Wow, what an event Darlington was.
We found out a lot of great things in Darlington.
We have a working electronic timing system. We handled a large crowd. We have continued to attract new (and returning) participants that are fantastic. We are ready for the next steps.
A huge thanks to all that came out, participants, spectators and staff.
This is also hopefully the start to some regular blogging to help folks understand what we are about, and how to maximize your enjoyment.
The purpose of the blogging is to introduce folks to our organization, give tips on how to maximize the experience and clarify some of the things we do that are slightly different than most already established forms of motorsport.
I’ll start one of those latter points with how we group folks at our events.
#1, If you have no AutoX or track experience at all, we start you as a novice with an instructor in car and initially put you in the slowest speed/highest lap time group. Only after you are deemed by the instructor as competent in both procedure knowledge, and being around other cars, will we allow you to drive solo, or begin moving up in the lap time groupings.
#2, For everyone else, we group based on lap times. Once you are an M4theM solo driver (which most people with a reasonable amount of AutoX or track driving are within 3-9 instructed laps max) we put you in groups based on actual lap times.
Most track days group people by experience regardless of lap time or car speed.
Our top speeds are slow enough that there is little difference in the safety margin between experience levels at our events as would be at a track day. There may be a 20-30 mph difference in top speeds and closing rates at a full size track day based on experience alone. Since our events top out at superhighway speeds for even the fastest cars, there is much less disparity in speeds so a less experienced driver can safely run among the more experienced.
There is a huge bonus in this in that the inexperienced driver gains experience much faster along with more useful knowledge by driving with skilled veterans.
Similar lap times mean less encounters with other cars and much slower closing rates which results in the safest environment we can create.
#3, This means less waiting on slower cars to point you by. Lets face it, you paid to run your speed, not drive behind a rolling chicane. As best we can, as the run group number allows, we put like speed cars and drivers together. If you are a returning participant, we do that based on past experience and recorded lap times. If you are new, we look at your experience and what your registration tells us about your car and make an educated guess to start you out.
#4, If we find you are running faster times than your initially assigned run group, we will move you up. If you are slower and having to mirror drive, (which is no fun) we will move you down with similar speed cars. Remember, we are about drivers reaching their and their car’s best repeatable potential, not just who lays down the fastest lap. Especially when it comes down to who had the most money to throw at a car. We want you to enjoy YOUR car that you built the way you want and are dedicated to placing into the proper group where you can do that.
#5, We place you where you are comfortable. Just as some aspire to be the fastest, some aspire to simply enjoy the thrill of racing the track at a speed that gives them challenge and the experience of the focus and concentration it takes to repeat lap after lap hitting all the marks perfect and feeling the suspension work underneath them. We will not force you beyond your comfort level unless it is affecting the comfort level of those on the track with you.
#6, We do initially group the anticipated speeds in our 5 run groups.
Blue/Yellow/Orange/Red/Purple (green is unlucky in racing don’t ya know…)
Novices and beginners or experienced drivers in low HP cars: Blue
More experienced drivers in low HP cars and intermediates in higher HP cars: Yellow
Highly experienced drivers in lower HP cars and intermediate/advanced in higher HP cars: Orange
Fast cars, experienced drivers: Red
If we only have two groups, we will be Blue/Yellow with blue being newer and yellow being experienced.
If three, Blue slower/beginner, yellow faster/experienced, Red fastest/most experienced/competition drivers.
4 or more will run just as the 5 are listed, adding purple as needed.
Now, based on group space, we may put an experienced driver in a lower run group so people learning have someone to see running the proper lines etc. Often we will put staff/instructors out with lower run groups for that reason as well.
So don’t ever judge yourself on run group. One day you may be purple, the next time, yellow, the time after that Red. It is all based on the cars and drivers at the particular event what makes things flow and benefit all participants the best.
We exist for people to learn and to enjoy a wheel, brake and throttle well handled resulting in a lap well turned. Those things happen when we align the groups properly for the benefit of all.
Till next time,
“After my first session I was saying to myself this is just like a track day only a slower pace and safer.”