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Date: 28 Apr 1997 12:49:38 -0400
From: Shawn Collins <> Subject: Mosport Weekend Update, Day 1 <LONG>

April 26th and 27th was the BMWCC's Advanced Driving School at Mosport Park just north of Bowmanville, Ontario (Canada) -- 1 hour east of Toronto.

I'm not sure where to start! Perhaps I should just confirm that I, and my car, are fine -- no incidents for me except the aching arms, butt, and bruise on my left leg, all from hanging on!

First some lasting impressions:

First of all, forget everything you think you know. YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOUR CAR IS CAPABLE OF. You can't even begin to imagine what it's capable of. These statements don't strictly apply to BMWs -- any car can outperform even your highest expectations. It is truly unbelievable.

ti showings: There were 3 ti's. A white '95 Base, a red '96 Sport, and mine. No mods to the white or red cars. The school is divided into 3 classes: yellow (beginner), blue (intermediate) and red (advanced). I was in the yellow, the white '95 in the blue and the red '96 was an instructors car in the red group.

Mosport is VERY hard on your brakes. You may recall how I've been extolling the virtues of the relatively dust-free PBR Metal Master brake pads I had installed. For about 3 weeks I drove around in my usual "aggressive" manner with nary a trace of brake dust on my wheels. Just fabulous, I thought. Well, after 2 days on the track (total cumulative track time: 3.5 hours), my wheels were black *AND* I had 4"-6" trails of brake dust on my front fenders!!! I used up 1/8-1/4 of my pads.

As far as tires go, the Bridgestone S-02s were phenomenal -- my instructor was most impressed (Massive Pontoons, he called them). After my second day, with hotter laps, I'd come in after my cool down lap and look at the tires. Being a clock-wise course, the majority of turns right-hand, the left tires get much abuse. Tread wear was excellent, but something unusual happens: the tread blocks on the outer edge of the tire soften up and start to blend into each other -- after my very last session I could barely make out the grooves between the blocks at the edge of the tire! Once the tires cool down, the tread blocks regain their original shape. Weird.

The weekend:

I woke at 4:15 am Saturday morning and left home at 4:45. Stopped to inflate the tires to 40psi as recommended in the student manual, grabbed a coffee, and headed out for my journey to the track. I arrived at registration at 6:40 am, 5 minutes early. Perhaps I was a bit too eager! This landed me a #1 on my car (the numbers are so the safety marshals can distinguish "one damn BMW from another". I picked up my yellow window sticker, wrist band and club t-shirt and drove into the track interior.

At around 8:00 am was a general meeting & pep talk, followed by the first classroom session for the yellow group. We learned about vehicle dynamics, specifically weight transfer, braking, heel & toe (this really IS necessary for the track) and car balance. Each classroom session is about 25 minutes, with 4 sessions all weekend.

First track session:

The first session was to drive in the instructors car. The entire yellow group went out, except me! Where was my instructor! Well, there happened to be a different instructor without a student who took me out in his little '73 2002 (and here I was thinking, "I wonder what poor soul is going to be stuck in that thing!"). The purpose of this session was track familiarization. Each corner is marked with a turn-in, apex and exit cone. As I discovered over the weekend the cones are "guidelines", no car follows the same line. The ride in the 2002 was great fun, I must mention!

Interspersed amongst all the track and classroom sessions were car control events held on a section of the parking lot. The instructors would criticize you on entry/exit speeds, "setting up" your car for corners, yadda, yadda, yadda (anyone watch Seinfeld? :-). These pretty much resembled auto crosses to me, and the instructors usually didn't comment on my technique, which is a good thing I guess. The layout of the courses were great. Much more challenging than some of the auto cross courses I've done.

First REAL track session (20 minutes):

Now it was my turn. Or so I thought. My instructor showed up, apologized for being late, and thought that he was supposed to drive the first few laps (and wanted to, since he wasn't the one who took me out earlier). In the meantime, all the other students drove themselves. We did two or three laps (BTW, Mosport is 2.5 miles/4 kms, 10 turns). We pitted, switched places and he worked on seating position with me for about 5 minutes. As it turns out, my seat was pretty well set right. So onto the track we went. I can't remember much about my first session, and I'll explain why: INFORMATION OVERLOAD! All the other students have now been out for about 8-10 laps, and are starting to feel comfortable with the line. And then there's me who for all intents and purposes gets "thrown to the dogs"! I've got cars swarming up behind me wanting to pass, I'm trying to learn the line, the braking, the shifting, the exiting, watching the flag stands, learning how to let others pass...AAAARGH! I was happy when it was over. I was flustered!

Classroom (20 minutes): Cornering and vision, "where to look", "soft-focus". This is hard stuff to master.

