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TD in DC Meets Mr. Tirewall at WG T10; Antithesis of Kingleh

 
Old 07-12-2006, 07:24 PM
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TD in DC
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Default TD in DC Meets Mr. Tirewall at WG T10; Antithesis of Kingleh

I have always been open about my learning experiences, so I see no reason to change after having my first major off.

As most of you know, I am an intermediate driver who is in Potomac's black run group and racing with 44cup (or rather, has raced and hopes to race again soon). I drive a n/a 944 and currently am focusing on learnign how to conserve momentum without losing smoothness. I am also working on driving closer to the limit through every corner all the time. Why? Because I am very consistent, methodical and conservative. So, I am learning how to inch my way closer and closer to the limit, and keep my car just on this side of the limit through all the turns. This past DE at Watkins Glen, I exceeded the limit at T10 and hit the tirewall. It was 100% driver error.

The fatal run session was the first session of the second day of a three day event. The first day had gone extremely well. I had been turning lap times of 2:27-2:28, with an occasional 2:26, on nine month old Toyo RA1s. I had been methodically working on increasing my entry speed and, in some turns, including T10, moving my turn-in point up based upon how much room I had at track out. Mark Francis rode with me, and I think he can verify that, while I can certainly drive faster, I wasn't really having any "problems" anywhere on the track.

On the first day, my car felt like it was on rails. I had been doing very well in T9, and then taking T10 at full throttle with no braking or lifting before entry, provided that traffic allowed. I never skidded in the corner, and I always had plenty of room at track out. Data shows that I was entering T10 at a speed of 87.5 mph, which is about all I think I can do in my car.

In this first session of the second day, I was taking it easy, and slowly building my way back up to a faster speed. I was having a blast, and Nader was following me in his S2. I kept giving him point bys, but he wanted to follow.

On the fifth lap, I had my first opportunity to take T10 at full speed again due to lack of traffic and my tires being sufficiently warmed. I took the turn with full throttle, no brake or lift. I moved the turn-in point back up to the point where I had been taking it the day before. As usual, I had no problem making the turn in or apex, and I got all the way down to the curb with absolutely no issues.

Right after the apex, my car went into a four wheel drift. Well, actually, it was more like it was skipping across the concrete patch. The drift was absolutely neutral. I didn't change my steering input at that moment, because the rearend was not coming around and I didn't mind scrubbing off speed with the wheel still turned. I thought the car would would hook up again after it scrubbed off a little more speed, and that I would correct as necessary based upon what the rear of the car does (my car tends to oversteer).

When the car slid up far enough that my right rear tire went from the concrete patch to the asphalt, the rear of the car started to come around: you can see me open the wheel in the video when this happens. The rear end came around fairly slowly, and did not snap like the car sometimes does. I incorrectly thought that, given the slow speed of the rotation, my correction would be sufficient: I catch the car like this all the time. I was wrong. The rear of the car kept slowly rotating around. At this point I realized there might be a problem. I opened the wheel all the way to the steering lock as fast as I could. I also kept full throttle the whole time for fear that unweighting the rear of the car would increase the rate of rotation. You can see in the video that I was just slightly "behind" the car, and you can see me bump the steering lock out of frustration that the wheel would not turn any more.

When I ran out of steering, I decided I was done. I immediately went both feet in. At least I kept looking where I wanted to go the whole time and did not spin out of target fixation. Also, I never made it to track out, so this was not the result of me "pinching" the car for fear of going off the track on the right. I would have been happy just to drive off the right side of the track. The video looks like I tighten the wheel a very little bit after the apex. I don't think I did. I think what you are seeing there is my front end breaking lose. Since I don't have power steering, it takes a fair bit of force to make steering inputs, and when the front end breaks lose, the input "falls" a little further due to the sudden lack of resistence. I know think that if I had immediately opened the wheel rather than left the basic input the same due to the neutrality of the drift, I "might" have prevented the rear from coming around in the first place.

As you can see in the video, after rotating about 150-160 degrees, the front passenger corner impacted the wall with a glancing blow, and then the car "snagged" and slammed into the wall, which, distrubingly, bounced me right back into the middle of the track. I didn't really slide so much as rebounded off the wall. I gave the flagger a thumbs up signal to let him know I was fine, restarted the car, looked to ensure that no cars were coming behind me, and then drove off the right side of the track in order to lessen the possibility that I would be nailed by any cars coming around T10. I then gave the flagger another thumbs up and shut down the car.

Going back to our discussion about "terror while driving," I can assure you that I felt not one moment of fear or anxiety through the entire event. I was so focused on driving that I didn't have time to be scared. Once the impact was over, I was completely focused on getting off line. Once I was off the track and unharmed (I didn't have a single bruise, sore spot or stiffness from the whole thing), there was no reason to be scared. The ambulance driver was incredulous that my blood pressure was only 130/80, which he said was less than his, immediately after the accident.

