You must walk before you run. Despite what commericals say, unless you have perfect running technique and form, the latest and greatest from Nike isn’t going to help you win a marathon any more than a good kick in the ass would. Like running, racing a car requires maintaining a balance between upgrading equipment and developing proper driving technique. Getting caught up purchasing the latest equipment can blind people to the fact that they need to invest more time learning how to drive. To compete in wheel-to-wheel racing, two criteria have to be met; first, the vehicle needs adequate preparation, and second, the driver needs to learn the techniques for driving on a track. How much vehicle preparation is debatable, but regardless of the vehicle, driving fundamentals are required.
Text by Jun Chen // Photos by Jun Chen and Aidan Spraic
In our first segment of Driver 101, we sent three members of DSPORT’s staff to experience NASA’s HPDE program at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. After overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the program, we registered for NASA’s next stop on the HPDE calendar, Buttonwillow Raceway Park. Located in Buttonwillow, California, this historic track sees a number of very fast cars and drivers every year. For the October 13-14th, 2013 HPDE event, NASA chose to use the #13 counter clockwise configuration. Buttonwillow #13 CCW combines high-speed straights and esses with a number of very technical turns. Phil Hill, Bus Stop, Cotton Corners and the Off Ramp all require different approaches and techniques, testing the wits of every driver who passes through.
In addition to the required classroom instruction prior to each session, this time we also requested in-car instructors for our drivers. The two professional instructors that would ride along were none other than Honda Challenge Regional Champion Jeremy Croiset and National Champion Road Racer Dan “Don” Gardner. These instructors, combined with the class leaders John Matthew (HPDE 3) and Steve Hook and Patrick Orozco (HPDE 1/2), provided great advice and insight into how to drive safer, better and faster on the track. With a positive attitude, a safe vehicle and a helmet, anyone can get out there and learn how to race a car.