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Monday, January 31, 2011

Foggy (and cold) HOD Day

Williams CA. Friday night, January 28th; 20:33.

Just got to the Motel 6 on a foggy evening. Considering that I left Milpitas at 17:00, it took me over 3 and a half hours to my luxurious pad in Colusa county. I must say that I was quite pooped after driving through the fog and the traffic jams but I made it in one piece.

As I'm savoring my most excellent Famous Star from Carl's in my room, I'm thinking about Saturday and how unlucky one can get. The weather has been really nice for the past couple of weeks and is supposed to remain nice for at least one more week. But like since last October, the week-end that I am to go to the track (Thunderhill) the weather turns to shite. Frustrating.

I enjoy driving in the rain but, because over the winter I added a few tasty bits to the car:

- APR Canards (here)
- G-Pan (here)
- 5 Element diffuser (here)
- 2 way, adjustable Nitron shocks (here)
- Quick Release hub (here)
- Personal F1 steering wheel (here)

Since October, I haven't been able to really try out those goodies because I've had to drive in torrential rains (OK, I'm exaggerating a little here but after all, that's my blog so I do what I want :)

Thunderhill Raceway, Willows CA. Saturday, January 29th; 06:57.

I just arrived to the track and I found a spot under one of the big canopies. Took my cooler (filled with ice and Gatorade) out and removed all the stuff from the boot of the car.

It's cold, there is some fog but it's not too bad and it appears to be low clouds rather than actual fog. No rain in sight, which is good. I go to the registration and attend the ensuing drivers' meeting.

HOD is a very nicely ran organization. They always host very nice track days and while they tend to be a lot more expensive than a bunch of other organizations, I like them a lot. The seat time is on par with most as we get 5 sessions of 20 minutes per day.

As usual my group (Group C, which is the advanced group) gets to go first and basically dry the track for the people that are next, so we have to be on track a little after 08:00.

Did I mentioned it was cold?
So, yes, it's cold (50F or so) and the track is wet. The paint on the kerbs is super duper slippery and I learned to avoid it in these conditions. I did get my wheels on a painted part in turn 14 and it was like driving on ice, uncool.

Thunderhill Raceway (Satellite view)

In the second lap of my session, some dude decided that it would be appropriate to go gardening on the outside of turn 6. Black flag (meaning that all cars have to go back to the hot pits). We waited for a few minutes and ended up losing the rest of the session because it took about 15mins to pull the guy out of the mud.

Very next session, for the B (intermediate level) group a guy in Shelby Cobra (or a replica, I don't know) went wide on the exit of 15, tried to correct and ended up doing a faceplant in the wall. Gnarly.
A few more people ended in the grass during the day but at least, there was no bad crash to report.

After lunch, the track finally dried up. It was still cold and the low clouds were still around but at least I was able to go a bit faster. There were a couple of Lotus Elise in my group, one of them belonging to Bruce. His' is anthracite, which I like. Pretty much stock, like mine but minus the aero bits that I have. I followed him during the last session of the day, which was fun, even though he was holding me back in most turns.
We talked about that session later on and I was able to give him a couple of pointers about things that I noticed.

I also met Eric from Suspension Performance. Very nice guy who also happens to be French (which gives him tons of bonus points of course). We chatted for a while as I reckon that between frog legs eaters, we had a lot of stories to tell one another. I decided to visit his shop sometimes this week or the next.

Overall this was a fairly decent track day. I didn't get to work on what I wanted to, specifically turn 1, 9 and 10, but still, I had a good time and that's what counts.

Note: You can see more pictures here if you want to.


  1. I suppose you did warn me. Hahaha. Wow, you are too smart for my brain.

    I take it you drive a race car too? Not too as in "so do I" but as in "not just write a blog"

  2. Told you so :)

    The car in the picture is my track car, it's a 2005 Lotus Elise. Very fun car to drive around the track with and it's got a cute name (I always thought Elise was a very nice first name).