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Old 11-25-2010, 02:35 AM   #1
Andy2108
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Young driver looking for more "track experience", need suggestions on where to start

So Ive always been interested with cars and driving. Ive played many driving video games and developed my skills a bit through them. The games with good physics engines (like Forza 3) have given me the ability to observe and correct things like oversteer, understeer, taking the perfect line, and braking before and accelerating through an apex. The thing about the games... their games. You dont actually feel the car and how it reacts or get a realistic interpretation of what driving on a track really is.

I have spent probably a 3-5 hours at a pretty serious indoor kart racing track here. To get in you have to like sign all the release forms and stuff and then you go in an put on your helmet and neck brace. The carts can probably do about 40mph+, but its hard to say. I think they have like 12-15hp engines. Thats probably the most direct real world track experience I have, and I was pretty good at it too

I have had my car for over a year and have been able to push its limits a bit. On dry pavement I can kinda get the back out sometimes... but really I cant do anything that will help me on the tack on the public streets. Its too dangerous to actually have those kinds of speeds with those kinds of dangers. (never know who or what is on the other side of the corner...) I HAVE learned that once the back comes out the car is pretty hard to control due to the relatively soft (compaired to video games and track/aftermarket) springs and swaybars combined with an open diff: the car just cant get any power to the ground...

I have had more experience with sliding around in low-traction situations like snow and cold+rain (all summer tires) but really on a track my goal would be to maintain grip. Knowing what to do once its gone is good though.

My dad has done some DE's at the track close to us and has been able to inform me on what goes on there and the lessons he learned. You go take a class on proper driving technique discussing braking, accelerating, apexes and the line you take through them... then you go out on the track and apply your lessons with an instructor. My friend who just turned 18 and started "training" to be the driver for his FSAE team at collage did an auto-x this summer and seemed to do ok. I wasnt there but he's said it went fine for someone "new" to driving on the track in real life. lol

Im probably looking for something a little less than a DE. I guess something having to do with braking and entering corners properly and also emphasizing car control as I have little to no experience taking turns at speed. Im aware of programs like the bondurant teen cources but Im also afraid I would spend the day(s) learning that "cars dont react at 70mph they way the do at 30mph" and "the one on the right makes you go, the one in the middle makes you stop, and the one on the left is what were going to talk about a little bit later" or something stupid like that. My family is willing to make a "vacation" out of a trip to bondurant, but I dont want to get there to learn how to keep the proper following distance and how to identify oversteer.

Next summer I will be 17 - not the 18 I see mentioned in alot of places. The closest track to us is Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. I guess Im looking for whatever real world experience I can get to prepare myself for DEs and Auto-Xs the summer after next when Im 18
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Old 11-25-2010, 08:39 AM   #2
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I think BMWCCA is a good place to start. Maybe try out auto-x.

Nothing wrong with going to a reputable HPDE school, sounds like you are mature enough to handle it. Especially since you are asking instead of finding out the hardway its stupid to practice certain things on public streets. So kudos to you!
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:25 AM   #3
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Karting is good practice and experience. I just started doing karting events this year just for fun. Though steering inputs in karting are different from driving cars, things like driving the proper line, using the whole width of the track are pretty much the same.

I would check out SCCA, NASA, or BMWCCA and start doing some autocrosses, they are relatively cheap and lots of fun. You will learn a lot from driving to car setup. It is better to learn how drive at the limit(or a little above) and handle your car in low speed situations than it is at a high speed track(better to hit a cone than a wall).

These and other clubs offer track driving events as well. I would do some of these events just to get your feet wet and see what its like.
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Old 11-25-2010, 08:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy2108 View Post
So Ive always been interested with cars and driving. Ive played many driving video games and developed my skills a bit through them. The games with good physics engines (like Forza 3) have given me the ability to observe and correct things like oversteer, understeer, taking the perfect line, and braking before and accelerating through an apex. The thing about the games... their games. You dont actually feel the car and how it reacts or get a realistic interpretation of what driving on a track really is.

I have spent probably a 3-5 hours at a pretty serious indoor kart racing track here. To get in you have to like sign all the release forms and stuff and then you go in an put on your helmet and neck brace. The carts can probably do about 40mph+, but its hard to say. I think they have like 12-15hp engines. Thats probably the most direct real world track experience I have, and I was pretty good at it too

I have had my car for over a year and have been able to push its limits a bit. On dry pavement I can kinda get the back out sometimes... but really I cant do anything that will help me on the tack on the public streets. Its too dangerous to actually have those kinds of speeds with those kinds of dangers. (never know who or what is on the other side of the corner...) I HAVE learned that once the back comes out the car is pretty hard to control due to the relatively soft (compaired to video games and track/aftermarket) springs and swaybars combined with an open diff: the car just cant get any power to the ground...

