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Senior Porsche Financier
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A recent road-trip brought me to the Dallas, Ft. Worth TX area and I signed up w/ Texas Driving Experience for some of their track time @ Texas Motor Speedway. I had previously taken their intro to road racing class, and so could sign up for their 'your-car' track time. TM-speedway has a road-race course built into the infield of their superspeedway, and for some track days they link the high-banks to the road course for some 'roval' events, but that wasn't part of my package this time.

$175 for 2 half-hour sessions, w/ some instruction. And it rained. the only other person to sign up for track time didn't show, so I had the track to myself (!) for my sessions.

The first 1/2 hour was lead-follow to re-learn the infield road course and 'the line' ... I followed and then led for the 2'nd 15 minutes while an instructor in a corvette followed to assess my driving. I got some great feedback on my driving and went out alone for the 2'nd 15 minutes and then the last session.

I have yokohama all-season tires - which helped in the cold and wet; but people, when it's that wet all my mistakes were visible. In the dry I have great grip w/ which to muscle my way through a blown corner, and solid brakes to control most overshoots. In the rain, not so much - no place to hide.

I put things together in the second 1/2 hour and was really pleased w/ my performance on most of the track. One corner still had my number but overall I was smoother than I'd ever been -- because it was the only way I'd make it around with any sort of pace.

I got some kind words at the end - surprised that I could carry good speed in the rain. I don't know if it was some obligatory praise to a paying customer or real feedback but I think the latter.

Even in the rain I had a terrific time !

-PM.
 

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981CaymanS
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Plainsman; said:
Even in the rain I had a terrific time !
-PM.
Plainsman;
Last year it was raining during the first session at Willow Springs during the Triple Crown Event.

So far that was the best time I ever had in the track, it emphasized the importance of weight transfer and smooth inputs. (w/NT01..)

The only bad part was running with the windows open... needless to say I have small stains on my sand beige interior, would I do it again..? Oh, yes please!
.
 

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Last March I did a DE at Virginia Int'l Raceway in the rain. Best training yet as it really forced me to be smooth. Ed
 

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A wet track indeed offers a learning experience. I have been doing this stuff or 8 years now, and have formed two opinions regarding wet tracks: first, they are slick; and second, I'll never go on another one! Not to diminish the experience, but I think the casual DE driver needs to give this more than a moment's consideration. I've seen a lot of cars heavily damaged on wet tracks, and that's no fun. If a driver has plans for time trial or racing involvement, then learning to drive in the wet is essential. And I think novice drivers should experience enough wet track time to gain an understanding of the water's effect on the car's handling. But if you reach the level of pushing on a wet track to become faster, that is where, in my opinion, most drivers need to seriously consider what it is they are there to accomplish.

I drive on track for fun, and to further my driving skill. But I no longer care a whit about becoming any better in the wet. I know the basics, and because of the DE experience, I can better control a car in the wet than I could before. But, I have no interest in becoming faster on a wet track. I figure I go to work every day and earn a salary, in part, because I endure a certain amount of stress. I'm not going to pay a car club to inflict more stress on my days off! If you enjoy it, then by all means you should do it. But don't do it just because folks tell you it's a valuable learning experience. The price may be higher than you anticipated.
 

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Cayman The Destroyer!
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If can be fun at a track that has run off room. You can really test your car control skills more safely. A a track like WGI with nothing but blue bushes it is a nerve wracking experience. I've had more than enough of that!
 

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A wet track indeed offers a learning experience. I have been doing this stuff or 8 years now, and have formed two opinions regarding wet tracks: first, they are slick; and second, I'll never go on another one! Not to diminish the experience, but I think the casual DE driver needs to give this more than a moment's consideration. I've seen a lot of cars heavily damaged on wet tracks, and that's no fun. If a driver has plans for time trial or racing involvement, then learning to drive in the wet is essential. And I think novice drivers should experience enough wet track time to gain an understanding of the water's effect on the car's handling. But if you reach the level of pushing on a wet track to become faster, that is where, in my opinion, most drivers need to seriously consider what it is they are there to accomplish.

I drive on track for fun, and to further my driving skill. But I no longer care a whit about becoming any better in the wet. I know the basics, and because of the DE experience, I can better control a car in the wet than I could before. But, I have no interest in becoming faster on a wet track. I figure I go to work every day and earn a salary, in part, because I endure a certain amount of stress. I'm not going to pay a car club to inflict more stress on my days off! If you enjoy it, then by all means you should do it. But don't do it just because folks tell you it's a valuable learning experience. The price may be higher than you anticipated.
+1--In my neck of the woods driving in the rain is part of the drill and it has gotten to the point that while it may be instructional in learning to be smooth, there are some big downsides and that includes the other drivers on the track.

I did my first DE at Mid-OH 4 years ago--2 solid days in the rain with a new car--car I learned a lot about the how the car handled in the wet and how to learn you were nearing the limits of traction. After 2 days of that and watching a few drivers put their cars in the wall on the back stretch, i decided to only drive session or two -at substantial lower speeds--if I got caught in another track rain out and call it a day.

The other consideration is the track. The contours of some tracks will create streams flowing across the track which need to be crossed very judiciously otherwise you're hydroplaning; when I see these I know it's time to head back to the paddock.
Also, at Mid-OH for one, some tracks have gone the sealer route in turns to protect the pavement at the expense of wet traction. The use has gotten so extensive at Mid-OH that the old adage of 2 wheels on the sealed surface 2 off doesn't apply any more since on some turns the sealer extends past half of the track width. Even with rain tires, the traction on the sealed pavement is minimal, making the whole experience an exercise in futility--or worse. A lot of instructors won't venture out in their own cars if it's raining steadily--to me that speaks volumes.
 

