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First time instructing, what a hoot!!

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Old 08-26-2014, 01:04 PM
  #1
TXE36
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Thumbs up First time instructing, what a hoot!!

Last Saturday and Sunday I tried instructing for the first time at a PDS event at TWS going CCW. I suspect my reasons for doing this are pretty typical, giving back to the sport, hoping to make myself a better driver, and reduced track fees. I wouldn't be driving a nearly the level I am today without my instructors, you see a lot more when you're not actually driving the car, and I can't say the free track time was a big factor, but it was a factor.

I was actually disappointed when my student was a no show and just ran my sessions Saturday morning. A blue student's car became disabled and his father wanted him to finish out the weekend in his car and the CDI asked me to instruct the son.

His father's car was a 2011 911 Turbo S - a lot of car for a newbie to handle.

It started with very rough braking and steering inputs, but the kid listened really well. I told him to keep the front straight speed to no more than 110 MPH and as the speedo wound up he stopped at 110 as if that was the speed limit and there was a highway patrol cruiser sitting at pit out . He got better about braking, but was still stomping on the pedal so I had him come out with me in my E36 crapcan so I could show him what I meant.

Drove 3-4 laps driving at the pace and exactly how I wanted him to drive it. Then drove 2-3 more at speed to show what one can get away with by being balanced and seducing the car into turns rather than brute forcing it.

Had one more session on Saturday and he improved enough to let him up to 120 on the front straight. It was a lot of fun, much more so than I expected, but it turns out that was nothing.

On Sunday, took him out for another ride in the morning and then did our 4 blue sessions. The light bulb started going off and his lap times dropped like a stone. His brake release got so good in T1 that I could no longer tell when he was fully off the brakes and he was comfortably trail braking it in. I had removed the front straight speed limit, but he still kept it where he was comfortable and it was clear he respected the car.

He had fun and I could not believe the satisfaction I felt when he started reeling in and passing cars on Sunday that had blown his doors off on Saturday. I don't think I've had that much fun on the race track since I was in green and the light bulbs started lighting up. I'm still grinning about it today at work, two days later

My only regret is I wish I would have remembered to point out that he was nearly the fastest blue that day while only using about 1/3 of the horsepower available in that car - he drove that rocket like a "momentum" car.

I think I now understand why instructors will volunteer even if they don't have a car. I can't wait to go back.

Just wanted to share.

-Mike
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:36 PM
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Great work. Instructing can be very rewarding and is a great way to share your passion. Sounds like you are hooked!
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:50 PM
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Those days when the driver starts to get it and progresses rapidly are a lot of fun but it usually happens in the green group. Other days you don't get much instant gratification and then you just look at it as doing your job and keeping them safe. There's some gratification in that too.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:25 PM
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Very nice Mike -- I'm thinking about progressing to the right seat too -- but I need a lot of work in the left first :-)

I will say that learning how to drive a momentum car and having the lights click and keeping up with the HP cars is a blast.

M
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:21 PM
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I give a lot of credit to anyone who instructs so consider this a virtual pat on the back.

It was only a couple of years ago that I was still instructed and I had to register 1 minute after registration opened to make sure I could get on track. Glad those days are over and feel bad for people who want to drive and can't due to lack of instructors.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LuigiVampa View Post
I give a lot of credit to anyone who instructs so consider this a virtual pat on the back.
+997
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:41 PM
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Been instructing this time around for five years and had my first "BAD" off 10 days ago at Summit Main T9. The student, an HPDE2 student who asked me to go out for a session with him, lifted coming out of T9 and the car rotated, hit the tire wall on the inside right nearly head on, and then flipped onto its roof.

I've been seeing a host of doctors and specialists this week as I'm not "recovering" as quickly as I'd hoped... Turns out my kidneys are protesting the impact and my lungs are not happy either, 10 days later.

My point is, PLAN and prepare for that day when things go wrong. I did, was wearing my hans and in a fixed back racing seat with Schroth 6 point harnesses. My arms were in an "X" holding the straps at at the upper chest, and I did not panic, and talked the student through the process of getting the car off and calming down. Get that plan, and practice it, and stick to it. Panic at the disco is NOT what you want when stuck inside of a very small car upside down with no way out of it. Think about that, and think hard about the potential ramifications on your personal life.

Welcome to the brotherhood.

Mike Kelly
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:41 PM
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Yay! Way to go, Mike!
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by LuigiVampa View Post
I give a lot of credit to anyone who instructs so consider this a virtual pat on the back.
I second these sentiments in spades.....I've been tossing around the notion for years...been invited to participate in various club ITSs, but I just can't bring myself to do it for various reasons, both physical and otherwise. Instructors are sometimes taken for granted or seen as a necessary evil, but never by me.

