People often ask me, “Which track do you like best?” My answer is always the same. I enjoy the track I’m driving on at the time. I do like driving specific tracks with specific cars and personally prefer high-speed tracks with long sweeping turns. But that doesn’t keep me from enjoying what each track has to offer in its own right at the time I’m driving it. I don’t complain about the track I’m driving. I just try to figure out how to tame it.
Some tracks afford a lot of rest between turns, like Road America. Others offer a variety of speed and technicality like Road Atlanta or VIR. Others offer something unique, like Auto Club Speedway with it’s high-speed banking. Then you have Sonoma Raceway with high-speed esses, hard braking zones from fourth gear down to second gear going into Turn 11, then backed up by huge elevation changes, making it a great track for high- and low-horsepower cars. Every track has something fun to offer nearly any car and driver.
For me it’s about optimizing a car for the track and not complaining that it doesn’t fit the car I’m driving. The number of folks who tell me what they do not like about a track always surprises me. No track is perfect and no car is perfect. When you combine those two realities, you truly have to bring them together as a driver to maximize the fun factor and, of course, minimize lap times.
I like to say some tracks offer more challenges than others — and then work hard as a driver to master those challenges. Mastering may be a reach, but for me, lofty goals are more fun to chase. You can change the car, you can change how you drive and you can change your attitude about the two together, but it’s nearly pointless to complain about the track because — conditions aside — it is the one thing that doesn’t change.
Recently, while pondering my personal track checklist, I realized as a NASA driver, I get to experience nearly any track in the country at my driving level, knowing that I will be welcomed to any NASA region with great enthusiasm. I do not need to start at the bottom or explain all my experience or jump through hoops to simply enjoy driving on a new track. I just go to http://www.drivenasa.com and choose a track on the national schedule. How cool is that! If I need some guidance for a new track, I can search countless videos online and even reach out to the local forums for perspective.
One day, I want to check one new track a year off my bucket list and I will use the NASA system to accomplish that goal. I travel for work, for family and for the hell of it, too, so there are many opportunities for me to enjoy driving at new tracks. As a NASA driver, you can do the same thing.
To see about possibilities, I called a few regional directors, and they all tell me they can find me a car — they can find one for you, too — to drive in HPDE, TT and even racing if that is what I want to do. Of course there is a cost, just like owning your own car. But knowing that I, as a NASA driver, can reach out to any regional director and realize my dream of driving all the cool tracks in the country without having to tow my own car is an exciting idea to keep in the back of my head as a plan my next business trip or vacation.