Calabogie - AISA Academy

First day

Well, is not quite a day per say ...
Friday night we all gathered in a classroom and we've been introduced to the rules of racing, proper stance, proper braking and acceleration and most of all, the layout of the track was presented to us - the half right side of the Calabogie Motorsports track.

Second day

Started the day early in the morning with a sound check and preparing the car for track (removing all non-essential parts from the car, checking tire pressure, stiffen up the suspension, etc).

After all this was done, we got separated in 4 groups - 100, 200, 300 and 400.
The groups 400 and 300 were the first ones to run together and then the other two. I was part of group 200, number 206.

While the first groups were running on the track, we had a driver's meeting, introducing us to the rules of the day, the track configuration, places to respect and multiple tips on what to do ... or not ... in specific areas / curves of the track.
I was a little nervous but anxious on getting out on the track :).

For the first two runs of the day, we played "Follow the leader" with no passing! The groups were separated in groups of 2 cars - in front the car with the instructor and close following was the second car (without instructor), that its main job was to try and follow the lines that the first car was making.
After 15 minutes, we returned to the padlock, the instructors changed cars and the car that was following became the leader.
I have fallen in love with the track from the first lap!

Second run, we played the same game of "Follow the leader", but this time instructors were sitting in the passenger side, helping with the racing line, braking points and in what gears we should be in specific corners.
Still no passing!

After lunch, 1 passing zone was opened (the Start line straight - between corners 20 and 8).
Since most of the times I was involved in "Solo1" / "Time attack" events or lapping days with "point by passing", it got me a little nervous!
We all struggled a little to get the passing done properly and get the right amount of speed and distance between the cars before we attempt the passing on the straight.
Once I got the hang of it, I just could not have enough of it and I have to admit that I really, really got into it

The day went by with only 1 zone opened for passing and numerous flag exercises that tested our attention and reaction.
By the end of the day everyone was getting the confidence and more consistent lines.

The cherry on top of the cake was the weather ... BEAUTIFULL!
Not to warm, not too hot, sunny most of the day and even though we got scared with 1 or 2 rain drops, the track stayed hot and dry :)

A couple of videos have been added on the "Videos" page.

Third day

Well, the video camera pulled a fast one on me and run out of battery :(. Bummer, bummer, bummer!
Why? Well, I had the greatest runs in my life (so far) and had nothing to record with :(.
So, that should teach me a lesson ... bring a charger so you can charge the camera between runs.

We started the day as we ended the previous day - 1 zone to pass only and just to make sure everyone will warm up properly, we had 10 laps running with yellow flags - moderate speed with no passing.
Great call since I needed to warm up my brakes and tires anyway :).

Everything run smooth, the car worked like a ... well ... like a Honda :) - reliable, balanced, sharp, going decently fast and passing other cars with ease, lap after lap.

Things started to get more intense once I notice a black car approaching me ... a beautiful ... Dodge Viper.
Uh, the heart started to beat pretty fast, all my fears just disappeared and this idea went in my head "Let's see for how many laps I can keep him behind me :)".

I started to concentrate more on my consistency, trying with each lap to get faster trough corners and figure out lines where I could carry more momentum.
In my head I was constantly talking to myself "Smooth, smooth, smooth, BRAKE ... LIFT ... GAS, GAS, GAS ... stay calm, stay on the line ...".
The Viper had a few attempts to pass me on the straight, but because I was hitting the right spots, I was able to carry much more speed trough the corners and was never able to catch me up, not even on the straights.
That put a big smile on my face :D ... and the day has just started ...

I don't know how it happened, but for each single run we had that day (except first and last) I was ending up behind the Viper at the Start line.
Chasing that tail was my goal and this pushed me to go even faster then I realized at that moment. Before lunch, a second passing zone was opened to us (The Ridge - before corner 14 and 15) and things got hotter and faster very quick.
And that kind of doubled when the third zone for passing was introduced ( Wilson's straight - between corner 16 and 17 ).

He was pulling away on the Start line straight but I was able catching him up very fast between corner 9 and 11, basically pushing him into corner 11 (I was 200+ km/h in fifth gear).
The same was happening on the Ridge straight (uphill) but I was able to catch him on the Spoon corner (downhill), followed by a short uphill between 15 and 16 where he had to tap the brakes for corner 16 while I was able to go full throttle in 4th gear trough it, making me brake very hard before corner 17 just so I won't hit him and fighting with the car to keep it straight. Then, half throttle in third gear trough 17, 18 and 19 in one smooth circle, again almost pushing him trough each corner.
This move always positioned me right on his bumper on the far right between corners 19 and 20 (perfect spot) and I was already full on throttle a little bit before the apex of corner 20 (had to lift a couple of times because he wasn't aligned properly and I would of hit him) drafting behind him as much as possible on the Start line straight.
Then ... repeat :), trying harder and hopefully faster :)!

We both enjoyed the chase and we got so caught up in it that we started to push the boundaries of the "passing zones" by diving into corner 17 and out braking cars or pulling hard on the Start line straight pretty much diving into corner 9 out braking cars again.
I was literally bumper to bumper on his tail with less than an inch between us in the turns before straights.
I think in one of the sessions we pushed maybe a little too far because the main instructor for our groups took us aside and ... well ... we got schooled :|.
I was told to back off a little and not ride him so close and he was asked to let me pass already :).

We respected the instructor's wishes and I kept a safer distance between us and he let me pass him after the first 3 laps.
Once I passed him I was able to put 2 car lengths per lap between us.
We both had fun, shake hands after each session and he said he is amazed by my little Civic ... and congratulated me on how I was "dancing" with my car trough corners.
I'm only sorry that a language barrier was between us - I don't know French :( and he didn't know English :( (except a few words on both sides) - I'm sure we would have had a blast talking about our cars.

Things cooled down after an unfortunate incident - a beautiful Porsche GT3 end up rear first in a tire wall. This reminded us that things can go wrong pretty fast ...
Fortunately, the driver was safe and unharmed in any way, however I don't think the GT3 had the same end :(.
By the looks of it, the car was pretty much done ... or at least ... it will be one very expensive, repair.

We ended the day with 2 races where both main groups (400 with 300 and 200 with 100) were paired next to each other in a classic running race start.
My only regret is that I wasn't able to do the final run next to the Viper :(. He end up in the front at the start line while I got caught up at the rear. I tried to push hard passing pretty much anything that was in front of me, but because of only 3 passing zones I just did not had the time to catch up :(.

The day ended with a final driver's meeting where our diplomas were handed - mine was for "Time Attack" / "Solo 1" competition.