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Mrs. Bee Goes For Higher Education - 2012 Atlanta Motorsports Park Drivers School!

Discussion in 'Driving Schools' started by mrsbee, Sep 12, 2012.

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    mrsbee

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    Captains Log - Three Days and Counting

    "The One" just went in to have its mandatory inspection this morning. Although it was up in the air just a week ago while rotating tires and changing oil and such, a "Professional" needs to sign off on the paperwork. Funny enough, he thinks I'm nuts. That's alright, that's just his opinion, that's why he's a mechanic and I'm not. After talking with him for a minute, he said "Baby, you're going to do great, make me proud".To humor me, he asked if I need to be shown around he car, we laughed. He signed. Thank you Keenans Service Center in Greenville, SC for being awesome (notably the same mechanic we've been taking our Nursery junk to for almost 30 years).

    My wheels are awesome, I just have to poke a flashlight in there and see how the pads are doing. After this little session, it will be time to really think about investing in some upgrades, maybe fuzzy dice and a chain steering wheel.

    Which brings up another question - whilst on the track, where do my tools go? I'm aware that just about the only thing allowed in the car while ON the track is your hot body and your instructor, but is there secure areas to keep stuff like that. I'm not a paranoid individual, but I'd be pretty pissed if I got back and found my handy dandy flashlight had been absconded with by some sticky fingers. Its a pretty ritzy track,perhaps I'm thinking too much into it.

    Another question (I'm full of those and coffee this morning, so bare with me), while on the track are we to be driving with DTC on or off? I understand that it can alter your performance greatly on the track, but are we trying to learn how to drive the car better on the track or in everyday conditions where the DTC is typically on. Truth be told this is the first car that I've ever had that has this feature and it kind of gives me a giggle every time I get the flashing Triangle of Danger. I wonder quietly to myself (sometimes loudly with expletives) what did I do in cars that didn't have this feature. I've never crashed...

    I'm quite handy, at least in prior circumstances with the point and shoot mentality of driving. I need to brush up on exactly what to shoot for to acquire that "Consistency" rather than luck.

    Believe it or not, I'm pretty comfortable behind the wheel, I just need to keep that cockiness in check, lest the "one" will give me a reality check pretty freaking quick.

    Speaking of reality checks, track insurance...certain need or piece of mind luxury?
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    steven s

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    Tools generally remain in the car as long as they are secured in their holders.
    I had one place that wanted them out.

    Talk to your instructor about the DTC.
    I'd turn it off but others may debate it.
    Whatever you do, always discuss with your instructor.
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    MGarrison

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    Read this

    http://www.bmwcca.org/forum/index.php?threads/driving-school-what-to-expect.886/

    and

    http://www.bmwcca.org/forum/index.p...l-expected-budget-starting-from-scratch.7090/

    and maybe as of much of this thread as you can (it's only 154 pages)

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=199661

    The inspection mirror suggestion is so you can get a good look at the inboard pad, a good view of which is typically difficult to get because it's behind the brake rotor and in the caliper. It's important to check, because BMW brake calipers typically are single-piston, the piston-side of the caliper is inboard, and, typically, the piston-side brake pad wears more than the outside brake pad. Not a big deal, until you get down to the nubbins of the brake pads - if you assume both pads wear evenly, you might find the outside pad looks like it has some acceptable amount of pad left, but the inboard pad is actually all gone, down to just pad backing plate against rotor. Typically, there's actually some braking power left, but what happens is the brake pad backing plate gets _really_ hot, and the caliper piston starts to push it's way through it, kind of welding the caliper piston the to backing plate in the process. As if that weren't bad enough with likely making the caliper unrepairable, if the piston pushes out far enough, eventually it will push out of the caliper past the piston seal (blowing out the brake fluid in the line) and at that point you'll have complete brake failure in that brake line circuit, and likely find your foot going to the floor with verrrry little slowing happening. Something most would recommend avoiding. If you can get a good look at the inboard pad (able to see exactly how much pad material is left) with a flashlight, that's convenient and easy, but if not, a mirror saves having to actually jack up the car and pull the wheel to be able to see it. I have open spoke wheels, and even on my E30's relatively miniscule brakes that fill up the wheel well of a 14" wheel but leave plenty of room on my track 15's, I can't get an eyeball on the inboard pad. That's me, but a quick look with a flashlight will resolve the question for you, if you haven't looked that closely already. If you have a freakishly small pinhead, maybe you can jam your head in between the spokes and look directly, but, best I can tell, you look pretty normal. ;)

    You'd be amazed at how much faster your car will go (off track) when you lose your grip on a chain steering wheel - but, g-metering fuzzy dice ftw! ;) :p

    I've never had anything stolen at a driver's school in 27 years, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions - almost all my events have been BMWCCA schools, but I'd probably throw some faith in the Audi club's direction too. ;) It's mentioned in the other threads, but it's a good idea to take along a storage bin and/or covering tarp to throw stuff in and keep it dry in case it rains. If you want some security, perhaps something lockable, but, then, if you lose the key while on track (like, it slips out of your sock, pocket, or, uh.. slides into your shoe and then you have to lose track time because it's jabbing your ankle)... In any case, folks typically pile their stuff where they park, and tarp/bin it up if it's gonna rain. Don't park in a low spot where you'll get flooded if it does rain.

