I spent half of this past Tuesday and all of Wednesday and Thursday enjoying the rolling hills of Virginia International Raceway this week. I am going to follow up with a more comprehensive piece on the time spent there, but for now here are a few words I put together my first night along with some photographs.
Late yesterday afternoon I followed a friend up to VIR (Virginia International Raceway) so that I could participate in two days of high performance driving education there. Today I spent my day getting that education.
About four years ago I spent my time going to four of these events at VIR and loved every minute of it. It had been too long since the last one and I was anxious to see how much I had forgotten and how much I remembered about how to drive fast on a road racing course.
I like VIR a lot. It has a nice layout of turns as well as substantial elevation changes. It also has some really great looking grounds and the facilities are top notch.
The day started off with some rain. Not a heavy rain, but not a light rain either. With a heavy rain the track is rinsed of all the loose dirt and any accumulated oils. Even though it makes things wet, you can still get pretty good traction as long as you don’t encounter standing water. This rain was the type that just made things wet. It also made driving quite a challenge.
It was on the third lap of my first session when I was rounding into turn two that I managed to lose it and ended up spinning into a grass covered berm. Nothing was damaged except that particular lap of the course. I restarted the car and slowly made my way across the grass until I could see a corner worker’s station and was waved back onto the track. Then I made my way around and pitted so that the car could be visually inspected for any damage that might keep it off the track. Fortunately everything appeared to be in order and I was allowed back on the track to complete the laps of that session.
Driving a car fast, successfully, around a road racing track consists of facing a surface that demands perfection if you want to transverse it as quickly as possible. So you are trying to make as few mistakes as possible. When you do make a mistake you cannot take the time to agonize over it because you have the rest of the track to navigate and speed requires that you maintain your focus on what is ahead and not get mired in what is in your wake.
At the same time you must treat your vehicle with the utmost respect. You must remember to never force it into doing something you wish it to do. Instead you must ask it to do what you would like it to accomplish. Your car is your dance partner and you must both find the rhythm that allows you and your vehicle to get through so quickly that it flows like pouring water into a glass.