Ok so maybe I didn't become a racing driver, but I did get taught by one and you actually can too! For cheap! Because one thing is for certain about us Jalops, we are all fairly broke! Me very much included. However, after my wife got us tickets to last year's F1 race, I decided that this year I would try my best and pull a Caswell and just do as much as I could in the Motorsports and Automotive realm as money would allow! Which is not that much, and consists of a lot of looking on Groupon and ways to sneak into places so I don't have to pay. So essentially exactly what Bill does. Except I don't have a rally car. Ok so on to the point of this article.
Since this year would be the year of the Jalop, I have been looking around for anything to do within Motorsports. Now I get Groupons all the time and most are a waste of my time, but I saw that K1 Speed Karting was going to be holding a racing class in a week near my house. So I looked into it and found out that it would be taught by a real racing driver named Patricio Jourdain. I had no idea who this guy was so being of the age of the interwebs, I googled him. Wow that sounds dirty and wrong. Stalked him, nope. Ogled him, ehhh. Checked him out, gross. Look him up, sounds like the least offensive one, we'll go with that. So I found out that he has raced in Nascar, Formula Renault, Touring cars, Karting and some other stuff. So, a proper race driver.
(That's him, not the weird Nissan race car, the guy)
So I dragged my friend with me and hit the school up. It was only 100 bucks for 5 hours of tutelage, so not a bad deal and classes are limited to 10 people for a more one on one effect. So my friend and I have raced karts against one another before and I smoked him, not by like a little, but by a lot. I am not being cocky or anything this is just part of the story..I am being cocky and I was. We get to K1 and there are all new karts, the last time we went, we drove gas karts, K1 has these new fancy smancy electric karts. Now I figured that they would be more similar to the previous gas karts, rather then a Tesla Model S which is like driving a Roller Coaster, being that the weight and the acceleration are very linear and crazy fast. I couldn't be more wrong about the karts.
the class opened with him introducing himself, speaking about what he had done, what cars he has raced and some small personal stuff. He then talked about some safety stuff that I will get into later, and told us what he hoped to accomplish with us. All fairly normal stuff. For the first session we got into the karts and I prepared myself by thinking I was the cock of the walk, that these other plebeians would not be able to hold a candle to my driving prowess as discussed above. I in short, thought I was this man.
(If he is even be a man)
I in short thought myself a driving god....I wasn't. The karts were so different and so confusing in every driving dynamic that I was more a driving idiot.
(Wasn't I just driving?)
The kart was so squirrely that I couldn't do anything with it! It rotated under braking, it rotated under acceleration. There was under-steer, then leading to snap-over-steer, to wheretheyheckismysteer?
(I'm a cow)
See I was that confused that I thought I was a cow. After the first terrible session and my friend gloating how bad he beat me...2 1/2 seconds. Patricio rounded us up and gave us some notes. Most of mine consisted of "WTF were you doing out there." I kept ending ass pointed towards the apex. Well, he told me that I need to straighten the wheel before the turn and brake harder before and I would be able to go deeper and hopefully not rotate as badly. After a few notes for the rest of the group, we walked the track where he put out apex cones to show us where we really needed to be during the turns. He then talked about how different these karts are to the gas powered ones. That there was much more weight and that managing the weight transfer in any race car was important, but for these karts that management would be extra important since that was what was holding most of us back in lap times. Especially me. I couldn't wrap my head around how crazy the weight transfer was during my first session. So for the next session I tried to clear my head of the first terribleness and concentrate more on what Patricio told us. Sure enough I got better. I wasn't Raikkonen, but maybe Perez?
(I'll just sit here and wait for the calls for me to drive...anyone...anyone...please?)
So I wasn't a driving god but I did manage to shave 1 1/2 seconds off my time! That's good, or does that just say I was super bad the first session. I was super bad the first session. But I did get closer to my friends time, which I enjoyed and he hated. After the second session Patricio gave us some more pointers and headed back out, this time he was on the track with us, helping those that needed more than other. Thankfully, for my ego, he didn't come up to me! Which I took as I was back on track to being a driving god! I still wasn't but hell that what I thought. I had after that session shaved 2 full seconds off my time lap times and was finally ahead of my friend, which he really hated.
For the final return of the classroom section, he asked us where we thought we need to improve and gave us our final notes on where he thought we can improve. Mine was mostly braking a bit later and really turning in hard into Turn 3 to 4 which was a chicane. We headed out on our final session. However before we got onto the track, the fastest guy so far in the class, a track rat from this K1 Speed who is there on a bi-weekly basis asked if we could try a different set of karts. Now at the time I didn't think much of it. What I didn't know is that there would be prizes at the end for fastest and most improved and that they were setup for different tracks at K1. Going into the last session I was on track to being the most improved and would have won a brand new pair of Alpinestars racing gloves...I didn't get it and here come the racing driver excuses. Why, because when we switched karts I got one that had absolutely no grip. The tires were terrible. They would not hook up to save my life. I did manage to bang in a respectable time but nowhere near what I needed to keep my most improved spot. Instead they went to some guy that rolled up in a 2013 911 Carrera 4s, like he needs the prizes! Whatever, but the tires just would not let me get a fast lap time which sucked, but so are the issues with racing. Someday's you just can't win. That won't stop me from trying though. I did learn a lot of valuable knowledge while there, especially in apexing, trail braking and weight transfer in a race car and how you need to manage all of those to get good times. So maybe I wasn't the fastest, but I can always be a Hoon!
So side story I mentioned earlier about the safety briefing and other stuff. I tried, valiantly I might add to get Patricio to come and do an AMA with us Jalops. I even got in touch with our fearless leader Mr Hardigree to see if they were interested and he said yeah and to pass along his info! However, what are the first things out of his mouth, "do I get paid for it?" WTF, your a car guy, you should do it because you want to help your fellow Jalop out! I then went into all the awesome amazing people that the Jalopnik team has gotten over the last year, including Sir Jackie Stewart and he still asked what can I get out of it! After that interaction which will probably come to nothing, I remembered what he had said in the safety briefing. It was on passing and gaps. That we shouldn't go for gaps and that we should try to drive within our means. Now me being a Jalop I have watched Senna like 5 or 6 times and I know Senna's quote to Sir Jackie by heart on gaps and being a real racing driver. "By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it's not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it's possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it's impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I'm doing it right." This made me not really like him, but what he taught me was super useful and I would highly recommend the class to those that want to get better.