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Author Topic: When you are lucky enough to get "That Guy"  (Read 5639 times)

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« on: November 07, 2014, 01:58:10 PM »


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When you are lucky enough to get "That Guy"
« on: November 07, 2014, 01:58:10 PM »
Work, and other onerous commitments, have conspired to severely limit my track days of late. With coercion from the C5 Mafia, and an open time slot in my schedule, I signed up to instruct at VIR for a two day event . I was intending to bring my 1999 C5 but the planets did not align for me to prep it completely before the event so I was immediately down to co-driving in my buddies car. Intention counts for something I have heard.

Other Mafia members, as per normal, started dropping out as the day got closer or outright refused since Hoosier crack was not an option. In the end we had a few Mafia make it to the event. Hotels were a problem so we ended up in Roxboro, NC to get a room (Hilton points).

It had been a while since I had run with the organization and it was pretty much as I remembered. Tech and drivers meeting was relatively painless. VIR is always a special place but this time weather was fantastic, there was low track density and the new track surface is awesome. The Oak Tree is sorely missed but the new exit does ease the pain a little.

I had checked the instructor pairing and saw I was in a C6 Vette. Talking to the event manager I found out it was "GT1 Corvette" (I was thinking tube frame, race slicks, sequential trans, 600HP+, etc.) so I knew it would be loud and hot with a communicator pretty much useless.

After the meeting I met the driver and found out he had done 4 days at MoSport and had sorted out some electrical problems in the car. He was an experienced motorcycle racer and this would be his 5th car track event and first at VIR. Then he told me had to go install the passenger seat. We missed the warmup and he missed most of the first classroom session by the time he brought the car to the paddock.

As soon as I saw it I realized I knew the car (sad when you know many cars through several previous owners) and had once seen it burn up mostly at T10a at Road Atlanta. It had been rebuilt and run in NARRA, SCCA and NASA races since. It was a frame car, T56 trans, 480HP LS3, and a carbon fiber body car with new R6s. So not as potent a weapon as I initially thought.

It went through a very quick tech and we made it to grid a little. I buckled in quickly with some assistance to expedite the belt adjustments. Once on track it was loud and hot with loose wires in passenger side, loose passenger aluminum floor pan, no roll bar padding, holes in the firewall, gas smell in cockpit and the seat belts mostly installed correctly. Some of these ills were not immediately apparent.

First session is mostly an elephant walk with people sorting out their cars and figuring out the full course at VIR. We talked about the line, some braking points and rhythm after the session. We then went out in my buddies C5 so I could show him the lines, brake points and where throttle puts the car where you want it to be. It was a great session for me. Car was working great, I was working a lot of traffic and talking to him as we made the laps. I have learned not to go all RAFT in the first student session ride along since some folks want to emulate that tail out throttle flat style. It was controlled fast laps with no effort of beating a personal best.

After the session he went shopping for a new helmet and HANS since his helmet was a loaner, and fit poorly, with the added limitation it had no HANS capability. He missed the classroom session and almost all of the next session. But I discussed hand signals and we did get in a few laps where his line was way better but his digital throttle style, braking style (downshift then brake) and bumper riding was apparent. When I talked to him about he said it was no big deal since we were so slow and he was pissed off at being held up. I explained it was all about good habit patterns and being repetitive in tasks to build muscle memory. He said he was a pro racer and could handle it. He then asked when he could get cleared solo. I said not yet.

The next session went much better with smooth throttle inputs and better braking. He missed a yellow flag and had terrible situational awareness on catching slow cars in bad places (it was not a race remember). He rode bumpers and made late passes. He tended to push in the clutch at corner entry and released it about mid-corner. It is a technique but not my preferred one. He freely admitted he could not heel toe. He shifted when the car was unloaded. He also did not like to open the wheel at exit and bound the car up. There were other basic technique issues.

It was a long, loud hot and gas fumed 30 minutes. When I mentioned these in the debrief he said it was no big deal since he was not the normal student, people needed to get out of his way, often interrupted me to point out he was not doing whatever I mentioned and when could he take a written test on the corner workers. At that point he was insistent he should be solo in the next group. I said I would go talk to the manager. I did and gave my honest feedback on his capability to pass a checkride (I used to give them in this organization so I knew it was pointless). He was very supportive and asked me to try it again.

