what they didn’t do.  (I also knew what most parents did and didn’t do – first hand.)

There are 6,000 teens who die every year in traffic accidents, and there are 300,000 who are seriously injured.  But I finally realized that even parents don’t understand the dynamics of putting a 4,000-pound car in motion and how to properly control it in a crisis.  I had to develop a program to educate both parents and children, to learn experientially what is needed to learn to survive.

Locally, Harris Hill Road (H2R) is doing something about it!  Last week I was looking at their website calendar.  I noticed an event reserved for Saturday, December 13, 2008 titled, ‘Teen Driving School’.

I called Eric Beverding at H2R to ask for more details.  He explained that this is their first tentative date for this school; it could possibly be pushed to January.  Eric told me that it will be a test group, most probably a split group of 15 teens and 15 parents.  They are still working on their curriculum.

The sessions and techniques they plan to utilize certainly sound worthwhile & interesting.  I’m not at liberty to divulge the details, for now.  Suffice it to say, the teens will understand and remember what they experience and learn at the H2R Teen Driving School.  If you, like me, want to support H2R‘s efforts or would like more information, Eric would be pleased to speak with you – his card is below:

The whole point of this is for these young adults to learn & appreciate these behavioral driving methods – to internalize them to become good habits!

Racing Ready wants to help educate the public to realize the need for more of these necessary programs.  I hope you will join me!

Dan

One-Off, Hand Built Autocrosser

Cars that don’t exist show up in the darnedest places, like autocrosses…
…what AM I talking about here?

Five years ago George came across a wrecked 2002 Chrysler 300M.  The back end was badly damaged, but front end and powertrain were just fine.  It was still an almost new car.  He chose it due to the longitudinal engine layout, and that the engine/transaxle being a complete package.

George attended the 11/9/2008 SASCA autocross, driving all the way from Austin, TX.  He came to debut this one-of-a-kind car he built.  To say the least, it was interesting.  It’s called a Hammond, after his last name.

Working through the mechanical challenges of building the chassis with the existing engine/transaxle was relatively hassle-free.  But, George said, getting the wiring organized was a BIG headache.  The tricky part was figuring out what wiring was related specifically to engine functions, versus the rest of the car.  The engine is stock at 260HP, except for its location.

There sure is a lot of space back under that hood, for the go part…

If you’ll notice in the cockpit, George re-used most of the donor car’s hardware.  I’m not usually a fan of center mounted dash instruments, but in this case it works!

Luckily George is of medium height.  I don’t think I’d be able to fit my 6’2″ frame inside.  You might wonder where the body design came from.  So did I & many others who were asking.

With all the mechanics that defined the physical hard points of the car, George started to define the body.  He took small diameter PVC pipe, and, using a heat gun, carefully bent and formed them to what he felt would both work & look good.  Using this spidery network of laced PVC pipe, George used spray insulation foam to thickly cover the entire pipe form.  Then he carved & sanded the foam mass, eventually into the almost final form.  Following that, he covered the foam with body filler, and did the final shaping and sanding.  Next, he laid down some layers of fiberglass.  This was his mold.

Lastly, he laid in fiberglass inside this reverse mold he had crafted, to finally create the car body he desired.  It was a long process.  He said he designed it from the outside in.  If he had to do it over again, he’d have made the driver & passenger area larger.  Also, those doors are rather on the petite side.

After five long years of working on his Hammond, he wanted to see how it would handle in an autocross environment.  The chassis has been mechanically drivable for about 4 years, now.  Watching George having the car get its “sea legs” for autocrossing was interesting.  He really got to see what its limits are…

Observing George drive on course,  we saw him discover how rear biased his car’s weight is.  He did an almost 180 on the second corner.  But from then on he did fine, learning what he could (& couldn’t) do and then coming in for a “landing” at the end of the course.  Look carefully at the rear wheels in the photo below.  BOTH rear tires are in the air, at least 1.5″, while braking after the finish line timing lights.  Thanks to Vitek for both of these pictures, as I was on grid getting ready for my runs.

Racing Ready is “hand-building” this blog from scratch, although not on the 5 year plan.  Its form is taking shape to provide you with entertainment, knowledge and a growing archive of hard data.

