By Joe Lapin
In June, I had a glorious DE (Driver Education) session at Mosport, (Canadian Tire Mosport Park), with the Toronto UCR (Upper Canada Region) group. I had recently made several modifications to my car, and having enjoyed these dramatic improvements on the road, I wanted to test the changes on the track. I enrolled with my pal Terry, and though we are both ‘signed off’ drivers, we entered the instructed Yellow run group.
I arrived greatly intimidated, and honestly, quite fearful of the unknown. I had been warned about the infamous Turn 2, with its hidden ‘turn in’, and off camber downhill chute! I dreaded the notorious strips of concrete that were diabolically placed to direct misplaced cars onto grassy launching pads, and catapult the unfortunate into various walls and other hard surfaces! Frankly, it was just as I had heard it to be, it was very scary!
However, Mosport is also described as a fast momentum track with flowing grace and rhythm. Though intimidating, the track is really a wonderful blend of undulating turns and varied topography, and many of the severe hazards have been eliminated. The endless Mario Andretti Straight seems to go on ‘forever’, but it is quite a steep incline, so the terminal speed is thereby reduced. Still, it is an incredible rush to be on the accelerator for so long!
I had a patient, capable instructor, and after two sessions, the turns became familiar, and I was beginning to internalize the proscribed ‘line’. After 2 sessions of driving my own car, my instructor offered to take me around in his car, a 150 hp 944 racecar, and ‘the line’ was further imprinted in my mind. As an extra bonus, we had a ‘track walk’ in the evening, while following the beer van, and that proved to be very helpful, as the elevation changes at Mosport are really quite dramatic!
My driving continually improved, and by Sunday, I was very satisfied with this productive learning experience. One of the senior instructors is known to offer a short tutorial in ‘heel and toe’ shifting, and I immediately enrolled for this instruction. Once in my car, I demonstrated a flawless 3 to 2 downshift, and affirming my technique, he told me to enjoy the rest of the day on my own. The previous day, I had noticed that he was driving a Nissan GTR, and I asked if I could have a ride in that magical, computerized car. ‘Unfortunately’, he had changed cars, and was driving his new Porsche GT2 instead! He graciously offered me a session as a passenger, and though I marveled at the speed and poise of this superior car, his meticulous line and consistent braking points were truly inspirational.
Though I had received excellent instruction while driving my own car, sitting in his passenger seat made it easier to internalize the correct line and the subtle nuances of each turn. As a passenger, one still experiences the dynamics of the car, yet one is freed from the tension of actually executing the ideal inputs. After a ride as a ‘passenger observer’, and then immediately returning to the driver’s seat of my own car, the ideal technique is far more apparent, and the learning time frame can be greatly reduced. Whenever fortunate enough to have a willing instructor, one will surely internalize the ideal driving technique far more efficiently, while it is being demonstrated!
By day’s end, I was actually linking most of the turns myself, and developing some momentum of my own.
In retrospect, the weekend reaffirmed the value of the excellent training we receive in the well-reputed Rennsport DE program, and clearly, this training had provided me with an appropriate ‘driving vocabulary’. Recognizing many similarities in track design, I was soon able to ‘learn’ the course, and then apply the required techniques for the various corners almost intuitively. On several occasions, I have been told by instructors of different PCA chapters, that we Rennsporters are indeed very fortunate to have undergone such rigorous training.
Because my run group was the last of the day, after Session 3, I packed up, and left for the long drive home to Montreal. All in all, the Mosport experience was a huge success, and I enjoyed my time making new friends in the UCR group.
Having survived Mosport, I impatiently await the August Rennsport DE event at my familiar Circuit Mont Tremblant.