Track for days

I like to drive quickly. That interest manifested itself in my registering for two track days on consecutive weekends at Waterford Hills Road Racing. The weather forecast for the first one was nasty. I drove my Subaru instead instead of the Miata. The Subaru has Dunlop Direzzas, which are awesome in the rain, and I could absolutely flog the Ru without having to worry about much. Conversely, the Miata would have been a scary white-nuckle experience. That’s fun too, but not on a track that provides very little distance between you and concrete walls.

My Subaru had a serious power disadvantage. It’s a naturally aspirated, all wheel drive, station wagon from 2002. Everything is stock. That said, when the track was wet, I had no trouble hanging with the big guys, and even passed a C6 Vette. The most fun thing about the Subaru is I can push it extremely hard, giving it my all as a driver, and rarely ever get stuck behind people. Every time I see somebody in the distance, it’s a battle to see if I can gain ground. In the Miata, those same people become road blocks–people who I have to crawl behind until they move over for me to pass. Additionally, slow cars grant you plenty of time to focus on your lines and hone your technique. Oh, and the brake pads that I installed the previous night were totally gone by the end of the event. My passenger side rotor was severely gouged by the caliper.

Okay, onto the next weekend. To this event, I took the Miata. The weather stayed nice and I had an absolute blast. I was constantly stuck in traffic during the first part of the event, however as the day progressed, the slowest people in my group were moved to other groups so the average pace picked up. I still frequently got stuck in traffic, but I was at least able to put down the occasional uninterrupted lap before encountering someone new. The car performed well, was fast, and will be even faster once I install my smaller bore brake master cylinders and cooling ducts. I feel like my stopping distances will improve quite a bit once the pedal ceases to require monumental force as I couldn’t lock the brakes if I tried once the tires were making peak grip. I’m thrilled that the car performs as well as it does without much in the way of development, and the changes that I plan to make this winter should be transformational. I’m excited to see what happens next season!

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