Dan

P.S. – Click here to learn about George’s regular autocross ride

Teamwork For Hot Laps From Corpus Christi

The recent CBR PCA event at Harris Hill Road (H2R) brought a number of other competitors from the Corpus Christi region. There were 3 drivers (Da Boys) who traveled together as a group.  They brought their modified, but still very “daily drivable” sub-compact cars; 2 Mazda Miatas & a Honda Civic.

Joshua, the red 1993 Honda Civic owner, explained that he & his buddies had previously owned & competitively drove more expensive , higher end cars.  But they always broke and were expensive to repair.  They have since switched over to more economical Hondas & Mazdas.  They really don’t break, are not temperamental & are simply more reliable.

Makes sense to me, as a former owner of a 1993 Honda Civic Coupe!  I miss that car – should have never sold it after 9 years with 125,000 miles…It’d be a great autocross car, now!

Back to Da Boys…

Most noticeable in Joshua’s Civic engine bay is that HUGE , honkin’ air plenum chamber, between his K&N filter & the engine air intake port.  It looked cool & did the job to better drive air into the engine for more horsepower & torque.

I could see that he had done some other engine mods & suspension upgrading.  Unfortunately, these guys were getting ready to pack up for their 3+ hour drive home & time was short.

Brian owns the white 1990 Miata.  To the uninitiated (still me, blush…), the engine bay doesn’t look too different.  Well, to set me straight, Brian explained to me what WAS different.  He had originally swapped out the original 1.6 L engine with a 1994 Miata 1.8 L engine.  But now in its place was a 1999 Miata 1.8L.

Brian drove to H2R with the Miata hardtop in place, but removed it for his 3 lapping sessions.  Brain explained that having the roll bar installed really tightened the chassis up on his car.

Time being of the essence, I was not able to avail myself to talking with the third Corpus Christi driver, but included his aggressively-winged Mazda in the picture.

These guys help each other out & have fun.  That’s what it’s all about.

And off they rode into the sunset…

Racing Ready is here to (hopefully) help you out, too!

Dan

Innovative Miata Tire Carrier

Many times a solution for a problem has to be decided on and executed with vision.

Craig, one of my SASCA autocross buddies, had a quandary.  He autocrosses a Miata he affectionately calls the ‘Teal Turd‘.   He wanted a solution to carry his autocross tires & rims without a trailer.  He looked into the Tire Tail, but he didn’t like all the tire/carrier weight hanging way out in back.  So, Craig came up with his vision of a unique and sensible competition tire carrier.

It’s different and it works for him.  It all starts with the base tied to the trailer hitch, and goes up & over the trunk from there.  You have to make sure you’ve got what’s in your trunk settled, because basically you’re committed!

Craig is a fun competitor & has a great attitude on autocrossing & life.  Some of his advice helped me to get over my initial disappointment after my first autocross, in my Nissan Maxima daily driver.  Next Sunday, I will be autocrossing differently; I’ll be co-driving with Jerry in his stock 1990 Miata – should be awesome fun!

Racing Ready takes things seriously, but ya gotta be a goofball, once in awhile !

Dan

Balanced Diasio D962 & Porsche 968 Team

At some of these events I attend, you get to see & experience some awesome vehicles that are definitely not for the street. They are most appropriate for the race track.  David brought such a race car to Harris Hill Road (H2R).

He brought his Diasio D962.  It looks like a miniature Le Mans series/prototype racer at first glance.  When the rear access panel was removed, you could see the Yamaha YZF engine.  It is stock (rated at 150HP) and connected to the rear axle via direct chain drive.  On the Diasio website, you’ll see the current model (D962R) uses a stock Renesis (twin rotary) engine mounted longitudinally, powering the rear wheels via a F3 transaxle.

David’s Diasio race car weighs only 1150 lbs.  It’s built on a FABCAR chassis, with a rigid, but lightweight Kevlar body.  You can’t see it, but the engine is mounted in a transverse orientation.  David said that this specific edition of a Diasio was a development “mule”.  It was a one-off research and development prototype chassis.  Also of note was this was the first model to make use of independent rear suspension.  This is similar to but not exactly like the Diasio you can buy today.

