Time trial format: 2-3 hot laps instead of 5 - Page 2 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #16 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 08:48 AM
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There are a lot of things to consider when running a driving school, not the least of which are the logistics of providing useful driving venues for the various skill levels involved. Something that might bore a racer might terrify someone who has never driven aggressively before in their life. We get them all and we try to provide a learning experience for each of them.

Running the Streets track backwards in the "Graduation" run means going down the long straight past start/finish at high speed and out onto the skidpad to make a fairly wide 90 deg turn where there is plenty of safe run out space if someone makes a mistake. We can't use skid pad for the "track group" during regular class because the "skid pad group" is using it. That means the "track" would have to turn left at the tower and go up the very narrow section toward the chicane. This would mean having the highest speed section, the long, wide down hill, leading into the slowest, narrowest section of the track through a 90 deg corner. A fair number of the cars we see would be capable of reaching 75+ mph leading into this corner so this corner would be something like a high speed thread-the-needle exercise. While you racers might think threshold braking from 75+, then turning onto narrow bit of pavement is great sport, people with limited track experience would probably think otherwise.

Now let's look at the facilities we need for a school and what's available at the various tracks. We need a classroom, a skid pad and a shortish road course. We also need to cover the costs with the registration fees. And we are the Alfa Romeo Owners of SOUTHERN California so running a school at a track that is more than a 3 or 4 hour drive from LA is probably no likely to happen. It would be great if we had somewhere to go other than the Streets but so far we don't. Maybe Buttonwillow will put in a skid pad if enough people write letters to them and suggest it.

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post #17 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 08:53 AM
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Buttonwillow has a huge skid pad out by the go kart track. We use it at the University of VARA every year.
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post #18 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 09:25 AM
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Anthony,

Thanks for the info. Every time I've been over that way, it's been full of go karts, related support vehicles, etc. Is the skid pad part of the area the go kart people use when they have events?

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post #19 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Colby
Anthony,

Thanks for the info. Every time I've been over that way, it's been full of go karts, related support vehicles, etc. Is the skid pad part of the area the go kart people use when they have events?
The skid pad has been there since they built the track. Since it's right beside the go kart track, people with karts park on it for convinience. When the skid pad is being used, they park somewhere else. We've taught students on the skid pad while go cart events have been going on with no problem.
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post #20 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Colby
We also need to cover the costs with the registration fees. And we are the Alfa Romeo Owners of SOUTHERN California so running a school at a track that is more than a 3 or 4 hour drive from LA is probably no likely to happen.
Doesn't Fontana have a selection of skid pads, and a configurable infield section? The facilities are also quite nice. Are they too expensive to rent for a school?

I'd like us to run at Thunderhill (solely because it's a nice track), but you're right Bruce, it's too far from SoCal and there's no incentive to go there since it's not Laguna.
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post #21 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 12:12 PM
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The last time we ran the infield track at Fontana it cost nearly what a low season weekend at Laguna Seca cost or about 1.5 times what Buttonwillow cost (full track, all you can get on weekends). The Streets is about a third the cost of the Fontana infield and the same as one of Fontana's parking lots (I think we might need two lots for a school but maybe not, plus there is no indoor classroom space at Fontana). Setting up a track in a parking lot is also a whole lot of work. I know it just looks like a bunch of cones spread around but it's much more than that.

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post #22 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-29-2005, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Colby
The last time we ran the infield track at Fontana it cost nearly what a low season weekend at Laguna Seca cost or about 1.5 times what Buttonwillow cost (full track, all you can get on weekends).
Thanks for the insight, Bruce. I knew it couldn't be cheap; what with the location and available facilities. Hope this would shed some light for the other members as well.

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Originally Posted by Bruce Colby
Setting up a track in a parking lot is also a whole lot of work. I know it just looks like a bunch of cones spread around but it's much more than that.
I've help set up autocross tracks before, and even in a small, 1:30 track, it's a lot of work!

At the end of the day, it does appear that the Streets has been, and always will be, the choice for the Driving School locale for us. Sure, it wears on us but none of us can honestly say "I've mastered it! Backwards and forwards," except for maybe Brad
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post #23 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-02-2005, 01:13 AM
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Bruce,

Any chance the school in March/April 2006 can be held at Buttonwillow? That would be cool. Since it's just a school you might even be able to split the full track into 2 and run 2 groups concurrently on the tracks, and 1 group on the skidpad! Just a thought .