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Caymaniac
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One benefit I have derived fromm driving a few times in the rain at DEs:

Less drama in heavy rain on the highway. Purely a mental thing, but I have a much clearer understanding of where the limits are. A few 100 mph sweepers in the rain, and you learn that the car is not going to fly out of control as soon as it gets wet when you are doing 65 on the highway.

We were getting a couple of inches a day last week and I drove for 10 hours in it. No drama. I am much more relaxed. Hitting standing water and hydroplaning a bit doesn't freak me out any more. Again, purely a mental thing.


+1 on doing your wet DEs on tracks with run off room. Infineon would not be a good wet track IMO.
 

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If can be fun at a track that has run off room. You can really test your car control skills more safely. A a track like WGI with nothing but blue bushes it is a nerve wracking experience. I've had more than enough of that!
My one and only race at Watkins Glen was in the rain...Skip Barber Formula cars
...down the back stretch you could not see ANYTHING coming up on the bus stop...due to spray....luckily I got through the day without hitting anyone or anything although that was a matter of inches....imagine my elation when I came into the pits at the end of the race thinking I finished tenth....to find I had passed three cars I never even saw to finish seventh!...an experience I will never forget...one of the great things about road racing...bring on the rain!:eek: :dance:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the interesting replies - and I forgot to mention a key piece of the picture; Last summer I installed a quaife torque biasing differential, replacing the factory open-diff.

At a DE on a try track w/ the stock diff and PSM off, I managed a significant (scary) spin and I was happy to test the car's handling w/ the new diff at the slower speeds the wet conditions demanded.

That spin was caused by 2 things - leaving my foot on the gas after a rear wheel had broken loose, and, the stock open differential continuing to put all that power to the spinning wheel.

For most of my recent track time I left PSM on and felt it catch me in several places. As the session wore on I worked to be my own 'PSM' and learned the track locations w/ limited grip. Pitch and catch, pitch and catch ...

For the last few laps I turned PSM off and so my speed wasn't chopped too significantly, too soon. I took care of the 'stability control' and was rewarded w/ smoother transitions out of corners.

I hear the concerns about wet conditions on tracks w/ little room for error, but the instructor pointed out the one area where water built up w/o much run-off room. I took it easier thru that area but was free to push the handling limits of my car on the rest of the track.

I ended up blowing one corner - braking too late and knowing I'd break loose if I tried to turn - I overshot that turn w/o incident. No outright spins and I learned to modulate understeer w/ my gas pedal.
 

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I just experienced my first rainy / wet track day at Thunderhill. It's only my second time at the track. My first was at Laguna Seca on a perfect, sunny day several months back.

I completely slid off the track once and had the car wiggling around on many occasions. When I slid off, it was my fault, I was carrying too much speed into a tight turn and slid sideways off the track well before the apex. I had to pit and get my tires checked - there was grass in the beads of my tires and dirt all over the place. On a dry day, I’m fairly certain my Cayman S would have saved me. The other temporary losses of control were in turns under throttle where feathering the throttle and waiting for a second would allow me to regain control of the car. The recoveries are a rush but those losses of control made it harder for me to push the car. There were puddles everywhere, rain-coated paint lines, and spray in the straightaways. Months earlier at sunny Laguna, I was full throttle out of most turns, here at Thunderhill in the rain, it was timid throttle in fear of being thrown off the track again and being reminded every so often that I was a small input away from being out of control.

I'm sure my technique has much room for improvement but on dry pavement, it felt like the Cayman S bailed me time after time. On that rainy day at Thunderhill, I did get in some decent track time and left a few runs a grin on my face but it was somewhat stressful. Furthermore, I went with a group of friends who had 4WD cars (1 Evo modded, 2 GTRs stock) and they left me in the dust. This left me a little discouraged and wanting to get better in my car.

Would I do the rain again? The real answer, no, but I probably should. I know there's so much to improve on. I saw the instructors hauling through this course in their corvettes (RWD) so I know much higher speeds are possible. I need to have smoother inputs, have more courage with the throttle through the apex, etc. In some ways, it might be like golf - you play like the water isn't there but the technique has to be there.

I think it's good to experience loss of control a few times so that you 1. recognize it and 2. know what to do, which for me it was to feather (slight lift) the throttle and wait for the car to act normal again. If it seems the car is not coming back, stand on the clutch and the brake and wait til you stop.

Now I’m wondering. How much better are 4WD cars on the track in the rain? I’ve never tried one. Does anyone think their Cayman is a great track car in the rain? I do not but I think my skill can improve.

Cheers,
BW415
 

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Caymaniac
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On a dry day, I’m fairly certain my Cayman S would have saved me. BW415
I assume you mean your PSM would have saved you?

How much better are 4WD cars on the track in the rain? I’ve never tried one. Does anyone think their Cayman is a great track car in the rain? I do not but I think my skill can improve.

Cheers,
BW415
I think of rain as "Audi weather". :) I have run with the Audi club a few times and they get giddy when it rains. AWD makes a HUGE difference in the wet unless you are a pro. Then it is still huge.

Not rain, but another low traction surface...AWD changed the game forever...


Way before there was a Danica...


I'd say our cars are no better and no worse than other RWD cars in the rain. Tires make the biggest difference between RWD cars in the rain on the track in my experience.
 
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