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Track day at Pahrump


russell_bynum

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russell_bynum

Lisa and I just got back from Pahrump, NV for a track day with the folks at TakeIt2TheTrack (ti2tt.com). This was our first time riding this track, a 2.2mile road course, and our first time with this group, so we signed up for the "C" (novice) group. Lisa rode Saturday, getting her first chance to put her new (to her) FZR600 through its paces, and I wrung the CBR600RR's neck on Sunday.

 

I'll let Lisa tell about her experience Saturday.

 

Sunday, we headed out for the sighting laps, and I was picking up reference points for all the turns (I had some help here, since I asked Lisa what she was using the day before and tried to find those first.) The track seemed like it would be pretty fun, with a nice mix of long sweepers, decreasing radius turns, a double-apex, and a couple of straights. The longest being about 1800 feet.

 

After the sighting laps, we were turned loose for our session. I hung back and worked on solidifying my RP's and basically just feeling out the track to see how it flowed. Towards the end of the session, I started passing some people here and there. The rules required passing on the outside only, with a 6' margin.

 

For the second session, I started upping the pace a little bit. I started getting my knee down after about 2 laps, and really started to figure out how the track flowed and how to put the corners together. I struggled with turns 5a-b. I knew it could/should be taken as a double-apex, but was having trouble really nailing it.

 

I was passing people on just about every turn, down the straights, and on the brakes before turn-in.

 

After the session, one of the "instructors" followed me into the pits and yelled at me a bit for being too agressive with my passes. I know for a fact that I was following the rules, but I'll admit that the closing rates were probably pretty high, and when some yahoo steams by you at 2x your speed right as you're about to tip the bike into the corner, 6' feels more like 6". We decided I should bump up to the "B" (intermediate) group after lunch.

 

I ran the 3rd session at a more relaxed pace and was giving people a REALLY wide berth when I would pass. I worked late-braking into Turn 3, which had a nice concrete run-off (actually, the connector to another section of the track) so I knew that if I out-braked myself, I could just take it wide without worring about crashing.

 

I was also having fun with turn 10, a tight right leading onto the front straight. There's little dip in the middle of the turn and when I'd get a good drive through it (in 2nd gear), the rear wheel would spin up. I was working on the "pickup drill" from Level 2 of the Superbike School and generally having a ball letting it spin as the rear end kicked out a little bit.

 

After lunch (provided by the organizers), I set out with the B group. Now, I'll say this: In my experience, the B group is always the squidliest with the most crashes. You've got all the numbskulls who think they're fast (many of whom don't even belong on motorcycles at all...much less in the intermediate group at a track day), and there's lots of ego. People go out of their way to keep you from passing, etc.

 

So, I was nervous about this. As it turned out, it was fine. I did have a few people on Gixer 1,000,000's who would burn it up everytime I'd try to pass, but that was it. (I finally roasted those two dillweeds on the brakes coming into T8 and didn't see them again the rest of the session.)

 

I found a guy on a Gixxer 750 racebike and we traded paint for a while. I'd take him on the brakes, then he'd power around me on one of the long sweepers like T1, T2, and T4. We shared a high-five after the session. cool.gif

 

The next session, I had an interesting slide in Turn 3. There's a rough patch right on the racing line, and when I hit it, both tires slid. I picked the bike up, and gave it more gas, which fixed the front end slide (front end slide usually means too much weight on the front, so add power to transfer the weight to the rear) but now I was running wide. I hooked it back in under neutral throttle and basically worked the throttle to alternate between a front and rear wheel slide. After I de-puckered eek.gif I dialed it back the rest of the session and started working on more late-braking. I was really having fun with T3 going really deep, then taking a really late apex out, hard on the gas with the rear tire squirming for grip. Fun stuff. cool.gif

 

My next session I started right behind a guy on a CBR1000RR. He was faster on the straights and a little faster at the corner exits, but I was better on the brakes, and carrying a bit more cornerspeed. I was having fun stretching my throttle cables trying to stay with him on the straights, then he entered T8 from about 10' in from the outside edge of the track, so I took that opportunity to pass him on the brakes and square off T8 a bit. Then I found a guy on a Mille R and we traded places for a while until he blew a downshift and I got a better drive out of the corner. My cheek muscles hurt from grinning so much.

 

The final session I worked more late-braking into T3 and worked on carrying more and more speed into T8. About 1/3 of the way into the session, I was just about to tip the bike into T7 (2nd gear right onto the back straight) when I heard what sounded like a V-twin dropping to idle, then that nasty sound of a bike sliding across the track. Some sort of blue sportbike slid past me on the outside with its rider right behind it. eek.gif That spooked me a bit, but I manged to make the turn. I'm not sure what happened to the guy, but it looked like a pretty gentle lowside, so I'm sure he's fine.

 

On the cooldown lap the cornerworker in T3 (where I had been working the brakes harder and harder every session) gave me a HUGE thumbs-up, which I returned.

