Student-Instructor Introduction

First of all, welcome to high-performance driving. And welcome to T.E.A.M. Racing. Bonnie does a great job running these events and making sure everyone gets lots of track time and has lots of fun.

Ready to Go!
Everything is out of the car, its numbers are on, and the final
inspection is done. We're ready to go!

About Me and My Car
As you can tell I drive a 1998 Prelude. It is mostly stock. It has basic suspension and interior mods, an LSD, and a stock motor except for the fancy intake. It's not a high-horsepower car, but its handling characteristics are excellent and the car is reliable.  I've driven it at nearly 50 track events and have been instructing with TEAM since the end of 2004. I've taken some formal driving courses, but I don't race, not that I wouldn't like to, but that is a whole other level of commitment, mostly of money.

About Your Car
For your first track day I wouldn't worry about doing anything to make your car faster. Just show up in a safe, reliable car that you already know how to drive. There is already so much to learn your first time out that finding and pushing the car's limits won't be a big part of the day.  Street tires will do fine, and street brake pads, too. Of course that will change after a few track days when you are driving well enough to put some serious demands on them, but my own experience has been that it was the driver (me) who needed most of the work, not the car.

You will want to spend a little time earlier in the week preparing your car. Run through the tech sheet to make sure everything that the track is concerned about is good. You might want to get regular service done on the car, fresh oil, etc.  Make sure your tires and brakes are good, and make sure you take care of any little nagging problems, such as a little leak, or squeak, slight overheating problem, because trying to fix it after you are at the track will really cut into your track time.

Finally, it is not a bad idea to go ahead and take everything that you don't absolutely need out of the car and leave it at home.  This would include floor mats, maps, loose change, and whatever it is that has been hanging from your mirror for so long that you forgot it was even there.

Lead-follow instruction
Lead-follow, with the student in the lead during her approach to turn 10.

Patience = Speed!
Just a few notes about the approach to take when learning to drive. During the day you'll hear a lot about "the line", "slow in, fast out", "slow down to go faster", and such, and it really is true. But patience is what is really important. If driving well is your goal then the speed will follow. Speed only comes after the skills are developed.  Anyone could go out an thrash their car in the turns, smoke their brakes and tear up their tires, and they might even think they were fast because it was all so noisy, and violent, and difficult, and some students actually do take that approach despite what we tell them. But that approach simply doesn't work.  What you'll want to do is hold off on trying to find you and your car's limits and instead take time to learn your way around the track in the morning, then during the afternoon to be able to find your way around the track on your own.  Of course, you will be picking up speed as the day progresses, and as you do you'll be glad you upped your speed gradually because by mid-afternoon you'll probably already be going faster than you dared to that morning. Perhaps by the last session of the day you'll feel good about the track, about passing, about how your car feels at speed, and how your brakes and tires change throughout a session.  At that point hopefully you'll start to be able to "feel" the grip and how the tires are working for you and you might even be able to start experimenting with different braking and turn-in points, weight transfer during braking and cornering, etc.  But, and this is very important, work up to this gradually or else you will struggle, not have fun, maybe even hurt your car, and you'll miss out a chance to learn the basics that will serve you well for a long time afterwards.

Your First Track Day
Bonnie's program really makes a big effort to look after the new drivers, and she's got a good program for introducing new drivers to track driving. The typical experience for someone's first time at the track with TEAM is:

Checking In and Getting Up Early
I usually arrive in town the night before and get to the track the next morning as early as I can.  For Thunderhill events I usually leave Davis between 4 and 5PM the day before the event and stay at the Best Western.  Then I head right over to the restaurant (Casa Ramos) to meet up with the Bonnie, other drivers, and the students. After dinner I top up on fuel, check tire pressures, and may even wash the car at a nearby car wash if it needs it. The next morning I leave for the track before 7AM and I park right in front of the main building. Feel free to join me there. If it is hot or raining you might prefer to park under the shelter, but get there early before it fills up.

Prelude Lead-follow
Lead-follow instruction involving two Prelude drivers.

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