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The ColorChange Question

 
Old 08-13-2004, 11:54 PM
  #1  
JackOlsen
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Default The ColorChange Question

I thought I'd start a thread where maybe everyone involved in the recent Driving/Data-Acquisition discussions with ColorChange could maybe take a step back, and see if there's anything useful that could come out of all this talk. I've been realizing, as a participant, that I don't have a very clear idea of what it is ColorChange is trying to accomplish, either with his threads here on Rennlist or his time spent on Chicago-area tracks in his 996 Turbo.

As an instructor, one of my first questions for a student is to find out what the student's background is, and what the student is looking to get out of his (or her) track time the day I'm instructing. It could be that his wife gave him a day at the track as a gift, and all he wants is to see what it would be like to drive a Porsche on a track. It could be that he wants to become a professional race car driver, and sees club racing as a good pathway into that. And of course, it could be anything in between, from wanting to occasionally drive fast on a track, to becoming a time trialer, to finding a niche somewhere in the club racing or trackday scene.

ColorChange, if you're willing to participate in this, why don't you tell us what you're looking to do?

From what little I've read, I know that ColorChange is a Chicago-based driver with a modified 996 Turbo that he's taken to the track a few times. He's gotten some instruction, although I don't think he's utilized an instructor most of the times he's been out. He's an engineer, I think, and has devoted a lot of time and energy to his data acquisition system. He has some theories about the utility of the data acquisition system as a tool to teach himself track driving. He's attracted the notice of a handful of regular Rennlist posters with his theories about data acquisition and driving. I think in some of his posts he's been willing to acknowledge that he'd benefit from having an instructor, but at the same time he isn't willing to let go of his attachment to his data acquisition system (or his somewhat idiosyncratic way of interpreting his track data) as his primary learning tool.

To some of us, talking with ColorChange is like having a kid who isn't willing to try going into the water without his swim wings -- who's simultaneously spending a lot of time at the pool, holding forth on the finer points of the perfect backstroke for some of the advanced swimmers.

So, ColorChange, here are three specific questions for you:

1) What are your goals, as a driver, both this season and in, say, the next five years?

2) What's your background in tracking cars? Specifically, what brings you to this whole world in the first place?

3) What is it you're hoping to get (in the context of Rennlist) from drivers with more experience than you, and what is it you're hoping to offer to drivers with a similar amount or less?

I think it's easy for an internet discussion to get ugly, stupid, or silly in a hurry. I think ColorChange has behaved pretty well, in the threads I've seen so far, even when confronted with Haikus. Unlike Ghettoracer, he's not advocating activity that other drivers feel is dangerous. He's just not being very receptive to a lot of the commonly-held beliefs about how someone learns to drive on a track. Based on what I've read, he strikes me as someone who's maybe not comfortable with taking a particularly complex view of the factors involved in moving a car around the track fast. He seems much more inclined to try to break it down to fairly simple pieces of data. But that's my own speculation; it could be 100% off base. Most of us might say he's too absolute or reductive in his thinking, but I definitely wouldn't say he's a crackpot.

On the positive side, I think his input has livened up the Rennlist racing board, recently. I like his enthusiasm for the science of tracking a car. And heck, I'm originally from Chicago, so I like that his voice on his videos sounds a lot like my own.

In any case, I hope he won't take offense at my creating a thread devoted to him.
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Old 08-14-2004, 12:57 AM
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Jack, I'm in as you sound sincere. I will ask you to try to referee and keep out the trash comments.

Question 2 first.
Here is my problem. I am extremely competitive. I am an excellent downhill skier/racer (former ski jumper), and have been involved in many sports. But Iím getting old (43) and my skiing skills especially are diminishing. This is frustrating/depressing. I have always had sports cars but never tracked one until I got my Lambo. Realized that it could do a whole lot more than I could ever get out of it on the street (safely that is), so I asked a close friend with many years of track experience (an advanced degreed ME engineer in fuels design for Amoco among other jobs) where I could really drive my car Ö and learn how to drive it. He suggested a nice group at a safe track. He suggested Gingerman with the Ferrari club. Jackpot! I am still having trouble deciding which I like more, skiing or racing, and I LOVE skiing. The best thing is, racing does not have the physical demands that skiing does, so I can continue to compete as I get older. (Please forgive the wrong use of the word racing, I know DEís are not real racing, more like time trials to me.)

