Updated: Dec 29, 2022
If, like me, you live in Minnesota and drive your car to the track, the track season ends in October. And if your track car is not tucked away in storage, it is probably covered in snow like mine was a few weeks ago.
So, what to do in the enforced off season?
Reflect. Take time to think about what went well and where you can improve. Did you meet the goals you set for yourself? Did your car perform as expected? What setbacks did you encounter? If you take notes, review, and organize them. My handwriting is atrocious, so this is a good time for me to attempt to decipher my notes and if I am ambitious, type them up. Most important, did you enjoy yourself?
Explore. Read that book your instructor recommended about driving skills. Learn about car set up. Find the definitive answer to the question “what is the correct tire pressure to start and end a session at?” Gain a better understanding of the causes of over and understeer and how to respond when they happen. Watch video from a track you want to drive in 2023. Okay, maybe you won’t find the answer to the tire pressure question. There is a lot of good (and not so good) information available. When snow is on the ground it is an opportunity to spend time learning.
Now that I have suggested finding resources to learn more, it would probably be helpful to identify resources that fall into the category of “good information.” My promise to you is that over the next few months, links to good information will appear in this column and also on the North Star BMW website. If you have something you want to submit for inclusion, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Try Something New. Take advantage of the “time off” to try something new. Last year, my daughter and I did a Time Speed Distance Rally through the Sports Car Club of America, and it was a hoot. I drove and Katie navigated. Neither of us completely understood how to use the Rabbit Rally App and we had fun with the directions, such as me trying to figure out how far “a bit” is according to Katie. Seriously, it was a great experience and experiment in communication and working together.
Try SIM racing or go-karting. Winter driving clinics and ice driving events are always fun, and you learn a ton about car control in a controlled environment. Sign up for the North Star BMW Winter Driving School scheduled for February 25th at Dakota County Technical College, or one of the Audi Club Glacier Lakes ice driving events scheduled for January 14th, January 29th, February 11th, and February 26th on Cynthia Lake in Prior Lake. Drivers aged 15-21 should sign up for one of the Tire Rack Street Survival Clinics that North Star BMW is hosting on February 4th and March 11th, also at Dakota County Technical College.
Plan. Start planning for 2023. Some organizers have already announced their 2023 schedule. After January 1st, look for information about the 2023 events organized by North Star BMW and Audi Glacier Lakes.
Winter is a good time to think about and research any upgrades you want to make to your car. After my last track event in October, I promised myself I would resist making changes to my car and that in 2023 I would limit my spending to consumable items, such as brake pads, rotors, and tires. I kept that promise for all of one week before I started looking at suspension upgrades. And then on a trip to Seattle in November I spent an hour at a motorsports store discussing and trying out different seating options, helmets, and shoes. I have purchased an upgraded charge pipe, which is a known failure point for BMW’s N55 motor. Although I might stop by a fabricator to talk about a cage or roll bar, restraint is still a goal.
I hope you all have a great end to 2022 and I look forward to seeing you on track in 2023.