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Tales from Track Night at Circuit of the Americas

This past Wednesday I went out and did the SCCA “Track Night in America” at COTA! It was an awesome time on track and there were a lot of cool cars to look at and cool drivers to talk to! The Ecoboost was nimble on track and held most of the corners in 4th gear without issue, pulling hard all the way to 6500 RPM with the Cobb tune. As this was my first track night ever I was in the Novice group.

Illustration for article titled Tales from Track Night at Circuit of the Americas

Most of my stories here are NOT about how my car was faster, but how it’s driver was faster. There were a lot of fast/expensive cars out there with slow drivers.

Through the day I passed a lot of different cars on track. S550 GT and a GT350, Supercharged Cadillac XLR (Corvette in a Caddy Suit), BMW M2, Miatas, and more. I was thrilled with I could hang with the Miatas through the corners and the blast by them on the straights with power on my side. I didn’t time my laps, but managed to hit a top speed of 123 on the back straight and 110 heading up the hill on the front straight.

I started a session behind a Camaro ZL1. This thing was a track monster, huge acceleration! So we went up the hill to turn 1 and it absolutely roared away from me, but as we wound through turns 2-9 it was apparent that this was a really fast car with a not so fast driver. She was having all kinds of trouble holding a line through the curves and there was now a group of three of us riding up on her ass. When we came out of turn 10 I waved the S2000 and VW GTi behind me past as the Camaro left me in it’s dust. The Camaro driver had no intention of letting any get past her and held off the faster drivers. After we came through turn 15 like a freight train, with the Camaro leading the way and all over the track, the S2000 scooted past her in turn 17, despite not being a passing zone. When we got through turn 20, the GTi driver managed to sneak past the Camaro, despite not getting a wave by. I couldn’t catch the Camaro on a straight, but once we made the hairpin at turn 1, I was again crawling up the tailpipe of the Camaro as she couldn’t hold a racing line on throttle to save her life. When going through turns 7-8 I began flashing my headlights at her, since I knew she wouldn’t give me a chance to pass otherwise, and I finally got let by after turn 10. Once I put her in my rear view, I kept her there for the long straight and then lost her, never to be seen again after turn 13.

I managed to catch up to that S2000 and spent a full lap behind him. He should have been in at least the Intermediate group, if not Advanced. He was fast through the twisties, cutting a great line through every corner and keeping composed all the way. When he hit the straights and the two of us kept speed up. He put some distance on me on the back straight, but I still got to watch him go through the final corners on our way to the pits.

I feel like all of my practice of the COTA track on my Xbox had the line through the corners pretty well burned into my brain, so I didn’t have much trouble through the esses or 12-20. I was really liking the speed I could carry though 19 and accelerate halfway to 20 before braking for the front straight. I never went for full speed runs up to 1 though, choosing to back off before the braking zone to make sure I was on line. I’ve seen too many races at COTA where drivers powered themselves right off the track at 1.

Me nemesis was actually 11. I never seemed to pull it wide enough to be back on throttle immediately, especially as half the time I seemed to be following someone else through there and was facing their tail too close for comfort. That was the one corner where I always ended up down into 2nd gear.


Overall an Awesome day and well worth it!

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