Tracked the Lambo. Realized the car had weaknesses for tracking. Spent $40k+ and the next time out broke a spindle 1 turn before a wall. I have 2 young kids and absolutely need to minimize risk so a 20 year old car that isnít designed for tracking was no longer working. She let me down, so I fired her and got a tt. Chose a tt over a GT-2 because I donít get to track often and the tt is so much more civil on the street. Still not sure I made the right call as I have spent >$50k getting the tt to perform like a super high powered GT-2.

I have extremely little track experience, maybe 20 - 20 minute sessions.

Question 1.

First Iím a daddy so I promised the wife no racing until the youngest is out of high school (15 years). Unless I get some unexpected reprieve, you guys are safe from my ďignorance and lack of abilityĒ at least in a true racing setting. By then Iíll probably be too old and slow anyway. Second, because my family comes first, I get very little track time right now. Maybe 2-3 events a year. Might be joining the Autobahn Country Club so then I may get a ton of seat time. Then look out.

So, my goal is to learn to drive as well as possible as quickly as possible. Itís that simple. In order to do this, the fastest, most efficient way for me is to learn as much as possible about vehicle dynamics, race car engineering, and of course driving. The DAS just happens to be the best tool for doing this (for me at least), combined with the knowledge and seat time.

Question 3.
The posing of this question points out a huge fallacy most people have on this board: that experience make you good. I donít believe that. I believe being good makes you good (specifically maximizing g-sum along the optimal line.) And sadly, you have directly implied that those with more experience canít learn anything from me, and I promise you that is wrong also.

So anyway, this is yet another avenue for me to learn in addition to the books, studying, analysis, and driving. Specifically, I have asked for help on how to drive the 911 in general, discussed different driving theories/approaches, discussed equipment, etc. I learn things from this forum and that is why I do it.

Some of the specific things I am working on right now are controlling a 911 at the limit, threshold braking, PSM/ABS analysis, and the best lines at Gingerman. I hope to find a really good driver/instructor who looks like he can handle my car, and cut him loose to compare what he does to what I do. I will learn tons there. So far, Fishman seams like a likely choice. There are also 2 other people that Sol at Perfect Power has recommended and I trust his opinion a great deal (have their names at my office but one has a 600hp plus tt, last name starts with B I think).

In the meantime, I intend to continue to learn my car largely on my own. I wonít disregard what an instructor has to say but I largely know what I need to learn in the short run. When I get to the low 1:30ís at Gingerman consistently, I will then seek more help from instructors for finer points that I am missing. If I canít get to consistent and smooth low 1:30ís soon, I will more aggressively seek help sooner. The best instructors I know are two racing coaches at Precision Automotive (PhD engineering no less). If I hit a plateau, I will buy them for a day if instructors at DEís canít help. Thatís my approach.

Misc.
I actually think I take a highly complex view of track driving and that is where a lot of the friction comes from on this board (in addition to my largely unintended ďarrogantĒ style of communicating). Many people just donít have the training to understand the theory behind what I am saying (none of this is mine, itís all what I have read or learned). That is also not intended as a slam. I donít know a lot about many things, it just so happens engineering is highly beneficial to understanding race cars and race car driving; not required, but very beneficial.

I really do think I can learn from some instructors, but if one hops in and says to finish my braking before turn in he, he doesnít belong in the instructorís seat of my car. So I am open but feel that I can largely self teach using my knowledge and experience in other areas, combined with my ever loved DATA (not opinions, maybeís, could beís, ďI thinkĒs, Ö!)
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:08 AM
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I like the sound of this. Colorchange has run over the dogma with his data-equipped-car(ma).

Very refreshing.

Chris Cervelli
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:15 AM
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I think your approach is too advanced for your level of skill right now. Learn the fundamentals first with "seat of the pants feel" and speed will follow in short order. I think a driving school like Panoz or Barber would likely help you a lot. Those instructors are professionals and are geared towards racing and maximizing your performance. It will also be the most efficient use of your limited time. JMHO.
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:23 AM
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That''s hysterical Chris. Now you know why I've been taking so much flak.

