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I know this will be a long read, but I hope you'll plough through it and enjoy the story of my first DE. It really was an incredible time! Man... I REALLY like my car!! So here goes...

This past weekend was my first DE and I think my heart rate is STILL elevated from it.

The whole thing was just SO MUCH FUN!!! I don't really know how to recap the whole weekend, so I'll just give a bit of an overview and I'm sure many of the veterans will just be nodding their heads and thinking "Yep.... that's how you become an addict..."

I did the Intro Driving School (IDS) back in April and have been looking forward to doing a full on DE ever since. I didn't even know until a few weeks ago whether I'd be able to do it as I was listed as "Waitlist" all summer. For the IDS, we did a session on the track but in retrospect, that was really just a tiny sample of what DE would be like.

The DE was on the same Driver Development Track (DDT) at Mosport as the IDS was held on, so that little bit of experience was at least helpful.

Firstly, I'll get one thing out of the way. Reviewers have often said that these cars can make anyone feel like a hero on the track. They're obviously very good cars and well balanced and all that, but the PSM and Torque Vectoring also work so brilliantly that when you get things wrong, the car does an amazing job of bailing you out. With that in mind, while I certainly wasn't the best driver out there, I was absolutely the fastest car in the green (beginner) group the entire weekend. Of the 8 sessions over the two days, I only got to point a single person to pass me. I'll explain that one in a moment as it was one of the most entertaining parts of the entire weekend.

I know it's not a race and that there's no trophy for winning DE, but it's still fun to chase people down and get by, though not as fun when you catch them and get stuck behind them for a lap or more. I was there with two friends so of course there was a certain amount of ego involved in who could keep ahead and who got passed. One was a member here driving a 2.7L 981 Cayman with X73 and PDK. The other drove an E92 M3 manual. We're all beginners but we're all enthusiasts, so we figured our skill levels were probably about on par with each other. Going in, we were all interested in whether the PDK and X73 suspension would be enough to make up for the 55 hp difference up to my manual GTS and whether the extra 84 hp of the M3 could make up for the big weight advantage and cornering abilities of the 981's. As it turned out, the answer to the first question was "no" and the second was more of a "maybe". The M3 was the only car all weekend that I pointed by me. It happened in the 2nd to last session yesterday in what was an extremely fun run that definitely didn't leave either of our instructors very impressed.

It's worth mentioning that my instructor was really really good. So much so that I'm thinking about requesting him again for the next time, especially if I go out on the big track. We had a discussion about it at the end and he suggested that using different instructors can be a benefit as different people teach different things, so if I do the DDT track again I'll take the luck of the draw, but if I go to the big track, I think it would be good to have him keep building on the things he was teaching me.

So let's get to the good stuff here. According to my instructor, every session I did was better than the previous one with the exception of the 7th one so I'm proud to have made improvements all the way through. He said my last session was the best of the weekend, so at least I made up for it. My instructor was happy with me, so the whole thing was a success with respect to driver development. After my 2nd session on Saturday, he took me out in his car for one of the yellow group runs. Having him show me where he wanted me to be rather than just telling me made a world of difference. There was a couple of corners that I was approaching completely wrong because I clearly wasn't understanding what he was saying. Seeing him do them, I knew that even if I'd accomplished exactly what I was TRYING to do, they would have still been very wrong. My 3rd session was a huge improvement because of that. As a bonus, it was my first time ever riding in a 911.

