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Rich Merritt: Heartland Park, Topeka, KS
Track Guys Driving Clinic, August 11-12, 2001
As I have predicted all along, once the kids start coming out with their
fast reflexes and lack of fear, they will stomp us old farts. It happened
at Heartland Park: Mike Willis and Flash were the fastest, with 2:14 laps,
and the two old farts -- Chuck Willis and me (Rich the Old Poop) brought up
the rear with 2:15s. Jim Floyd broke his car early, so he gets a bye this
When you have five more-or-less identical cars on track at the same event,
you learn lots. For example:
Smooth Is Fast
Chuck Willis gives the best demonstration of how smooth is fast. He was
slower than us by a second or so a lap, but when you ride with him you see
a master at work: He doesn't punish the car. He shifts at 5000, lifts early
for braking, stabs the brakes sanely, keeps it under 100 mph on the
straights, and takes no risks. Yet he turns into corners at amazingly high
speeds, keeps the car nicely balanced while it's skeetering at the limit,
shaves off a second here and a second there, and his seemingly slower pace
is only a second or so off the lap times of those of us who are divebombing
the course, pulling 7000 rpm shift points, and slamming on the brakes at
120+. If Chuck turned up the wick, he'd smoke all of us.
Heartland Park is a brake-eater, so when you come to play, bring spare pads.
Running With The Big Boys
Three of us (Chuck, Mike and I) got put into Group 4, with the instructors.