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Thoughts on Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School (and video)

Old 05-10-2018, 11:19 PM
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village idiot
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Default Thoughts on Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School (and video)

I haven't seen much here about it.

I am not the best driver in the world, but I was a bit concerned if it was worth my while having done a number of HPDE. Here are my opinions.

Bottom line/Cliff Notes:
I had a blast and definitely learned a ton. I'd say it's actually hard to not learn and have fun unless you're approaching a mid pack racer. then maybe you're a bit above it. I drive in advanced drive groups regularly and am a pretty good HPDE driver. It's fairly rare I get passed, and I had a great time.

Longer version
I own a Grand Sport, but I opted for a Z51. They just credit you about $1600 towards the Level II. GS and Z07 cost more than Z51 (a lot more). I went Z51. I'm actually glad because I had a bad run off and I didn't damage anything. If I had a splitter or side skirts, at that track I'd be paying for them and maybe more. There are big rocks all over the runoff.

It started out painfully elementary. We practiced downshifting with rev-match. I was about ready to ask for a refund. I still don't understand this exercise.

Then it quickly became "advanced." We did a lot of lead follow, but I didn't mind because it was a pretty good pace, especially for someone who hasn't driven the course. They separated us all into groups based on our speed from the first session, so no one was much slower than anyone else. The instructors just drove faster if you got faster so it was a lot like open lapping except you can't pass.

They would talk to you through the radio in your car (they have a CB type system rigged im there). It's fine, and pretty good, but Jesus fawk, it's hard to concentrate on driving while there is someone CONSTANTLY critiquing your while the exhaust is WOT.

This is probably my biggest complaint, which isn't really that big of a deal. I'm not even sure what the alternative is- maybe watch your video with you after and cut down the chatting while driving by a bit. It's a very busy and technical track so it's hard to concentrate on actually driving.

Other than that, instructors were pretty good. Some were definitely better at teaching than others- all were very knowledgeable, patient and polite. I went off once and didnt really get any good explanation but "you braked too late" Well no ****. I went home and watched video for about an hour and eventually figured it out (their map lies. Don't power between 6 and 7 if you do 6 correctly). I think this could be improved a bit more.

Track layout and surface was top notch. I really enjoyed it.



Video
Here's my video chasing a Z07 in my Z51. He had the fastest Z07 of the class and his best was about 0.10 sec faster than my best lap. A guy with a GSZ07 was about 3/4 sec faster than me. He was pretty smooth too.


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Old 05-11-2018, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post
Jesus fawk, it's hard to concentrate on driving while there is someone CONSTANTLY critiquing your while the exhaust is WOT.
I had that problem as well - with the helmut and WOT and everything to focus on I didn't hear half of what the instructor was saying. After watching the PDR which had the audio from the instructor I learned even more. Unfortunately that was after the 2 day course. They should insert some PDR video watching into the program.

Having said that - the whole experience is 10/10
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:16 AM
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I was there a week ago and every instructor told us to hold our speed between 6 and 7. Maybe they changed their instructions?
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by DWillys View Post
I was there a week ago and every instructor told us to hold our speed between 6 and 7. Maybe they changed their instructions?



(edit: to be clear, I'm not blaming them, but I do wish this was corrected)

Last edited by village idiot; 05-11-2018 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:47 AM
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Ahh. You were on the other track.
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Old 05-11-2018, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post
It started out painfully elementary. We practiced downshifting with rev-match. I was about ready to ask for a refund. I still don't understand this exercise.
I didnít realize that the downshifting exercise was really a trailbraking exercise until the next day. The exercise was to find the right amount of braking to get from X speed down to Y speed in Z distance with a single brake application, downshift and donít completely let off the brakes. I found that I tended to over-brake and reached Y speed early so I needed to be off the brakes before Z distance was reached.

They also talked about a strategy of light braking as opposed to late braking. Instead of moving braking points closer to the corner, they told me to use a consistent brake marker and use less brake.

On the track, my over braking translated to slower entry speeds and I could feel my corner speeds were slow because I wanted to get on the gas too early midcorner. My best learning moment (out of many) was when the instructor lead me into the corner and encouraged me to follow his entry speed.
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Old 05-11-2018, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CharLT View Post


I didnít realize that the downshifting exercise was really a trailbraking exercise until the next day. The exercise was to find the right amount of braking to get from X speed down to Y speed in Z distance with a single brake application, downshift and donít completely let off the brakes. I found that I tended to over-brake and reached Y speed early so I needed to be off the brakes before Z distance was reached.

They also talked about a strategy of light braking as opposed to late braking. Instead of moving braking points closer to the corner, they told me to use a consistent brake marker and use less brake.

