SCCA School, Day 1

Note: Once I get pictures from the event.. I’ll post them in here.. Until then, you get my witty banter (or lack of) in text format. Thrilling, I know.

My goal of the weekend was to complete the SCCA drivers school. This will allow me to race in the 2 required regional races and get my regional license (which leads to a national license, if I want). To get signed off, I need to complete both schools (one Friday, one Saturday). If I don’t do anything too stupid, drive somewhat quick, and keep the car running – I should pass.

Friday begins with a few minutes in the classroom at 7:30am. The chief instructor, Jim, gives a few words of advice, mates us up with our instructors, and sends us on our way. We begin with an hour (or less, depending how you count hours) driving around the track @ Blackhawk in my instructor’s truck.

Around the track, round 1

This is my first time around Blackhawk. I’ve been there twice before, but never driven on the track. Seeing the track is interesting, especially from my instructor’s big old truck. I used to think only rednecks had big trucks, but, my new instructor, Brad, has a big truck and doesn’t yet seem to be a redneck. On this note, Brad brings a camouflaged ATV with him also. And, I think he had a camo jacket. This was all very Alabama like, until I read his hat and spoke with him to realize he is former Army. This makes sense now, even if it was 10 years ago and he is a computer geek now. I’m sure he had a gun with him the whole time, in case one of us students went crazy he could shoot one of us. That’s ok, I had a gun the whole time, too.

Rain, rain, go away

The school is split into two groups, 1 and 2. Group 1 is closed wheel cars – mostly consisting of Spec-Miata’s, as well as some Civics, RX-7s, BMW 3-series, etc.. Group 2, my group, is open wheel (formula) cars. Open wheel cars this weekend encompass Formula 500, Formula Vee, Formula First, Formula/Club Ford, and some Formula Continentals.

Group 1 ran first at 9am… and the rain was moving in quickly. My issue was that the rain tires I had were with me, and the tire guys were just across (outside) the track. No one can cross the track while cars are running. So, just before the first session, Don and Michelle took the rain tires and rims to the tire shop and left them there with hope they would understand to mount them up.

Well, this didn’t happen by the first session. So I missed the first session, even after a delay for heavy rain and lightning. The Group 1 cars went out again, and during this time I was able to get and mount the rain tires.

Session 2

This was my first time on track with the Lola. It was raining lightly, and the track still had puddles on the surface, not to mention the mini-ponds all around the track runoff areas.
The first few laps were under double-yellow, which means you can’t pass other cars (not that I was going to) and need to drive cautiously in general. Once we got out of the yellow flag business, I took the car up to speed. I did about 2-3 laps, still timid in the rain, before disaster struck.

Blackhawk is a mild-speed course –most of the track is done with 2nd or 3rd gear. There is one corner (3D) 1st gear is used, and 4th is used on the straight (bottom of the track map picture) with my car. Some will argue that 4th is used more with the right gearing.

Bring a towel, its like rain!

So, at some point during my 2nd to 3rd shifting, or my 3rd to 2nd shifting (all without the clutch, mind you), the shifter had decided to do something I did not want it to do. In fear of something was wrong, I came into the pits rather than destroy the gearbox. Come to find out, the transaxle was stuck in 2nd and wasn’t hurting anything except my ego for going-fast.

Don and I quickly (in the mud) pulled the end-cover of the Hewland, re-aligned the selector fork, and resealed the transaxle. Problem solved.

Session 3

By now, the rain had gone away and it was humid and getting warmer.

Session 4

Session 5

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