I have had more experience with sliding around in low-traction situations like snow and cold+rain (all summer tires) but really on a track my goal would be to maintain grip. Knowing what to do once its gone is good though.

My dad has done some DE's at the track close to us and has been able to inform me on what goes on there and the lessons he learned. You go take a class on proper driving technique discussing braking, accelerating, apexes and the line you take through them... then you go out on the track and apply your lessons with an instructor. My friend who just turned 18 and started "training" to be the driver for his FSAE team at collage did an auto-x this summer and seemed to do ok. I wasnt there but he's said it went fine for someone "new" to driving on the track in real life. lol

Im probably looking for something a little less than a DE. I guess something having to do with braking and entering corners properly and also emphasizing car control as I have little to no experience taking turns at speed. Im aware of programs like the bondurant teen cources but Im also afraid I would spend the day(s) learning that "cars dont react at 70mph they way the do at 30mph" and "the one on the right makes you go, the one in the middle makes you stop, and the one on the left is what were going to talk about a little bit later" or something stupid like that. My family is willing to make a "vacation" out of a trip to bondurant, but I dont want to get there to learn how to keep the proper following distance and how to identify oversteer.

Next summer I will be 17 - not the 18 I see mentioned in alot of places. The closest track to us is Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. I guess Im looking for whatever real world experience I can get to prepare myself for DEs and Auto-Xs the summer after next when Im 18
Auto-X comes before Track!!!
You learn the limits of your car at auto-x so you dont get destroyed on the track. I just turned 18 and I'm planning on doing alot of Autox next spring!
What suspension do you have on your car?
I don't think it would be a good idea/safe to track a stock suspension BMW...
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Old 11-25-2010, 09:38 PM   #5
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I don't think it would be a good idea/safe to track a stock suspension BMW...
As long as everything is in good condition why not?
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Old 11-25-2010, 09:55 PM   #6
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As long as everything is in good condition why not?
+1

I would save your money for maintenance, fresh sets of tires and seat time. Dont worry about modding.
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:17 PM   #7
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First of all +1 for being a young guy and going for the track experience and knowledge over the standard "I can drive"!

Check local tracks, call them and ask them if they can provide you with any info, some tracks even run driving schools or classes, not always cheap but worth it!
Local car groups are a great benefit since a lot of times even they put together track day events.

Lastly there are a handful of places around that also provide driving classes that get into some more in depth stuff, some just classroom, some with driving, not the easiest to find always but if you could find a few local groups I'll bet someone is bound to know.
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:57 AM   #8
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Do DEs with your car in stock form - you will learn more than you could possibly imagine.
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:12 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickTizzle View Post
Auto-X comes before Track!!!
You learn the limits of your car at auto-x so you dont get destroyed on the track. I just turned 18 and I'm planning on doing alot of Autox next spring!
What suspension do you have on your car?
I don't think it would be a good idea/safe to track a stock suspension BMW...
I should have included in no specific order. I might do some Auto-x events next season with the friend I already mentioned and some local e46fanatics that are looking to get more driving experience.

I have stock sport suspension, nearly new GoodYear Eagle F1 Asymetric tires in 225/40/18 front and 255/35/18 rear. My wheels are VMR VB3 CSL rims and weight like 24lbs, maybe +/- 2 lbs between front and rear, dont remember exactly. My 17" Style 68 stockies are nice and light, but I have no tires fit for track on them. They'll be used with General snow tires once I get them ordered.

I'd feel perfectly safe using my car in a track event. The car is mechanically sound and properly maintained and monitored by me, my father, and our mechanics. My tires are new, my brakes are good, and my suspension and all associated parts are either new or in solid condition.

As far as mods go Ive so far done the wheels and tires, a aFe coldish air intake, a weighted zhp shifter, m aluminium pedals w/ rubber grippy stuff, and other small visual stuff like HID fogs, m3 lip spoiler, and white/black front/rear reflectors. Check out My Garage if you want a complete list.

After I get my eBay headers on, and next season rolls around, I want to get into more suspension mods. Stock springs are kinda soft and the car really shows it when accelerating and in brake dive. H&R race drop it a little more than I want (I already scrape in 3 places in my daily drive to school if Im not careful ) and give the car a horribly stiff ride. I will probably go with some Eibach Pro-Kit springs. Some Bilstein or Koni heavy duty sport shocks would have to accompany the springs for my to be happy with the modification. To reduce body roll I want to grab a UUC SwayBarbarian kit. Id also want to pick up a front strut bar after that stuff to kinda make it worth it all. A rear strut bar makes my car just too impracticle, so I dont think Ill plan on one for the time being. A UUC Clutch/Pressueplate/

I am a member of the BMWCCA and my dad is a member of the PCA. Between those two Ill pay attention to events that they hold next summer. A good friend of my dads is also a in-car-coach person and a driver of his own highly modified Dodge Viper. Its not street legal any more, but he holds the fastest time and Heartland park with it. Sounds like Im going to be looking for some class based and some auto-X stuff up front, then take it up to a DE. My dad doesnt even like the idea of me doing a DE yet (Im only 16 atm ) and Ill probably need to convince him, my insurance, and the track that its ok for me to do it once I get there

It sounds to me like bondurant isnt going to be completely necessary, but what kind of stuff can I do before I turn 18 thats actually in a real car?

