Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ultimate Driving Experience

so here's the last event:
The project manager on one of my jobs decided that we needed a team building event. So he organized a driving experience at BeaveRun, a full-service automotive facility.
The day started with one of the local team members hosting a skeet-shooting morning. No, I didn’t take a turn… shooting a shotgun just doesn’t appeal to me.
After lunch, we headed over to BeaveRun. Our first event was go-kart races. We got a couple turns round the track for people to get used to the cars. It was an outdoor track with some elevation changes. After getting comfortable, they did a time run, and then used the results to put us into teams of 3 for an endurance race. The race rules had everyone taking at least one turn on the track, but the order, or amount of time was up to the teams. Of course, the teams with very strong drivers had them take most of the runs. The all boys team came first, and the all girls team came last – kind of predictable since the ladies were the least likely to take chances on the track.
Go-karts are exhausting. It takes a lot of maintained strength to keep them turned, to steer out of one turn into another. It occurred to me after a while, that it would be better to save some energy for the other TWO events of the day.

After the endurance run, we headed over to an autoX course. The instructors took groups through the course in the Mazda 6s, which weeded out a lot of the faint-of-heart. We got a couple practice runs, and then each person got two timed runs. Your times were added together for placing in the results, so you had to have two consistent runs. I messed up on the first one taking a late turn too fast and mushed a couple cones – adding 2 seconds to my finish time. I was the second fastest woman, but a couple seconds behind the leading man.
It took a while for me to get used to the Mazda. Its steering was really sloppy and it didn’t feel responsive – compared to my car. The MC of our event also has an ’05 MCS, and I made a comment to him about how much the Mazda sucked, and he was rolling on the floor laughing.

If we weren’t exhausted enough, we headed over to a full race track. We didn’t do a race event here, we took turns driving a Chevy Caprice (read: BOAT) around the course. The track was a fast one, so the turns were not to technical. They had cones at each turn apex on the side of the track you needed to hit, so it was like a connect-the-dots driving from cone to cone. The track that I drove for the performance driving classes in Vegas was more interesting with some tighter turns, and that was a more fun driving course. Since we were driving Caprice’s, probably didn’t matter too much.
While we were ding the autoX, the project manager (who has been driving at BeaveRun for a year) had been taking some laps on the track in a Formula One car. He races a Porsche that he has race prep’ed with track tires, racing seats, and harnesses. While we were taking turns with the Caprice, he was taking people on rides in the Porsche. After all the crap that we’d been driving that day, it was really nice to be in a car that actually responded. It stopped without shaking, it turned when he moved the wheel, and it accelerated on command. I think the fastest we got was around 120mph.
The photos of that day aren’t the greatest… here’s one of me in a 6:

And there’s the Porsche on the left:

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