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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All

So I had my first track day in the elise on sunday:) Very well organised and great fun.

Unfortunately, there was no instruction available so i just had to figure it out for myself. (having only been on a track once before for a bmw advanced driver training course).

Started out nice and slow (and in a slow class) to learn the track. fortunately I had contacted the organiser before hand and gotten a document detailing the neccessary preparations, equipment and a good description of the track, correct lines, etc.

All was going great .....until.... coming out of a fast, long, uphill right hander - as i got to the outside of the exit I felt the tail start coming round. By the time I really realised what was happening, it was too late. only option was to go with it - slid around and back to inside of track onto grass. No damage done, except to ego - and I now know why one should close the air vents - car is full of dust.

Now, I'm trying to figure what I did wrong? It was at the exit of the corner, I was full on the gas in 3rd. I don't believe that I lifted off the gas. I think what happend is that I got onto the painted "curb" at the outside of the corner (which was probably a bit dusty) and had too much steering dialled in, thus causing the tail to come around. Can anyone offer some input to help me diagnose my error?

I am trying to organise some instruction for the next track day and might even try get on a skip pan to learn to feel and catch the tail stepping out - was not a pleasant expereince as a newb at 100km/h:crazyeyes

Still, I did go back out again after that - much more carefully and managed to build some confidence back up after a few cautious, measured laps.

anyway, I certainly left there feeling alive, humbled and am looking forward to next time:up:
 

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Just a guess here:

By the time you reach the track-out point you shouldn't have a whole lot of steering still dialed in. Past the apex and moving towards that outside curbing, you should be smoothly unwinding the steering input.

If you're going so fast that you don't have room to unwind in this manner, then you either turned in and apexed too early and/or you're just going too dang fast for that turn.

xtn

PS - Pretty addicting hobby, huh?
 

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pinched the exit due to a possible/probable early apex.

put both feet in when you spin.

get an instructor. it'll be a real learning experience as opposed to a survival experience.

skid pad will help with the steering/seat-of-the-pants sensations associated with impending oversteer.

congrats on getting out there and trying it.:up:
 

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Sounds like you had fun and you're approaching this with the proper amount of caution and respect. Cheers to you.

That said, i'd be wary of going to a track event run by any organization that allows a novice out on the track alone without an instructor (especially a first timer :crazyeyes)

As i said, sounds like you're approaching this in a healthy way, just be careful with who you run with.

Good luck, and enjoy it. It's an addiction!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks for the advice and positive feedback - much appreciated.

I think you're probably right about the early apex - resulting in more steering still dialed in than there should be. I'll have a closer look next time at the painted section/curb on the outside - i think the lower grip on that surface had an effect as well. of course this wouldn't have been an issue if i had apexed later and been more or less in a straight line by the time i got to the outside.

pauli33 - here you loud and clearon the concerns of letting novices out there. I was kind of surprised myself. The guy who runs the race track is a member of the lotus register here in SA, it was him that invited me to come out. I had hoped to meet up with him and at least get a couple of laps under his guidance. Unfortunately, he wan't there - so when the organiser saidjust go out there (actually he said that all non-professional drivers where novices in his opinion??!) I was faced with a choice - go home or give it a try.... I chose the latter :) that said i was quite angry with myself for getting into a situation of spinning first time out - I really did intend to stay within my limits. problem is, as a newb I had no real idea where the limit was, so didn't really recognise how close I was

also quite hard not to get carried away after a few semi-decent (to me anyway) laps

Also concerning about this track day is the lack of any mechanical inspection - where some pretty beaten up civics/golfs/etc. I just made sure I stayed well away from everyone, even if it meant letting "slower" cars come past and just coasting to let then get away.

....and yes....very addictive:)
 

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Something to serious consider when you are tracking the car is to mentally tighten your exit point.

Yes, I know it's blasphemy, but if you pick a track out that's 2 feet off the edge of the track, and you find you need a little extra space, you then have it.

If you need every inch of track, you probably want to back down a bit...or think about what may happen. Even in my racecar, while 90% of my spins are no big deal, I *have* had spins where I caught a rock/groove/whatnot and done damage to the car.