Now... about those last two sessions. With friends at the track, there's always going to be a bit of trash talking and a certain amount of ego involved. That's just part of the fun. By the end of Saturday, I was flaunting the fact that I hadn't yet been passed but the M3 was getting quicker and quicker and his instructor seemed to be getting more comfortable with him pushing harder. We thought that if anyone was going to pass me, it would probably be him. In the 3rd session yesterday, I noticed him coming up behind me and that's when things started to get silly. You experienced guys know that trying to go faster will often slow you down. Seeing him lingering behind me, I started pushing harder and consequently started making mistakes. Meanwhile, he was doing just about the exact same thing behind me so the end result was both of us starting to make a hash of the corners and sliding around and having a whole lot of fun that didn't impress anyone except ourselves. Now he was very clearly screwing up the corners less than I was and after at least a full lap he was still out there behind me. I hadn't pulled away. I told my instructor that if he was still there after the next set of turns, I'd point him by. My instructor thought that was a great idea. He kept up and I pointed him by and then proceeded to chase him down in just about the same manner for the entire rest of the session. There were a few times that we got caught behind slower cars and had to wait to get through, but when it was just him and me out there, hilarity ensued. I was amused at how aggressive and slidey some of his turns were, and then followed them up with my own that weren't any better. We ended that session with huge grins and fairly unimpressed instructors.

This brought us to the 8th and last session of the weekend. I'd worked on a number of different things with my instructor so going out for the last time I talked with him and told him I had just one goal in mind. The M3 was first in the pit lane and we got in line right behind him. My goal for the session was going to be to completely ignore him and just concentrate on everything I'd learned so far. I figured that if I just did everything as best as I could without getting aggressive or competitive that I'd end up getting around him. He got released, and I was let go 10 seconds or so later.

About three quarters into the first lap I was coming up behind him and my instructor asked me if I'd remembered that this was just a warm-up lap. No. That had completely slipped my mind. I backed off a bit. Then it was on. I actually did fairly well in hitting my marks and driving smoothly and was able to catch up to him and keep with him but we quickly came up on lap traffic. We didn't both get through right away, so he got through first and started building a gap again. Once I got through, again I did well and was able to close the gap but once I was behind him for a couple corners, I messed one up rather significantly and my instructor piped up and said he thought I was going to ignore the BMW. I'm not sure whether I was getting aggressive or had simply made an honest mistake, but I sheepishly acknowledged that I was doing my best to. The instructor then told me to slow down and drive at around 3/4's pace or so for the next 30 seconds.

I thought I was in trouble. I know that he knew that ultimately I wanted to get past the M3. I thought maybe he thought I was going to be stupid about it and didn't want to be in the car with me when we ultimately went off through the grass into a wall or something. I thought he was going to put some distance between us so we could go back to concentrating on the basics without the M3 being any part of the equation. As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong. I backed off and the M3 started to drive away. Then, for however long it took, my instructor proceeded to go through all the actions I needed to keep in mind if we went off track. Straighten out the wheel and keep the car straight in the grass as I try to stop as roll-overs happen when you get sideways. Don't try to get back on the track right away. Just ensure we stay safe and hopefully don't wreck the car. Once he got through what he wanted me to know, he basically cut me loose to go back and try to make the pass. Over the next two laps we caught the M3 and he had to throw in the towel and let us by. It was very satifying. We knew he'd want to get us back if he could, so my instructor told me that from that point on, I didn't need to check my mirrors anymore. He'd keep track of the BMW and I should just concentrate on my driving. We actually put a bit of distance between us and him by the end of the session.

So that was my first DE. If you've read this far, you can probably tell that I had an incredible experience and can't wait for the next one. It looks like it won't be until next year, but I think it's fairly certain that I'll be signing up for a few of them next year and looking forward to them like a kid looks forward to Christmas!!

Thanks for reading!!
 

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That was an exciting read. I can't wait to do my first DE. Did you buy your own helmet or borrow one?
 

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Nice, but not surprising, to hear that: 1) you had a great time, and 2) that you were faster than an E92 M3. Also nice to hear the positives about your instructor, and that you acknowledge how much you learned from him. A high HP track like Rd America, Rd ATL or VIR might let the M3 show its power to better advantage, but technical tracks will always favor the Cayman. What tires were you on, any brake mods, camber changes, etc?

