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From digest.v7.n508 Wed Oct 29 01:01:10 1997
From: Steven J Bernstein <>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 22:09:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: <WOB> CandyAss Track Report: The Turtle Crosses the Bridge (long)

Well, I finally did it! I had the distinct pleasure of joining the New York Chapter of the BMW CCA for the Bob Hope Invitational Classic Driver's School at the historic Bridgehampton Race Circuit this past weekend. Since I have gotten much friendlier with the members of the New York Chapter since the infamous Harmon rollover incident last spring (famous flame war, remember?), I finally had the chance to run with them on their "home" track. I've done a lot of schools, but never here in New York. In our last episode, Steve Musolino (school chair) and Walter Selva (former chief instructor), via their Psychic Advisor, Jeff Tarr, invited me to come to a New York Chapter school at the Bridge for some "personal" instruction. This was last year. Well, once we all stopped beating our chests, I had the opportunity to mend fences with these gentlemen (in fact have been lucky to have had Walter as an instructor a couple times). Moose tolerates me now, but Tarr still hates me (but he's just following someone else's lead 8^)). But anyway, I was very lucky to have gotten to put the matter behind us and drive this historic track before it closes...

Here were my impressions:

  1. I am a big dummy. A complete big dummy. I was talked out of doing the Bridge until now because of the condition of the road surface of the track (hence the nickname "candyass"). What a dummy. I've been kicking myself since Saturday for that dumb dumb thinking. Clearly, if it was THAT dangerous, they wouldn't let anyone use it. Gawd, I'm dumb.
  2. Walter Selva is tops, as an instructor AND as a driver. We had an absolute blast in the rain on Saturday. After I became comfortable with the course, I started to push The Turtle to the limits of adhesion. Sliding comfortably through the lightbulb (10/11) was a thrill that can only be duplicated when the ice racing season is in full swing. Walter told me he felt comfortable sliding with me as a passenger, which is a BIG compliment to me. Thanks, Walter! Also, controlled slides are an effective means to remove unwanted pests from one's rear bumper in the turns. I guess all these years on the ice is starting to pay off! Unfortunately, Walter has a life and could only instruct on Saturday.
  3. Fortunately, I was able to arrange for Bill Shook (sp?) as my instructor on Sunday. He is a awesome instructor. Car control, car control, car control. This guy is Mr. Skid Pad for the NCC chapter, and for obvious reasons! One of his fortes is in his ability to sense your lack of comfort with a turn sooner than you do, and help you correct it. He's VERY good, and we had some excellent sessions. I was SO much smoother by the end of the day, I was very happy with myself. I only wish I could get back to track soon to continue practicing what I learned from these two!
  4. A dear friend of mine lost his car in the Friday session (go read about it on the E30 M3 digest if you must). He had just made some major upgrades (with the help of BMW gurus Ben and Filippo, and non-gurus like myself and others), and was excited about trying out his new setup at the Bridge. Unfortunately, he got hot into Turn 9 - one thing led to another, and he rolled. Driver error - and he knew it. The good news is he walked away. The bad news is the car is toast. But I am only mentioning this because of his attitude, which should be commended. Although he was feeling a bit sorry about the whole sad affair, he went home that day, and without missing a beat, brought his backup car the next day. He got back up "on the horse" and didn't let this mishap dissuade him from driving! He drove the piss out of it and had two (of three) excellent driving days. You kids with E30 M3s owe him - the value on your cars just went up! 8^)
  5. A point about upgrades: There were a number of new students in this school, which is always heartening to see. But I saw some of them fall victim to their own egos. It's the same old story over and over again (not just with novices, mind you). They haven't come close to exploring the limits of their current cars, and they think that they MUST upgrade their cars NOW. I feel they are getting very bad advice. They should learn the cars that Munich shipped to them before they worry about upgrades. Then they can make upgrades, one by one, and appreciate them fully. There is a LOT to learn about driving without the need to upgrade a car well beyond the capabilities of the driver. I am CERTAIN that I get more out of the school than they ever will since I'm learning car control. They're just going fast on the straights, and the upgrades help their car forgive their mistakes. In the words of a famous driving school coordinator, "they have no incentive to learn how to drive". 8^) Some of these racerboys with their new E36 M3s are laughable - the car's computer does their thinking for them. Wow. Really exciting. Not.
  6. While I have attended many schools at NHIS and Lime Rock, the Bridge easily propelled itself to being my FAVORITE track. I think anyone who has done all three of these tracks will agree. I hope to do Summit Point (and/or Watkins Glen) next year, but I'm already toning down my expectations since I am afraid I'll be a bit disappointed when compared to the Bridge. Did I mention I'm a dummy for waiting so long? 8^)
  7. The Turtle ran like stink. Filippo is right - these eta cars are broken in after 200000 miles! The Turtle has 287k now (engine never opened) and held up beautifully in the school. I was even able to tow Maneesh's car with it after his head gasket blew up on the way home!! And the Turtle is ready for that NYC Taxicab Autocross any time you're ready. Go Turtle!!! 8^)

One more thing: In response to the driving school passing controversy in recent digests, I think most responses were right on the money. I won't "me too" on that. But I will say that we are *ALL* obligated to make sure that poor passing etiquette is communicated to (a) your instructor, (b) the classroom instructor, and (c) the driving school coordinator (safety steward), in that order. In the past, I have spoken up in classroom sessions, identifying the car and sparing the identity of the driver. They know who they are. At a recent school (at a different track), I even spoke to the Chief Instructor because the passing etiquette was atrocious in EVERY run group (I was flagging and had a great vantage point). I don't believe the situation improved after I spoke to him, and I was very disappointed by that school (which in the past had been superb). Poor passing etiquette can severely diminish the enjoyment of other participants, make the school terribly dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. In fact, in that school, one frustrated driver was stupid enough to get three-wide on the straight and was almost hit by another car. I will admit when one approaches their friends' cars, one is motivated to try to race with them. But anyone who drives with me knows that I am particularly cognizant of my mirrors, a characteristic I was fortunate enough to learn from hundreds of hours of Autobahn driving.

A big thanks to the folks who ran this school!! I know they all worked very hard to make the event a success. My only regret is that I didn't take advantage of these events sooner, since I may not have too many opportunities to drive the Bridge before it closes.

Keep the shiny side up, y'all,

_at__at__at_---------------------Mobilitaet ist Leben-----------------------_at__at__at_

| Steven J. Bernstein                E-mail: |
| P.O. Box 11242 WWW: | | Hauppauge, NY 11788 USA __________ VOICE: +1 718 740 7411 |

_at__at__at_-------------------------(oo OO oo)---------------------------_at__at__at_

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