My New Year’s resolution: learn to drive (better)
Giving me a bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. The last few times I’ve been on a track of any kind, I’ve used whatever knowledge I’ve gained on previous experiences and applied it to the current situation. Good, right? Not if you’re as cocky as I am.
During some track time at Willow Springs, unlike anyone else in my group, I did properly launch the 620-hp Saleen Mustang. I even made a good play for the apex of every turn. In fact, I was paying so much attention to mentally mapping out the course, while silently patting myself on the back for having the fastest time, that I forgot to stop riding the clutch.
I even got kicked off a high-speed go-kart track during a bachelor party this year because I was hitting the wall (and the occasional attendant) with alarming frequency. No one at the track seemed to understand that I needed to work out the handling issues of this vehicle and practice my trail braking. My argument was that it was a rear-weight bias kart because the heaviest part of the vehicle (my ass) was sitting of the rear-wheels. I could have probably argued more effectively had the head attendant had a physics degree, and I spent more than an afternoon in Porsche’s Driving School.
I’m not a bad driver (or at least admit to it), but I know I could use some improvement. I like to be the know-it-all of the group, and right now it’s time for me to shut up and learn. When I’ve hung out the rear end of a car, I think I’m a rockstar, when in fact I probably have not even left my lane; I’ve let cars fall out of their power ban accidentally; my heel-and-toe technique is little more than a novelty; and while I posted the fastest lap at the go-kart track, my brushes with the wall also gave me the slowest.
My point is simple: the New Year is a time when we’re supposed to try and improve ourselves and those around us. But I’m selfish. This year I may write about different driving school experiences and use the excuse that it is so I can give better test drive reports. At that point you can go ahead and call “bulls**t” on me. I’m really just doing it so on trackdays I can hang cars further out in the corner without killing myself.
I welcome the rest of the car enthusiasts out there to be a selfish as me and spread the word. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Take advantage of cheap gas, cheap horsepower and cheap vacation deals to hit the local racetrack and/or driving school. Take the time to become an expert. With your help we may finally be able to turn cocky SOBs like me into respected drivers.