Thursday, July 10, 2014

Studying Evoloution

This weekend, I will out among the cones again, but not for a competitive event. I will be attending an Evolution Performance Driving School (popularly known as "Evo School", though it has nothing to do with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, also referred to as an "Evo"). Over the last few races, It has become clear that, while I am driving at a higher level than last year, there is still room for improvement. Twice I've had a top driver get in my car and shave seconds off my time. Both times the car proved it could have taken FTD in "fun runs".

One might think that after 5+ years at this I would be beyond schools, but if you think that, then there's two things to consider (at least). First off, this school is run by folks who are National trophy winners, many of them national champions. That is a level I have not attained yet. Mostly I know the basics, and I am significantly above average at the local level, but these people go faster. They can spot my errors and they clearly know things I don't.

Secondly, the great thing about schools, is seat time. One gets many many runs on which to find the speed. One thing I sorely need is to elevate my expectations. I need to get to a higher speed and practice being there. I need to make faster feel normal. Regular events, one just gets the course figured out and then the day ends.

The ride along on with Ben at the last Renegade Miata event (when he shaved 3-4 sec off my time and would have set FTD by over 2 seconds but for a couple cones) totally emphasizes that I simply don't have the right expectation of how the car should feel. It's also entirely clear that although Leafy's car may be somewhat faster than mine, proper driving could still get me a win. Hope is not lost.

I will be attending the Challenge School, where the instructor will set a time and then I will attempt to match it. I did this several years ago and there will also be ride alongs with the instructor, and my goal is to try to capture that feel of being right on the edge but still in control. Without an example of a top driver to compare with, it's really easy to think you are on the edge when you're still quite some distance from it.

So my #1 goal is to absorb the feel of "being on the edge" like a sponge and learn to live there without falling off. I need to keep pushing myself. But I'm also aware that pushing is not everything.

At the last event, I set my best time by pushing hard and repeatedly telling myself "Do it with the line, not with the brakes" as I drove through the course. So the other key is to continue refining my line. The "edge" on the good line is a lot faster than the "edge" on a sloppy line.

Oh yeah, and have fun too!

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