2011-12-25

Learning the ropes at Laguna Seca


As luck would have it, I scored two free days at Laguna Seca quite unexpectedly. The originally-registered driver could not make it, and so I took the spot, with quite a lot of squee and gratitude.

Prior to this, I have only driven at Laguna once, and my best time was around 2:02--very unimpressive, but I laid the groundwork. It could only get better from there.

Prior to going, I studied Dean Thomas' turn-by-turn guide to driving a Spec Miata on this track. Armed with that knowledge, and the familiarity with the track, I went to work.

As all my coaches and the handbooks say: Pick a goal whenever you go out, and focus on that one thing.

Laguna is unkind to underpowered cars, killing our momentum with sharp corners just before a long and steep uphill. Knowing this, I decided to work on the sequence of turns that determines your speed on the Rahal Straight, which lies between Turns 6 and 7. In a Spec Miata the Rahal Straight is a long and arduous climb. Whatever speed you manage to carry out of T6, is more or less the speed you'll be arriving at the Corkscrew (T8) with, plus/minus 3 miles an hour. Nailing Turns 3-6 was therefore my goal in life for the two days with Track Masters.

I used my exit speeds at trackout to see whether I made any progress in each of these four turns, with the goal being to get to lower to mid 80s at the exit of 6.

I did not spend much time practicing the other 2/3rds of the turns, but data says I improved them as well.

The embedded video shows one of my sessions on Day 2 of the event, which also happened to contain my best time for both days: 1:56:08. I was logging my runs with a DL-1 that I inherited from J., and he also superimposed it on the video.


Next time I am at Laguna Seca, I will continue working on the finer aspects of T3-6, but will mostly focus on Turns 9 and 10. A good lap time for this track is still 8+ seconds away, so I have my work cut out for me.


Music: P3 album by Amoria-RT and Happy by Bertycox