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NEQ Winter Driving School Report (Loooong)
I finally attended my first NEQ driving event after literally years
of prodding form the likes of Paul Royal and Glen Powell. I had no
problem selling the idea to my wife, my only regret is that she
didn't attend. (She promises to next year..)
The school"started with a Saturday morning class room session at
the Red Coach Inn in Franconia, New Hampshire, with introductions
of the NEQ personnel including eventmeister Paul Royal, Steve Early,
Tom Cicelsa, and others (my appologies for not getting all of the
After the "formal" introductions, Tim O'Neil took over the class of
26 students, and gave a humerous but also thought-provoking presentation
on winter driving techniques, the dynamics of understeer, oversteer
etc, and the importance of only doing one thing at a time, ie braking,
During the presentation, we were broken in to 4 groups of about 7 people
each. Alot of NEQ volunteers showed up to act as instructors, resulting
a ratio of about 1 instructor to every 4-5 students.
After about 1.5 hours of classroom discussions, we drove about 15
north to Littleton, to Tim's drivers course. Conditions on the skid pad
were a few inches of new wet snow onto of packed snow. This eventually
to ice. Temps were about 35-40 degrees F. The 4 groups were then
between a circular skidpad, and braking course, and an obstacle
course. The instructors drove the students vehicles (CQs, 90Qs, 90s,
Eagle Talons, Mazda 323, Volvo 940, and Jeep Grand Cherokee) around the
skidpad first, demonstrating technique for handling understeer and
situations. The next time, the students were driving with the
in the passenger seat. Between turns, we were encouraged to sit in
students vehicles as passengers and watch and learn. As it turned out,
did teach me alot of the importance of being smooth behind the steering
(Thanks Bonnie - Mr Royal's S.O.)
During the breaks, we grabbed lunch and snacks from the spread set up by
Tim's wife Holly in the Trailer by the skidpad. We next moved to a
and exercised braking for distance, braking and turning for object
I kept "cone-boy" Mark Besso busy on the avoidance on a few runs when I
turned off the ABS...
Finally we moved to the obstacle avoidance course which consisted of a
hill section, at tight chicane, and then another winding course through
We left Littleton around 4:00 PM (That's 16:00 for some of you non
returned to the Hotel. Later we met in the lounge prior to going to the
"Dutch Treat" restaraunt, were we were joined by Stott Hare.
The next morning we were greeted by rain and temperatures in the 40s.
After a brief instruction session, we returned to the course in
for a bit more skidpad work (I needed more help with controlling
Due to the changes in weather and course conditions, the obstacle course
to the former Braking area. We were allowed to drive on our own, or with
if we thought that we needed one. If we didn't have an instructor
stationed on the course (and in the rain) would comment on our technique
provide recommendations, and encouragement. Carol Blackwood kept smiling
though she spent alot of time standing in the rain and instructing
The day ended with first the students, then the instructors taking timed
runs on a
course which included half the skidpad, a hairpin turn onto the obstacle
and a return which included part of the skidpad. Which led to some
finishes, Paul (sideways) Sherry in the Jeep, with me as a passenger
I also rode as a pasenger with Bob Davis in his TSD prepared 4kQ...
Bonnie' smooth driving technique that I observed the previous day paid
one of the fastest student runs of the day.
The best time of the day was by instructor Wendy Weintraub in her
equipped A4. Paul had the fastest non-studded time.
Needless to say, I had a great time, and want to publicly thank Paul
Royal, Tim and
Holly O'Neil, the NEQ instructors. I look forward to attending
the class again next year, and highly recommend it to everyone,
regardless of skill.
Now if the weather will just cooperate and I can find an empty parking
to work on controlling oversteer...