My first weekend with Mimi's Little Sister took place from March 11-13, 2016, at Motorsport Ranch Cresson. The track is located just west of Dallas / Fort Worth about 3.5 hours north of Houston. SP Racing and Slipstream Performance were providing track-side support to three other cars and I was able to join them in the paddock. Two of the cars were running in Spec Miata, so it was a great chance to see how a race weekend plays out as well as make some new friends that I hope to join on the grid in the not-too-distant future.
Friday was a windy and rainy Test & Tune session hosted by the venue. The run groups were split only by expected lap times (i.e. faster or slower than 1:21) and other participants appeared to be more seasoned racers. I did the morning sessions on dry tires with my friend, Kevin - an experience Spec Miata driver - in the passenger seat providing some coaching. I spent a lot of time with my arm out the the window pointing by the faster cars while exploring different lines looking for any available grip. In the afternoon, we switched to my new rain tires and disconnected my rear sway bar so I could continue running on the 'wet' line along the outside edge of the track. The slippery track was a bit of a confidence crusher!
Saturday was the start of the National Autosport Association (NASA) - Texas Region High Performance Driving Event (HPDE). As a beginner, I started in Level 1 which includes an instructor riding in the passenger seat. A classroom session introduces the student to the passing and point-by rules for the weekend. We quickly head to the track where I completed my first session on the rain tires before switch back to dry tires and reconnected the sway bar for the rest of the weekend.
By lunch time, I was allowed to graduate to HPDE Level 2 and my instructor offered to do some "lead - follow" exercises around the track to help me see the line and braking points.
I continued in HPDE 2 on Sunday and had more opportunities to follow faster cars that joined our run group from the other events. I didn't have any timing equipment in the car, but was able to run about a 1:29 by the end of the weekend, which was about 4 seconds off the pole lap for Spec Miata. There's certainly more time to be found - I was far too gentle in the braking zones and still lifting in corners that should have been flat out.
Here's a single lap from the weekend. Unfortunately, I mounted the camera too low for a good view of the track, so I won't be able to learn much about my line. You can see where I'm struggling to feel whether the tires have grip during braking and once where the car oversteers in the last tight corner (at 1:13).
The next NASA event is at Texas World Speedway on April 22-24. I can't wait!
Bryan Bursey, driver, founded Underbite Racing in 2015.