HPR Customer Appreciation Day 2017

Wednesday, December 27

The forecast for Denver was a high of 45. That would probably be at two in the afternoon. When I got up, the back yard thermometer read 13 degrees. The track opens at 10:00, drivers meeting at 10:40, hot track from 11:00 to 4:00. So I had a leisurely breakfast and hit the road at 9:15. It was still well below freezing. Once I got out of the neighborhood the roads were mostly dry.

I gassed up in Byers and was at the track by 10:30. Not a very big turnout, and I was able to snag a prime spot. In the meeting I asked about the driver count. About forty had registered, but only 28 had signed in so far. We’d start the day in slow and fast groups, with slow out first. After that, with the small car count, we’d probably have an open track.

Usually, track days are warm and I’m wearing shorts. I just put the driving suit on over my t-shirt and shorts. But it doesn’t fit over jeans. It’s cold, the asphalt is wet, there’s snow on just about everything that’s not asphalt. And I need to take my jeans off to put the driving suit on. And the rest rooms are close for the season. First world problems.

I wasn’t pressed for time for a change, as the slow group was out first. I managed to get the cameras mounted and operating, the lap timer working without drama. For some reason, I’m stubbornly sticking to my favorite camera mount, which means I need to run topless. The driving suit doesn’t fit over my sweater any better than over jeans, so I ended up running the first session with my jacket over the suit. It was a bit chilly.

David Green and I parked next to each other in the paddock. After each session, Dave would complain he was too hot in the car. I suggested he could cure that by taking his top off. He declined.

Today was the first day anybody has gotten to run on the new asphalt. They repaved big sections of the track. When the track was first built, there was some difficulty getting the compound of asphalt they wanted. In October, they milled almost all the turns and all the crossovers for the various track configurations. They also mudjacked the curbs to account for the thicker asphalt.

The new asphalt is polymerized. The addition of the polymer helps the asphalt resist the high shear forces present in racing that normal streets and highways don’t experience. As a result of this new pavement, it is expected that we’ll see reduced tire wear, better traction, and quicker lap times.

We wouldn’t see any personal bests today, though. The slow group was out while we were getting ready. The usual sound is heavy on motors but today was more about squealing tires. Pretty much everyone’s tires would be singing as much as mine always do.

Today’s unusual car: 1978 Ford Fairmont

A track that hasn’t been run on is called “green”. I will likely never drive on a track as green as this. There was absolutely no rubber down. As the day went on, I could begin to see the racing line start to appear, subtly. It seemed pretty slippery. I don’t know how much of that was the cold and how much was the new asphalt. I went four off once and several times badly missed apexes due to braking problems (the brakes worked fine – the tires struggled). By the end of the day, there were a few skid marks that were definitely mine.

I ran three sessions, thirty four timed laps plus three out laps. Dave ran two sessions and said he was out of gas. I bragged that I could run four sessions without running out. It’s a good thing I didn’t try to run any more than I did. When I got to the gas station in Byers on the way home, the gas gauge read empty. The gas tank holds ten gallons. I pumped 9.8 gallons.

I think the repaving job was a success. There is only one rough spot, a large patch on drivers left as you’re exiting the track. Other than that, it’s billiard table smooth. Only time will tell if it’s actually faster now, but I certainly appreciate having access to one of the best maintained tracks in the country.

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