brake shudder or even rotor warpage. This will be a very unpleasant result!
You should also pay particular attention to your personal needs. The concentration necessitated by this
track can easily drain you of energy and fluids rapidly. Try to keep cool, eat well, and drink plenty of liquids - articularly in the hot summer months. Dehydration and fatigue are dangerous problems that can be easily avoided with proper care.
Throughout this document, you will notice the mention of various reference points that can assist you in driving the course properly. By working with your instructor, you will learn to identify such objects as cones, distance markers, seams and patches in the pavement, objects close to the track surface, etc., that will aid you in developing safe and consistent technique. One should keep ones attention generally focused well ahead of the vehicle at all times (with regular glances in the mirrors) and not fixate on these references; simply note them and relegate them to your peripheral vision. Good use of peripheral vision will be important in keeping you alert and aware of your entire surroundings.
Vision and safety certainly come into play where passing is concerned. This is one area that should be
handled with utmost discretion. Passing is simplified on this track by the long wide straights. However, speed differentials can be great and it is very important to observe proper passing etiquette at all times. Passing zones and signalling will be discussed in the driver's meeting.
Unlike many events you may attend, the flaggers here are Race Communication Association pros. They are the best in the business and you should look to them for guidance if something is amiss. Make no mistake, if you are doing something wrong, THEY WILL SEE IT! They are also a lot of fun. Give them a wave on your cool-down lap and show your appreciation. They are the embodiment of the goals of this event:
Safety & Fun!
Read on for more detailed information about
driving at the Glen!
Welcome to Zone 1's Porsche Club of America Driver's Education event, the 48 Hours of Watkins Glen. This is the largest event of its kind in the entire PCA, and is a happening like no other. We hope you enjoy this opportunity to experience one of the most historic tracks in all motorsports. Most of racing's great heroes have driven here, and soon, you'll be sharing in that history too!
Watkins Glen is a 3.37 mile, 11 turn (long course) track following the natural terrain of this scenic area. The elevation changes are pronounced, so you can expect an exciting roller coaster ride. It is also wider than most tracks, and the facilities are first rate and lend themselves perfectly to our purposes. It is a big place and can be a daunting experience, especially to those who may have cut their teeth on smaller tracks. For this reason, it will also be one of the most memorable tracks you will ever drive.
This document is intended to provide a uniform baseline for students and instructors to maximize the
benefits of PCA Driver's Education. The information contained herein will serve to accelerate your learning of this very technical track. It is not intended to represent the "fastest" approach, but a safe and practical beginning. Remember, safety is always of paramount concern!
Driver's Education in general is not nearly as stressful on your car as you might imagine. However, as mentioned earlier, this is a big place and the straights are long and fast. For this reason, you should pay particular attention to your brakes.
Make sure you have fresh pads and fluid and that your brake lines are sound. The high speeds here translate into high heat and wear. You can easily boil weak fluid and burn up cheap or thin pads on this track. Service these items now and bring spares if your car has high speed potential. Monitor the condition of your brakes continuously, both on and off the track. A quick tap of the peddle before a critical braking zone, while perhaps not seeming "cool," may save you from a nasty experience.
Take advantage of the extensive paved access roads to cool your brakes properly between runs. Simply parking after a run may allow brake vapors to condense on or pad material to transfer to the rotor surface and cause severe
R-COMPOUND TIRES WILL MAKE ME A BETTER DRIVER
The use of such tires is widespread among performance driving enthusiasts. If you have been contemplating such a purchase, consider this: This is Driver's Education, and you are here to learn the art of car control, not necessarily how to drive fast. It is much easier to access the limits of a set of street tires than the stickier variety, so one learns more progressively and at a more reasonable speed. Knowing what your car will do, what it feels like, and what action to take when it moves around is obviously very important. While the cornering and braking limits of the sticky tires are much higher, they will allow you to "get away" with improper technique and sloppy driving initially, but are MUCH less forgiving at their higher limits. You may find yourself in over your head; going far too fast to correct for a moment that you were not at all expecting. Really learning to drive well means being prepared with the proper REFLEXIVE RESPONSE. Street tires offer the best way of learning these responses and ingraining them in your reflexive memory through consistency and repetition. Start at the beginning!