Carrera, you could be right. I am waiting for Derrick Daley to get new fully DAS equipped cars on line and then I intend to go.
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:35 AM
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Also, when I was at the steepest part of my learning curve I had the pleasure of having a real professional ( Randy Pobst ) take me around for a few laps at VIR with him driving my car. It was eye-opening to say the least. There is no way I could ever hope to copy what he was doing at that point ( about where you are now ). He was trail braking, sliding and fish-tailing the car everywhere. It truly felt "on edge" or over at every moment. The times were incredibly fast. Those types of skills take a lot of seat time to develop, not to mention a great deal of natural ability and desire. Still I would agree with you that it was a very valuable experience, but I don't think it is the kind of thing you could hope to replicate by examining some data on what he was doing. That would be like picking up a video of YoYo Ma playing cello , watching it , and then trying to play like him. Getting the car on edge and keeping it there while driving the proper line requires an incredible balancing act of coordinated control movements based upon an infinite number of sensory inputs. Only the human brain can adequately master the multi-tasking necessary to pull it off. There is no graph or chart that can hope to describe it, but the data may show the results..... you go fast.

Last edited by carreracup21; 08-14-2004 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 08-14-2004, 02:22 AM
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CC: I'm a scientist an laud your view that data will help you get better (faster). However, I also believe that until you have the skill to interpret the data, it isn't the best answer.

I'm not to different from you - about 25 days of DE over the last 2 years. I'm not the fastest, but I'm learning. My only data comes from a camera and my hot lap. For now I think it's enough. I try to have an instructor for one session each day to keep me going (I don't need one every session - this IS like skiing as it's a game of miles and practice makes you better). Having an instructor in the car helps me with where I apply the gas or brakes and the line I'm following. I seldom find that I don't get 0.5 to 1 second better after a session with an instructor. Over time it adds up.

A novice skier uually focuses on the tips of their skis, doesn't keep their body oriented to the fall line and has a hard time with balance (I'm also a pretty fair skier who's getting older). When I started tracking, I also focused on the front of the car and didn't get my eyes up and looking to the apex and track out point. All the data systems in the world will not point this problem out to you, but 2 turns with a good instructor and they will. Balance skiing comes from practice. The same is true with the car. I find I now am starting to really understand the 'feel' and balance of the car. That's come from practice and a few choice comments from an instructor or two.

One other example that data systems can't help with - when to unwind the wheel. I don't relax and unwind soon enough. While I stil get to the track out point, as one instructor said - you'll still get there, but slower than if you had straightened the wheel. The effort lost to pushing to the track out point is lost time and extra wear on the tires.

My examples may not make much sense to you, but they made a big difference in my driving (and lap times). I don't believe 100% of what my instructors tell me (5 instructors and 5-6 different lines sort of is a tip off that you are getting an opinion, not a fact). However, I usually treat the opinion with some weight and try it. If after a few sessions I don't believe it, I drop it for now ((and maybe think about it again later). I don't drive in Chicago (but like Jack I'm fond of the area as I grew up there) but I have to believe that you must have some pretty good instructors. We have some damn fine instructors out here in northern CA.
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Old 08-14-2004, 04:30 AM
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You can go very fast without trail braking - only straight line braking. Learn that first and once you can get down to within one second or so of your target times - and you are throttle steering - add trail braking to your technique. Otherwise your learning approach will be very tough.
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Old 08-14-2004, 04:38 AM
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Hi,

I accidentally wandered in here and have a naive suggestion for colorchange.

Have you tried an Autocross where you can drive your car safely on both sides of your (and the cars') limits to experience the impact of beyond the limit car reactions?

You say you are competitive and the Autocross venue will give you a way to build skills while getting the rush of competition and not risk turning your car into a metal sculpture.

I will add that I Autocrossed for about two years before I went to a DE day. At my first (and only) DE I noticed that:

1-I seem to have tons of time to brake, change gears, look ahead, etc before I turn in.
2-When i did get off line, my reactions (tuned by autocross incidents) seemed to allow me to make rapid and effective corrections.
3-It was very relaxing to drive the track with 12 turns in 2-3 minutes compared to the intensity of an Autocross run of 15-20 turns in 1-2 minutes.
4-I missed the competition

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.....

Last edited by HarryD; 08-14-2004 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 08-14-2004, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Premier Motorsp
I like the sound of this. Colorchange has run over the dogma with his data-equipped-car(ma).

Very refreshing.

Chris Cervelli
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Let me make sure I'm understanding this, Chris. You're encouraging a new Porsche driver with two weekends of total track experience (and that with almost no in-car instruction, and only one of those weekends in the Porsche) to continue to teach himself to drive, and share the track with other drivers, without any additional input from instructors?

