HEY PHYSK things you miss on facebook .
your inner rossbentley is showing. well done.
After having a good sleep on it, thought I'd reflect on my High Performance Driver Experience day at Calabogie Motorsports Park yesterday!Coles note...AWESOME!
Long story...
I woke up at 5:30am after not sleeping that great due to the partial mix of excitement and nervousness for the day about to come. I knew the car was ready, but I still wasn't sure if I was. In the back of my head I was afraid I would be a poor driver, make lots of mistakes, and worse case run the car off the track endangering me, my instructor, and possibly other cars. Very debbie downer of me but that's just how the mind works sometimes. Happy to report of those worries, the only one that happened was that I made a few mistakes...which was to be expected being as green as the grass is.

Anyways, after the leisurely hour drive to the track, I first did the mandatory sound check and proceeded to registration. Before the day starts you are placed in a classroom where you learn the basics of the track including pit in/pit out procedures, meanings of flags, seating position, steering, braking etc. Our in class instructor Marc-Andre did a great job of nailing these down to us in a fun, non-overwhelming way that made total sense.
From there...we got our first experience on track. My instructor took my car out first for 2 laps to give me a quick intro on what we're doing and his method of coaching me. It really helped understand what we're going to try and accomplish during the day. From there...I took the driver seat and for the first 30 minute session there was no passing as they wanted all the drivers to focus on learning the track safely as some people had never been on it before. In this first session you begin the learn the characteristics of your car and how it reacts to the different inputs.
After the first 30 minute session, you go back in the classroom where you learn about safe passes and where to do so on the track. Passing is done with point-bys only and in designated areas. We also learned more about steering inputs as well as braking and how to maneuver corners using a mixture of both.
Back on the track again, we now had a full open track and the ability to push a bit harder and pass people if needed. I was still focusing on driving the car smoothly and nailing corners the way my instructor taught me. I noticed as the day went on, I was shifting into higher gears sooner...so I knew the instruction was paying off as we were picking up more speed out of corners which lead to a higher speed on the straights. We were also flying into corners faster, trusting the brakes to slow us down and turn in tight to hit the Apex and come out quickly on the other side. The first time I jammed on the brakes from 170KM/H to make a sharp right turn...I was convinced we were going off. But after some reassurance from my instructor I was never afraid to do it again as I saw the results almost immediately.
We had a third and final classroom instruction where we learned a bit more advanced brake work, although I think for the purpose of the day it wasn't something we were going to really use yet. Apparently I did subconsciously as according to my instructor I was trail-breaking corners to the advantage of the car.
After a bite to eat, we had 3 more 30 minute sessions with 30 minute breaks in between to the let the cars cool down. On these sessions we used them to try and clean up some mistakes I was making in certain corners. We both noticed I could do really well in one corner, which would cause my exit speed to go up and subsequently mess up the next corner because I'd be coming in too hot. We also tried a bunch of different lines to see how my car would react. Some worked...some didn't but it was cool to see how the car reacted to different lines and finding out what worked.
For the last 30 minute session, my instructor pretty much sat silently and let me do my thing only chiming in when I was making a blatant mistake or just to remind me of something I wasn't doing (such as looking ahead or at the marshals). It was really cool to see and feel the difference from the first session to the last. I picked up quite a bit of speed and am just scratching the surface of learning the track and the best way around it.
My instructor, Mike Physk was absolutely amazing and should take great credit for teaching me so much in such little time. His approach was very easy to follow and his excitement definitely wore off on me. When we'd make a corner well...he would do a big "YES YOU NAILED IT" which really pumped me up to do better. He also turned it back on me constantly asking questions to make sure I was paying attention and that his instruction was soaking in. While I didn't always have the right answers...it made me understand why he's asking and I'd then try harder next time so if he asked I'd have the answer. He seemed to absolutely love the Mini too...constantly complimenting how well sorted it felt and how it seemed to handle. The highlight for me though...at the end of the day...he told me I had done fantastic and never once did he feel nervous or uneasy while in the car with me. That was really reassuring as being new...you're not really sure how your driving is. An experienced instructor knows the difference so I'm really glad I did "OK".
My Mini handled the day near flawlessly. I was a bit concerned a ~15 year old car with 150K on it would somehow fail, but for 5 of 6 sessions there was not a single hiccup (minus the part where I jammed it into neutral instead of 4th lol). My used RE-71R tires were amazing and gripped the track perfectly. They got a bit greasy at times but a quick cool down and they were good to go. We played with the tire temps all day adjusting after every session to see what worked and what didn't. I am also super happy with how the brakes came out. Not once did the car have any brake-fade despite me very likely over-braking at the beginning of the day. There was only two small signs of problem on my 6th and final session. My (newly replaced) powering steering pump stopped working for ~10 seconds in the middle of a corner. It happened twice in 5 minutes and then for the rest of the session it was fine. We checked the car after and the fluid level was fine, just a bit hot. I'm going to do some research on that as it was a bit startling the first time but I didn't panic and just slowed the car down until it came back on.
So to sum up...awesome day...I'm so glad I did it as I've been wanting to get on track forever and have always chickened out for some reason or another. I bought the Mini for the sole purpose of using on the track...so I figured now was the time!
Now I need to plan my next move to continue my education!! My end goal for this summer is to be able to participate in the 1Morelap events...2 hours of open lapping 5:00-7:00pm.
Thank you Greg van Dalen / Calabogie Motorsports Park for an awesome day!!!

P.s. photo is of the car last night after I got home. Never have I see my rims that dirty (almost black) and the windshield and bumper were plastered with bugs! I was exhausted...but I had to wash them off! OCD!