Track weekend with my E60 M5
Had an incredible time this past weekend at Summit Point Motorsports Park, running their Shenandoah Circuit with TrackDaze ( http://www.trackdaze.com/ ). Ended up with 4 total hours on track with my instructor, and completed just short of 90 laps around the 2.2 mile course.
The first two sessions of day were were in a pretty steady rain, which meant we couldn’t push the cars very hard. That sounds a bit lame, but in all honesty, I think it was a good thing. The rain forced me to focus early on running proper lines, traffic management, and watching the flag stations. My lap times for these sessions were in the 2:50 - 3:00 range, and maxed out at maybe 70mph on the two longer straights.
By the third session the track was starting to dry out and I was getting familiar with the course, so the instructor started loosening the reigns. I was able to turn consistent times between 2:10 and 2:15, starting to see triple digits on the back straight, as we continued to work on the fundamentals of high performance driving.
The fourth and final session of the first day was dry, but my instructor wanted me to see how I handled traffic, both passing and being passed, so I wasn’t flat out the whole time. Did get a few sub-2:05 laps though.
At the end of the first day my instructor was very complementary, saying I picked up on the technical parts of the course very quickly, and was extremely impressed with my throttle control, saying it’s very common to see first timers, especially those in high powered cars like the M5, come out and just constantly spin the tires. We chatted for a bit longer about the advantages of driving the car every day and how I feel it had helped me prepare for the track a bit.
He did have a few things he wanted to make sure we worked on during the second day, primarily aggressiveness. Unlike your typical BMW driver I guess I wasn’t willing to tailgate and indicate that I wanted to pass the other cars as much as he liked. I know there were some nerves on my end anytime a car got close to me, so I tried not to put others in that situation even though I was one of the quicker cars in my Novice group.
Other than that the instructor commented that I wasn’t trusting the car’s brakes enough. I knew going in that the brakes were the M5’s real weakness, even with massive 14.5” rotors and pads the size of my hands, you can only slow a 4100 pound car down so quickly. So we vowed to work on some threshold braking the next day.
Day two started off with much nicer weather, so about 9:30 I was back out on track for my first session of the day. Mostly used this session to warm the car and myself up, and worked on some more traffic management. Didn’t get many chances to work on braking much as the rest of the group kind of trained up.
Second session was better as far as traffic so we started really working the car’s brakes and worked on my consistency. Ran eleven laps this session, ten were between 2:07 and 2:10 (the other was a quick 2:03 out of nowhere).
For the third session of the day I lined up early to keep myself out of traffic for a while and this was when I turned my fastest laps of the weekend. Got twelve laps this time out, eleven of them were between 2:01 and 2:03 (other a bit slower as I did catch up to and pass some of the slower cars). The video below is of my fastest lap of the weekend, a 2.01.033! Followed that up with a 2.01.6 and 2.01.5. Instructor was really praising me at this point. Laps got slower throughout the session, guess the Continentals I still have on the front of the car were getting tired :)
The last session of the day and weekend ended up a little damp as we had some more sprinkles moving through. Instructor was pretty quiet for this last set of runs saying he didn’t have much more for me with the Novice group and wanted me to just get out and have fun for my last run.
It has to be said how well the M5 held up over the weekend. No signs of overheating, brakes held strong. My greatest fear going into the weekend wasn’t that I would crash or hurt myself anyway, I was more worried that the car would have issues dealing with the constant stress.
All in all, it was really a great weekend and I can see how people easily become “addicted” to the track scene. I’ll definitely be doing more of these events in the future, whether it’s with the M5 or I end up with a track dedicated toy.