    Which reminds me of another minor point - if your car key ring is awash with multiple keys, paring it down to the car key might not be a bad idea, having a big bunch of keys jangling around while driving on track might be a distraction.

    Well, um, I think that's probably best left to you and Mr. Bee, but I'm sure everyone here appreciates the invite.... maybe folks further south will be tempted, but it's just too dang cold here today, besides... :p

    As to DTC, your instructor may have a preference. I'd say start out with it on, and if you find it limiting something you're doing or trying to somewhere along the line, then shut it off. I'd leave it on if it's wet or raining, and if you have a dry weekend, perhaps move towards shutting it off by after your 1st session Sunday, or sooner depending on your preference. AMP looks like a fun track, I want to go try it out, looks like I'll have to wait until next year.

    And here I thought you were already figuratively getting our piece of mind(s)... That's a judgment call you'll have to make - incidents for beginners, in my experience, rarely occur - your instructor hopefully will keep you from driving over your head (per sē), and help you to keep everything copasetic. If something were to happen, obviously having it might be a boon.

    K - piece, out! ;)
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    steven s

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    Sounds like you speak from experience. :)

    I also always leave my keys on my dashboard just it in case it starts to rain so someone could close my windows or if the car needs to be moved.

    I also bring an extra set of car keys. Haven't needs an extra set yet, but you never know.
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    MGarrison

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    [IMG]

    As Austin Powers would say... YEEAH, BAAABY! :p

    Or, maybe this - I particularly like the 300 kmh setting on the "Cruise" knob... just set n' ferget, can't you picture those F1 drivers thinking "Ah jeez, are we EVER gonna get to the end of the Mulsanne Straight?! Are we THERE yet?? Thank God for cruise control!"

    I like the "Ack" button too - considering that's what we always used to say in multiplayer computer games when something went wrong or you got shot, undoubtedly that's the button the driver is supposed to hit when something goes wrong, particularly at speeds in excess of 185 mph.

    [IMG]
    MrsBee likes this.
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    MGarrison

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    Come to think of it, since the AMP website has a couple of videos, spending some more time watching those and studying the track map so you have a better sense of what things look like before you start will help you. Just in case you found yourself at page 128.5 of bf.c first-timer tips and were starting to wonder "Gee, I wonder what more I could be doing that would be helpful."
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    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    On the Left Coast, where students run in Groups D through A, we tend to leave all the traction-control nannies in place for the D and C students, and for the first session or two for other students. Depending on the car, the student, and my instinct for self-preservation, I might then allow the one-click DTC setting. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable letting an A student cancel everything in, say, a twin-turbo M5 unless I had seen how well he or she handled a smokin' drift through Turn Three at Laguna Seca.

    I must say that BMW NA's Matt Russell may cancel anything he wants, and I'll still sleep like a baby in the right-hand seat. . . because I HAVE sat there while he put the car sideways through three corners in succession, laughing every inch of the way. Oh, the fun you can have when somebody else is paying for the tires!
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    steven s

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    After driving the Grand Coupe in California, those gadgets can make anyone a think they are a good driver.
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    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    Yeah, but Matt was driving with EVERYTHING OFF. . . except his right foot. That was definitely on!
    MrsBee likes this.
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    steven s

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    Wasn't talking about Matt, was talking about me. :)
    I've seen people come off track thinking that they knew how to drive with all those gadgets protecting them.
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    mrsbee

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    Captains Log: Two Days Away

    Although my mind typically is as sharp as an arrow (insert snicker here) my mind went wandering on the "Everything Off" comment and had a mental picture of Satch and a naked guy driving around the track. I'm hardly going to be able to pull THAT off, but we'll see. I might just keep a few things on, like the engine and perhaps my clothes.

    I've also been spending a good amount of time reading over those recommended posts, and have found that the "what to expect" thread has been more than helpful. I suppose I could have saved everybody time and just did a Google Search on "What to expect..." but I didn't. Hopefully this will be a good reference for years and years to come.