Thanks for the help, much appreciated!

EDIT: Oh yeah, and I learned about FSAE this summer through the KU Motorsport team. Im defiantly going to get more involved with that once I get to collage and going in with the most driving experience will be an awesome advantage over other willing drivers. If you dont know what Formula SAE is, its a program where engineering schools build an open wheeled car and go to competitions set on basically an auto-x course. The cars need drivers... being one would be pretty cool!
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:17 AM   #10
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:29 AM   #11
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two words: Skip Barber
This is true, and I never realized it looks like drivers under 18 can do nearly any event with parental consent... and thats eazy enough to get. Only thing is, last I checked, Georgia and California (where most of the courses are held) arent exactly close to Kansas.

Me and my dad could make a trip out of it. Im sure he wouldnt mind taking some classes either. Not being able to drive our own cars would kinda suck though

2-day driving school then advanced car control then 2-day high performance driving school would make a fun week
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:57 AM   #12
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As long as everything is in good condition why not?
Even if it is, I wouldnt want to hit 100+ on stock suspension.
I guess the stock sport package would give me some confidence, but I would really want a stiffer ride for the track, the car seems too soft at highspeeds, but thats just me.
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Old 11-26-2010, 04:09 AM   #13
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Even if it is, I wouldnt want to hit 100+ on stock suspension.
I guess the stock sport package would give me some confidence, but I would really want a stiffer ride for the track, the car seems too soft at highspeeds, but thats just me.
I wouldn't know cause I don't pull that on public roads, but i think my car would be fine. Our track here just got re-done so its nice and smooth and you really don't hit over like 115 with a car like ours. It used to be the straight was followed by a sharp turn and a big elevation drop and apparently it was quite terrifying, but its been mellowed out.

Imo, these cars handle speed very well. My car, with its crazy low 2.93 diff seems like it was built to be a great autobahn car. I think it would be fine up to a pretty good clip. Honestly the fastest I've ever been in a car was 115 with my dad driving... but we have jetskis that do 70 and that sht is srs on something that weighs 800 lbs and has 255 supercharged horsepower.

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Old 11-26-2010, 05:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by TrickTizzle View Post
Even if it is, I wouldnt want to hit 100+ on stock suspension.
I guess the stock sport package would give me some confidence, but I would really want a stiffer ride for the track, the car seems too soft at highspeeds, but thats just me.
I think the stock suspension is pretty good right out of the box. The biggest variable is tires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy2108 View Post
Only thing is, last I checked, Georgia and California (where most of the courses are held) arent exactly close to Kansas.
Again, BMWCCA. I believe the KC chapter holds a 2 day school at Hallett.

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Originally Posted by FTWeisse View Post
Do DEs with your car in stock form - you will learn more than you could possibly imagine.
True. I started doing DEs with my car supercharged. Luckily I was terrified so I didn't get into too much trouble...ran over a cone here and there. But the first time I wasn't scared, I spun the car. A modded car can probably go faster...which means you get into trouble much quicker.
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Old 11-26-2010, 06:44 AM   #15
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I'm in the same boat as you. I wanted to look into auto crossing and found an event thats local to me being held next Sunday, so I'll be going to that. I was interested in signing up for BMWCCA, but I think I'm gonna hold off until I do at least two auto-x events....

Good luck finding something!
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:38 AM   #16
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I'm going to contradict people here--I say go for the DEs, forget the autocrosses. It depends a lot on the autocrosses, but many of the courses are fairly short (~40-70 seconds) and you only get 4 runs, for around $30. The first run you spend just learning the track; it really doesn't give you much time to experiment with the car when you're trying to figure out where to go with only 4 runs total. Autocrossing is definitely fun and takes skill to do well, but IMO it's not the best place to learn about your car.

The best option by far is a DE. You will learn a lot just with a stock car, just make sure your maintenance is up to date.

As an alternative, I'd get a couple cones and just set them up in an empty parking lot, set up 2 cones and do figure 8s around them or do an oval around them, learn the balance of your car: understeer, oversteer, and how to control them. Play with braking points, how hard you turn in, when you turn in, etc. That (IMO) will teach you much more about car control than autocrossing. Have a friend time you if you'd like, it can be fun trying to beat your old times, and you can see real improvement.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:35 PM   #17
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I wouldn't know cause I don't pull that on public roads, but i think my car would be fine. Our track here just got re-done so its nice and smooth and you really don't hit over like 115 with a car like ours. It used to be the straight was followed by a sharp turn and a big elevation drop and apparently it was quite terrifying, but its been mellowed out.