Here are some other common misconceptions that many people operate under when considering
Driver's Education. In reality, these can be dismissed as: practically non-existent;
simple anxiety caused by the unknown; down right silliness.
I WILL BE TOO SLOW - This is education, not racing. It is not unlike school. Different people have different potentials and agendas, and there are no prizes awarded for rapid retention. You will be placed in a group that suits your car and ability, with an instructor that suits your person, so you can learn at your own pace and drive at your own speed. Your personal comfort level is important, so don't ever feel you must exceed it
I WILL MAKE A FOOL OF MYSELF - Just like everything else in life: try something new, stumble, make mistakes, scratch your head, persevere. The one thing that everyone regardless of their current level can say about Driver's Ed. Is: BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT THE T-SHIRT !
I WILL HARM MY CAR MECHANICALLY - Obviously, increased stress means increased wear. If your car is in shabby condition, you likely won't pass pre-tech anyway. Unless you are really driving fast and hard (which is unlikely if you are a novice), the added stress on Porsche's traditionally over-engineered components will be negligible. In certain respects, Driver's Ed. Can be a good thing, as it demands that you maintain your car to a higher level and it will be treated to things that it normally may not receive, like fresh brake fluid every year, brake pads and water hoses, wheel bearings re-packed or replaced, etc. You'll find you will get to know more about your car, and the fun is definitely worth the maintenance!
I WILL HARM MY CAR COSMETICALLY - This is the only category of tangible concern. However, with some preparation - such as a fresh coat of wax, nose mask, racer's tape, mud flaps, etc. - cosmetic injury can be virtually eliminated. There are many cars that are track driven that also provide stiff competition on the concours field. And anyway, Porsches were built to fly free. What would you rather have; a garage queen that deteriorates just sitting there, or a seductress that excites you?
And the biggie
WHAT IF I WRECK MY CAR?
NOT GONNA HAPPEN! Anyone who is even moderately prudent, who loves their car and takes care of it faithfully, will not do anything to jeopardize their investment. If you take up racing, you must rationalize the loss of a car as a possibility. Once again, however, this is not TV, we are not racing, and the likelihood of an off-track excursion is statistically insignificant, let alone any contact with a solid object. You honestly stand a far greater chance of wrecking your car driving on public roads than at Driver's Ed.
Points to Ponder
Basics for Driver's Education Success
Final Tech Inspection
You will be required to go through final tech inspection at the track each morning. This is a last minute
check to insure that all items on the pre-tech list have been attended to properly and that no problems
have surfaced subsequently. Bring your tech form, have your car emptied of all loose items (including
floor mats), have your car numbers displayed, and have your helmet ready for inspection.
Please arrive early and prepared for final tech !
Proper Frame of Mind and Objectives
Learning to drive your car at Watkins Glen is one of the greatest experiences imaginable. Be ready to thoroughly enjoy yourself, and to share it with your fellow PCAers! The knowledge and skill you gain at Driver's Education will transfer directly to everyday life, making you a better driver on the street and giving you increased confidence and ability behind the wheel. If you discover strong interest, the techniques you will be learning will serve as a solid foundation for further performance driving study.
If you are a novice, you will be assigned an instructor. MAKE USE OF THEM. If you are unsure of something, ASK! They will be more than willing to help. When you get together with your instructor, think of yourself as an open book with no text on the pages, or a sponge - ready to soak up everything you can. Assume that you know nothing, regardless of how much you may have read on the subject or how proficient you may feel as a street driver. You are here to learn how to drive swiftly and safely and to have a GREAT TIME, not to race or win trophies. You will impress your instructor by listening and being a good study, not by being "fast."