 

My laptimes for the day: I turned a bunch of 1:59's, and several 1:57's. From what I was hearing, the faster folks in the A-group were turning mid 1:50's and there were a few turning 1:49's, so I was pleased with this.

 

 

A couple of revelations:

Tire Grip: These Pilot Powers are amazing. I was regularly getting my knee down in Turn 3 on the FIRST LAP of the session. But...turn 3 is relatively slow. If I pushed fast enough to get a knee down in Turn 8 (much faster sweeper), the bike would slide. By about halfway through the second lap, they were gripping enough to let me do whatever I wanted to do.

 

Turn 2 is an impossibly long sweeper. My knee would touch down about 1/3 of the way through it. I'd pull my knee up so it was just above the track surface, then keep driving the bike around and in towards my apex. As I'd get more and more lean angle (and speed) I kept having to pull my knee up higher and higher to keep it off the track. I was hanging off as far as I could, and my arms were at full extension trying to get my upper body off the bike. It felt like my helmet was about 2" from the ground and the bike was totally horizontal, but I'm sure I looked like I was just out for a Sunday putt around the block. tongue.gif It was somewhat intimidating at first because the turn is SO long.

 

Moving RP's. Speaking of T2, I wound up using the corner worker as an RP. It wasn't a conscious thing, but somehow, I was using his feet, which I could just see in the top of my visor. That worked OK...until he moved to a different position about 4' from where he had been standing. I damn near ran off the inside of the track. Man, would that have been stupid..."Yeah, Hi...I'm Bounce. Most guys crash by running wide, but I do it by running tight." dopeslap.gif

 

After that, I picked a different RP...something that isn't as likely to move.

 

Body Position:

I've been struggling with it forever. The last time I was with the Superbike School, I felt like I had all the pieces of the puzzle in place, but I couldn't get my head where it needed to be because my glasses wouldn't stay in place.

 

For this trackday, I was wearing a new helmet that fit much tighter. I'm happy to say that it solved my problem and my glasses didn't move at all from the first lap to the last. This allowed me to get my head down closer to where I wanted it while still being able to see WTF is going on.

 

Here's a picture of my instructor from CSS, Paul. This is what I am striving towards.

Saturday%20206.jpg

 

And here's me. I still need to get my head lower, but I'm getting much closer to my goal.

Sunday%20370.jpg

 

 

And here's some other snaps from the day.

Sunday%20064.jpg

 

Sunday%20128.jpg

 

Sunday%20135.jpg

 

Sunday%20145.jpg

 

Sunday%20152.jpg

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The next session, I had an interesting slide in Turn 3. There's a rough patch right on the racing line, and when I hit it, both tires slid. I picked the bike up, and gave it more gas, which fixed the front end slide (front end slide usually means too much weight on the front, so add power to transfer the weight to the rear) but now I was running wide. I hooked it back in under neutral throttle and basically worked the throttle to alternate between a front and rear wheel slide. After I de-puckered I dialed it back the rest of the session and started working on more late-braking. I was really having fun with T3 going really deep, then taking a really late apex out, hard on the gas with the rear tire squirming for grip. Fun stuff.

 

I'm not even sure what the bike did as I read this dopeslap.gif AND I would have no idea what to do to fix it. bncry.gif

 

KUDOS Mr Russel. Glad both of you had a nice day at the track, thanks for sharing.

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Great write up and pix....

 

What was your instructor lookin at on the track....his body position looks good, but his eyes are starin straight down at the concrete......(I ment to ask this last time)

Saturday%20206.jpg

 

 

 

BTW....I think getting yelled at by an "instructor" for being too aggressive would be cool....

 

Where's Lisa's picks???? FZR600.... I love it!!!

 

Whip

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Firefight911

Great write up! Love the detail of how things unfolded in each corner.

 

One of the things I used to marvel at when I was racing was how you became so in tune with what was going on. You could detail what went on in a forty foot section of track like you had just taken a 600 mile day trip.

 

Wonderful!! thumbsup.gif

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awesome write up russell. we'll have to go out for a trackday sometime... i'm gunna be up in bakersfield @ buttonwillow racetrack on July 2nd for a trackday with trackdaz.com. let me know when the next time ur going out. stay safe and keep that rubber side down clap.gif

S8559Fix.jpg

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russell_bynum

'm not even sure what the bike did as I read this AND I would have no idea what to do to fix it.

 

LOL!!!

 

That's all stuff from the Superbike School.

 

I hit the rough patch and both tires lost traction. I'm not that concerned about a rear wheel slide, but I don't like it when the front slides, so fixing that was my first priority. Usually, a front end slide is caused by too much weight on the front end, so you fix that by applying throttle.

