Posts tagged HADA

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

One run in a Porsche Boxster S (Generation 1)

A post not long ago recapped the awesome fun we had instructing at the HADA Advanced drivers school.  Near the end of the day when we had switched over to a longer drill format (which is a lot like a typical autocross run) I started to get the itch to hop into my car and make some orange pylons nervous.

So I told one of the organizers that I was going to get into my car and go for some runs.

“If you do, take some students with you!”

Didn’t have to tell me twice. Didn’t take long to find some passengers either. Often times it’s hard to find out exactly how hard you can push a car until you go for a ride with someone who pushes harder than you. Even I still have little epiphanies when running with other drivers. So these relatively new students were more than keen to see what a few years of experience can do.

I recognized a Porsche Boxster S from spectating at a Touge.ca track day run at Toronto Motorsports Park not long ago. I asked him about his car. The car was fairly new to him and he was going to events designed in order to learn where the limits are. Good on him for that.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

He asked to go for a spin, I obliged.

I’d been practicing transitioning a powerside from left to right on our figure 8 section and was having some fun not worrying about time and just jostling the car through the narrow ‘accident avoidance’ type sections. He must have been impressed, as he asked me to see if I could do the same in his car. With him riding along of course.

After a brief moment of, “That’s waaay more expensive than my car, should I?”, I decided to give it a go. I mean, how often do you get a shot at a Porsche? One where you actually get to drive it? Like, really drive it?

Sitting in it was a treat. It wasn’t hard to find a comfortable seating position which allowed the controls to fall naturally under my hands and feet.

“Would you like the stability control or traction control on?” he asked. “I’d like them off if your OK with that,” I replied.

The throttle and clutch felt a bit plasic-y under my feet somehow. The throttle felt stiffer than my car while the clutch, oddly, felt lighter. As a result, I stalled it. Twice. (This flipped the traction control back on) I didn’t get any initial impressions from steering as I was only driving it 5 feet to the staging line. The wheel looks big, but it doesn’t feel it. Likely because the actual rim isn’t that tick.

So after only driving about 5 feet for 30 seconds, I was to impress the owner. No pressure.

We were released by the starting marshal and off we went. Immediately I could feel the traction control and stability control intervening and making suggestions through the slalom. It didn’t feel like they were slowing me down, but I was definitely aware of what the systems were up to. I immediately yelled “Hey! The stability control is still on!” as we were ending the slalom section. And in the next long left hander, he reached over and turned it of.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

Almost immediately the car started to get some power oversteer. Alright. No more worrying if the car liked my cornering abilities. The rest of this lap was going to be all me.

Normally when driving someone’s car, I won’t attempt heel-toe downshifts as it’s not an easy thing to pull off. Especially when when you’ve only been driving the car for one minute. This car filled me with quite a bit of confidence. Reacting and behaving exactly as I was expecting it to. So down a gear I went while under braking. Revmatched without a hitch. Nice!

I decided to use the second half of the figure 8 to put the car into a slide. The Boxster’s rear tires broke free easily and predictably. Some arm fulls of opposing steering wheel input, and it was dealt with without fuss. Very nice.

The rest of the run went fairly well, some more oversteer on the run down to the finish. And it was all over in a flash.

It’s amazing how many words can be written about a 30 second autocross run. But when your in a Porsche, you tend to not forget much. The car left quite an impression. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so willing and balanced. I was actually expecting to feel completely out of my element and afraid to really explore the limits of the car. But I was quite wrong.

Big cheers to the chap who let me hoon around in his lovely machine. It was a drive to remember.

Video below!


Link to video

The owner practicing accident avoidance

One run in a modded Mazdaspeed Miata

While at the HADA Advanced Driving School, a friend of mine was using the opportunity to get some good seat time in. I don’t blame him. For 60$, the course was a steal. It let you experiment on specific driving drills over and over in quick succession throughout the morning to mid-day, before getting a good number of traditional autocross style runs later on.

The owner testing grip on the skid pad

The owner testing grip on the skid pad

I don’t remember how it came about, but it was offered the opportunity to take it for a spin to see how it compared to my car.

I’m unsure of the exact modifications, but it does have a lowered coil-overs with adjustable dampers paired with some light engine modifications. Wider wheels with what I believe were Toyo R1Rs.

This car confused me in many ways. Firstly, as I was sitting in a car so similar to mine, I was half expecting it to feel a lot like my own car. But the suspension totally changes the feel of the car. The little factory turbo also made the engine rev faster than I’m used to. Which rushed me to head butt the Mazdaspeed Miata’s achilles heel. Mazdaspeed cars were unfortunately given near 500 less revs to play with. Coupled with the fast revving turbo four, short 6spd manual gears, and you are quickly introduced to the fuel cut. It wasn’t long at all before I was given my first handshake with it.

