Ron Fellows Corvette Owners Performance Driving School - Part II
If you have not read Part I of this blog post, click here to see it. Ron Fellows Corvette Owners Performance Driving School – Part 1 Also, stay tuned for Part III and the final part of this blog post that will be published in the next day or so.
Part I of this blog post presented background information about the driving school and activities from the morning of Day One covering the dates of May 15-16, 2017. Part II of this series, presented below, will discuss the activities that occurred during the afternoon of Day One. Read on and enjoy...
Day One: Cont’d
In Part I, we left the day’s agenda having broke for our lunch break at the on-site club house. I have to admit, I thought the food was good and I was surprisingly hungry having worked up an appetite on the course. It was mentioned earlier in the day that for people who were susceptible to motion sickness, you might want to take something before going out on the track, but I never get “car sick”, especially when I’m driving, but being on a boat is a different story for me. 😊 After lunch, it was time to get back to class and on-track lessons.
Right after lunch we donned our helmets for the first afternoon session where we put the braking and serpentine techniques taught earlier in the day to test. This session consisted of two exercises that were performed on a couple of courses laid out on one of the back parking lots. The first exercise was driving quickly (as much as you dared) around a small oval course that had varying radius turns. This exercise emphasized when to brake, steer, accelerate, and choose the proper "line" around the course. An instructor rode along to provide coaching and guidance to reinforce and coach the proper turning and braking techniques. The instructor also assessed your ability to control the car at some modest speed in order to provide feedback for improvement that was appropriate to your level of skill. See the video below for the dry track oval exercise.
The second exercise of this session consisted of driving a car with extremely worn tires on a figure eight configured wet track. This course had a constant supply of water provided by some hoses to keep the driving surface very wet to avoid a potentially unpleasant situation where the car is sliding and suddenly hits some dry pavement. The instructor encouraged you to purposely make the rear of the car spin so that you could control and correct the slide before reaching the next part of the figure eight. This was a great opportunity to “drift” a Corvette and I had a lot of fun on this course. As such, I spun the car out a couple of times to which the instructor told me to make another aggressive spin, but do my best to catch and control it. I didn’t need much more encouragement and took his “challenge” and managed to prevent a spin out and receive some kudos. Near the end of this exercise, the instructor told us to put the handling system into Weather mode, then while going around the wet track, we were told to press the accelerator to the floor while cornering. To me, one of the best parts of this exercise was seeing how well the Weather mode setting of Traction Control and Active Handling system worked. The car would not spin out of control while in this setting and it was very impressive how well this system worked. I believe that the goal of the wet track exercise to learn the handling limits of the car and how to effectively counter steer and correct situations where the car starts to slide. See the video below of the wet track exercise.
For last track exercise on Day One, the students got to do a Lead-Follow exercise where 3-4 cars followed the instructor around the track to learn the proper line to take and for the instructors to evaluate how well the students learned and executed the techniques presented during the day. How this worked was that the students aligned their cars in a single file formation and each got to do a lap directly behind the instructor who could watch from their rear view mirrors and coach you via two-way radio. The instructors were uncanny in their ability to drive fast around the track while watching the student behind them AND providing verbal and visual feedback over the radio. After completing a lap directly behind the instructor, the student would move to the right and drop back to the end of the “train” while the next car moved up. This was my favorite part of the Day 1 because it felt like everything learned so far was a building block experience to be leveraged when out on the track.
After an intense, but very enjoyable first day at the school, I decided to stay “on campus” for the evening and went to the club house for dinner where I spent some time chatting with the Treasurer of the Central Arkansas Corvette Club, David Payne. We central-state corvette club brethren need to stick to together, LOL.
Stay tuned for the third and final part of this blog post regarding my Ron Fellows driving school experience.