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From digest.v7.n167 Mon Aug 25 14:44:07 1997
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 13:46:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: <All> Mt. Tremblant Driver School - Long

Bimmers Across the Border '97 was a joint production of the BMW CCA Boston Chapter and of the BMW Club of Canada. This Driver School and Club Race event was held August 16-17 at Mont Tremblant, in the Laurentian Mountains near Montreal. There are lots of nice places to stay and great places to eat in this area, which sure makes a change from some of the Driver School locales.

I'm in Indiana, so wouldn't normally go so far afield for a school, but Putnam Park in August got cancelled, so my wife and I decided what the hell, let's just take a week's vacation in Canada, and I'd attend the Driver School. Drove just over 2000 miles total in the 9 days we were gone.

"Le Circuit Mont Tremblant" is located in a ski and lake resort area a couple of hours north of Montreal. Somehow they've managed to nestle this picturesque 2.65 mile track with its 14 turns among two lakes, two villages and the local mountains. There's lots of elevation change, and in fact it's hard to see very much of the track from any one vantage point. Until about the late 1960's, the track - also known as St. Jovite after the larger town down the road - was used for Formula 1, hard to believe by today's F1 standards. Only the control tower and a few other facilities remain from that era. The Jim Russell school uses this track regularly, but otherwise I think only club events take place there now.

The track is in succession both tight and fast, with Armco or tire barriers between you and the trees and almost no open runoff areas. Serious errors could prove very costly. Here's how a flying lap looks to me, in an otherwise mostly stock 96 M3 running track tires. Your milesper -hourage may vary.

Coming down the roughly 1/4 mile pit straight at maybe 100 mph in 4th you go over a slight rise holding the middle or slightly left side of the track, then brake moderately diving downhill toward the turn-in point of the fast righthand Turn 1. Turn right near the outside edge and sweep uphill to the right over a blind crest and through turns 2 and 3 (Le Diable - The Devil). These first three turns are really one long continuous 4th gear sweep, but due to the elevation changes it does take a few laps to become comfortable with that fact.

Tracking out of turn 3 toward the left side you go steeply downhill, brake hard and downshift to 3rd for turn 4, the first of the Esses. This is a 90 degree decreasing radius righthander, taken as a throwaway to position yourself for turn 5, the critical second turn of the Esses since it launches you into a fast section. Go into 4 slow wide and late, making a short straight of the connection to 5. Brake just before 5, then turn in left and late apex, coming out hard on the gas in third, tracking all the way out to the curb on the outside right, changing up to 4th as you go. There's short straight heading toward turn 6, another fast open 4th gear left hander.

Tracking out of turn 6 on the right hand edge of the road there's a really exciting frost heave right where you want to start crossing back to the left to set up for the next turn. You hit it at high speed while the car is heeled all the way over. The stock M3 suspension swallows this pretty well, but you do learn to avoid the upset by not going all the way over to the right.

Having survived the frost heave, you track on over to the left and sweep fast right into turn 7, emerging on a straight a little more than 1/4 mile long with a slight left kink, leading to turn 8. Brake late as you dare and very hard, downshifting to 3rd before turn 8, a 170 degree righthander. There's an off-camber patch in the road that makes you pull strongly to the left under braking, in fact the first time you think there's something wrong with the car. If you brake too late it's tire wall time... The initial prudent line around turn 8 involves a double apex, but experience allows a wide spiral in to a much faster single late apex, then exiting very hard on the gas in 3rd gear out to the left track edge.

Now you're on the long half mile back straight, changing up into 4th and coming up the hill to the minimal turn 9, which is really just a slight left kink but also the blind crest of the hill. I'm at about 100 mph here and can veer left before or while passing over the crest. I would guess that seriously fast cars might have to handle this more diligently as they go light over the hump. Once over the hump the rest of the straight leading downhill to turn 10 comes into view, and you speed downhill staying left.

Check the permanent markers and brake hard from about 115 mph (who has time to look?), downchanging to 3rd, turn in right and late apex turn 10. Don't allow the car to track out more than about half way left, because you need to get back all the way right, brake, and pitch the car left into turn 11 (The Gulch), late apex it and then hard on the gas coming out in 3rd up a short steep hill. Under the tire bridge at the top of the hill, dab the brakes and turn sharply left into turn 12 (Bridge Turn), late apexing just before a little white patch in the pavement.

Track out out of turn 12 right toward the inside of turn 13 (The Kink), drift left along a short connecting straight, under the pedestrian bridge and toward turn 14 (Namerow). I hit the rev limiter in 3rd (85-90 mph) here but there's not really time to change up into 4th and then down again for turn 14. You approach the Namerow righthand hairpin going uphill, but then it crests a little before the turn, so you may need to manage your braking carefully as the car goes light. (One of the club racers did a straight-on here into the tire wall.)

Brake hard and late, turn right up along the fence on the left, and late apex out on to the pit straight, tracking out downhill to the curb on the left. In my M3 Namerow works better in 3rd gear, you can just torque around it and use the downhill exit to slingshot out. Cars with lower torque or higher gearing use 2nd instead, but in the M3 that means an awkward change up to 3rd as you exit, and there's no benefit.

Now you're back on the start/finish straight, which has a significant left kink (Paddock Bend, not numbered) just past the pit entrance, which blocks your view. If you're setting up to pass anyone you need to get out to the right side before this kink so that you can get by on the right along the rest of the rather short straight, otherwise you'll find yourself way off to the right and off line coming into the fast turn 1.

And then on around again. What a blast!

The lead club racers were apparently lapping around 2'02". An instructor I timed in his Porsche Carrera 4 was about 2'06" and said he hit 240 kph (150 mph) before braking for turn 10. Maybe. I was very happy to do 2'13" whan I got a clear lap, figure I could - perhaps - shave another 2-3 seconds off that with enough practice.

Got signed off to solo after the first day, that was great. Corded one of my A032R front tires, that wasn't so great...time for camber plates.

Incidents were few. One of the sons of my instructor left braking a bit too late going into Turn 8 right in front of me (and no I wasn't riding his bumper!), took his 325ix into the tire wall for some minor sheet metal damage. My instructor's 535i broke off both its front sway bar mounts while we were out on the track, which made the handling decidedly weird, one front tire rolled right over on to the sidewall. Rather more seriously, a Boston Chapter member curbed his black 328is, bending both wheels on one side and inflicting some suspension damage. He found out that it gets really complicated arranging to get yourself and your car home when you're 500 miles away in another country.

Organization was pretty good, but not in the category of excellence I've seen at Mid-Ohio (Buckeye Chapter), Putnam Park (Bluegrass or Hoosier) or Gingerman (Windy City). Some suggestions: much clearer timetables needed; don't change run group terminology from 1/2/3 to Yellow/Blue/Green halfway through the documentation; vinyl car numbers work much better than flapping sheets of paper and duct tape; morning registration was rushed, an evening session the day before would have helped; tech/clean-tech was non-existent; no student/instructor feedback or suggestion system (here's mine...)

On the plus side: accomodations were excellent and well organized; nice dinner up on the mountain; great skidpad/Auto-X exercises both days; Derek Williams is a terrific classroom instructor, the only one I've had at the same elevated level as Ed Narzano; good track instructors too (thanks Stan Jackson!); and a ton of other things were done right so you don't even notice them.

Much fun was had by all. My thanks to the organizers and Boston Chapter people, nice bunch. Despite my suggestions for improvement, I can't even imagine the effort that goes into organizing one of these schools, and as a student I'm very grateful indeed.

Neil <>
96 M3 now with a lot more miles than last month

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