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Rich Merritt: Heartland Park, July 23, 2000
BMW Club Driver School, Topeka, KS
Thank You, Brad Bedell !!!
The brakes work!
Read on at your peril. Those were the highlights. Everything else is just dreary. :-)
A LAP OF HEARTLAND PARK
My instructor, Jeff (slow 'ol farmer dude), laughed as we sat down to play. He does not like our cars -- oh, he likes them just fine, he just doesn't think they are suitable for open tracking. He runs a fire breathing 351 Mustang that will just flat eat my lunch.
Here's a hot lap of Heartland Park in a VR4. We're running the long course
-- about 2.5 miles with 16 turns. I am writing this to show you how a VR4
runs a road course, and to write down my notes before I forget them. I'll
save this post for the next time I go back. You are welcome to use it if
you go. It oughta give you an idea of how to approach the track. It might
help if you print off the map.
5 is a 90 deg downhill right. Very, very late apex. Stab the brakes, down to 3rd, turn in, power all the way through, unwind left to the exit, then come back to the right as you go flat down the hill to 6. If you do 4 wrong, you have lots of time to ponder the entry to 5 because you're very slow, and you'll most likely early apex 5. But if you do 4 right, then 5 comes up in a terrible hurry and you have to take a late apex because you are going so dang fast that you just barely have time to brake and downshift, and you get a late apex whether you want it or not (you want it).
Brake hard for 6 (a very tight, less than 90 deg, uphill left.), shift down
to 2nd, late apex, then flat all the way to 8, the esses, like so: Come out
of 6, upshift to 3rd, flat out, move to the far right, wait for the late
apex for 7 (a sweeping left), turn in without lifting, clip the apex cone
on the left and, keeping the throttle nailed, unwind to very outer edge of
the track on the right. If I get this corner right (once in a great while),
my car has just enough power through here to get a teeny bit of air over
the rise and it sets down right next to the edge of the grass. (That is a
rush! Alas, I can't find the sweet spot for the turn in point every time).
Then continue flat in 3rd, upshift to 4th and hold it until it's time to
brake for turn 8 at about 110-115.
Exiting Turn 14
Entering Turn 15
Exiting Turn 15
HOW'D THE VR4 DO?
We lapped virtually everybody in Run Group 3, with three notable exceptions:
A 485 hp Pantera that went by me like a rocket ship. We held our own in
the twisty bits, but he gobbled up real estate on every straight. Following
him was great fun. Somebody said that, back home in Texas, that car is
I don't like getting passed, as you can tell, and it is my downfall. I do
all my dumb stupid stuff when I drive with my mirrors. When I am on the
track all by myself I can click off fast, consistent laps. But when I get a
car in my mirrors -- like if I am short shifting and trying to cool the
engine down and somebody starts catching me -- I go nuts. Jeff yelled at me
a lot for that. It's a personality disorder of mine.
WORKING WITH A GOOD INSTRUCTOR
Kudos to Jeff, my instructor. I learned more this weekend than at any other
Not much, but probably expensive. Whilst driving on my mirrors, I early apexed turn 2, ran out of road, and straddled a curb. It smacked the front air dam and ripped off the right side brake duct. Now the air dam won't go down, and the AERO light stays on. I gotta crawl under there and see what I did. I also tore up the valence under the front bumper pretty good.
REALLY HOT LAPS
We ate ribs on Saturday night, and had a half-slab left over. We wrapped the ribs in aluminum foil, placed them above the rear turbo heat shield for my 11:35 am session, and ate hot ribs for lunch. "Turbo Ribs" we called them. They look mighty tasty, don't they?
More on the technical issues next time. Still got some problems we gotta
address, but the big one -- the brakes -- is solved!
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Article ©2000-2004 Rich Merritt, All Rights Reserved.
Heartland Park photos ©2000-2004 Autographs and Jeff Lacina (slow ol' farmer dude).
Other Images ©1995-2004 Bob Forrest, All Rights Reserved.