Kudos to the flaggers, tow truck driver and paramedics. Many thanks for your kindness and professionalism.

Once off the track, with help from Kurt Mickelwaite, Paul Amico, Kevin Oyler and Tom Trew, we straightened out my bent tie-rod, realigned the car, did some ghetto bodywork, and I was back on the track after missing only one run session.

My assessment is that the accident, although 100% driver error, was the combination of a number of minor errors, all of which added up to the off. If I had not made any one of them, I might have been fine. I guess this just shows how important it is to be perfect when you are trying to drive at the limit.

Here is my impression of the factors in order of importance:

1. I got behind the car. I have been trying to drive the rear of the car. However, in addition to driving by feel, a good driver "predicts" what may happen next. I didn't predict that the car would go from a neutral four wheel drift to an oversteer spin. That has never happened to me before. Typically, once the car starts sliding, I am relieved because I "know" how to handle the particular slide at issue. I never thought it could "change." If I had opened the wheel a little earlier, I probably could have either prevented the rear from coming around in the first place, or at least stopped it once it did.

2. I didn't respect the concrete patch and the dip enough. In the rain, I pay close attention to track surface types. In the dry, I have never had any problems when transitioning from one type of the track to another. If I had, I might have predicted the issue a little better and not gotten behind the car.

3. I probably turned in a little early. I have a really mixed opinion about this one. Although a factor and probably a mistake, I never made it to track out. If I had not lost traction, maybe I would have had a problem at track out, but I never made it there. Also, I had been methodically moving the turn in point up based upon where I ended up at track out, so my turn in point was intentional, and not the result of "drifting" in due to inattentiveness or inaccuracy. As both the data and the video show, I got all the way down to apex without problems. I do appreciate, though, that a later turn in might have made it easier for the car to stay on the concrete patch, which might have prevented the rear end from coming around.

4. By taking the corner flat out, I didn't leave myself any room for further weight management. If I had even breathed the throttle just for a second, I could have given myself a little margin for transfering the weight to the back of the car a little through accelerating again without losing too much time. I sometimes wonder if taking a corner flat out in a low hp car is similar to "coasting" through a corner since it is not as easy to manage weight transfers.

5. I wonder if I should have breathed the throttle a little to try to get the rear to hook up again. My car has LSD, and I kept all the way in the throttle because I was concerned that the rate of rotation would merely increase if transfered weight to the front of the car. However, I now wonder if I could have stopped the rear tires from spinning by a very slight breathe and then back on. That is definitely not my instinct since I rely on TTO a lot when I want to rotate the car.

6. My tires had corded during that run session, so I should have managed my tires better. I had been using the same RA1s for every DE and race during the last nine or so months. I check them religiously between every session, but they had corded during that session (not due to the accident). If I had had a little more grip, I might not have had my accident.

7. Some other drivers told me they felt the turn was a little slick on that lap. I wonder whether I failed to notice that something had been dropped in the corner, and, by running so close to the limit, I didn't leave myself enough margin for error.

I have attached some screen shots of my data from the wreck.

The first graph shows the speed, and g's during the wreck.

The next couple of shots show my lines through the turn. The line during the wreck is bolded.

The final graphs show lap segment times and overall data (which shows that I am very consistent and methodical about changes in speed and driving).

Constructive criticism is welcome. Colin, for God's sakes try to be civil. I have never claimed to be a great or fast driver, and I have always been willing to learn. If I don't learn anything from this off, it will have only been a waste of time and money. I just want to make sure that I am taking the right lesson, and that is why I am posting and asking for constructive feedback. Hopefully others will learn from my errors.

Here is the video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...46292079&hl=en

It shows a few laps leading up to the wreck, because I couldn't bear to just show the wreck clip in isolation. Sorry for the poor audio quality and the skipping of the video. I think my camcorder is dying.

P.S. If any of you data crunching gurus would like to take a look at my data and provide more detailed criticism about my driving in general and the wreck specifically, please let me know and I will e-mail the data file. Keep in mind that I was "sunday driving" on a saturday morning and I am capable of much better.
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Last edited by TD in DC; 07-12-2006 at 11:05 PM. Reason: fixed typo
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Old 07-12-2006, 07:30 PM
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lots of analysis there TD. Any pics of the car? (hopefully not too bad). Sorry to hear about your exploration off course. The worse I did in turn 10 was send a trackout cone about 15 feet up into the air in my Subaru when I realized "nope, she just won't stay on track here!" (Bull, 38D and Dr Jupeman can all attest to it too!)

ps. sadly goodle video won't play here at work. i'll have to check it later.
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Old 07-12-2006, 07:34 PM
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The car doesn't look too bad. The front bumper is pushed in on the passenger side. The front fender is crumpled. It pushed into the hood and kinked the hood a bit, but the hood still opens and closes just fine and does not appear to be an indicator of a kinked frame. The door is crunchy, but it didn't break the side mirror or the door handles. The rear quarter is dented below the hip line. The side marker in the rear brakelight is broken, but the brake lights still work. I will find out tomorrow, hopefully, whether the frame was kinked.

