2012 Beginner’s Day - Coming Home Again

Monday, April 29, 2013 5:45 PM

~EMan, a.k.a. Cranky Webmeister

It’s been quite a while since I was on the track. That last time I was at Waterford Hills was in back 2000, when houses were a good investment, travelers weren’t being groped or probed at the airport, and premium gas cost $1.529. So climbing out of my virtual bunker, I decided to re-visit the track and see if it was as fun as I remember it, or if I need to invest in a better virtual water filtration system.

So I signed up for Rally Sport’s 2012 Beginner’s Day at Waterford Hills earlier this year. I got my car ready and inspected. I bought a brand new SA2010 helmet. I watched YouTube videos of the track. I was ready.

I got to the track before 8:00 am when it was still cool and cloudy and started emptying my car. Then I went to the registration table where Pat “The Patience of Job” Jeski was signing everyone in. After breakfast munchies and my car’s final tech inspection, it was time for the driver’s meeting.

Christian Maloof, our chief instructor, went over general information, such as the classroom schedule, passing zones, corner flags and the like. Then it was off to the classroom for the Green (beginner) group. The White (intermediate) group joined Green a little bit later. We were all instructed, exhorted, cajoled, enlightened, and thoroughly entertained by Motor-Stadt region’s Len VanderJagt. I’m surprised I didn’t have to pay a cover charge to get in.

Soon it was time to head out to the track. I have to admit I was a bit anxious. Would I totally screw up on the track? How would my car perform? Would I remember which direction to drive?

Luckily my instructor was long time Rally Sport member Andy Sasyk. He took my car out, thus saving me the embarrassment of driving in the wrong direction. After a couple laps of pointing out turn-ins and apexes, it was my turn.

I had taken my Subaru Impreza WRX STI for this event instead of my Porsche 944 Turbo. I had no idea how it would be on the track, and for the first few laps, I was all out of sorts with it. My timing for braking and turning with it was off. With instruction and patience from Andy, I started getting a clue by the end of the session.

Later Andy took me out in his car, a 930 turbo. Driving with instructors is always a treat. They show you their line, when to brake, where to turn. Your body also gets a sensation of what the car should feel like as you go around the track.

Now properly re-calibrated, I had a better second session, understanding the dynamics of my car better. By the third session it was pure joy and exhilaration. Until my car did a very bad thing (see: next time bring the Porsche). There was no fourth session for me.

So what did I get out of all of this? Quite a bit, actually.

  • I remember the amazing camaraderie that guys on the track have.
  • I’m still amazed that the same people come to the track year after year (I am refraining from age jokes here, because they may apply to myself as well).
  • We can pass in more places.
  • I now know how my car handles.
  • Despite the car problem I had, I completely and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I want more.
  • And I want a Cayman S.

Will it take me another 12 years before I’m back at the track? No, I’ll be back later this year. And I expect to be faster as my wallet will be lighter. Hope to see you there as well!

The Pictures

Pat Jeski taking registration

“Go that way very, very fast. If something gets in your way, turn.”

This year’s Beginner’s Day event was a full house

Christian vs. the Driver’s Meeting

The Green group starts off the festivities

The sun eventually came out

The sights and sounds of the day

A lap or two of Waterford Hills (EMan+STI).
Ideally, it would be better if someone who knew what they were doing
(*cough* an instructor *cough*) would make a similar video to post here.