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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all...The VIP High-Performance Driving coaches are putting on another event -- this time an all Lotus event, and at Buttonwillow. About two-three weeks ago, I attended one of these coaching days at Thunderhill, and the empirical results don't lie: I'm a better, faster driver. It was definitely a "plateau-busting" experience. The coach/driver ratio is one-to-one, and all of the coaches are professional racers, or professional coaches, or both. You can read about my experience here:

http://www.elisetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52014&page=2

(read posts #21 and #24 in particular.)

This is a great opportunity for Northern California Lotustalkers to meet some of their Southern California counterparts, as Buttonwillow is sort of a "in between the regions" track, a la Laguna Seca. And, like Thunderhill, Buttonwillow is an SCCA-owned track that's full of plenty of challenges and plenty of run-off. Robbie Montinola, the event organizer, says he'll be running layout #13. His websites are here:

Montinola Racing | www.montinola.com
Silicon Valley Racing | www.DriveSVR.com

I plan on doing at least one of these coaching days a year. Seriously, if you know you're leaving time on the table, this is probably the best way to make gains.
 

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Where is the event page for this? Cost? I'd love to go...
 

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Hi Guys - Thought I would chime in to give you guys more details on our next event...

Join our ALL LOTUS VIP HPDE event at Buttonwillow Raceway on May 21st. We provide the ultimate experience to accelerate your high performance driving skills in a safe and controlled environment with professional racecar drivers as coaches. Our driving school is great for any skill level since one-on-one coaching allows us to customize our feedback to you. Learn how to drive your unique sports car through professional coaching and exclusive track time at one of the best test tracks in California. There are only a limited number of spots available, register early! We look forward to working with you.

Event Details //

When | Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
Where | Buttonwillow Raceway [www.buttonwillowraceway.com]
**Located half-way between Southern and Northern California

> Exclusive On-Track Sessions
> One-on-One Professional Driver Coaching through in-car radio communication as we ride in your car!
> Instantaneous custom tailored feedback to each driver, for all skill levels
> Debrief sessions and fundamental exercises in-between on-track sessions
> Breakfast, Lunch and Drinks included
> Gates Open at 7AM // Mandatory Driver's Meeting @ 7:30AM // Group 1 On-Track @ 8:15AM
> Limited Space, register today!
> Entry Fee = $1,395.00

To Register //
Please EMAIL Robbie Montinola at [email protected] for the official registration form.

Contact Info //
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about our events. Jon is also a good contact for more info as well. You can reach me at 949.290.7519 or [email protected].
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow, that is the costliest track day I've ever seen!!!
It is indeed expensive -- if you look at it as a conventional track day (which it isn't). I have done some degree of number-checking and analysis to determine what you're really paying for, and getting, for the high entry fee, and how this compares to a traditional track day fee structure. To wit:

- Hooked On Driving is hosting a Buttonwillow day in early May. The fee is $325. I don't know if this is a normal Buttonwillow fee, but I'll use it for this analysis. If we assume $325 is the going rate, then Robbie's VIP event essentially costs as much as four regular track days. I.e., the "extra" money he charges could otherwise go to three more regular track days.

However...

- The VIP event has 6-7 sessions, as opposed to 4-5 sessions in a typical track day, and each VIP session is typically longer. (At least they were longer sessions than what I am used to.) ... So while you're spending enough money for four track days, but only getting one, that one day you're getting actually includes more seat time.

- In the VIP event, there are only eight cars maximum on track at a time. This directly translates into many, many, many more clean laps with which to develop a rhythm, work on key corners, acquire data, etc. And consider that if you were to rent the track with just 15 other attendees, you would not be paying $325 a person. In this link, the NCRC describes track rental costs, and informs us that on average, renting a track in California costs $12,300. Divide this among 16 people, and each is paying about $770 for the day.) As reported in Grassroots Motorsports, driving coaches (like those employed by Speedsecrets) heartily encourage (and some even require) a clean, open track for effective coaching. So I guess you can say that running 16 attendees in two groups of eight is a bit of a "compromise" on Robbie's part -- an effort to keep costs down.

- It's also worth noting that private coaching typically starts at $1,000 per day and goes upward from there. I'm sure you can find much less expensive coaches who are really great, but the ones I know always discuss numbers that start at $1,000. You get what you pay for (see what I wrote in the other thread for details.)

- A Skip Barber one-day events cost about the same as VIP's. FWIW, I got much more from the VIP event.

- I think what this all really comes down to are these three questions:
1) How much money do you spend on track days each year?
2) Do you really care about lap times and overall improvement (or are you quite content to just toodle around the track for fun)?
3) Are you frustrated that you're stuck on a performance plateau?

If your answers are 1) "a lot," 2) "most definitely," and 3) "very much so," then $1,400 is a good investment. I sort of look at it like, "I'm willing to sacrifice three regular track events if it means that every lap I do from here on out will be faster, smoother, and more technically proficient."

IMHO: There is no reason to do a private coaching day if you don't care about improvement (because, let's be real here: even a slow, flawed lap on a road course is still really fun!). Likewise, there's no reason for this kind of coaching day if you are one of those rare natural talents who is fast from the get-go, or are an experienced driver who's already tapping every last bit of performance from the car.

Indeed, these coaching days are not for everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
we consider it more a driving school... you will learn more in one day w/ us than you have your entire driving career ;)
I don't know if the following supports or contradicts Robbie's statement above, but I'll share it anyhow. ;-) ... Do the VIP school if you've hit a plateau.