    While sizing up the trunk of my car, I remembered back to the whole not being able to fit the cooler incident from Forth Of July, but then realized people with MUCH smaller boots make it work, so I can too! Mr. Bee has a very extensive tool collection, and I guess we may have to downsize to a smaller box - so are there any tools that you can think of that can just be left at home - or should it be an "expect the unexpected and pack heavy" situation.

    Also, as far as racing attire, what do you find the best footware to be, something with bite on the sole or something that can easily slip from pedal to pedal (and stay on one in particular). Maybe two different shoes :-p
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    steven s

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    Park next to someone with a trailer. A closed trailer preferably to an open one.
    Closed trailers carry more junk with them. :)

    For tools, you really don't need anything other than a torque wrench if you have one and a tire gauge.
    I bring tools with me usually to help someone else out.
    I actually have two tool boxes.
    One scaled down version that has tools needed to change brake pads and rotors. Doesn't take much.
    And another with my other stuff.
    Bring oil, paper towels and window cleaner.

    My favorite book is
    http://www.amazon.com/Skip-Barber-Artist-Not-Provided/dp/B0006A9I2A
    although it makes more sense after your first school.

    Shoes. Thin soled shoes are probably best.
    You don't want to slip of any pedals.

    Usually you are required to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants.
    Depends on the track and weather.

    Don't over think too much. :)
    Relax.
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    mrsbee

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    I usually don't do this but - LOL - me, not over thinking - that's like telling a fish not to swim.
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    MGarrison

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    Ditto on Steven's points, plus, as mentioned elsewhere, with two of you driving, monitor brake pad wear and not a bad idea to take an extra set of front pads. It would be the rare hpde that a few people weren't in attendance loaded for bear as far as tools and accoutrements go (so judge for yourself how much you want to ask to borrow from others), but you can't count on anyone having model-specific parts/tools. If you guys are going w/ nearly full-depth pads, I suspect you'll get through the weekend without needing to swap pads. If you're closer to half-depth, maybe you use 'em up enough to change 'em out. Full depth rears probably get through the weekend no problem, and 1/2 worn, very possibly. But, if the rears aren't full, maybe take a set there too (and, hey, you'll use 'em eventually). It's just silly to have one's track weekend cut short because of using up brake pads, given the travel, time, and expense put towards the weekend.

    Shoes - yes, thin soled, flexible footwear, ideally with a rubber sole that has some traction (vs. smooth). Many athletic shoes are perfectly adequate, but things like thick-soled running shoes with lots of rubber for cushioning and impact protection would isolate your feet from optimal pedal feel.

    Hardly essential, but many opt for specific driving shoes. Piloti are popular, I go for low-top Simpson (http://simpsonraceproducts.com/prod...ge=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=517&sort= ), there are lots of options however. Simpson soles are soft, so I try not wear them except when in-car, lest they wear out more quickly than I'd prefer. Racing gloves also are hardly essential, but it's nice to have something on your hand when sticking it out the window at a cold spring or fall driver's school and the wind chill/rain from zipping along at track speeds is painfully cold. Hopefully in n.e. Georgia this time of year you all will have a near perfect weekend that's warm and dry without being hot or humid.

    The info packet from the organizers should have covered required apparel, but taking along a couple of long-sleeve t-shirts just in case nobody mentioned it and they're required, isn't a bad idea.

    And yes, relax, & enjoy!
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    mrsbee

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    Captains log - one day away

    Brake pads purchased

    Phone chat with instructor

    Anticipation high
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    steven s

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    You do know about bedding in brakes, don't ya?
    I like exchanging emails with instructors prior to an event.
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    mrsbee

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    Going really fast and slamming on the brakes a couple times, no?
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    steven s

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    No. :)
    You do that on track and you may be going into the turn sideways. ;)
    Bedding in depends on the pads. There are usually instructions.
    I don't like going on track with brand new pads.
    I will if I have to but I'm very cautious during the first session.
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    mrsbee

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    :-/

    Damn. I really thought it was just a matter of pretending not to hit a dog a few times. Turn out my dad isn't that great of a mechanic as he thinks he is. I can't wait to break the news to him that he's been doing it wrong for so long.

    But in all seriousness, I am much more confident after talking to the instructor. He has a good personality and talked length about his wife. I was a bit concerned about being nervous around him, but after a short chat, I feel like I've known him for .years! I typically am a bit nervous having strangers in my car, especially at high speed
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    mrsbee

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    Captains Log - Travel Day

    After spending a good amount of time getting up close and personal with the front brakes of the tard, I now feel like I can conquer the world - or at least the track. I took the ounce of prevention approach and decided some new shoes would be a good idea. On they went and off I'll go!

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