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Road America Report - Long
Road America Quattro Club Safety Seminar Oct. 13-14
The Quattro Club's Safety Seminar at Road America is now history.
There were 118 entrants, and everyone was kept quite busy, with
four different run groups. We had some really fantastic instruction,
and a chance to try it out on one of the great road courses. People
came in from all over the country, driving in from the east and west
coasts. A special guest was Freddie K., who is a former winner of
the Paris-Dekar, driving coach to Michelle Mouton, and many time
Formula V european champion. He now works for Audi and teaches
at their Zeefield, Austria driving school events, which the quattro
Scott Monkry and I flew from the west coast, meeting in O'hare, where
Robert Dupree picked us up. We had plenty of adventure as we
often lapsed into being drivers / talkers and thus no navigator.
But we always got were we needed to be, including going to view the
remains of Henry Joys crashed rally car. The Pheonix that was rising
from the pile of parts that was a car will race this weekend at
the lake Superior Rally in Michigan. The roll cage was hardly bent,
and it was easy to see what a safe car Murray built. Roll bars are
We caravaned north with the Great lake chapter group on Sunday morning,
and Robert managed to slip in as a late entrant. We had a mixture of
track orientation, classroom, and exercises the first day. I really
enjoyed the exercises, but was somewhat tentative on the track.
The second was schedule to be mostly track lapping. I drove most of
monday without an instructor, and needed a few hints so I twisted
Scott J's (PDQ) arm to take a ride with me. He quickly identified
about four sins for me to work on. (Mostly turn-in and apex). In later
visits to the track I put these things to work, constantly improving.
During the afternnon, I learned that Freddie was going to be teaching
some drills his way, to some of the instructors and future instructors.
Since I will be organizing a west coast event next year, I jumped at
the chance. We did different forms of the lane toss, skidpad, and
slalom. Freddie is the equivalent of a golf or tennis pro, except
for the car. He pushed us to the point of being almost out of control,
but having to learn to control the car. We had to learn fast, things
that really make a difference.
Everyone who learned Freddies skidpad methods and could put them into action
gained 10 mph in the long flat sweeper known as the carrousel. Much more
understeer with modulation of the wheel and the gas were the ticket. He taught
us to increase the steering input as understeer started, then unwind it and
add more throttle input. Until then, I had been holding the car steady and
letting it take a comfortable angle of slip. Aterwards I attacked the
corner, taking the last half flat, slightly sideways, and much faster, coming
up to the dreaded kink much faster than I had ever seen entry to it before!
Soon I was driving much deeper into corners, threshold braking, and
carrying my speed through to the next straight.
The lane toss was not a multi-choice, reaction time exercise. It was a
car control exercise. Fixed lanes, about three car lengths to change
over, and a 55 mph entry speed. Without correct technique you spin
every time. With correct technique, it looks very easy.
As Bob and I were leaving to get me to the airport, Freddie had some
guys in hot cars doing slalom with short choppy turns and gassing it
on the short "straight" between corners. It looked very fast, and much
different from the technique we were taught the day before, where
steady speed and fluid movements were being taught. I wished I could
try that too, but it leaves something for next time.
I hope that we get more chances for one-on-one with Freddie, as he is
a truely great instructor. I know he had lots of discussion with the
club officers, so I expect good things to follow. I hope no one take
any of this as saying the current crop of instructors or the techniques
are bad. They were good and useful. Freddies methods seem even
better and more natural to me. I prefer them, and I think they teach car
control and safety even more effectively. I hope they are adopted.
Most of all I had a great time, meeting a ton of people, enjoying
the marvelous hospitality and learning how to drive better, and safer.