On the track, my over braking translated to slower entry speeds and I could feel my corner speeds were slow because I wanted to get on the gas too early midcorner. My best learning moment (out of many) was when the instructor lead me into the corner and encouraged me to follow his entry speed.
Yeah, for sure. The earlier I braked, the more I dropped lap time. I'm still not sure why the hell that is, because I've always been taught to jam on the brakes trail off.
Pretty happy with my 1.59. The only two cars faster were people who had been there in a Z07 (0.1 sec) and a GS Z07 (0.7sec).
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Old 05-11-2018, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post
Yeah, for sure. The earlier I braked, the more I dropped lap time. I'm still not sure why the hell that is, because I've always been taught to jam on the brakes trail off.
Pretty happy with my 1.59. The only two cars faster were people who had been there in a Z07 (0.1 sec) and a GS Z07 (0.7sec).
Hi!
glad you had a good time overall!
if you'd like, feel free to call rick, or rico to get some feedback (and give us some too
I watched your video, and can offer some as well, if you'd like.

The radio, can sometimes fail, or get interference. i noticed your volume was quite low (on the session i watched) so not sure if we had the vol too low, or your unit was malfunctioning...for sure I'll check it out...
For anyone who has issues, we do offer an earpiece that can help with volume.


breaking 2:00 on the 2.4 track is quite good!
cheers!
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Old 05-11-2018, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by socalspringmountain View Post
Hi!
glad you had a good time overall!
if you'd like, feel free to call rick, or rico to get some feedback (and give us some too
I watched your video, and can offer some as well, if you'd like.

The radio, can sometimes fail, or get interference. i noticed your volume was quite low (on the session i watched) so not sure if we had the vol too low, or your unit was malfunctioning...for sure I'll check it out...
For anyone who has issues, we do offer an earpiece that can help with volume.


breaking 2:00 on the 2.4 track is quite good!
cheers!
Thanks, Victor. I had a blast. It was the best "track day" I've ever done. I noticed myself getting a lot more comfortable with recovering and making mid turn adjustments thanks to the big sweeping turns. That was something I wanted to work on. T1 and T2 are really great because they're fast and long, but the correct line is through the middle-ish, so you have lots of room to go wide if needed.

It was strange, I only started being able to put everything together when I started driving on my own. You really don't realize how much attention and focus is needed to drive a course until you start dividing it. Well, maybe not everyone, but I'm apparently not smart enough to handle driving and listen to someone at the same time.
I missed a lot of radio calls and really struggled with it, but I didn't hear any complaints from anyone else. It might just be me.

As far as the video, it honestly helped me a lot to go through and watch my own video on my own (now implementing it on the track was another issue). It really bothered me because it wasn't even close- I went FLYING off the track. I think I was solid 30ft into the sand. Eventually, I figured out that I was overbraking 6, so I was entering the super very slow and I could add gas for 2 seconds. When I followed my instructor through, I realized he was carrying a lot more speed. I carried a lot more speed and went WOT on exit. Well, you can't really do that and expect to stay on track.

Even when I rode with an instructor I didn't get why until I watched my videos and saw I was carrying a ton more speed through 6. My instructor told me not to add gas there, I said I did it every lap and this never happened before.

Overall, I give the program 9.5/10, and that's including everything from facility to instructors to track layout/surface. The place is just heaven. It's really impressive how wide of a skill level it caters to in one program, and so well. It's not the faster guys are just getting a refresher on basics while slower guys are learning or something. It's really an impressive program you guys put together.

Only reason it's not a 10/10 is honestly very minor nit-pick details like radio and I wish a little more time was given to breaking down what happened when something like going off the track that far/that hot happens. Very minor nit-picks. Oh, and having the sliders for lunch both days would have been great



edit: My other suggestion would be to send a "demo video" to everyone. Lots of us haven't been there before. I told a few guys there I got a video from you and they were all jealous. Maybe instead of the "heel toe" drill, do some parade laps with instructors in the vehicles to help learn the track or something. The first day of learning the track can be challenging.

Last edited by village idiot; 05-11-2018 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by socalspringmountain View Post
The radio, can sometimes fail, or get interference. i noticed your volume was quite low (on the session i watched) so not sure if we had the vol too low, or your unit was malfunctioning...for sure I'll check it out...
For anyone who has issues, we do offer an earpiece that can help with volume.
I had another driver complain about being able to hear. I told him he needed to crank it up. It's going to be loud anyway so no need to be conservative. I couldn't hear well my 1st session, so after that I just turned it way up. If I had a suggestion for the instructors, it would be to stress to the drivers beforehand to turn their radio up loud. It is very easy to miss instructions with everything new that is going on, you need the extra volume.
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post
Thanks, Victor. I had a blast. It was the best "track day" I've ever done. I noticed myself getting a lot more comfortable with recovering and making mid turn adjustments thanks to the big sweeping turns. That was something I wanted to work on. T1 and T2 are really great because they're fast and long, but the correct line is through the middle-ish, so you have lots of room to go wide if needed.

It was strange, I only started being able to put everything together when I started driving on my own. You really don't realize how much attention and focus is needed to drive a course until you start dividing it. Well, maybe not everyone, but I'm apparently not smart enough to handle driving and listen to someone at the same time.
I missed a lot of radio calls and really struggled with it, but I didn't hear any complaints from anyone else. It might just be me.

