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Team3S Member Track Report:

Rich Merritt: BlackHawk Farms Raceway, Rockford, IL
Chicago Region Porsche Club, May 08, 2002

BlackHawk Farms Raceway

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The Event

The Chicago Region Porsche Club put on a one-day, midweek driving event at Blackhawk Farms, a two-mile road course near Rockford, Ill.  It was restricted to experienced drivers only, and those who had run Blackhawk before (no novices and no instructors).

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They stuck me in Group C, the lowest group, along with guys like Doctor Gotrocks in his brand new 911, lots of other ROWGs in shiny Porsches, and similar slow people.  I was lapping everybody in group C, some of them twice a session.  I asked to be put up into group B2, where I also passed everybody in the group.  I went out again with group B1, which has race-prepped Porsches and a lot of very badass cars, and didn't pass anybody.  On the other hand, nobody caught me either.  Just as I had one in my sights, the right front brake rotor broke, and that ended my day (see my post to the Team3S List for May 09).

Suffice it to say that I upheld the honor of our magnificent cars.  I waxed everything in my run groups, including a Boxster S, Carreras, TT AWDs, C4s, Turbos, 944S, 944 turbos, and other assorted Porsche treasures.

I got a check ride with an instructor, because I hadn't run there in two years, and he gave me some pointers, which I shall pass on to anyone who might want to run the track:

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A Lap of Blackhawk

BlackHawk Track Map

First, remember that nearly every turn at Blackhawk is a late apex.  And turning in under full power works extremely well here.  I ran the entire track in 3rd and 4th, so I had no problems with overheating.  I also did not turn up the boost, because I didn't need it.

Click the map points on the BlackHawk website for a better look at the corners.

Down the front straight at about 110 to turn 1, a sweeping right.  Lift, brake, turn in, and hit the throttle before the apex.  Sweep out left, then edge back to the right for 2.  Finding the correct braking point is the trick here.

Full throttle through two (a left), just clipping the apex (late apex!) and stay on full throttle until reaching the carousel (to the right) at 3.  You are on full throttle from the turn in at 1 until braking for the Carousel.  Most Porsches cannot (or will not) do this, so you can close up on them easily.

Move to the outside edge of the carousel, stay out there for two thirds of the way around at about half to 3/4 throttle, then start pinching back in and increasing to full throttle as you approach 3D.

3D is a quick little right-left-right-left complex.  Clip the inside curb with your right front and the next inside corner with your left front.  Bang on the brakes for a 90 right, turn in and nail the throttle.  Clip the apex on the right, clip the apex on the left, and let it drift out far right as you approach 4.

Now here's the killer.  This just eats up Porsches...  As you approach 4 (a left) under full power, look for the end of the concrete patch on the right.  When you reach the end, stab the brakes to set the front suspension, turn in HARD, and nail the throttle again.  Let it drift out the right edge of the track again, as you approach 5 under full throttle.

Wait until the last possible microsecond, when you think you are going into the trees, and then turn in to 5 (a left).  If you do it right, you are under full power from the turn in at four all the way to the braking point for 6.  I was shifting up from 3rd to 4th just after the exit of 5, at about 95 or so.

If you are 100 ft behind a Porsche at the entrance to 3D, you will be on his butt at the exit of 5.

(Caution: it takes a lot of cojones to go flat through 5.  I was too scared to try it when I was alone on track but always did it when I had a Porsche in my crosshairs.  It's the Red Mist or something.  Point is, you CAN go flat through 5.)

At 6 -- a long, double-jointed right -- straight line brake, turn in to the right, full throttle, let it drift out left, and STAY OUT THERE.  Stay out there until you think you are going off into the grass, and then turn in to the right again, still under full throttle.  It gets a little dicey through there, but the car STICKS!  Again, Porsches can't do this, so the ones you didn't get at 5 you'll get at 6.

At 7, straight line brake, late apex, power through, and down the front straight.

It's all a wonderful, syncopated rythym.  Once you find all the turn ins and braking points, and discover that the car really does hold the line under full power, you just get faster and faster.  It gets very busy from the Carousel to turn 6, but you can FLY through there.

I was overhauling those lowly Porsches so fast, the corner workers were flashing blue passing flags at cars ahead of me before I even got there!  I have never had that happen before. There were about three different corner stations where they flashed the blue flags for me nearly every lap.  I hardly ever had to lollygag around, waiting for slow Porsches to figure out I was back there.

At Blackhawk, our cars are magnificent.  If you are anywhere near Blackhawk Farms, give it a try.

---  Rich/old poop/94 VR4 (Rich Merritt)

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Article 2002-2004 Rich Merritt, All Rights Reserved.
Other Images 1995-2004 Bob Forrest, All Rights Reserved.