Day two of the International Motor Press Association’s Test Days takes us to Pocono Raceway, where the real fun begins. Not that off roading isn’t fun, but it’s a whole different type of session once the adrenalin kicks in.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s been 15 years since I’ve driven on a track. Also, I’ve never done any competitive driving in a rear wheel drive car, unless you count a single autocross in my 1975 Fiat 124 coupe way back in high school. In other words, I was more than a little nervous and had put together a plan to prevent me from embarrassing myself. Also, it would be pretty bad for one of the new guys to bend some tin the first time out! My plan was to begin with a low horsepower, front wheel drive of some sort, possibly a platform that I’m used to so I could comfortably get back into the swing of things. As the day progressed, I would move to the faster machinery and then the rear drivers in the afternoon. Ultimately my plan worked, but that wasn’t without a bit of excitement on the first lap.
As well organized as the event was, there was one small slip that caused mass confusion for many drivers on the first lap. On Thursday, it was assured that every driver had been on a tour of the off road course with an instructor. On track day however, they just turned us loose with the instruction that whoever put 4 wheels off would lose their driving privileges, no questions asked! The problem was that at the end of the banked straight, the cones marking out the track were incomplete. The intention was for drivers to turn to the infield and follow the old SCCA layout shown above. The problem is that the rubber on the track followed the current SCCA layout shown below and there were no cones to stop you from going there. Most driver’s, myself included, realized halfway through the left that they actually wanted you to go right. Then came the conundrum of should I keep going, turn around, go on the grass and turn around? Several drivers went 4 wheels off to turn around and the track marshals started losing their minds trying to cut wristbands. I came off the track and went straight to the grid marshal to explain what was going on out there. The grid marshal of course made a comment about stupid people and how could anybody think they would be turning left. It’s easy, that’s where the groove on the track is! Perhaps if they had sent folks out with a guide the first time around like they did the previous day, this mix up wouldn’t have happened. It would have saved a bunch of folks a bunch of stress.
Anyway, other than that small instance, the day was a blast. I spent the morning with increasingly quicker front drivers, before moving on to the same progression of rear drivers in the afternoon. At the end of the day, I was like the kid who won’t come out of the pool. I stopped when they wouldn’t let us on the track anymore.
Now, let the track test reporting begin!