Although I have nothing against the streets (except for the distance from San Jose). Actually I kind of like the elevation change, and running it counter clockwise is pretty cool.
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post #24 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-02-2005, 03:26 PM
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I can put a driving school at Buttonwillow on the list of suggestions to bring up at the Comp Board meeting in December. However, I can see a couple problems we'd have to find our way around in order to actually do it. One is cost. We can only handle so many people in the classes and Buttonwillow is considerably more expensive than the Streets (I think I've already pointed that out). So, to cover costs, we have to raise prices. I haven't done a detailed estimate but I'd guess we'd be looking at maybe $300 to 350 per student, possibly even more. I'm afraid that might scare a lot of people off. The other thing is the skid pad. Based on what I see in the satellite photos, the Buttonwillow skid pad is about 1/3 to 1/4 the size (area) of the one at the Streets. It also doesn't have that nice little "go kart" section the Streets has. It's also basically the paddock for the Buttonwillow go kart track so using it precludes a go kart event that weekend (this might be an additional cost issue). On the other side of the coin, maybe we'd pick up a bunch of students from the Bay Area who we otherwise wouldn't see. All-in-all I think the idea is worth some consideratoin.

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post #25 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-02-2005, 07:00 PM
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School at Buttonwillow

Bruce

I think the only way a School would work at Buttonwillow, cost-wise, would be to use (and pay for) just half the track. We talked about it before, I think we even checked with the track and they didn't have a half-track available that year. Paul Ellis was eager to try it. Anyway it's worth checking out cost-wise, but proceed with care.

Some things to think about: we'd also need the skidpad, which, as you point out, might preclude the track from renting out the kart track that weekend. And we'd need the classroom for the entire weekend, which might cost a bit extra depending on whether the other club using the other half of the track also wants the classroom. And even with only half I think the price would be more than the Streets of Willow, and of course it's farther from LA to boot.

All in all it might be worth a try but risky.

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post #26 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-04-2005, 10:56 PM
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My 2 cents worth here on 3 vs 5 hot laps: I agree with Brad completely about people pushing too hard in 3 laps. safety is a serious consideration that we sometimes forget about with all the adrenaline going. I know that my pace used to be off when I would do the timed runs because I had been off the track for a few hours and didn't have toher cars to pace me. Then with more experience & driving the tach a little more, my times got very consistent.

As to getting caught up in traffic, I've been in both positions, an being stuck behind someone is no fun, and neither is blowing off a lap to let a slightly faster car get around you. We work real hard to figure out the gridding for everyone in the TT groups, but we can onoly work from the info that people give us. I would estimate that about a third of the entrants never even look at the times we have posted for them, so we are guessing a lot of the time, especially when someone doesn't give previous lap times at that track. In the case of no info at all, you get gridded last, behind Norm.

If you do get stuck behind someone, drop back 10-15-20 seconds in the early part of a lap. Sure, you loose one lap, but you can look at your turn in points, etc while cruising, then get back up to speed for the next laps.

Terry Watson
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post #27 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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Well, heard enough arguments for 5 vs. only 3 laps. Definitely safety should be number one concern. Catching up or being caught from behind can certainly be worked around and improved upon if all of us cooperate.

I just thought 3 laps would put more competitive pressure and be just more fun. Actually you do exactly that with the race school, when we run the graduation laps at the end of the weekend CCwise. And I do understand there's no safe room to practice before hand. But it *is* more dangerous. It's like the argument for not puting a chicane in turn 13 at Indy without allowing any practice. There are rookies in TT's and also in race school. You are looking at one.

So, in the name of safety, I remove my motion to consider 3 laps.

Flame away!
Jorge

Last edited by Jorge Mazlumian; 07-05-2005 at 09:06 AM.
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post #28 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 10:54 AM
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Jorge,

No flames here, this was one of the better discussions on the BB recently.


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post #29 of 29 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Jorge,

No flames here, this was one of the better discussions on the BB recently.

and I appreciate everybody's comments.

Jorge
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