David is of average stature, not as tall as I am, but he still had to make amends to fit his helmet.  That’s why the driver’s side window is lacking.  Makes for great ventilation (or buffeting), I’m sure.

Watching this race car speed by you could hear its wonderful, high pitched song – very sweet!

Accompanying David was Judy with her 1992 Porsche 968.  Five years ago she was in love with her special edition Chevy Camero Z28.  She had the automatic transmission version, because she couldn’t wait for the later release of the manual shift version.

Not long after meeting David, she “saw the light”, and got her sweet white Porsche.  Today she enjoys participating in track events like these with David.  She now better appreciates what balanced handling is all about.

At Racing Ready we try to provide you with balanced reporting.

Dan

2nd Autocross Results @ SASCA

You may be wondering if I learned something from my first autocross.  Yes, I did and I applied it at the SASCA autocross on 11/9/2008, my second autocross this year.  I learned what seemed like a good tire air pressure balance, front to rear, and stayed with it at this event – 46 front, 43 rear.  That let me try to concentrate on learning the course, and the proper line through it.

Multiple SCCA Solo 2 Champion Andy Hollis designed and set up the course.  All agreed it was a good course.  A little technical in the beginning, with a long medium speed slalom (at least 8 cones), a left-right shunt, a short slalom, a grand right turn sweeper & a higher speed offset slalom (4 sets of cones, I think).  I’d love to show you the layout, but it was all in Andy’s head & never put to paper (darn!).

Anyway, here’s my series of 9 (!) runs.  Again, not exactly consistent, to say the least.  The “+1” refers to a hit cone, which is adds a 2 second penalty (ouch!).  Run #5 is where I locked up the brakes going too hot into a turn, and I actually backed up to avoid knocking over 3 or 4 cones, oh well.  It is what it is…

This is still very much learning about how to make up for physical/mechanical shortcomings of the car & my mental shortcomings and how to deal with them.  Some people have said autocrossing is like playing golf:

You really aren’t competing against others, you’re competing against yourself!

When you think about it, it’s true.  Here at Racing Ready we try to only deal in the truth…

Dan

CBR PCA DE/TT (HPDE) at H2R

Why so many cryptic acronyms?  Hmmm…  Read below for a full disclosure.

A week ago today, at the H2R DE/TT (Harris Hill Road Driver’s Education / Track Time [I think]), I was able to arrive there early enough to listen in on the drivers’ meeting. You could also call it a HPDE; that’s a High Performance Driving Event, as defined by the NASA (National Auto Sport Association). This event was being run by the CBR PCA (Coastal Bend Region Porsche Club of America).

At most of these motorsports events, when you sign to see the auto insurance rates, you are given a wrist band. At this event, you were given a specific color band (green, blue, yellow, red – in this order). This was to assign you to a specific run group according to your experience level and your car’s speed potential (from lowest to highest). The point is to group participants and their cars into appropriately similar groups for safety concerns.

Rene, the CBR PCA president, explained the rules and expectations of the day’s event. Each color group was to get 3 – 30 minute runs on the track. There was no set lunch period. This was a high speed track event, NOT open racing! On the H2R track there are specific passing zones. They are indicated by orange cones with flags; the green flag is the start of the zone, the red flag is the end of the zone. Pretty straightforward. Otherwise, there was to be no passing (indicated in the red zones, below).

Also, you don’t just pass when you want to. The driver ahead of you needs to see you in his mirrors. Then he will do a “point by” with his left arm out the window.  This indicates you can pass safely. In this way, no one is surprised about being passed at speed, and safe high speed driving is continued.

Since this was a Porsche Club of America event, yes, there were a majority of Porsche cars going schnell.  But, as I’ve documented this past week, there were others: a 2009 Nissan GT-R, a 1993 Mazda RX-7, and a 2004 Cadillac CTS-V.  All variety of enthusiasts vehicles were accepted & allowed to run.  I plan to have a couple more vehicle entries to post next week…

I’m glad I got there early enough to learn what was expected of the participants. I plan to be in that category in the future, too! Racing Ready will document my path…

Dan