I would not do a VIP event as my very first track experience, unless I was quite rich, or wanted to be on track in relative privacy. Sure, a first-timer would learn a lot, no quarrel there. But I think someone's first track experience is more about working out the nerves and butterflies, and this can be done less expensively at in a "club school" environment.

Likewise, if I were already lapping within 2-3 seconds of my car's potential, I wouldn't do the VIP event -- unless I was pursuing a racing goal, be it pro racing or club racing. Two seconds off the pace in a racing situation is significant; two seconds off in HPDE is right in the ballpark. :)

The upshot: Everyone has much to gain from pro coaching, but it may not be money best spent for folks on the extremes of either side of the talent scale.
 

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Jon, we do twelve cars a day at BW, and hire Craig Stanton, usually split between three or four us. We have unlimited laps all day, I usually do around 250 track miles a day. I'm still a good few seconds a lap slower than Craig, (I'm in 2:04 now), but I love every lap, even the slow ones!

Incase you're not familiar with Craig he is an awesome instructor, and a super nice gentleman to spend a day with. My Dad was a racecar driver, and I grew up around folks to who driving was an art form, so when I say Craig is really good I do know what really good is. If you've never had the chance to spend a day with him you really should. http://www.craigstanton.com/
 

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I would agree that doing the VIP day for a beginner is probably overkill. I'd suggest doing at least a couple of Hooked on Driving days before that, so you can get the best value from the VIP experience. I'm a strong believer in the HOD program and think it's an outstanding value for a beginner-to-intermediate driver.

Steve
 

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jon - we are limiting our BW day to only 12 drivers, six per group... still one-on-one coach to driver ratio..

macfly - some of our coaches have been team mates w/ craig and he is a great driver/coach. i should see if he is free ;) the difference with our program is that you have a coach in your car at all times (i'm assuming craig can't ride w/ all of you at the same time =P ). our coaches have a very similar background as craig w/ lots of racing experience (mainly open-wheel) and years of coaching experience with racecar drivers, race teams and racing schools (skip barber, etc)..

anyways, hope some of you can make it. as jon has stated, if you're struggling to find those last few seconds or want to build a solid foundation, we would love to work with you!

thanks,
robbie montinola
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Price reduced to $1,195

Hey, Robbie has reduced the price, so please seize this opportunity and keep me company at the track!!! :) ... More track time than you know what to do with, ZERO traffic on the track, and a pro coach in the passenger seat for every session.
 

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Incase you're not familiar with Craig he is an awesome instructor, and a super nice gentleman to spend a day with.
He also can make an Elise go like stink around WSIR (I saw his video of 1:27, I think it was).
 

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Hey, Robbie has reduced the price, so please seize this opportunity and keep me company at the track!!! :) ... More track time than you know what to do with, ZERO traffic on the track, and a pro coach in the passenger seat for every session.
Hey Jon,
Oh, I didn't realize that you were doing this. It will definitely be more fun with you out there. I hope that more Elise drivers sign up for this because it is a great price for a private track event with full time professional instruction. Not only does it trounce a regular track day, it'll make subsequent track days more fun.

BTW, I ran in the Lotus Challenge at Buttonwillow a couple of weeks ago so I've got a recent baseline from which to measure improvement (many 2:10's and 2:11's with a best 2:10.073 on 13CW). I'd be surprised if I didn't improve by at least a few seconds - great for the upcoming Buttonwillow LCS event in August.
All the best,
Mike
 

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Even though I have about zero experience with driving on a track, and I'm not trying to shave any 'seconds' off my time (because I don't have any times yet ;)) I'm planning on being at this event. It's been said over and over on LT ... "spend money on improving driving skills first" ... so that's what I'm doing. I know that this car is WAY out of sync compared to my current skills and am expecting this day to bring them a little closer together. :)

- z :shift:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Jon,
Oh, I didn't realize that you were doing this.
Well, I wasn't sure until a week or so ago. However... (1) My tax bill is much less than I expected. (2) I checked the various track calendars, and I have no track days scheduled till late June (zoinks!), and (3) I am more interested to be there if other Lotus drivers show up. :) ... Mike, please PM me so we can exchange phone numbers before the event. Maybe we can drive down in a convoy. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Even though I have about zero experience with driving on a track, and I'm not trying to shave any 'seconds' off my time (because I don't have any times yet ;)) I'm planning on being at this event. It's been said over and over on LT ... "spend money on improving driving skills first" ... so that's what I'm doing. I know that this car is WAY out of sync compared to my current skills and am expecting this day to bring them a little closer together. :)

- z :shift:
Oh, you will have a blast. By the end of the day, any track-day jitters you might have had will be completely gone. Probably the best thing about this type of event for a first timer is the lack of traffic, and sheer hours of seat time you'll get. (As a beginner, it's almost impossible to learn anything if you only have 4 or 5 sessions, and each session is clogged up with traffic jams.) ... Love Krypton Green, by the way. I have only seen one, and it was on a dealer lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Anyone have any tips on the best lodging near Buttonwillow? (Yeah, I hear they all suck...)
 

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Wow, that is the costliest track day I've ever seen!!!

I have paid $1500 for one track day. They supplied the cars...Elise's. Only 3 cars on the track at one time.
 
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