In hindsight I should have called Kings X at that point. Fourth session was a nightmare, he absolutely ignored me, almost hit a Ferrari, almost hit a Viper, pushed a Mini, chopped corners, rode bumpers, broke it loose in T1 (he had good car control but no car feel), had no track manners, and was annoyed when I shook my head in the car. I could not get his attention to bring the car in. I almost resorted to sticking my arm out for a black flag but he would have never seen it.

Probably the longest thirty minutes in my track experience. I must admit I got out of the car (impossible with a helmet on), drank a bottle of water and breathed air without gas fumes. That annoyed him more but I was in no mood to talk. When I came back he was insistent he get soloed. When I pointed out errors he said he did it because he was pissed off. No matter what I said (in a normal monotone voice) he argued with me.

I went back to organizer. The corner workers had called in the aggressive C6 Vette so he knew some issues. I told him he was in racer mode, would not listen and refused critique. About that time the student came up and started talking. He freely admitted he was pissed off people did not get out of his way (he held people up since his technique was awful), tuned me out completely, said I never went over hand signals with him (he later said he was not interested), I pissed him off, he learned better on his own, that he would never spin off, that he would just go back to Canada and race there, that focusing on the corner and car in front did not allow him to look at corner workers, he was in race mode (and could not turn it off) and the best part he argued a 2700-2800 pound 480HP race prepped C6 was not that much of a car for a driver of his skill set. I did not want him in the next group much less solo. Once again I was talked into giving it one more shot. The student stayed back to talk to organizer.

When he came back to the car he was giving me the team work talk and how he managed a factory motorcycle race team. I did ask how that compared to squadron command in a combat zone. Truthfully, my patience is not that good. Then he pointed out he was the customer and said he spent a lot of money to be here and I did nothing to help him fix his car. I then pointed out I was responsible for safety. Maybe a bit forcefully using fighter pilot words.

He then said he did not want me in his car. Finally, something we agreed on. He did go into detail how we had a bad dynamic and it was mostly him not me. He said I was decent guy just not a good fit for him. I felt like I was dating again. I can say I have met the "Flat Out" guy.

We went back to organizer and I told him the student did not want me in his car anymore. He tried to get my buddy to take him out for last session of the day. He declined. They did get a chief or senior instructor in the car. He held up faster traffic for 5 minutes since he ignored that instructor and his mirrors also. I went to a great steak dinner in the country.

Next day was a bit cooler but a repeat in fantastic weather and light traffic. I did get a session in and it was glorious until it ran out of gas. The ABS and clutch went out in the car when my buddy tried to drive his car next, somehow all that was my fault also. Luckily, I did not get a new student so I had time to hang out and load broken cars.

I did notice my former student missed the mandatory drivers meeting and novice class. The organizer did drop by to talk to him. I did notice the instructors in the car did give me the stink eye but maybe they are just grumpy or I am too sensitive. I am sure there are some who feel I am to judgmental, impatient or lack instructor experience in this situation. They may be right.

Overall I had fun with my friends, got to drive a fantastic track, ate a good steak and survived "that guy". I did relearn an important lesson. Street cars and current logbook racecars are typically track ready and safe. Modded cars and works in progress racecars are not always track ready. As an instructor do not depend on "tech" and do not get in cars you feel are unsafe.

«Reply #1 on: November 10, 2014, 03:54:56 PM »


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Re: When you are lucky enough to get "That Guy"
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2014, 03:54:56 PM »
Wow, just wow. Man you had a full weekend and was not even planning on it! What a "That guy" he was for sure! I'll never forget reading this, thanks for sharing!
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«Reply #2 on: November 28, 2014, 06:26:30 PM »

Michael Yount

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Re: When you are lucky enough to get "That Guy"
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2014, 06:26:30 PM »
Been on track as a student and a racer with "that guy" many times!  Never ceases to amaze me how anyone expects to learn anything if they won't listen.  I learn something new every time I ride with a new instructor or a fellow racer if I'm simply willing to 'let go' of the thought that I already know how to do it.  When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
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