If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with your
assigned instructor, feel that effective communication is lacking, or have any other problems, see one of the event stewards. They will do everything possible to see that you get an instructor that better suits your needs.
Heed the advice and instructions of event personnel. They are volunteering their time and working hard to keep this a safe and fun event for everyone!
You will be attempting to process lots of information; the basic line of the track, turn in, apex, and track out cones, braking, shifting, and cornering techniques, the names and numbers of the turns and straights, and track safety. Don't worry if it is overwhelming at first. Your instructor will guide you and make sure you are functioning properly. LISTEN!
When you have completed a run, talk it over with your instructor. Look for areas that need improvement and seek their input. When you are preparing for your next run, make a list of objectives so that you will have a sound agenda for the session. Don't worry if you are having trouble putting
everything together to form a well driven lap. The Glen is a big place, with turns of widely varying style, and it takes a lot of time and effort to put it all together and "feel a rhythm." Patience and concentration will be rewarded!
If you are a novice, your instructor will drive your car for a few laps (at least two) at a reduced and comfortable pace to help familiarize you with the track layout, car positioning and visual references, flag stations, etc. Don't worry about remembering every detail for now, just get a general idea of where you are supposed to be and what is expected of you on the track. If you would like them to continue for a few laps longer to reinforce what they have been showing you, simply ask them and they will oblige. This is highly recommended.
The Most Basic Components
of Performance Driving
1) Maximize Straightaway Length. There exists a turn-in point and cornering arc that will effectively lengthen the straight following a given turn. If you experiment by using the entire track width, you will discover an optimum cornering method that will allow you to straighten your front wheels and accelerate earlier than if you were to simply follow the actual arc of the turn.
2) Minimize Cornering Arc. Find a turn-in, apex, and track-out point that will minimize the arc by which you traverse the corner. The goal is to have your front wheels turned as little as possible, but more importantly, for the shortest time and distance. The level to which you can accelerate exiting a turn is in proportion to your cornering speed and the amount your wheels are turned. It stands to reason that you cannot accelerate hard if your front wheels are turned substantially. The sooner you can straighten them out, the sooner and harder you can get on the gas. By minimizing your cornering arc, you have the second component needed to maximize your accelerative potential and hence, your terminal straightaway velocity.
3) Maintain Even Cornering Balance. In an often used word, SMOOTHNESS! To maximize acceleration and cornering speed, you must have even balance in the car's cornering attitude. This means that the inputs you make to the car (throttle, steering, braking) must not cause any undue weight shift to any one corner of the car's suspension. If you slam on the brakes, the resultant forward weight shift will lighten the rear end, possibly causing an oversteer situation (the rear becomes "loose", or wants to pass the front!). If you jump on the gas in a corner, weight will shift to the rear and front tire adhesion will be lessened, causing plow or push (car won't steer as tightly as intended). By applying the necessary inputs properly, you can maintain the OPTIMUM RELATIVE EQUALITY between the four corners of the suspension and allow each tire to maintain maximum adhesion. If this relationship becomes too unbalanced in a corner, you will have to give up acceleration time in order to maintain control. This is not the fast way around the track.
Fix this in your memory: SMOOTH IS THE FIRST STEP TO SWIFT!
AT FIRST, PERFORMANCE DRIVING TAKES MUCH STUDY AND THOUGHT. THERE IS A
LOT TO DO AND LEARN. HOWEVER, IF YOU PRACTICE AND BECOME PROFICIENT AT
THE ABOVE SKILLS, NOT ONLY WILL YOU BE DRIVING SWIFTLY AND SAFELY...
YOU'LL ALSO BE HAVING LOTS OF FUN!
In order to simplify the task of learning "The LINE", a distilled list of terms should be employed. Work with your instructor to make sure you understand the terms being used. A good example of basic terminology would be:
LIFT - Backing off the throttle (in a straight line) is the first step in corner preparation.
BRAKE - Apply the brakes smoothly but firmly to decelerate.
SHIFT - Downshift into the proper gear to accelerate through and out of the corner.