 

The only problem is that applying throttle is going to make a rear end slide worse. So, I "Picked the bike up". That's basically where you're hanging off towards the inside of the turn, and you push the bike up away from you so it is more upright and you're hanging off even more. That gets the bike (suspension) more upright so that it can work better, and that will help the rear tire "hook up" so it has traction again. Even if that doesn't work (i.e. the rear is still spinning), the bike is more upright so it is less likely to wash out away from you.

 

When I said I "Hooked" the bike back in, here's what I mean. If you're down in a turn and you move your body down/forward/inside more, the bike will tighten up the turn without increasing lean angle and without needing steering inputs.

 

So....I applied throttle to fix the front end slide, and picked the bike up to help with the rear slide. That worked, but caused me to be on a new line that would have my running wide. So, I hooked it back in towards my intended path. But I was still going a bit too fast over the rough patch, so the thing still wanted to slide. As a result, I was basically playing with very small throttle changes (on to fix the front slide, off to fix the rear slide) for the remainder of the turn.

 

It sounds really complicated, but it wasn't. It just all sort of happens in the span of a couple of seconds without much thought.

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russell_bynum

What was your instructor lookin at on the track....his body position looks good, but his eyes are starin straight down at the concrete.

 

Remember, your eyes don't have to be looking exactly where your head is pointed. I'm sure Paul was looking way up the track, even though his head was down low.

 

Someone posted a picture of Rossi in basically the same position at Laguna Seca last year.

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Russell, I've learned something about hte quality of the instructors and corner workers.

 

The instructors are even at the real schools. They aren't necessarily good, but they are predictable.

 

At the track day type events, the "instructors" vary widely. Most of them are there for a free track day. tongue.gif I've heard the briefing they get in the morning, and it's largely pathetic. "Who's in this group? Any question on the flags? Let's keep the really bad ones from crashing. Any questions?" That instructor who gave Lisa a tip about upper/lower body weight distribution is an example of a self-appointed expert who was wrong.

 

Same with the corner workers. They guy who flagged you may or may not have know what he was talking about.

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russell_bynum

If anyone's interested, here's a lap around the track, from my perspective.

 

 

Cross the start/finish line in 4th, then pop up brake a little, downshift (to 3rd), and tip it in to T1 (right).

 

Ride T1 around, gradually rolling on the gas, I used a curb and the bleachers as my exit RP's.

Keep rolling on the power and transition into T2 (left). Bring the bike in to the inside edge of the track (knee in the dirt), wait for the bump, then pick the bike up and open the throttle, drifting out towards the right edge of the track.

 

Come back across the track and late-brake for T3 (right). Grab a downshift (to 2nd). You can late-apex T3 (right) (my preference) or you can take it as one constant arc. Watch out for the rough patch on the racing line as it'll give you traction issues.

 

Upsift to 3rd and straighten out the kinks bewteen T3 and T4.

 

Brake, then tip the bike into T4 (left). T4 opens up, so you can be pretty agressive with the throttle., drifting wide. Kiss the rev limiter in 3rd before braking a little (not as much as you might think) before dropping into T5 (double-apex right). Aim for the second cone on the inside of the track (my shoulder hit the cone on one lap. eek.gif ) then let the bike run wide, all the way to the left edge of the track. Get on the gas, sweep across to the second apex, then all the way out to the curb on the left edge of the track.

 

Grab 4th just before you tip it into T6. I liked to late-apex T6 a bit because it made it easier to brake for T7.

 

Brake for T7 and grab 2 downshifts (to 2nd).

 

Toss it in, knee in the dirt across the apex, then pick the bike up and open the throttle for the straight. Grab 3rd (before you're even done with T7) and drift on out all the way to the edge of the track. Up to 4th. Up to 5th.

 

Just before the rev limiter in 5th (~135mph with my current gearing), pop up, brake, go down 2 gears (to 3rd) and sweep in across T8. Roll out of the throttle (gently...don't want to overpower the front tire) to bleed some speed for T9.

 

Flick the bike into T9 (square it off so you have time to setup for T10), slide back across to hang off on the right, downshift (to 2nd), and throw the bike into T10. Get on the gas right away to stabilize the bike. Be ready for wheelspin as the bike hits the little dip in the middle of the turn. As soon as that's done, pick the bike up, open the throttle the rest of the way, grab 3rd gear, then 4th just as you cross start/finish, looking for the patch in the asphalt and the cone on the outside of the track as your braking/turn-in RP's.

 

If you're a slow guy like me, that whole thing takes you about 1:57 seconds. The folks in the A group were doing it in 1:49-1:50. Rumor has it that Josh Hayes did it in 1:35, but I haven't confirmed that.

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russell_bynum

At the track day type events, the "instructors" vary widely.

 

For sure. The guy who did the novice rider's "school" on Saturday said some really good stuff. The guy who talked to Lisa had the right advice (get your lower body off the bike, but keep your torso parallel to the bike...don't "twist"), but all of the details for WHY you should do that were wrong.

 

Incidentally, it was the same guy who yelled at me on Sunday for my passes, even though I didn't do anything against the rules. Oh well.

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