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Below is a recounting of various car events I've attended along the years, from car club meets, autocrosses, track events, and enthusiast drives.

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2009/06/04 Skip Barber 3 Day Racing School at Laguna Seca
π 2009-06-04 00:00 in Cars


One thing about LS, is that it's a pretty track
One thing about LS, is that it's a pretty track




the favourite corkscrew
the favourite corkscrew


After goofing around a few times too many on the track and hitting kind of a plateau, I figured it was about time for me to get some proper track training, so I signed up for the skip barber formula 2000 3 day class (there was the option of doing to do the same with miatas, likely for those interested in spec miata racing, but I was more interested in trying formula cars).

the formula ford 2000 car
the formula ford 2000 car



you can see my camera on the 47 number
you can see my camera on the 47 number

The tradeoff with that is that it takes a little while to get the hang of the formula cars. The sequential shifting is actually pretty cool, although the heel and toe for downshifting was harder for me with my wide feet (my foot would often push on the gas while braking, which caused me a few issues).

with wide feet, it can be hard not to push brake and gas at the same time
with wide feet, it can be hard not to push brake and gas at the same time


The good news is that outside of going straight off track in 11 due to not braking enough (click for vid) as I mis-pushed the gas with the brakes, filling the car with pebbles in the process :), I actually stayed on track the entire time: I never spun out or otherwise went off track due to trying to get in too hot (the only spinout was a self induced one on the AutoX pad as we were encouraged to push the cars and go a bit past their limits to see where said limits were).

one of the mechanics vacuuming the pebbles I put in the car :)
one of the mechanics vacuuming the pebbles I put in the car :)

Many other folks did get greedy and spun out though :)

That's a little bit too sideways :)
That's a little bit too sideways :)

another customer :)
another customer :)

The Skip Barber curriculum was good. They went through the car's basics, from braking to heel and toe (which is really left side of the foot/right side of the foot) shifting, threshold braking, lane toss exercises (for passing), passing theory (although that one would take a lot of practise to exercise), and in the last 2 sessions we got to put it all together: race start, passing, threshold braking for laptimes, and of course heel and toe for each downshifting turn.

side by side race start practise
side by side race start practise

Threshold braking exercise
Threshold braking exercise

The last session was a great way to finish the day with a little bit of (good) excitement for me: I passed 4 cars, including one that spun out right in front of me and getting very close to 2 bumpers. You can see the video of the last lap of the last session

Now, in a real race situation where drivers defend their spot, I probably wouldn't have been able to pass more than 1 or 2 cars, but eh, I'll still celebrate the minor achievement with my arguably still meager lap times of 1:50 (vs 1:38 when done by a professional). Speeds were 100mph tops, much less than what I do at thunderhill, but 100mph is actually plenty fast when you're on a rollcage with wheels with your butt inches from the ground :)

Either way, it was a crapload of fun :) I wasn't the best one in the group, but probably ranked 3rd or 4th, which provided a nice mix of little victories and humility :)

You can see some of the videos I took below (click the more info tab for each video to get offsets to juicy bits where relevant)

  • Instructor giving us a tour of the track balls out in an airport van :)
  • Lap taken at wheel level
  • Session taken from above my head, with track out in pebbles
  • 2nd to last session on 3rd day, with practise starts
  • last session of the 3rd day, where I passed 4 cars and one spun out
  • The only downside, was that I felt I had just learned enough in 3 days to apply my skills and hone them on a 4th day, but there was no such 4th day. They are however happy to sell you another advanced class for 2 more days :)


    During the 3 days, I got to see Jennifer on day #2 when we came for a car control class, and also found out that the track staff had had the same idea than me: that the track was a fine place to fly RC planes :)

    Jennifer also came one day for a car control class
    Jennifer also came one day for a car control class

    I wasn't the only person who thought that a track was a perfect place to fly RC planes :)
    I wasn't the only person who thought that a track was a perfect place to fly RC planes :)


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