Track Day Four: 6/12/2005 Autobahn South

Wow!  It's five days later and that word just about sums it up.  This was by far the best track day I've had so far.

This was the first time at the Autobahn Country Club and I ran on the South track.  NESBA had the North track on Saturday, South on Sunday, and North again on Monday.  I didn't get a chance to do the North track but I think I picked the better of the two.  I'm scheduled to be out there in August again but this time for the full track.  Can't wait.

I have to give a huge thumbs up to the designer.  This track has everything; elevation changes, high speed sweepers, decreasing radius, increasing radius, a 120 degree turn, some banking, nice straights, and a couple left right transitions.  15 turns total in 2.1 miles.  Also, the track is nice and wide, with plenty of runoff area.  Compared to Blackhawk, which is the only other track I've been to, it's a world of difference.  I think I'm spoiled now, cause blackhawk is going to seem like a go-kart track after that.

It sure doesn't hurt that the track is close either.  I left the house at 6:15 and got there at 7:00.  And the drive is a lot nicer than going up to Blackhawk, because I don't have to deal with that rippled surface on 294.  Autobahn is actually only 32 miles away from me. Sure beats the 120 to blackhawk.

When you drive up to the facility there is an asphalt parking lot with an office where you register.  Once registered you go in through the main gates an drive for a bit until you get to the paddock area right between the two tracks.  You have your choice of parking either in the grassy areas or closer to the main building where it's asphalt.  I figured things are cooler in the grass than on the asphalt, so I stuck to the grass.  There are some trees scattered a few places around the track, but nothing in the paddock area, so if you didn't bring shade with you, you're going to be in the sun.

I got myself unloaded, put my leather pants on, and started looking around.  Next to me was a bunch of Spanish speaking guys with at least one CBR1K; it had the original body work; slightly cracked up.  I'm not sure if the other bike was a 600 or not.  At one point they were making adjustments and asked me if they could borrow my stock tool kit.  I had just happened to bring it.  They needed the wrench to adjust the preload collar.  These guys were serious, running slicks with tire warmers, intermediate group.

Looked across the way and there was a young guy who obviously rode his bike to the track.  It was some sort of Yamaha; turned out to be a YZF600.  Along with him was his girlfriend (obvious) and a friend that was helping him out; they were in a mini van.  He had taken off his mirrors and was taping up his headlight.  I walked over there and introduced myself.  It was his first time at the track.  We chatted a bit, and he needed to borrow some electrical tape to make a number on top of the masking tape he used to tape off his headlight.  Throughout the day we kind of kept tabs on each other and I answered some of his questions and tried to give him some tips.  After all, it wasn't long ago that I had my first track day, so I know what that's like. 

I think he was a pretty smart young guy, because second session to the last he felt like he was starting to loose it and he started slowing down.  Basically I told him my first time out I left early because I had started getting tired.  Better to leave than end up in a ditch.  I don't know how much my advice influenced him but he packed up before the final track period.

Next to him was another guy I ended up talking to, also in Intermediate, with a CBR954RR.  His trailer looked just lime mine, so I asked him about it, and sure enough it was a Harbor Freight special. He figured it the same way I did; you can't  beat the price.  He was hauling it with a Jeep and asked me how the Jetta handled it because he was thinking of getting a Subaru. 

About 11:00 a long time friend of mine showed up with her brother, who had worked years in the motorcycle industry, later she said that they both had a really good time, especially her brother.  I can understand why.  If you're into bikes there's nothing like seeing all the people and bikes; I'm sure pretty much every brand is represented.  He mentioned several times how impressed he was with the caliber of riders, even in the B group.

The track.  As usual, as I look back on it, it all kind of blends together.  There's a huge staging area and when you go out onto the track it feeds you to the outside of turn one.  Turn one is an increasing radius.  Actually it's a double apex with the second one being a larger radius, so it feels like a single increasing radius turn.  You have to go pretty slow for the first part.  As the day went on I found myself swinging more to the outside between the two turns, to get a better drive through the faster part.  Immediately after that you have a slightly tighter left and you basically throw the bike from one side to the other.  This takes you down the first straight, and it looks like you're going down in elevation.  There's a sweeping left that I barely slowed down for and a short straight, the combination of which take you up in elevation.  Then another short straight leading down again and through a slightly sharper left.  That feeds you into a short straight and a slower double apex right.  In that case both apex's are the same radius so you swing out in the middle.  After that you just accelerate and go through a fast section with a kink in the middle.  At the end you're hard on the brakes to take one of the sharper right handers.  At the end of the day I felt like I could take that one even faster than I did.  But after a short straight leads into a sharp 120 degree right and then a quick sharp left.  You definitely had to take the first part slow so you could position your self on the outside to take the left and drive out onto the long straight.  For the most part I stayed at about 90-100 down that straight, just in case anyone wanted to pass me.  That takes you to a sharp right left and the final two right turns before the straight.  Again those two rights I took as a single turn, staying close to the outside of the first section and sweeping in for the second.  A high speed left, and you're back to the straight.

During the regular track meeting they mentioned that Sliderphoto was going to be there again, so I spoke to one of the guys and asked him to get a few more shots of me than usual.  Well, he definitely did, and I've included them below. For the first time in a while I got some pictures that I really liked. Needless to say, my knee pads got a workout that day.  And I wasn't just touching down around the corners, I was holding the line with my knees down.  It's a good feeling.

I got faster as the day wen on.  And even though at the end I was thinking about slowing down a bit because I was getting tired, there were fewer people on the track and I was cruising.  I didn't know it until I had pulled in, but there was another guy behind me through the session.  He showed me a lap timer that said we were doing about 1:35 on the laps.  I guess he would catch up to me on the brakes and then play catch-up on the turns.  Both of us had a great time that last session. 

One of the amazing things was the look of the tires.  I don't know what kind of asphalt mix the track is made of, but the tires looked great at the end of the day; smooth, like they were brand new... aside from the obvious bits of rubber at the edge of the tires.

This was also my first track day with Heli bars on the bike.  I had gotten them a few days before the track day and installed them in the evenings.  They made quite a difference in my riding position and comfort on the bike, and they sure didn't hurt my performance.  Just looking at the bars it didn't seem like they were that much different, but they definitely are.  And people have asked why I'd want to install Heli bars on a track bike, because nothing says you can't be fast and comfortable.  And that's what I was.

Only question now is can I wait until August, or should I sign up for an event sooner.  Yes, this is addictive.  And like all addictions, all you can think about it the next fix.

Mid Corner
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Way Over