When I moved to New York, I gave up driving. Not having to commute to work everyday was great, but I also lost the ability to go to the track. After a 5 year absence, I finally got back out there. Last month Aki and I did a day at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA.
Since I was away from the track for so long, I wanted to start fresh. The only time accidents happen is when someone is over confident, cocky, and they do something stupid. I decided to start back up in the beginner group with an instructor.
I’ve been back in the Bay Area for a year and a half now, but I drive so little that I never really regained the same level of confidence in myself or my car that I had in the past. That’s not true anymore. Only when you drive on the track do you really understand what the limits of your car are, and how to control it at its limits (or more likely, your limits).
Cars are incredible machines. The limits of a good car are ridiculously high, way beyond anything a normal person needs. But only on the track do you realize this. On the track, I become one with the car and road. I can feel the road in the steering wheel. I can steer the car with the throttle. You use all your senses to find the smoothest, fastest line around the track.
Here’s some in car video of me doing a full lap at Thunderhill. It starts in the back straight, goes down the front straight, and then around the track counter clockwise. I was behind a WRX that I wanted to pass but couldn’t. His car is faster than mine in the straights, but I was faster than him around the track. He should have slowed down to let me pass him but didn’t. So I went super slow in the straight areas to create some distance in front of me (straight line speed is boring), and then challenged myself to catch up to him.
The video doesn’t really show the speed or intensity of the track. Through those turns, especially the large speepers, I’m not just using the steering wheel to steer, but to actually brace myself and hold my body in my seat.
I’m glad Aki convinced me to get back out there. But now I fear we’ll be going all the time! We’re driving Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point) in a couple weeks.