John
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That was an exciting read. I can't wait to do my first DE. Did you buy your own helmet or borrow one?
All three of us rented them. Not sure if it's the same for every region, but for UCR it's a requirement that your helmet be SNELL rated within 10 years. If you buy a helmet now, it will be SA2010 and not be valid for DE after 2020. If you buy one after October, you can get an SA2015 that's good until 2025. So we rented for this and will buy for next year.

Nice, but not surprising, to hear that: 1) you had a great time, and 2) that you were faster than an E92 M3. Also nice to hear the positives about your instructor, and that you acknowledge how much you learned from him. A high HP track like Rd America, Rd ATL or VIR might let the M3 show its power to better advantage, but technical tracks will always favor the Cayman. What tires were you on, any brake mods, camber changes, etc?
Yeah, I expect if we were on the big Grand Prix track rather than the DDT, he'd have driven away from me. Since we're both beginner drivers, the obvious strengths of the cars really get a chance to play out.

I'm on the original brakes and Goodyear F1's that the car came with and have no performance mods or adjustments. For the 7th session, my instructor had me take some air out of the tires, for what that's worth.
 

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Glad you had a good time.

Remember, you can't win a track day, but you can sure lose one...
 

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Glad you had a good time.

Remember, you can't win a track day, but you can sure lose one...
People keep saying that, but they're wrong. I did it. I won track day. It's possible it was a tie... but nobody beat me. There is zero chance that anyone out there had more fun than I did. :D
 

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People keep saying that, but they're wrong. I did it. I won track day. It's possible it was a tie... but nobody beat me. There is zero chance that anyone out there had more fun than I did. :D
Glad you had a good time.
 

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Glad you enjoyed the DE. Unfortunately the Red Mist is all over this story. I would have shut you down if I was in second seat. Please know that bringing you, your car AND your instructor back in the same condition as you started is paramount (look up recent Road Atlanta HPDE death news). It's better to go to DEs not knowing anyone so you do not have this ego thing going in. Stepping off my soapbox
 

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Red mist seems a bit extreme. We weren't lunatics out there. I have to believe that if my instructor thought I was being downright irresponsible he'd have had me pull off. I was over driving corners and missing my marks but I wasn't full on getting sideways or anything ridiculous.

For what it's worth... as soon as my instructor said to slow down and back off, I did so immediately. I listened to every single thing he said and did my best to learn from him... so he probably felt he had things well under control.
 

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Glad you had fun, but you had the wrong attitude for DE. DE's are not practice for racing, they are how to learn to drive safely at high speed. Also off the soapbox.

Hope you safely have fun at your next DE.
 

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Nobody appreciates an aggressive driver in a DE session. You're there to learn technique, limits of your car and have fun; not push or press cars ahead of you. When you move up to 'Time Trials' or solo driving events you can be a bit more aggressive depending on the run group. Keeping the 'shiny side' up should be a goal.
 

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As an expert-licensed road racer, I have served as a road racing instructor...on motorcycles. I've also done motorcycle track days, in the A (expert) and A+ (licensed expert racer) groups.

I know that in racing, that as long as both vehicles are the same color as they were before the pass, it's generally considered to be a good pass. A group motorcycle track day passes are supposed to be at no less than arms length distance, and A+ group passes are supposed to be polite enough that they don't require a conversation in the paddock afterwards. But I don't know what the passing rules are for cars in various types of non-racing track events. What is a "point-by"?
 

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WW, your enthusiasm is infectious, and you had a great time. I'll give you the benefit if the doubt that your instructor was not unduly concerned with your driving, and corralled your exuberance enough to keep everything safe. It's lots of fun to play with your friends, as any of us can attest. Just be cognizant that bad things can and do happen very quickly, and there are real dangers lurking just beyond your limits of luck and skill. May you continue to enjoy future track days with your friends, but please heed the hard-earned advice from my fellow instructors here. It is much less fun to your wallet and ego (at the very least) when things go badly. Please keep an open mind, and listen carefully to your instructor's advice. What you don't know can and will hurt you, and it's your responsibility to drive safely. Be patient; there is a whole world of fun and learning to be had going forward. Good luck, and happy motoring!

