PCA Southeast Michigan Region

From the Blog

P4-2019-06 – Beginner Day DE – In three part ‘harmony’-

By Steve Carbary

 Part – 1

The 2019 DE season opener was held on May 10th and was a welcome relief from a long winter of fun cars being tucked away in garages and storage.  It is always a good day when you can take your car to somewhere special to really enjoy what it can do.  The smells of hot brakes and rich exhaust fumes, the sounds of tires being used to their full potential.  Little Darlin’, I’m reminded of a famous lyric – ‘the smiles returning to the faces’.  I believe I am safe in saying for those of us experienced track junkies as well as all the new, first timers, it was a great day.

Our first DE of every year is especially catered towards beginners and those who are joining us for a first time experience.  This year was a great event for that.  Out of our three groups we separate drivers into, the beginner group was almost entirely first timers.  What an exciting proposition that so many people wanted to do this event that they filled up a group by themselves.  Perhaps a slight comfort in that as well knowing that they were surrounded by others doing exactly what they were doing.  Several had attended our DE-101 that we held in April and were prepared and had been looking forward to this day for a few weeks.  Those who didn’t get a chance to attend that day were still guided through preparations by the DE team ahead of this event.  But now the time had come so everyone was anxious and ready to go.  

Even our very experienced instructors were a bit in a buzz.  Since our last DE there, Waterford Hills Road Course had been entirely repaved.  There had been a few other events held there already this year so we were all searching for any ‘intel’ on any changes to the track.  You may not think repaving a race track would change it any noticeable amount.  It does.  Many of us have thousands if not tens of thousands of laps on this track (as well as others) and notice the slightest of changes, as well as the bigger ones.  So even we were a tad more excited than usual.  And hey, at least one darn road has been fixed!!!  (Lol)

The day began in the same manner that much of this spring has provided us.  Below average temperatures, mostly cloudy, a bit of mist in the air at one point.  Feelings of nervous energy and apprehension soon changed to enthusiasm and exhilaration though as the cars started taking to the track.  Drivers soon began getting comfortable how the day operates and the information our instructors were providing them.  Taking what they had learned in the classroom and applying it on track.  During our lunch break, the skies began to clear and temps started to rise.  The drivers all welcomed this for the afternoon sessions.  As the day progressed, the speeds got faster and the smiles got larger.  Lots of fun laps were being had.  I got a chance to talk to some of beginning drivers after their last session and before leaving for the day.  I would ask if it was as much fun a promised.  Several assured me it was with big grins I might think are still there if you ask them.  It is always rewarding to get this kind of feedback about these events.  I hope we will get to see all of them again.  I feel it is a rare opportunity to get to drive these cars in this type of safe, fast, and fun environment with experienced friends to help you get the most out of it.  The fact that this club gets to provide it members with these types of days is something I am proud to be part of. 

Part – 2

On a personal note, my day on the track ended a little premature.  Best of intentions sometimes are just not good enough I guess.  No, actually I know better, but things happen.  I had a part on my track car that was on my radar to replace as a preventative maintenance piece.  A plastic part that shows no signs of any issues, but ages out and is a well know issue.  I had every intention of replacing this before our June DE, I swear!!   But this piece had other plans.  Two laps into my second session and it gave.  I limped in and parked.  Having a strong suspicion what had happened I went straight for this item and confirmed there was the problem.  At this time I jumped into action, grabbed my phone, and rang up our friends over at Munk’s motors.  Chris Braden hopped on his systems and told me he could have in his hands in about two hours.  I got a lift over to his shop and found the entire place jumping with activity getting ready for the Devil in the Details event they were hosting the next day.  Even during all of this, Chris didn’t hesitate for a second to help me.  I can’t thank him enough.  It’s nice to know that our sponsors are not just business relationships, but people that I hope I get to call friends.  On a side note, Stephen Cramer from our other main sponsor Autocore Performance Group was another call I could have made for help, but he is also one of our instructors and was riding with a student at the time. 

We got back to the track to find that most everyone had left for the day.  Lucas Phan and Gary Egbert stayed with me to assist in replacing this part.  Very nice of them to do that.  Another example of how this club really is ‘not just the cars, it’s the people’.  Part replaced, I was up and running in time to catch up with the other for a post DE day BBQ.  Drove home that evening thinking about the day and perhaps bumping up my maintenance schedule a touch.

Part – 3

I wanted to take a moment that day to acknowledge someone and their great attitude.  Lucas Phan has become one of our regular drivers at our DE events.  And as many advanced drivers do, he has a car modified for use during track days.  To be honest, he has gone to the point of converting a Mazda Miata to very near race cars levels.  Autocore has provided the mods and created a strong roll cage for him.  Problem with that is now he cannot put the original convertible top back on the car.  Typical for these types of cars, nothing to be done about it. 

Now if you remember last year’s DE events at all you will recall the numerous times we got rain.  Yes, he was out there with the open top car … in the rain.  Those days it didn’t rain during the day it rained on him on his way home.  I got a text message from him one day stopped at a red light on his way home just getting poured on.  None of this has ever deterred him in any way.  He always has a smile on his face and laughs it off with a lightness in his voice.  Because of this attitude and persistence (see above about the misting in the morning of this event too) I thought it appropriate to reward him with a trophy.  I dubbed it the Golden Snorkel!!!  A round of applause struck up when I gave him award.  I hear it has even found its way into a display at their home!!! 

All of this just goes to show that our DE days are full of club members, no, friends playing in harmony.