The owner practicing accident avoidance

The owner practicing accident avoidance

After being briefly flustered by the rush to the unexpected lack of revs, I had to learn about the sensations of cornering on a car with very little body movement. The car could react and take a set very quickly. I’m used to throwing and using the pitch and roll of my stock car to my advantage by putting weight where I think I need it. In a car with very little suspension movement, I had a difficult time feeling that happen. I wasn’t able to easily register whether my weight shifting techniques (lifting, trail braking) were really doing anything. I’m used to having significant body lean before getting the car to slide. Which was definitely not happening here! I think it played tricks on my mind, causing it to go, “You have no body roll, you must not be going fast. Wait, why are we sliding??”

Unfortunately I didn’t take a camera with me. But it was a fun ride! Gave me lots to think about. Big thanks to the owner for letting me partake in a little experiment!

 

First Attempt

HADA Advanced Driving School

In passing at one of the events I was competing in, one of the instructors organizing the HADA Advanced Driving School asked me to come out and help run/instruct their course. I’ve never taken any sort of advanced driving school before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

HADA Club Banner

HADA Club Banner

Thankfully, there were a number of people who signed up. People who were keen to learn a bit more about driving. Which is great, since there were many of us more than happy to share what we know about driving with the hope that we can improve the safety and confidence behind the wheel.

The school started off with an in class session where we discussed seating positions, mirror setup, and various other driving techniques. It’s not uncommon to see people with very sub-optimal seating positions. This can actually have a negative effect on the driver being able to control their vehicle in a tricky situation.

Hands of a driver

Hands of a driver

From the classroom we went immediately to the cars. The students would be driving their own vehicles with instructors with them whenever they are practicing a drill. That way they would receive instant feedback and guidance when going through the drills. We had 3 drills where drivers would work on different skills at each.

Drill 1 had a slalom followed by a panic braking exercise.

First Attempt

First Attempt

Drill 2 had an accident avoidance scenario followed by tight in and out element.

Accident Avoidance

Accident Avoidance

Drill 3 was the skid pad. Where students would learn about what happens when the limit is reached.

Practicing Tight Turns

Practicing Tight Turns

After cycling through the drills a number of times it was back to the classroom. Here the students would recap and discuss/share any items regarding any lessons on as a group.

Once the discussions were over, it was back at it. This time with a mock autocross course combining all the elements from each drill into one continuous course. At this point I had watched all the students have fun all day running around cones. I wanted to get out there myself. When I asked, the head instructor said, “Make sure you take some students with you.” How could I say no?

The instructors cleverly turned the circular skid pad into a figure 8 element. Having never seen one of those in competition before, it was time to go mess around. Inevitably, I started drifting it. Super fun.

Big thanks to the HADA club for setting up the day and inviting me to come out to have some fun while at the same time helping some people drive safer day to day. Big success!

Keep an eye on HADA website next season for information about the next HADA Advanced Driving School.

Below is a video of me taking a student around the figure 8 element. Sideways.


Link to video

HADA Event #5 2011

HADA #5 – Season Finale

The final event in the HADA Markham Acura “Take it off the Streets” Autoslalom Series!

This event was part of a double header weekend. The sun continued to shine and the runs piled on. Fun course! HADA hasn’t been that experimental with their course designs this season (though keep in mind I did miss 2 events) but the course flowed very well. There was a slightly controversial ‘slow-box’ at the end that didn’t require a stop, but instead forced you to drive through a tight exit without hitting any pylons. However, the design allowed small cars like mine to nip through at speeds a bit to high for a proper ‘slow-box’.

Photo thanks to Wes Tanney

Photo thanks to Wes Tanney

While attempting to not annoy marshals with my ‘slow-box’ speeds, I was able to surprise myself during this event. I was running the entire day with passengers and running pretty consistent times. I decided for my last run to go solo and really go for it to see what sort of time I could get. And sure enough I took a good chunk of time off, cementing my victory over a fellow rival that day. The video below catches the reaction from both me and the ‘slow-box’ marshals.

In order to crown the overall champion, the HADA series holds a shootout consisting of each of the different class champion for the season. The shootout gives each of the drivers only two runs all in the same car. Before you get excited, club run shootout cars are very rarely something you are actually looking forward to drive. The point of a shootout car is to put each class champion out of their element and make them all as unfamiliar as possible. Just before the shootout began, the wife of one of the organizers pulled up in her car. A beige 2000ish Toyota Corolla. Automatic. Oh boy!

Photo thanks to Wes Tanney
Photo thanks to Wes Tanney

The drivers all got their time with the car. Unsurprisingly, everyone stepped out of it with smiles on their face. “This is a lot of fun to drive in a sick sort of way,” said one of the drivers. Others compared it to what it felt like to steal their mother’s car. They put on a great show which was entertaining to watch… And film.

If you want to see all the shootout runs and reactions, hit up this playlist.

How did I do? I don’t know! HADA is a little slow with results. But I do remember topping my class. Overall, apparently if I would have had one more class win at HADA, I would have been in the shootout as well and in the running for top dog. Whoops! Next year!


Link to video