“I want to be a solo driver. I am the fastest in my group. No one passes me. I’m getting held up by other drivers.” I wish I had been given a dollar for every time I heard those statements from other drivers over the years. I get it. You want to be out there on your own as a solo driver, doing what you enjoy. I have seen many drivers, in many different driving groups/clubs, become solo drivers way before they should have.
With today’s cars being so good, starting with the 996 to the present, it is hard at times for some to decipher if the student is really a good driver or if the car is doing it for them. I have said this many times before and I am quoting one of my old mentors, Doctor Ron, ‘just because you are fast does not make you a good driver’. That is definitely more obvious with today’s modern cars than with an older ‘no nannies 911 or 944’.
When an instructor does a checkout ride with you at a CVR DE, they are looking to see how you anticipate traffic, if you are looking ahead, how you brake, your corner entry speed, how you exit a corner, amongst a whole slew of other things. When an instructor is evaluating a student they are not looking for speed – they want to see that you understand the difference between being a fast driver and a good driver, someone who can actually control their car and drive it within their capabilities. Most importantly, they are looking to see if the driver/student actually knows what their car is doing at the moment; i.e.: did they even notice that the back end of the car stepped out coming over the uphill and the nannies caught it? Did they realize that no matter how hard they hit the brakes while turning, the car did not spin? The technology in a newer car makes it easier for a student to become a solo driver and harder for an instructor to evaluate a student.
Whenever I do a check-out ride in a student’s car, the first thing I tell them is I don’t need to see how fast they are, I just want them to drive. The learning curve in an older no-nanny car takes a lot longer to get up to speed than in a newer car. I am not saying a new car is bad to learn on, it’s just that the technology can make you seem like you’re a whole lot better driver than what you really are. Remember that seat time, seat time, practice, practice – however you want to phrase it – is what makes you a better driver. Don’t get caught up with becoming a solo driver. Have fun and learn all you can from having an instructor in the car with you. When you do become solo, continue to seek instruction so that you don’t get into any bad habits on track.
Please remember that the 2010 helmets are officially expired and can no longer be used at a PCA DE. Please go out and buy a SA2015 or SA2020 helmet. Stable Energies in Garfield, NJ has a great selection of helmets. Their store is worth the drive.
Have fun and be safe. See you at the track.