Track Stuff

The most fun you can have and not get arrested.  There are less then a couple dozen road race tracks in the nation similar to Roebling Road, 30min outside of Savannah.  There's a number of ways to inexpensively participate in a "Driver's Education" (DE) type event at a track.  There are a large number of driving enthusiast clubs that hold DE's, to include Porsche Club of America and the National Auto Sport Association.  There are also private DE companies like SeatTime.  There are also Driving Schools all around the nation, but they are pricey because you will be driving their car instead of your own.

It's relatively safe and sane.  Almost without exception, there's no way to slide off of the track and hit a wall at Roebling.  Of course, the right combination of mistakes and bad luck can cause something bad to happen no matter how unlikely.  It's a pretty controlled environment.  Novices are assigned instructors, and can only pass on the straight-away.  There are several ability groups so Novices aren't on the track at the same time as more skilled drivers.  Passing is controlled for all ability groups.  That is to say that the guy in front has to stick his arm out of his window and point over his roof.  Only after receiving such a "point-by" are you allowed to pass.  Therefore there is no contention for position going into turns that could cause a collision.  

Aggressive "race-like" driving is not tolerated.  You'll be asked to go home.  The driver's meeting that starts the day will emphasize that the event is "training", not racing.  Two spins will also likely result in being sent home.  Folks going into a spin because they've made a mistake is actually fairly common.  An average session might have 15 cars on the track for 20min.  Several people going off of the track during that period is usually par for the course.

It's worth reading the fine print in your car insurance policy before attending.  I had to sign up the 911 with a different insurance company.

You don't need a high performance sports car to participate.  Anything short of a truck or SUV will likely do.  It's not about horsepower, it's about handling.  Roebling is a 2mi track with a 1/2mi straight-away.  A good lap time might be <1:30.  Of that you won't spend 10sec accelerating on the straight-away before you have to stand on the brakes and downshift.  So it's mostly about being able to maintain your momentum thru the turns, and leave each turn with as high of an exit speed as possible.  Sure, the 500hp Viper is going to pull away from you, but you'll just as easily be "owned" by a 100hp Mazda Miata.  In competent hands that Miata might take Roebling's 9 turns 10mph faster then you can.  30mph faster if you are a novice.  And if he enters the straight-away 10mph faster then you, he won't need 300hp to get down the straight-away as fast as you can.

If you are a red-blooded American with an ounce of testosterone, this will be about the most fun you will ever have in your lifetime.

Tales of Thrills, Agony, Adventure and more Agony.  Pick any story and it will be the most fun you've had all week.


Scott's primer on Performance Driving

Driver's School Manual. More complete then my product above.

The Physics of Racing. A tremendous work. The kind of thing that has to be studied, not just read.

Competition School Primer. Everything I wish the schools spent more time discussing.

Performance analysis.  If you are going to have a hobby, you might as well obsess over it.  And one way to do that is to collect data during track sessions.  You can easily collect telemetry on speed, location and g forces.  If you are highly motivated you could include precise info on steering inputs, suspension travel, car pitch and yaw.  And then you can analyze exactly what the car was doing, what you were doing and exactly where you were doing it.