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Old 08-26-2014, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TXE36 View Post
... and reduced track fees. ....I can't say the free track time was a big factor, but it was a factor.
I've instructed at regions that weren't as big, as well off and still had to pay like everybody else. Others give a slight discount; so count yourself lucky that your region has enough to give freebies to their instructors.

Just making you aware there are numerous reason for giving back.

Last edited by ExMB; 08-26-2014 at 09:55 PM. Reason: M
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:57 PM
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Reminds me of my student at LS during the final days of Parade earlier this year. She was from out of town, so LS was surely a bucket list affair. She had a reasonable amount of track experience, but seemed overwhelmed by the occasion. Slowly but surely I got her driving smoother, and most importantly, with more confidence, to the point where she was blowing by everyone on track.

Yes, it's quite rewarding!
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:24 AM
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Mike-
Congrats! I too had my first instructor experience down at Lime Rock. I was looking forward to it. Very rewarding, even given the recent threads in here post auto mag articles, etc.
Wasn't sure who I would get. My student was green, 2nd time ever, a beautiful black C4S. He was a pilot so he understood field of vision/vision dynamics and once we got him to smooth out brake and throttle he really started to improve! Felt great.

What I didn't like was sitting shotgun in stock seats, with stock belts and no hans. His nice leather seats were slippery and I kept having to do a bit of contortion, planting the left leg and pressing the floor board to stay planted.....that was my biggest complaint. I know the car has airbags etc., and I do not want to be a prima donna, but anyone enforce a "no seats/no restraints, I don't ride shotgun policy"?
Regardless of the stock safety equipment, an "off" with a with an impact, can not only screw up one's day but have some potential physical side effects...as noted above.......any advice from the gallery? (not trying to hijack)
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Country911 View Post
Mike-
Congrats! I too had my first instructor experience down at Lime Rock. I was looking forward to it. Very rewarding, even given the recent threads in here post auto mag articles, etc.
Wasn't sure who I would get. My student was green, 2nd time ever, a beautiful black C4S. He was a pilot so he understood field of vision/vision dynamics and once we got him to smooth out brake and throttle he really started to improve! Felt great.

What I didn't like was sitting shotgun in stock seats, with stock belts and no hans. His nice leather seats were slippery and I kept having to do a bit of contortion, planting the left leg and pressing the floor board to stay planted.....that was my biggest complaint. I know the car has airbags etc., and I do not want to be a prima donna, but anyone enforce a "no seats/no restraints, I don't ride shotgun policy"?
Regardless of the stock safety equipment, an "off" with a with an impact, can not only screw up one's day but have some potential physical side effects...as noted above.......any advice from the gallery? (not trying to hijack)
Lock the belt and then slide the seat forward or use a car seat retainer clip to keep it in place.

Yes, there is risk but it's the instructors job to minimize it. You have to watch for clues as to where the risk lies. You can always have a mechanical or the student can have a brain fart and lift or miss his line badly (I had one turn in 20' early for turn 1 at VIR which resulted running out of track quickly and hitting the tire wall), but most offs are predictable if you are watching them closely. Unless they are very consistent, don't let them get close to the hairy edge where it will bite hard.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:18 AM
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I am an intermediate solo driver but I try to have an instructor ride with me at least once every event. One thing that is always good for an instructor to do is to point out or remind me of "escape" paths/plans at different places on the track in case things go wrong. It's something that's easy to overlook at times.
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Old 08-27-2014, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Country911 View Post

What I didn't like was sitting shotgun in stock seats, with stock belts and no hans. His nice leather seats were slippery and I kept having to do a bit of contortion, planting the left leg and pressing the floor board to stay planted.....that was my biggest complaint. I know the car has airbags etc., and I do not want to be a prima donna, but anyone enforce a "no seats/no restraints, I don't ride shotgun policy"?
Regardless of the stock safety equipment, an "off" with a with an impact, can not only screw up one's day but have some potential physical side effects...as noted above.......any advice from the gallery? (not trying to hijack)
As the OP, that diversion doesn't bother me. Perhaps it's worth expanding the topic to newbie instructor advice.

My student's car had 3 point belts and I wore my R3. Don't know for sure if will do any good, doesn't seem it will do any harm. One issue with the R3 is the tether guides have sharp metal and screws that can scratch leather so I was always checking that the blue painter's tape I put on them was intact. I scratched the crap out of my stock M3 seats and I know an instructor that scratched a very expensive GT3 leather seat with an R3.

One other thing that made my experience enjoyable was even though my student was prone to early apexing, he didn't panic and was able to back off and get through the turn without dropping wheels off. I said "Early!" a lot and by Sunday he was doing it less often and even recognizing the mistake and taking proper action. I can imagine what an early apexer, blissfully ignorant would be like .

-Mike
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