The second time out (20 minutes):

This was better. I was able to go out with everyone at the same time (the cars get spaced about 2 turns apart), and hung back in the pack to practice everything without too much traffic. I had some problem areas. I tend enter turns a little too fast which makes it difficult to set the car up for the apex. What's interesting is that most students are driving at 3/10ths the cars ability. Even though it's frightening, there's plenty of room for correcting your mistakes -- getting you on the right line. Over the weekend I started to overcome this behaviour. By this session, I'm starting to pass some slower cars and getting into a more comfortable "groove" -- "my comfort zone". This was still an overload of information, and a bit difficult to recall.

Classroom (20 minutes): Threshold braking and "Balance".

The 3rd & 4th track sessions (20 minutes each):

My instructor worked with me on braking, balancing the car, vision and powering out of corners. I was gradually getting quicker and quicker.

Let me try to describe a lap for you...

The map_at_<> might help. There's also an aerial photo of the track_at_<>

You exit the pits into the track just before the inside of corner 1. Corner 1 is a long, sweeping, downhill (50 ft drop) 70 mph RH turn, with a blind apex -- you have to just visualize where the apex is because of an inside concrete wall. From the apex you unwind the car off to the left edge of the track, then to the right, uphill into the top of turn 2. This is the scariest corner. At the top of this hill you cannot see the track which drops 150 ft. out and to the left from under you. The turn is a double apex turn. From the top RH of the hill you veer to the left for the first apex (2a, which is also blind). From this apex you are relying 100% on faith. You start veering right (HARD), and you're certain that the car is going to fly off the right of this downhill slope

  • -- but then the car just starts to head left for the second apex (2b) -- unbelievable. Once you've hit the apex, the car just seems to want to unwind to the right towards the exit, because now you're going uphill again. The turn-in for 3 is halfway up hill, on the left. This is a shift-point from 4-3. Once again the apex is blind, you must imagine that it's there. From this apex you blast out to the left, unwinding the car and upshifting to 4th and moving over to the right at the 1 mile marker, squeezing the brakes to set the car up for 4, another LH blind apex -- but piles of fun when combined with 5. From the top of 4 you're gradually turning left and beginning a steep descent (100 ft) at about 70 mph (again feeling as if the car is going to lose it off to the right). Once you see the apex cone appear at the left of the track you aim straight for it and just floor it down the hill. You now have about 30 feet to brake from 90 mph down to 40 mph, downshifting to 3rd, hard right into 5a, uphill (blind, of course!) onto this "table" which takes you over to the left, downshift from 3-2, hard right (5b) and just floor it up into 5c and the back straight. Turn 6 and 7 are negligible in a car like ours -- the line doesn't really matter because we aren't going fast enough. You're picking up almost 300ft of elevation here, so the car feels pretty anemic. Upshift 2-3-4 in the back straight nets you 100 mph (328s saw 115 mph) by the entrance to 8, where you must knock off about 30 mph before you begin turning right. The turn scrubs off another 10 mph, you're at the right of the track approaching 9, hard on the brakes, downshift 4-3, hard left into 9, power out up the left of the track and then brake to setup for 10. A hard right into 10, unwinding to the left, and upshift to 4th on the pit straight (80 mph) takes you back into turn 1.

The last track session: Ride in the instructor's car.

The speeds I quoted above were mine. My own track experience was exciting, but also frightening. I had NO IDEA what I was about to experience.

My instructor drives a relatively stock E30 M3. Nice car. We start driving around the course somewhat faster than what I've been doing myself. I'm hanging on and having a great time. He then says to me "Does that feel about as fast as you were going?" I say, "faster, I think". He says, "Well, how 'bout we take it up to the next level?" I'm thinking to myself, "What next level? How could there be another level?"


Sorry, but there's no other way to put it.

I can't express this in words, but hopefully at some point you'll all get to experience what I did: unbelievable rates of speed through corners, feeling in every corner as if you're doomed, drifting everywhere, the instructor "sawing" at the wheel in every corner, "searching for traction," as he puts it. I almost ripped his door handle off. It was truly awesome. A 911 right in front of us got two wheels off the track at the top right of turn 4, started downhill, and did about 5 360-degree spins -- huge hunks of grass (yes, grass) flying everywhere -- and he ALMOST missed the wall, but not quite. There was some minor damage to the front left of the car. Most interesting were 3 cars: several '94 Canadian/Euro M3 (283 hp), a Dech Mustang, and a 911 Turbo. Talk about standing still on the back straight. We were doing 120 mph and just literally dusted by all these cars.

I went home, and fell asleep at 8.

Day 2 to follow...


'95 318ti | Jet Black, partial M Technic |

Sport | M Contour, S-02, K&N, PBR |

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