Learning More Racing At Harris Hill Road

The S2KCA HPDE (high performance driver education) event I attended this past Saturday was a good review, to see who was out there, with what car & what they had done to improve their on-track performance & experience.  It all started with the orientation/driver’s meeting, facilitated by Sondra Sondregger.

Sondra Sondregger explaining Harris Hill Road track safety concerns...

The weather started out a bit foggy & cool, but it turned out to be a great day for practicing hot laps in mildly cool weather.

Panorama of the foggy morning start at Harris Hill Road HPDE of S2KCA - November 14, 2009

One of the highlights of the event, was the display (& some enthusiastic ride-alongs) of a brand new 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S.  I will write more about this impressive in a future post here soon.  Here’s a teaser picture, but the camera does not do it justice.

Bo Rivers &  Sondra Sondregger discussing the merits of the Porsche Panamera on track!

Kevin, who’s been to an H2R HPDE event before, ran his competitive 2008 Honda Civic Si.

Kevin's Honda Civic Si on the grid at the Harris Hill Road paddock

He has since made 2 major upgrades that have made a significant handling improvement of the car on track:

  • upgraded to Buddy adjustable coilover shocks (from Japan)
  • tires/wheels (specific for the track, as opposed to another set for autocross)

Track tire/wheel combo - Bridgestone Potenza RE 070 & Weds Sport Racing Wheel

Chris brought his relatively new red 2009 Mazda Miata.  You will note the increased tire stance – it’s due to having 17×9 wheels w/ a 45mm offset.  He says they do a nice job with increasing the corner handling potential over the stock wheels.  Of special note on this day was the debut of Chris’ new pewter-colored hardtop.  He ended up with this color because a friend offered it to him for a price he could not refuse.  Chris had never even considered a hardtop before & had thought to paint it to match at first.  Now he’s fine with the combination & contrast of the 2 colors.  I think it looks really sharp (be sure to click the image for a bigger/better view)!

Chris' red 2009 Mazda Miata with pewter-colored top - looks purposeful!

Edward, whose 2008 Mustang GT I showcased here before, came out to play.  The change he was letting on about were his newly painted wheels.  His secret?  That’s flat black BBQ paint on on those wheels.  Gives them a nice, satin patina.  Probably easier to clean?  It does look a little meaner…

Edward's 2008 Mustang GT debuting his stealthy alloy 18" wheels...

In addtion to the stealthy wheels, Edward had upgraded to StopTech calipers & discs.  He had rebadged then as Saleens – how cool is that?

Here's a close-up of those 2008 Mustang GT newly painted 18" alloy wheels...

As with any high speed event, there is a sense of caution & sometime things go wrong.  Chris to the track with his beautiful blue Honda s2000.  He was having a good day on track, when he lost it in a corner.  He suffered the humility of an off track excursion, but there was no damage to his car except a bit of mud & grass.  Afterwords he was able to return to later lapping sessions.

Off track excursion results on a Honda S2000 - he was back at speed later!

Harris Hill Road safety policy dictates that a car which has experienced such an incident get inspected.  They look for obvious & hidden damage.  In the past they have found dirt/grass lodged between the wheel & tire bead causing it to not hold pressure properly.  This could be very dangerous at speed.  That’s a good safety policy!

Ryan, one of the HPDE instructors, brought one his Miata project cars.  This is a very similar model to Karlino (his “cousin”), except for the automatic transmission & tan leather interior.  I later parked nearby to visually compare the two (and also so they could chit-chat about their histories since leaving the factory) :-)…

Miata "cousins" chatting it up at Harris Hill Road!

Bob brought out his often campaigned Beck Lister replica.  His latest upgrade (or experiment, as he would say) was the addition of an eBay spoiler.  He decided to attach it to the roll bar as that was the easiest place to mount it.  Also, he didn’t have to commit to drilling holes in that pristine rear decklid.  Later on Bob shared with me that he was actually pleased with the noticeable downforce he felt in the corners.

Bob working on a pesky oil leak on his Beck Lister racer.

A detail shot of Bob's eBay spoiler mounted on the roll bar of his Beck Lister.

With all the activity going on, this brand new 2010 Aston Martin Vantage almost seemed to be ignored!  I think it had to do with it being overlooked in the shadow of the new 2010 Porsche Panamera…

2010 Aston Martin Vantage in the Harris Hill Road paddock, still with temporary paper plates!

There were many others out there, learning & having a good time, that I did not get a chance to talk to – hopefully next time.  The final highlight of the day was my taking Karlino out on track for 5 “parade” laps.  That was AWESOME~!

In such a hurry to get out on track, I forget to ask to have a picture taken!

Racing Ready enjoys the sharing of data among the camaraderie of racing buddies…

I was in blogger mode this day - clipboard & all! (Picture courtesy of Chris L. via Facebook)


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One thought on “Learning More Racing At Harris Hill Road”

  1. For beginners, I recommend not giving it too much gas right out of the gates. I see more people head straight into the walls because they’re not used to the power. Also, if you get into a crash or get bumped, let off the gas a bit and let the car starighten itself out.”

    “This is just a personal thing, but I drive with one hand. A lot of people drive at 10 and 2, and that’s ok. When I steer with one hand though, I’m not fighting the input of the steering wheel and your hands aren’t fighting each other. You should never have to steer more than a quarter of a turn throughout the whole race. If you do, you be much slower. Steer with the throttle, make your adjustments with the throttle, not the steering wheel.”

    “Don’t drive it hard into the corners, make sure to let off the gas early in the turns, drift down early and get back on it early in the turn.

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