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Saturday - July 09, 2005

NASA HPDE - Autobahn Country Club

The Autobahn Country Club temporary members club house

This was my second weekend at the Autobahn Country Club race track, and I was feeling better prepared this time.  This would be an High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) session for both days this weekend, held by NASA.  This means I had an instructor in the car with me, and I am sure I will pick up a few more tips.

My Z06 sporting a new set of Nitto R2's ready for the track

We were going to run the South track on Saturday, and the North track on Sunday.  My instructor also drove a C5 vette, and was the guy that seemed to be responsible for running the show there on both days.  He was busy beyond belief, but when he got in the car 100% of his attention was on me.  The first session was just a shake down cruise that was cut short due to another car putting 4 wheels off and getting stuck.  I could really tell the difference with the new tires, I was pushing harder than I ever could the last time I was here, and I wasn't close to the limits.  Impressive, this was money well spent.

The pits were busy during the day

In the second session my instructor showed me a great line in turn one, to really set up two and three.  And he also showed me that I could full pedal it through the kink in the back straight.  I was starting to find the limits of my new tires in this session as well, I can't believe how good they are once they warm up.

The third session was very comfortable, I was getting used to the new tires and the South track.  We were passing everyone in the session.  I could tell my instuctor was liking what I was doing, heck he was encouraging me.  I was really pushing the short straight into four and I felt the car drift a bit, my instructor was yelling "GAS GAS GAS", but my years of bad street driving instincts made my foot let off and we went for a 360 spin down the straight after turn four.  And then went four wheels off and two more 360 spins in the grass, they aren't kidding when they say it feels like it accelerates when you get in the grass.  I didn't panic, kept the car running and moving, regained control and watched the corner workers and made sure I re-entered the track safely.  We have had incredible heat and drought in Chicago and the grass was very dry making for dusty conditions, I looked over at my instructor and he smiled at me as he patted his chest to knock all the dust off himself.  My windows were down on both sides, and every inch of my car was covered with thick dust, including the interior, driver and passenger.  Four wheels off means back to the pits for a mandatory inspection, so that's what we did.  I was a little upset for not giving it gas, I knew I should have done it but didn't.  My instructor said I handled myself well after the spin and not to worry about it.  That was my first "four off", I guess I found the limits of my tires.

I had one more uneventful session on Saturday, and I was signed off to NASA level two.  This would allow me to drive solo on Sunday on the North track.  A bunch of us hung around for a BBQ, and then got a good nights sleep.

Here is a photo gallery of pictures I shot on Saturday.


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