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Simraceway School Of Racing Stage 1: Getting To Know Formula Cars Page 2

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Day 2: Getting up to speed

Back at the track after a (hopefully) good night's rest, suited up and ready to go, you'll spend some more classroom time on the dynamics of weight transfer, and what driver inputs do to direct a car's traction (or lack thereof) through throttle, brake, and steering inputs.

Then it's back out for another round of braking/downshifting exercises, then a trip to the "kidney bean" drill with the sports racer, where you'll see first hand, again from the passenger and driver's seat, what effect trailbraking and throttle-on oversteer have on a car. This is one of the most pure fun elements of the course, where you can spin the car, throw down smoky powerslides, and generally hoon the car--all with an eye toward learning what to do and what not to do--with impunity.

Next, it's more brake/downshift drills in the FJR-50 to refresh your new muscle memory and evaluate your progression in understanding how to brake digressively before lunch, another track ridealong with the instructors in the Evo Xs, and a classroom session on the etiquette, rules, and technical bits of open lapping.

After a brief lead-follow session, you're let loose on Infineon with nothing but your new-found skills and your own sense of mortality between you and ultimate doom--or a massive sense of accomplishment.

As you work to put together the techniques and skills you've learned over the last day-and-a-half, you'll see continuous, gradual improvements in your speed through each section of the course. The next hurdle, however, is one that can't be taught, and is very hard to learn on your own: just how high the limits of the car really are.

Grip is prodigious. Beastly. Completely outside your ken, even if you're very familiar and experienced with high-performance road-car-based vehicles. But it can go away in an instant if you tell the car to do something it shouldn't be doing. Finding that line, riding the edge, or even approaching it, is the new challenge. Pushing yourself to believe in the car and your skills, to say to yourself, "yes, I can go flat through that whole section," despite every fiber of your inner being telling you to lift, is at the heart of it.

After the first solo lapping session, you'll probably think you've made huge strides--and you probably have. But the instructors will have a notepad full of issues you can work on, improvements you can make, and suggestions for the next session. After the final session, you'll even have a chance to look at some of your data. Each car is outfitted with a full set of data acquisition sensors, and you'll be given a memory stick with your last session and the software to analyze it at home.

Simraceway School Of Racing Stage 1

Simraceway School Of Racing Stage 1

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Becoming a more complete driver

Working in these critiques, focusing on keeping line as close to perfect as possible, all while wrestling a vehicle that requires more physical force--and exerts more force upon the driver--than anything you've driven before, can be taxing. It can also be incredibly rewarding.

How rewarding will be determined only by your ability to focus, execute, and, ultimately, work through your combination of disbelief and fear of what the car is truly capable of at speed.

For anyone looking to become a better driver, get behind the wheel of a car with limits that are truly beyond the capabilities (or at least experience) of even relatively seasoned amateurs, or just have a wild one-shot go at living the dream of being a race driver, the Simraceway Performance Driving Center is a safe, fun, and intense experience. What you take away from it will depend on your own goals, but anyone can have a great time.

Once you've completed Stage 1, you can get even more serious about your skills and speed with Stage 2 and Stage 3 classes.

If you pay close attention, you will also learn not just about driving, but about yourself.

 

For a look at another similar driving school, but from a sports car driving perspective, be sure to check out our review of the Skip Barber Mazdaspeed 3-Day Racing School.


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