Let's say I came to you when you were a PCA Chief Driving Instructor, and I told you I had two days in my car, maybe 20 or 30 minutes with an instructor (maybe none), still didn't even know what tire pressures I should be shooting for -- but that I thought I was ready to start driving on my own, since I had a good data acquisition system and some F1 magazine articles.

Your answer would be yes?
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Old 08-14-2004, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ColorChange

... a huge fallacy most people have on this board: that experience make you good. I donít believe that.

I believe being good makes you good (specifically maximizing g-sum along the optimal line.) And sadly, you have directly implied that those with more experience canít learn anything from me, and I promise you that is wrong also.
Nice try Jack, but sadly, once in a while you just have to give up. Or at least decide your time is best spent helping those that can be...

Just pray you, or some other innocent bystander isn't in the way when CC "Maximizes his g-sum" on one of his randomly picked "optimal" lines that delivers him somewhere other than a paved surface...
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Old 08-14-2004, 09:13 AM
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Having been through a couple of highly structured training programs (Air Force Pilot training, AF Transition Training, and Airline Training--Initial and Recurrent)
I'd say the biggest inefficiency in your thought process is the time/money you are losing by NOT taking advantage of other drivers expertise.

You can certainly use data aquisition and teach/learn yourself, but why wouldn't you want to save both time and money by learning from the "mistakes" of others who have gone before??? Isn't that a valid engineering concept?? They could show a way to optimize a corner rather then you repeatedly changing your technique trying to find the optimum! Then use your data to "tweak" rather then "discover" performance!

Then practice, practice, practice!!
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Old 08-14-2004, 09:15 AM
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Honorable effort Jack, but I think it's ultimately futile. Hey, didn't *you* tell *me* 'you can lead a horse to water..." ?

If only Color looked like this, he might get a more tolerant reception:



I just realized something important. You know how the Harvard Business School's MBA program endlessly studies past business failures as learning examples for the students? And medical schools are beginning to teach/test med students on 'bedside manner'? We can archive this thread (and all the others), and send them to engineering schools! Maybe at least our efforts here will help future engineers not be so... so... engineerish.




I'm only partly joking.


.
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Old 08-14-2004, 09:16 AM
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Have you tried an Autocross....
An observation...one thing to keep in mind from autocross, is that on the track, you don't go cone-to-cone-as-fast-as-can-be. I've instructed 2-3 students coming from an autocross background, and the cone-to-cone focus had to be placed aside before they could make progress on the track.
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Old 08-14-2004, 09:30 AM
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Jack, your post implies again, that experience is all important. Watch my video, I drive like no newbie. I am not unsafe! I do not hack at the wheel. I do fly off the track sideways. I catch the car quickly and often. Your concern has no basis. I can also show you video of my driving my E55 at the track. I control that car pretty well (canít the 911 yet by my standards). That car I got semi-quick in very rapidly because it was so easy to drive compared to the 911. The video I posted is after having about 2,000 miles on the car and 6 - 20 minute sessions, most in the rain so I am driving a brand new car that is not set up properly but still doing reasonably well.

Regarding the tire pressure issue, I got bad advice from someone I thought should have known. I was wrong and corrected it, and again, you couldnít look at the tires and ďreadĒ that the pressure was too high, they were rolling over nicely. Secondly, I couldnít get pyrometer temps because I was having such bad brake problems. Stupid mistake due to lack of experience? Sure. Dangerous? Hell no. Just difficult to drive and slow.

Do most driverís drive anywhere near this well with only 6 or 7 hours of track time (closer to 6 DE's by my numbers)? No. In my opinion, the reason I have advanced so quickly is because I am not following the "party line" if you will. I think that was Chrisís point as well. I think your way may work best for most drivers, but not for me.

Carrera: Fishtailing is almost never the fastest. Those slip angles are WAY past optimum so either the driver was showing off, or he wasnít that good in your car yet. And by the way, the data would have shown that.

Tom: Youíre wrong. A DAS will absolutely tell you where to unwind the wheel. Do a lot of lat g versus steering angle through the turns and Ö viola! You have your answer.

JC: What makes you think I canít straight line brake? Watch the video.

Harry: AX is a good suggestion but still takes time from the family. I think that day would be better spent on the track where I get maybe 4 or 5 - 20 minute sessions, than maybe 10 minutes of seat time at an AX.

RDS: Don't know why you think I don't listen and ask for advice. I do. That was how I got the bad tire pressure suggestion. That is also what I do on this board.
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