Steve
 

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Read "Going Faster" before your next trackday. Available online if not at your local bookstore. If you can't have an instructor next best thing (maybe better depending on the instructor).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks steve - i think getting my apex later, going in a little slower and as you suggest giving myself some room for error on the exit is what I will work on next time.

Jim, thanks for the book tip. found it on one the the local online bookstores (10 days to get).

One more question - as stated I did check the car over after the spin, took it back out and drove it home. Everything seems fine, despite a bumpy ride on grass.... and yes, i did remember both feet in. Should I get the car checked out for any undetected damage, loosening of bolts, whatever... or is the stress of a spin like this nothing to worry about for these cars?

Sorry if I'm asking dumb questions...:shrug:
 

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Pretty much what everyone has already said...

I'll add: Ease up a bit and focus on the line - where the car should be on track and making sure your eyes are "up" (don't drive 3m. in front of the car). Let the speed follow naturally.

Good times, ain't it?
:D
 

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.

One more question - as stated I did check the car over after the spin, took it back out and drove it home. Everything seems fine, despite a bumpy ride on grass.... and yes, i did remember both feet in. Should I get the car checked out for any undetected damage, loosening of bolts, whatever... or is the stress of a spin like this nothing to worry about for these cars?

Sorry if I'm asking dumb questions...:shrug:
If you have a good floor jack lift each corner and spin the wheel and see if it wobbles or shimmies. Then remove the wheel and inspect the supension components of each corner. Replace and retorque to factory specs. In a spin over rough ground the integrity of each corner would be my primary concern.
There are no dumb questions....some answers may be suspect though.

Like others have said, slow down and get the line perfect first. I also feel its important to remember that it's generally safer and quicker to error on the side of turning in and apexing a corner too late than too early. Allows you to get back on the gas more aggressively and gives more room at the exit so you're less likely to need to "pinch" the exit.
 

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Like they already said, take your time and learn your car and the track before you start pushing it. Tracking these cars is a lot of fun but always keep in mind that things can and do happen on tracks so be safe.

Here is some good advice from an instructor I had about turns:
If your tires are talking to you that is good. If they start screaming at you then you are in trouble and if they suddenly stop talking to you after that then you are going off the road or spinning out.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi All

So, went to my 2nd track day today:)

I took the excellent advice to buy and read Going Faster before going - great book which really helped my understanding of what is going on and how to minimise risks.

...as I arrive and start watching the faster class cars go by - a guy in a M5 oversteers and comes back across the track into the pit wall!! Not fast, but fast enough to be very expensive:wallbang:

This wasn't great for the confidence.. only good thing is that once they opened the track for the B class cars (under 2l), only 3 of us were up for it.

Too it very easy for 4/5 laps, focusing on line, nice late turn-ins, then pulling back a little to find the right turn in point. (This was great advice from the book - turning in late sure does give you that nice margin on the track out:))

2nd session was great - late afternoon.. very few cars.. nice smooth laps. not very fast (got passed by some ford focus ST's and a golf GTI with some mods i think...hope). I need to work on some reference points for the breaking - think I should be breaking later and harder. I'm also probably nowhere near the limit on the speed I'm carrying through the corners, but was a little nervous from last experience.

Still trying to find someone to provide instruction... and think some time on the skid pan would help build some skills and confidence..


All in all... a great day :coolnana::coolnana:
 

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All was going great .....until.... coming out of a fast, long, uphill right hander - as i got to the outside of the exit I felt the tail start coming round. By the time I really realised what was happening, it was too late.
Did you crest the hill during the corner? The car may have been light from that.

Ask me how I know:eek:

This was from my first track day :eek:

I have learnt so much since then:nanner2::shift:

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Discussion Starter #14
:no: ...if I did that with my wife (i assume), that would be the end of the elise..never mind any other recreational activities;)

having now been back to the same track and doing that corner 30+ times i know exactly what i did... early apex, way too fast, pushed out to outside of track, then dialed in more steering...:thwack:
 
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