With respect to the analysis from me, would you expect anything less? Sadly, I have only shared about 10% of what I have gone through in my mind. Oh well, at least I am not scared to get back out there again, provided that I am confident I learned the "right" lesson.

Also, thanks to you and all my friends for the kind words. Everyone at the DE was truly gracious.
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Old 07-12-2006, 07:52 PM
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Sorry to hear it TD!

Get it fixed and get back out there!
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:00 PM
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Todd, there are 2 kinds of drivers, those who have been humbled, and those who are yet to be. Welcome to the club.
BTW, it looks like you pinched the turn a little. Just before you lose it, you should have been unwinding the wheel.

So that you can feel a little better, I too bit it trying to take a turn flat out. It was the chute at Summit Point in my 914, about 22 years ago, and like you I apexed just a little too early. But I lifted! No way was I going off to the outside of the chute!
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:07 PM
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TD, sorry about the off and glad that you're ok. Cars can be fixed or replaced.

In watching the video, it looks like you really bounce on the rev limiter a lot.

Climbing the esses, maybe try hitting 5th after T3 in the little straight rather than at the top. It may provide so addtional speed and be easier on you and the car.

During the last 2 laps, you were really missing T1 by not downshifting and going in very hot and turning in early. You were really working to keep it together on lap 4.

You also looked a little early throughout the boot and at T10 (last lap).

Again, just my $.02


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Old 07-12-2006, 08:18 PM
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Thanks Brian, Larry and Steve!

Steve, my tach broke that morning. I was bouncing off the rev limiter more than usual because I was driving blind.

I was playing around with trying to carry as much speed as possible through T1. I appreciate that it may not always be the fastest, but I am trying to learn to carry as much momentum as possible, so I "need" to play a little like that to see what happens. On the fourth lap, I don't think I turned in too early in T1. Rather, I think that I didn't get back on the gas fast enough, which didn't plant the rear of the car, which, as the video shows, caused me to get loose. My car tends to oversteer, so it always feels better if I am on full gas. That wouldn't have happend if I had gotten on the gas earlier, even if it meant braking a little bit more before entering. I also think that turn reflected my tires starting to go away . . .

Why was I too early through the boot? What does too early mean? I thought that you are not too early if you have room at track out. I am not challenging your assertion, but I am trying to learn here. Trust me, I have spent a LOT of time thinking about this.
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:23 PM
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Todd,
Sorry to that you banged up your car. My SC has also suffered an off course excursion and is the shop. I am not a good data crunching person so my comments are limited to you video. It appears that the appex that you chose was too early and you ran out of room at the exit. As you stated earlier, you were behind the car as the video shows the rear end coming around long before you started to countersteer. You probably were expecting more grip on the exit of the turn than what was there.

I'm glad you're unhurt and will get back on the track soon.
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:30 PM
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By early throughout the boot, it looks like your left wheels are barely on the concrete where it begins and that you are pinching the turn a little. At the exit of the toe, I've been instructed to use the "extra" patch of asphalt on the left and often that's where track out cones are located. It appears that you are already going up track before the end of the turn.


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Old 07-12-2006, 08:36 PM
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Hey TD;

My opinion -

I watched all the laps, and even on the first I thought you were turning early. As I mentioned in your previous thread, I don't feel 10 is one that rewards this at all. It's OK in 5 (although I don't see a lot to be gained from it, other than missing the hump out wider). It works well in 6. Just fine in 7 because you "hit the hill." I would not do it in 8 without some fairly serious trail braking. Late apexing very early REALLY works in 9 for me. No way for 10.

When it comes to the lap you lost it, you turned WAAAAY early, even compared to previous laps. I also do not feel you turned in with enough conviction. If you look at the clip I sent you, you should see a small but decidedly resolute turning motion. I want to set the car firmly, VERY early. I do not want to leave it till past the apex to have to do anything but unwind.

Yes, you were behind the car. Yes, there could be other factors like schmutz on the track or a corded R/R tire. I just think you pushed the turn in too far. If you had realized it early, and done a quick throttle chop at the apex - on the concrete - to change the vector of the car, it probably would have worked.

Easy for me to say.