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
 

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WW, your enthusiasm is infectious, and you had a great time. I'll give you the benefit if the doubt that your instructor was not unduly concerned with your driving, and corralled your exuberance enough to keep everything safe. It's lots of fun to play with your friends, as any of us can attest. Just be cognizant that bad things can and do happen very quickly, and there are real dangers lurking just beyond your limits of luck and skill. May you continue to enjoy future track days with your friends, but please heed the hard-earned advice from my fellow instructors here. It is much less fun to your wallet and ego (at the very least) when things go badly. Please keep an open mind, and listen carefully to your instructor's advice. What you don't know can and will hurt you, and it's your responsibility to drive safely. Be patient; there is a whole world of fun and learning to be had going forward. Good luck, and happy motoring!

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
You must be a brave man- at least if one of my students takes up high-speed gardening, they're not taking me with them, lol.
 

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What is a "point-by"?
We used the point-by system at my DE as well. Depending on the driver level, there are certain locations on the track that you can pass a car. At the higher levels you can usually pass anytime. At these areas there are ppl in the pit that would also wave a pass flag, but you would have to place you arm out your window and point in the direction in which you want the driver that is passing you to go. Only when that driver gets the "point-by" can you pass you.

Glad to hear you had a great time at your DE Wild Weasel! Although I find it hard not to with the 981. What happened to all the pictures?!?!
 

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One thing that I'd like to point out to those of you who've never been to Mosport and don't know about the DDT track... this thing is made for people to learn. It's all turns with only one straight and I hit a maximum of around 80 mph on it. There's loads of run-off all over the place, though at no point do I think I was actually in danger of going off. I was having a ton of fun but I wasn't being unsafe. I'm absolutely certain that if my instructor thought I was being unsafe, he'd have made that very clear.

I remember an exchange in one of the first sessions where I wasn't too clear on what he meant by "let it track out". I thought it had something to do with sliding the car a bit at the end of the turn. I asked... and he said if I start sliding the car around he's getting out. :D

I don't have any pics because every time I tried to take a selfie on the track, the instructor looked disappointed.

Edit: Can't make the Facebook video work. :(
 

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We used the point-by system at my DE as well. Depending on the driver level, there are certain locations on the track that you can pass a car. At the higher levels you can usually pass anytime. At these areas there are ppl in the pit that would also wave a pass flag, but you would have to place you arm out your window and point in the direction in which you want the driver that is passing you to go. Only when that driver gets the "point-by" can you pass you.
Interesting. On motorcycles, we disable brake lights and rear view mirrors, and the person making the pass is responsible for the pass.

And they can pass anywhere on the track- straights, corners, inside, outside...we just ask that the C (novice) group only pass on the outside until noon.
 

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Great story Wild Weasel. I hope it motivates others to try High Performance Drivers Education events because they read and feel your excitement. I was warned and I'm sure you were too - "HPDEs are addictive!".

Trust me, most people who DE have a point of reference - yours happen to be a M3. I'm cool with that so long as you know the added risks. Its true that racing will lead to bad outcomes. Instructors are likely to pull back the reigns if they feel you are focused on the wrong things - such as if you started making the same mistakes as the car in front of you which means you are not driving your line, brake points, turn in points, etc.

Its a good feeling to know that Cayman is a formidable track toy - and can definitely get around the circuit quicker than many cars with higher power. My favorite Cayman "trick" is to sharpen up the curves, then get on the throttle coming out of a turn MUCH earlier than heavier, high horsepower cars which makes it difficult for them to catch up and pass in the passing zones. I smile when a Corvette comes up behind me but can't get in a passing position before the next corner. Turn Cayman turn!
 

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Awesome story glad you had a ball. I think the only place you can truely enjoy all of a Porsche is on the track. Only one question ... Where is the video
 
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