Imo, these cars handle speed very well. My car, with its crazy low 2.93 diff seems like it was built to be a great autobahn car. I think it would be fine up to a pretty good clip. Honestly the fastest I've ever been in a car was 115 with my dad driving... but we have jetskis that do 70 and that sht is srs on something that weighs 800 lbs and has 255 supercharged horsepower.

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You haven't hit a 100 on a highway? You little girl.
And, my 2.5L hits 115 pretty easily.

But, you've never changed lanes quickly at 80? Thats the softness I'm talking about.

It was at 3am on a empty straight highway but you can bash away if you'd like.

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I think the stock suspension is pretty good right out of the box. The biggest variable is tires.



Again, BMWCCA. I believe the KC chapter holds a 2 day school at Hallett.



True. I started doing DEs with my car supercharged. Luckily I was terrified so I didn't get into too much trouble...ran over a cone here and there. But the first time I wasn't scared, I spun the car. A modded car can probably go faster...which means you get into trouble much quicker.
Yes, I have it also, and I wasnt saying its bad, just saying stiffer shocks would help at the highspeeds.


On a side note, my strut brace comes in monday...I ordered it last Sunday with 2nd day air shipping.
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Old 11-28-2010, 12:12 AM   #18
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You haven't hit a 100 on a highway? You little girl.
And, my 2.5L hits 115 pretty easily.

But, you've never changed lanes quickly at 80? Thats the softness I'm talking about.

It was at 3am on a empty straight highway but you can bash away if you'd like.
Im not gonna bash you for what most people do on a nice straight highway at 3am, but I dont get many opproutunites like that.

Yes Ive done 80 multiple times... heck I even did 90 in a 2001 MDX last summer in the rain in the middle of iowa. It was an "emergency maneuver" cause there was a semi truck signaling into my lane.

I didnt mention that that time when my dad did 115... well as we were settling back into highway speeds a cop finally caught up with us for doing 85 in a 70. I think he caught us as we were accelerating and then had to catch us.

Id rather take it safe than have my (already ridiculous) insurance go up and get tickets on my record. Dont you loose your licence past 100 anyway?

Ill look into events the PCA, BMWCCA, and Audi Club hold. Audi Club does some events here too I think.
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:43 AM   #19
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But, you've never changed lanes quickly at 80? Thats the softness I'm talking about.
This is why I would say that the OP should start out on the stock suspension. If forces you to be smoother with your inputs to keep the car settled down. Plus it slows you down until you gain more skill.

I started out on PSS coilovers. Looking back, just like my S/C, I would have learned a lot more, faster on a stock suspension.

For the same reasons why you shouldn't start off on R comps.

I also do understand your point. Most E46s are no longer spring chickens so most original OEM suspensions are likely to be worn out...and might merit replacement for HPDEs for maintenance reasons.
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:55 AM   #20
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Im not gonna bash you for what most people do on a nice straight highway at 3am, but I dont get many opproutunites like that.

Yes Ive done 80 multiple times... heck I even did 90 in a 2001 MDX last summer in the rain in the middle of iowa. It was an "emergency maneuver" cause there was a semi truck signaling into my lane.

I didnt mention that that time when my dad did 115... well as we were settling back into highway speeds a cop finally caught up with us for doing 85 in a 70. I think he caught us as we were accelerating and then had to catch us.

Id rather take it safe than have my (already ridiculous) insurance go up and get tickets on my record. Dont you loose your licence past 100 anyway?

Ill look into events the PCA, BMWCCA, and Audi Club hold. Audi Club does some events here too I think.
Your supposed to get arrested but many times they don't. They just ticket you for 95ish.

Also, you guys might have been clocked 100+ but the cop didnt want to arrest you guys so he didn't mention it as long as you didn't.I got hit once with laser, 95 in a 60 and he came up to me telling me I dont have a front plate, and handed me a ticket...I didn't argue.

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This is why I would say that the OP should start out on the stock suspension. If forces you to be smoother with your inputs to keep the car settled down. Plus it slows you down until you gain more skill.

I started out on PSS coilovers. Looking back, just like my S/C, I would have learned a lot more, faster on a stock suspension.

For the same reasons why you shouldn't start off on R comps.

I also do understand your point. Most E46s are no longer spring chickens so most original OEM suspensions are likely to be worn out...and might merit replacement for HPDEs for maintenance reasons.
::
Ok, that makes sense!


---

Also this might sound dumb, but I learned a lot of my cars weight transfer capabilities on snow/ice. Try it out this winter in a empty parking lot...
Make sure there are no curbs hidden under the snow...
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