The first day started off with more autocross sessions. Actually we ended up doing more autocross than the 3-day - we spent all morning dodging cones. Not very manly or dangerous, but it was fun to chuck the car around. I had some pretty large drifts, "large" being a relative term, since formula cars don't have much steering ability and thus can't hold a 90-degree slide like a dedicated drift car with special suspension geometry.
The on-track sessions in the afternoon started with lead-follows behind the Mazda 3s. When you're riding in the Mazda 3, it feels like you're going a lot faster than you actually are, since the car is a lot less capable than a race car (even though it has the same BFG G-force tires on it, which makes the car a lot faster than stock). Following the Mazda in the formula car, you realize how slow you were going before, since it's a breeze to keep up. It's still quite a capable family sedan, though.
After the lead-follows were done, and we were re-acquainted with Laguna Seca, we started turn 2 braking drills. I'm still not 100% comfortable with the brakes. I'm getting very close, but getting that perfect threshold pressure every time is a bit hit or miss. At least I'm not locking up any more.
The brake pedal on these cars needs to be felt to believe. My mom tried sitting in the car, and I walked her through getting threshold pressure. I told her "push the brake really hard, until you feel the throttle under your foot" (since the throttle is positioned lower than the brake, so that at threshold pressure the pedals are even with each other and it's easy to blip with heel and toe). She pressed hard, and didn't feel it. I kept telling her to press harder. The harder she pressed, the greater the expression of disbelief on her face. The brakes really are that stiff. After 2 days, my foot was by far the sorest part of my body, which isn't saying much because I wasn't that sore. But even still, I was walking a little funny the next day. All my braking in the kart was done with the left foot. Now I have an even stiffer pedal, and I must use my unconditioned right foot.
I had a few things to fix with my braking, mostly line and timing sort of things, and I made sure to cure them quickly so they didn't become a problem. A session of free lapping ended the first day.
The following day was spent entirely on track. The morning started out foggy, but it cleared up pretty quickly. Standard coastline weather. The order of the day was instructor lapping.
The instructors would get in their race cars and would drive around with us, watching us, showing us, and sometimes passing us for practice. I and another karter were paired up with Lonnie Pechnik, one of the instructors from my 3-day. He spent a lot of time chasing me, and I received a ton of good feedback as a result.
The car I was using was understeering quite a bit. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the front ride height was too high, since it took a good bit of effort to rotate it well with the brakes and when I got back on the power the understeer kicked in. This was a problem in the high speed corners, where you are on the throttle from entry to exit to keep the rear end under control. I had to limit my speed through turns 4, 6, 9 and 10 to keep from running off the road due to lack of front grip. Lonnie was having the same problem, and his suggestion to "drive around it", as he put it, was to let the car roll into the corner before applying the throttle.
Normally in the fast corners you need to get on the power before you turn for the corner, that way the weight stays on the rear of the car and it stays stable. If you have understeer problems, you stay off the power and allow more weight to transfer to the front of the car, giving you more front bite and less understeer.
Learning how to tame my turn-in with the throttle rather than the brake is totally new for me.
In general I was going a lot faster. During the 3-day, I was being fairly conservative. I wanted to really feel the car out. During the 3-day, my lap times were in the 1:45 range, which is a little slow for this car. Now, my best times are in the low 1:41s. Amazing what just a little bravery can do.
So lets see what that bravery did eh?
The camera is still having issues. I tried stuffing the housing with paper, since the camera was vibrating inside the case itself, but it only helped a little bit and made the audio worse. The next time, I will get some foam to place under the roll bar mount itself. That should take care of it. I also didn't quite tighten the mount all the way, and a couple of bumps knocked it askew.
These two days really reinforced how much more I'm enjoying driving cars. Karts are really fast and exciting, but the car is more satisfying somehow.
There is not a whole lot on the calendar at the moment. Over the next few weeks I'll talk about what is coming up at the end of the year, and what the plan of action will be for next year.