PS. My fastest lap last time was a 2:27.42.
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:51 PM
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Oh my oh my oh my...waaaaaaaaay early. T10 - the car should start rotating off the righthand edge of the pavement at the 100ft. board...and you started in toward the apex at ~150ft. Recipe for disaster.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:21 PM
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I don't know the track well enough to comment from a video, but taking the Professor's comment and then looking at the video, it is clear that your turned earlier on the crash lap than the others. Track map shows the same thing.

Was that the cause? Maybe. An early turn is usually a more gradual turn, which scrubs less speed. You may heve been going faster at the critical point on that lap. There are a bunch of other possibilities, but it seems the most likely is the early turn as it is different than the other laps.

BTW - I highly recommend the Skip Barber Advanced Car Control class. It taught me a lot about the futility of trying to save a spin with more throttle and really sped up my hand action.

I am not saying that was necessarily the cause - it is far from clear on the video. Other than that corner, it was nice driving. Welcome to the crash club, bro. My first one, I simply forgot that I was on cold brakes and crashed into the guy ahead of me in the out lap of a practice session - we both hit the brakes - he slowed down and I didn't. At least your's shows more smarts than my first one did.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:38 PM
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TD- Thanks for sharing. You are a good driver and a good sport. I am NOT a racer (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express..... ) so I can only comment on my DE experiences. Feedback from DE only parties (like myself)may be slightly biased to the DE (aka safe) line.

Lower hp cars (I started with a base Boxster) require a lot more skill to understand and carry more momentum at big tracks to hang in with the higher hp cars. By your video, is shows that have the skill carry your mv.

I watched the video several times and listened to your throttle and I think you did let the car "breath" entering T10 on one of the earlier laps and you took the corner nicely. During the T10 incident, it sounded like (as you stated), you WERE flat out. Combine this with an early turn in and questionable tires and you have now found the limit.

I know the racing line (because I read ALL of Larry's and Colin's posts ) is to take an "earlier" late apex and get on the power sooner. I think you already know that you were a bit early on turn in and as Larry stated, if you let the wheel out a bit the car would have been happier.

My suggestion as a novice instructor and 6+ year DE-er is in your evaluation of your equiptment. I am always a stickler for proper car prep before any event but especially faster tracks like the Glen, VIR, Mid Ohio, and even Summit for that matter. Since there is no prize money or trophy for me and I have a wife & kids (as you do) and employees that count on me for their livelihood, I replace tires, brakes, and fluids long before their time is up. I know your car is up to snuff on your safety equiptment and I'm sure you thought your car and your equiptment were ready to go but I only suggest that a set of newer tires may have given you & the car the type of feedback and road adhesion that you are accustomed to. New/newer tires do not normally cord in one DE day of three 25 minute sessions.

I know that someday I will have an off and I know there is that risk. I also know that I "practice" certain things when I know the risks of car and personal damage are less. I try and learn more about advanced car control and my car at track/turns that are more forgiving. I also try to run in the rain whenever I can to sharpen my smoothness.

I read all the posts and watched the videos from the clash and even after 6+ days already at the Glen this year, I still cannot go full out from T1 to the bus stop. I watched the incident and T9 with the cup car at the clash and I have a friend that had to be helicoptered out of the Glen due to a crash at T9 in a 356 during a vintage race. I am however, gradually increasing my speeds on turns I know that I'm "slow". The Glen, in my opinion, is not the track for me to push the boundries of my skill too quickly. The Glen is my favorite track but the Glen can also bite you badly. I'm glad your skills allowed you and your car to avoid really bad damage and injury.

As you suggested, there were many "little" factors that caused the problem and we can all learn from everyone elses track experiences. You are a true man to share your experiences and your video. It was nice to meet you at the event and it would be I look forward to driving with you again.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:53 PM
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1) You've typo'd your lap times. They're in the 2:2x range, not the 1:2x range.

2) I agree with the too early at T10 comments. If you look at the other laps, you'll notice that you've got the car right in the middle of the concrete patch at the start of the patch. On final lap, you're at least 3' inside of that. I've been told that T10 flattens out at track out. My guess is that as you went through the 2nd half of T10, you got wide, the track flattened and lost it's banking, and that give you less downforce and grip. You might have also gotten in some marbles out there.

3) On most of the tape, you're turning in too early. The patches are where the race cars have torn up the track over the years, so that's the *fast* line. In most of the turns, you're inside of the patch at the first part of the turn and then near track-out you're on the outside and aiming outward. "The Heel" is the most obvious turn that you are doing this on.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:59 PM
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Just a bit more analysis would help Todd... OK, kidding over.

It looks like you were way early, tried to tighten it up early on (not at track out) and then you met the corded tire, which changed the reaction of the car from early laps/runs. Easy for me to say, but when things don't happen/react the way the "always" have, then don't you act the way you always have....give it up, recover it and (hopefully) drive on.

In any event, sorry it happened and I hope the fix goes well!
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