I waited about a year and a half for the Evolution (Evo) Performance Driving School. In Colorado, they run them every year, but they only accept eighteen people. Last year, I was wait listed. This year, I wasn’t going to be wait listed. I started checking the sign up every single day from January 1st. I finally got in.
Brief Overview of my car life
I love cars.
Out of all the car manufacturers, I love Subaru. I picked up my 2004 WRX wagon back in Feb. of 2005. It was used with 8,000 miles on it. Still a baby. I’ve been consistently working on it ever since. Back in the 2008 time frame Anna said, what is the point of all the work you’ve been doing to your car. You just drive it around town. She was right. Why was I doing it?
Off to the races
Hitting the 64x on the timeline of 2008 until now, I started auto-x’ing (Auto Crossing). An auto-x is a more entry level car racing event. That being said, I don’t mean to offend any of the serious auto-x’ing out there. I love auto-x’ing, but off all the car racing events, it is the easiest to get started and easiest on the car. An auto-x is where you go to a car parking lot, stadium, airstrip, etc., then set up a road course using cones to mark the path. Speeds are typically in the 40 to 60 MPH range. It might not sound super fast, but when you are making hair pin turns, going through slaloms, or going around other obstacles, it feels quite a bit faster.
I’ve been auto-x’ing for eight seasons, typically three races a year. I also typically finish last in my class. I wanted to work on my skills. I didn’t want it to be another eight years before I was actually competitive. Most of racing is the driver’s skill. While the car plays a role, it is how well the driver can handle the car.
On the day of the school, I showed up at 7 AM to prep my car. For me, that means taking everything out that isn’t bolted down to the car, increasing the tire pressure, adjusting the suspension, installing racing belts, and the installing Go Pro.
After prep is the tech inspection. That is where people go and verify your car is safe to race. They make sure your battery is bolted down, wheels are tight, and there is nothing inside your car, to include your floor mats.
At 8:30 AM there is drivers meeting. It is a chance for the instructors to introduce themselves, talk about the day, provide information to the drivers, talk about the course, etc.
At 9 AM, the fun begins. I was in the fifth heat. A course was set up, and we had three chances (runs) to see how well we did. The instructors then jumped in the passenger seat to watch us. Were we looking far enough ahead? Were our hands moving too fast instead of steady and smooth. Were we stabbing at the gas and brake? All these small items have huge impacts on time.
We then switched. The instructors took two runs in our cars to see how the car handle, and how we needed to adapt our driving skill to meet the car. In one of the runs, we tried braking really late and turning at the same time to go around a circle. Because of the way I set up my suspension (neutral), the tail of the car became really loose and I spun. On the street, that would be really scary, but on a course where you are the only driver and nothing is near you, you just laugh. At some point, you realize you can’t save it, and you have to let the car spin. It is a lot of fun. Also, on the street, I’m not driving anywhere near my car’s limit to invoke a spin.
When I wasn’t driving, I was working the course for heats one and two. That means, if someone hits a cone, you have to put it back. It is a great opportunity for you to watch other drivers.
We repeated the same routine in the afternoon, but with a different instructor. We had about twenty to twenty-five minutes each time with the instructor. At the end, we had a chance to run the same three laps again, on our own to see how we did.
Best starting time, before instruction 43.63. This was run three on my own.
Last run of the day, after instruction 38.6. This was one of those magical moments. A storm had started rolling in and it was starting to rain. I set my fastest time on the last run of the day.
Compared to the instructor, I was 1.5 seconds slower at the end of the day.
Next year, I’m thinking about doing their level two course. I’m looking forward to my next event to see how my skills stack up.