Thought I'd share my learning's on HPDE track day last week down at NJMS's Lightning with Northeast Track Days.

There is always a quiet movie/heartbeat moment driving through Vineland into NJ Motorsports Park early in the morning. Not rural by any means but vibrations from its past mass-agro history, underlies the early morning quiet. Here is where Dr. Welch started his famous grape juice company's method for preserving grape juice, before Vinland became a poultry giant. But that's all gone now and replaced with a new sound is coming from NJMP.

At the track, we line up in the paddock and prepped our cars for a day of high performance driving. The drivers meeting went smoothly and we met David and David, Northeast Track Days' principles and several instructors. The guys were young, sharp and serious on making this the most attractive track club in the Northeast. Noticing how crammed the other track clubs were, the two Dave's started NTD featuring a 'Long Format Track Event' for the experienced drivers. Considering the April half-price special, I signed up at the last minute to give them a try. I didn't expect two day's worth of seat time in one!

I didn't have high expectations as there was rain in the forecast and I planned to pack it in early. But then there was a big smile on everyone at the drivers meeting. Due to newness of the club and showcasing their Long Format track day, it was agreed to have one 35min warm-up session followed by an 'open track' punctuated every 30min with checkered flag, stop-and-go (to keep track of the time). MAN, WE ARE IN TRACK HEAVEN!

Soon after technical inspection, I was on the track with my trusty 8 winter, Cayman S (TPC sway bars, NT05 tires and Evoms rs340 engine mods). A little of my driving history.. besides my one big, 6-track-day year in 2010, I never did more than 1-2 track days in one year (and I'm a slow learner) so I try to keep the PSM on to 'catch me if I fall'. And, I didn't know how the Cayman would respond to the cool damp track. So for the first few laps I kept my pace slow looking for a slippery moment, letting the advanced drivers pass.

At around the third lap I discovered a whole different Cayman from my last day on Lightning. This was the first time with my TPC sways bars and Nittos! Man what a combination! At first, I found it hard to let go of that point and shoot, cone-to-cone novice crutch that they first teach you about in DE. With no one in front and no one in back of me, I tried 'no-braking' technique for learning the track. Soon I was making one sweeping arch out of 2 corners! Then, with the addition of a few taps on the brakes at the end of straights my pace had increase to where I was overtaking the guys who were passing me in the beginning of the session! So this is that 'smoothness' is all about. Then, I started looking ahead and using more of my peripheral vision. This was a whole new experience of track freedom unencumbered by faster cars pulling up from be hind, I was now the car doing the overtaking. I went from being the hunted to being the hunter.

Then the miracle occurred. It started to rain and the PSM lights started flashing a bit on the corner exits. No big deal as the front end was still grabbing nicely while braking and turning into the corners. So what did I do next? I switched OFF the PSM to see how the balance was without the safety net! Mmmm... The car was still are holding nicely with no PSM so as I carefully squeezed the throttle, THE CAR BECAME ALMOST 917 LIKE and... instead of tracking out to the left edge of the track like it had with PSM on, the car very slightly and controllably over steered ONTO THE PROPER RACING LINE of the track and straightened out nicely!

And this just got better and better as the rain continued. I felt like friggin Jacky Ixx in the rain at Spa! This was just too much fun! The combination of; my previous experience at Lighting in the old setup, in contrast with the new tires and TPC alignment suggestions AND an empty track was the perfect environment for me to learn the line in the rain. This is what makes the Cayman one of the best track cars you can buy. Combination of mid-engine forgiveness and Porsche engineering instills one with a confidence to explore other dynamics.

Altogether, my track day with the new track club made for the best learning experience I've ever had on a track. A great formula of skill levels, personal attention and... tones of track time. I'll be getting my fill while the getting is good. Now if I can just keep this club a secret, I'll have a few more days like this before the PCA, BMW, NASA, HOD and SCDA drivers find out about it.