Early Apex

I put the camera in the car primarily for Shade Tree. He’d asked more than once, so I went down and bought the popular one (and cracked the cover in Seattle. We’ll see if GoPro wants to replace it).

And for the most part it was an excellent, if embarrassing purchase.

I had no idea what a lousy driver I can be until I watched video of myself in action. There isn’t a single lap where I don’t count a half dozen significant mistakes. Mismanaging RPM. Milktoast driving. Missed turns.

But here is my favorite: This movie is only about a minute and a half long.

The most amazing thing is that what I thought happened in this moment is not what happened at all. Merlin and I had a conversation earlier where he recommended I carry more speed into the turn and then lift to rotate the car through Turn 13. He’d seen other cars come through at a faster clip.

So I tried it. I thought.

Except I didn’t rotate.

The best thing about this lap was that I backed my car off the track and into the grass to get out of the racing line. I didn’t even know I’d killed the motor. The old adage “In a spin, both feet in”  is fairly well burned into my circuits, but the engine died anyway. I went backwards onto the grass with pure momentum.

The second best thing was that I was communicating with the corner worker, although he had to wave me back onto the track twice after I killed the motor a second time.

When I got back I grabbed Merlin’s hat as if to beat him with it, but the video shows he was right. I could carry much more speed through Turn 13. However, I could not carry that speed AND early apex. I ran out of track PDQ. Driver error.

It wasn’t until I watched the IMSA cars come through 13 that I really “got it.” To get out of Turn 13 with speed, I had to come into the left hander from the far right. Very far right. which later in the weekend allowed me to late apex with more speed.

I didn’t try it again in third gear, which is too bad. I could have gained a second there and possibly more, if I was able to carry it up the main straight.

About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon
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