I went to a Golden Gate Lotus Club track day today at Thunderhill West. Over the PA they announced that they needed another coach, so I signed up.
My first student, who had a new-ish WRX, had done some autocross but never a track day. I figured he would be driving the shortest path on every corner and chicken out of speed corners. I was half right. While he did drive the shortest path by default, he drove the high speed parts with unusual confidence. When approaching 3W, lots of people slow way down. Not him. He also put the right side tires within a couple inches of the dirt every time. Not expected. The “coaching” I did was mostly to get him to back up his corners. He was running the car in really deep and then not getting on throttle until well after the apex. After a couple sessions, he was driving great, and I’m pretty sure he was the fastest car in the Novice group.
I thought my student would be fine solo, so I checked it out with the organizers, and they said ok. But I wanted to observe him from another car. Tiernan was driving my Z3, so I jumped in the passenger seat of an RSX Type-S and suddenly I had another student. I had seen him driving before, so I knew a little bit of what to expect: too much braking. Lots of people brake too much. Most of the time, that’s because they can’t actually drive. But it turns that this student was a pretty good driver, he just needed someone to tell him where it was ok to go faster. Once he stopped over-braking, he stopped trying to turn and accelerate at the same time, and the understeer went away. There were even a few proper moments where he was getting lift throttle oversteer. During that one session he dropped something like 4 seconds. Maybe he’ll pick up another second without a passenger.
So why was Tiernan driving my Z3? Because his new 128i was in limp mode. The 128i is on a short list of cars I’m interested in, so I was pleased that Tiernan bought one. It’s a little too modern inside, but the overall look and specs of the car are great. So why was it in limp mode? Because it needed an oil change. Really, the car can test the oil’s conductivity, determine there’s too much metal in it, and then refuse to rev higher than 5k. Honestly, that’s pretty fucking cool. In the future, I’m sure Tiernan will be changing his oil before every track day.
Another car that’s on my short list is an RSX Type-S. After sitting right seat, I have to say it’s moving up the list. It’s really comfortable inside and certainly sporty enough. And every time the VTEC kicked in, it brought a smile to my face.
One of the things I enjoyed today was that the Lotus Club has the best mix of cars. There were Miatas of every generation. Some of the NAs were Spec Miatas and some had been converted into Exocets. There were no less than 5 Exocets, and one was wearing a Catfish body! There were also a good number of NCs and NDs. Of course there were many different Lotus cars from an open wheeler that used to be a skid pad car at Skip Barber, to a Europa, to a Seven, to the various modern models like Exige and Evora. There were a couple BMWs and Porches, and 1 Corvette. Many of the cars had at least partial cages and were equipped with harnesses. The attitude here is “serious fun”. Definitely my kind of car enthusiasts.