TURN - Initiate the turn. Your eyes should be looking for the apex cone. Let your hands follow your eyes.
THROTTLE - Apply throttle smoothly to maintain cornering balance and to accelerate out of the turn.
APEX - The inside center point of your chosen cornering arc.
TRACK OUT - Gradually unwind the steering wheel after the apex and drift toward a track out point as
you accelerate, using the full track width.
Thus, the distilled verbal cornering sequence may sound like this:
1. LIFT (off the gas).
2. BRAKE (in a straight line, downshift if necessary).
3. OFF BRAKE (release brakes before turning).
4. TURN (into corner smoothly but decisively).
5. THROTTLE - (gradually feed in throttle).
6. APEX - (aim to "Clip" the center of your arc).
7. TRACK OUT - (guide car toward track out point).
LIFT, BRAKE, OFF BRAKE, TURN,
THROTTLE, APEX, TRACK OUT.
SIMPLE & CONCISE!
Use of a like sequence of terms should greatly
assist your learning experience.
A Description of All Flags Used On-Track
There are various types of flags used to signal different information to drivers on the track. You should
familiarize yourself with them so that if one of them is displayed, you will know what is required of you.
(They are noted as to their frequency of display: Primary & Secondary).
the GREEN FLAG: The track is open, clear and ready for use. Generally only displayed at the start/finish line.
THE YELLOW FLAG/lights: CAUTION. There is or was trouble ahead. Check your mirrors and slow down but do not stop, prepare to take evasive action, and DO NOT PASS. This flag is displayed at the effected stations. STATIONARY YELLOW: Beware. There has been an incident ahead, but it's probably not severe. Use caution. NOTE: Yellow is also generally displayed on the first lap of a session to indicate a warm up lap. WAVING YELLOW: There is likely something blocking the track. Use EXTREME caution. (PRIMARY FLAG)
THE RED FLAG: There is a serious problem up ahead. Check your mirrors quickly, slow and stop sensibly, and pull well off the driving line or track surface. Look to the corner workers for further instructions. A red flag DOES NOT mean that a panic stop is appropriate. Displayed at ALL stations. (PRIMARY FLAG)
THE BLACK FLAG: There is a problem with you or your car. Report immediately to the pit lane staff. (PRIMARY FLAG)
THE CHECKERED FLAG: Signifies that the run is over. Drive at a reduced pace to cool your car and self and come into the pits. NO PASSING. Generally displayed at the entrance to the Inner Loop. Never pass the same checkered flag twice. (PRIMARY FLAG)
THE MEATBALL: There is a problem with your car. Report immediately to the pit lane staff.
This information is for general instructive use only, and its appearance here in no way constitutes any specific acceptance or endorsement of the information herein by the PCA, Watkins Glen International, or the Author.
I have striven to make this an extremely well written and accurate document on a subject that is not to be taken lightly and can obviously be dangerous. To maintain the accuracey and proper presentation of that message,
I would ask that absolutely no use whatsoever of any text herein be made without my express written consent.
I would ask you to please abide by this request. Thank you.
ANY USE OF THE PICTURES DESCRIPTIONS, AND ACCOUNTS IN THIS TEXT WITHOUT THE
EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF ZONE 1 OF THE PORSCHE CLUB of AMERICA AND THE AUTHOR
IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN
This document is COPYRIGHTED (C) 1999-2005 by John L. Hajny
THE PASSING FLAG: (Blue flag/Yellow stripe) A reminder that a faster car/driver is behind you. Be courteous; lift and let them pass at the next available opportunity.
THE OIL FLAG: (Yellow flag/ Red stripes) There is a slippery area on the track caused by rain, oil, dirt, coolant, etc. Proceed with caution until you have properly assessed the situation!
THE WHITE FLAG: There is an emergency vehicle on-track. Watch for and yield to this vehicle. Pass ONLY IF YOU ARE CERTAIN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY. (Note: A Red flag would most likely be displayed) (SECONDARY FLAG)