As far as the video, it honestly helped me a lot to go through and watch my own video on my own (now implementing it on the track was another issue). It really bothered me because it wasn't even close- I went FLYING off the track. I think I was solid 30ft into the sand. Eventually, I figured out that I was overbraking 6, so I was entering the super very slow and I could add gas for 2 seconds. When I followed my instructor through, I realized he was carrying a lot more speed. I carried a lot more speed and went WOT on exit. Well, you can't really do that and expect to stay on track.

Even when I rode with an instructor I didn't get why until I watched my videos and saw I was carrying a ton more speed through 6. My instructor told me not to add gas there, I said I did it every lap and this never happened before.

Overall, I give the program 9.5/10, and that's including everything from facility to instructors to track layout/surface. The place is just heaven. It's really impressive how wide of a skill level it caters to in one program, and so well. It's not the faster guys are just getting a refresher on basics while slower guys are learning or something. It's really an impressive program you guys put together.

Only reason it's not a 10/10 is honestly very minor nit-pick details like radio and I wish a little more time was given to breaking down what happened when something like going off the track that far/that hot happens. Very minor nit-picks. Oh, and having the sliders for lunch both days would have been great



edit: My other suggestion would be to send a "demo video" to everyone. Lots of us haven't been there before. I told a few guys there I got a video from you and they were all jealous. Maybe instead of the "heel toe" drill, do some parade laps with instructors in the vehicles to help learn the track or something. The first day of learning the track can be challenging.
thanks for the feedback!
I'll for sure share with the instructors and the GM here!

turn 6 is tricky...if you go too fast through there, then enter turn 7 as fast as you did, then for sure, understeer can happen...as well as an early turn in (as what i saw on the video)
the throttle through turn 6 is more for maintenance, and to allow yourself to get the car over to the left, to set up for turn 7. Kind of sacrificing the speed a little (turn 6), as that corner leads to the longest straight...but hey, come on back and we'll work on it!
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by socalspringmountain View Post
thanks for the feedback!
I'll for sure share with the instructors and the GM here!

turn 6 is tricky...if you go too fast through there, then enter turn 7 as fast as you did, then for sure, understeer can happen...as well as an early turn in (as what i saw on the video)
the throttle through turn 6 is more for maintenance, and to allow yourself to get the car over to the left, to set up for turn 7. Kind of sacrificing the speed a little (turn 6), as that corner leads to the longest straight...but hey, come on back and we'll work on it!
Oh no, I went straight the fawk off 7. Like, not even close. That's on another video somewhere.

I noticed myself turning in a bit early there and 3, too. It's amazing how good of a driver I am when I'm watching it on my computer.

Last edited by village idiot; 05-11-2018 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 05-11-2018, 05:46 PM
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Thanks for the detail. I really think that your ideas and suggestions in Post #9 are very good. And they could be very helpful to students before they get there, as well as while they are there. It could make an excellent course even better which seems like a form of "continuous improvement." I appreciate the response from Spring Mtn., too.
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Old 05-11-2018, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by AORoads View Post
Thanks for the detail. I really think that your ideas and suggestions in Post #9 are very good. And they could be very helpful to students before they get there, as well as while they are there. It could make an excellent course even better which seems like a form of "continuous improvement." I appreciate the response from Spring Mtn., too.
It's really kind of silly not to go. I think it was $1600 for two full days and more instruction than you can take in. I'm pretty sure I went through two complete sets of tires. That alone was worth the price of admission. Then add track time at a first rate facility, lunch, gas, brakes, wear and tear, included liability insurance ($8k deductible?) and a night of accommodations and it's a no brainer.

I'm pretty sure I spend about $1600 for 2 track days in consumables alone for a track day locally.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:58 AM
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by the way, what times do the instructors run on that course in a Z51 (with PTM1)?
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post


(edit: to be clear, I'm not blaming them, but I do wish this was corrected)
I was there last year and ran the same course but there wasn't a bus stop at the end of the straight. Is that new or do I just remember wrong?
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:36 PM
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This is the level 2 class? I thought it was significantly more expensive then $1,600. I have done the COS twice now as at $1,000 it's a steal. Wanting to do level 2.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TulsaVette View Post
I was there last year and ran the same course but there wasn't a bus stop at the end of the straight. Is that new or do I just remember wrong?
I was just there early last week and had a blast! The Corvette Owners School doesn't run the bus stop and carousel, instead curving around turns 8, 9, and 10:

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Old 05-16-2018, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DWS44 View Post
I was just there early last week and had a blast! The Corvette Owners School doesn't run the bus stop and carousel, instead curving around turns 8, 9, and 10:

Level 1 or Level 2?
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by village idiot View Post
Level 1 or Level 2?
I was just in the basic two-day "Corvette Owners School" program, the regular one you get when you buy a new Vette. I think Level 1 and Level 2 are the next steps up after the basic COS I was in.
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