New Track Layout, who dis?

Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur, TX shut down a year ago to rebuild its track. The plan was to quickly resurface and level half the track quickly then redesign and rebuild the back half of the track while running the finished section. However, after the wettest fall in the history of Texas, construction was delayed more than 6 months and instead of running cars in November or March of 2018 at the latest, the track was idle until September 2019. Only the first half of the track is finished, but the back half is coming together more quickly than expected (for now).

The old short course was rarely run, mainly because the crossover had a tendency to act as a jump and there was no way to split the track and do anything with the other part (the redesign allows for both parts to be run as separate courses simultaneously). The old track was torn down and the rebuilt from the base layers up with improved drainage, proper camber, and widened to better accommodate wheel to wheel racing.


This past weekend I volunteered to instruct with a new group (well, a faction of the old Porsche club that splintered off to focus more on DE’s and drivers’ training for people who’ve recently purchased Porsches from the titled sponsor/organizers). The lead instructor is a friend of mine and the track owners are amazing (one went out and helped put down oil dry and sweep the track after one of the older Porsches dropped some fluid), so I was more than happy to sign up to help even though it was a new track and a new group.

The new layout retains the best parts of the old track (and a couple of corners that are frustrating for us low horsepower guys), but was just different enough that it felt new. The event wasn’t supposed to have any novices, but a few slipped in and with the new layout even the ‘solo approved’ drivers were looking for some help the first session, so I jumped in a 991 911 Carrera 4s convertible and instructed the first session. My student was relieved to have an instructor and made progress getting familiar with the track and I always enjoy coaching a grateful student (plus he had air conditioned seats and it was getting hot).

My “intermediate” (actually a first timer) student was in a 991 911 Turbo S, he’d only done one track event ever and he’d never been to this track (it was a new layout so that’s not a huge deal, but the event was supposed to be for solo approved intermediate or higher drivers only). We’d blast down the straights and crawl through the corners, the course is technical and there are plenty of elevation changes and late apexes to catch out the inexperienced. He only spun out once in the 3 sessions he drove, but we never really drove the correct line around the entire course (he also needed to be reminded not to accelerate out of corners when he was going to give a point-by).

Now, usually there is a separate run group for instructors but this event wasn’t meant to be strenuous on the instructors so we were grouped with the other participants based on power to weight ratios (with a modifier for our skill, thanks to the experience of the lead instructor). The top group’s lowest horsepower car was a C6 Z06, so nearly all the instructors were in the second group. My BRZ wasn’t the lowest horsepower car (there were 2 other 86's and 3 Miatas driven by other instructors), but the lowest powered client cars were a trio of Spec Boxsters. There were more 911 GT3's than Miata’s in the group so I was ready to take up a spot near the back of grid and let the power cars go.


What my car lacks in power I make up for in confidence and familiarity with it, I’ve got lots of laps with the setup and I’ve developed a trust and sense with my BRZ. It didn’t take more than a couple of laps to know where the limit of grip was and to get the most out of my 200 tread wear street tires. The GT3's would pull down the straights, but I’d reel them back in under braking and through the twisties. Moral victory accomplished.

The event was a great success, and the only car that needed repairs was a 911 driven off the track by the Porsche Factory Driver (no injuries and all the damage was in the front) who had come to give rides during lunch, make a presentation/speech at the after-party, and mingle with the ViP’s. That’ll help forewarn the novices next time, if a Le Mans winning driver could wreck a car at this track then they should have plenty of respect for the high speed section.

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