Monday, September 15, 2008

Ferrari Track Day #3

Second Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo Ferrari Track day. That’s a mouthful, try saying that five times fast. Better yet, try it after an absolutely beautiful day of driving at the track. It is a good bet today was my last track day with the 355. A week or so ago I called Dad and told him I was planning on offering the car for sale on the 16th of this month and decide if he wanted it. I took him about 5 seconds. I am really glad the car is going to Dad. He will have a great time with it and be a great next steward for the car. When I told him I was doing another track day he told me to drive slow, be gentle with the brakes and not bring the RPMs over 4000.

To make the day interesting and to put less strain on the 355 I decided to bring the 911 and drive it for half the sessions. My first session in the Ferrari was so bad that I apologized to Tony (my driving instructor) for my crummy lines, clumsy foot work, and general incompetence. My second session was much better. I drove the car well, but even better I learned a lot and became much more comfortable with some sections of the track that had caused me trouble in the past. As always the Ferrari was fast, smooth, and graceful around the track.

The Tonkin Ferrari track day started with a parade lap and as Barb had brought the 911 out she and I took the Ferrari around the track on the parade laps. The Pro Drive folks put me in the “C” group. The group for those of us who have had enough time on the track to drive solo, thanks Pro Drive for your confidence but I still want in instructor. I had hoped to get to drive with Tony again and asked if he could ride with me. The long and short of it was I ended up in the “B” group riding with Tony. The Parade laps were fast enough to be fun and give Barb a chance to experience the track at a good clip.

For me the most interesting part of the day was the switch from the 355 to the 911. I think both Tony and I were concerned. I have never driven the 911 on the track and have had several interesting experiences with the track tires when they are cold. The car was fantastic, with one or two outrageous flaws. Which in my reckoning only add to its allure. Super balance, super grip. More grip and better balance than my 355. Yes you read that right. My 18 year old, 80,000 mile 911 felt better through the corners than my 10 year old 29,000 mile Ferrari. This has to be the corner balancing, suspension work and track tires. Now the problems, it has no power and the brakes faded after just a few laps but even with faded brakes and low power the 911 was more fun on the track than the Ferrari. I can’t believe I wrote that but it’s true. If I were doing another track day tomorrow I would bring the Porsche.

I am going to talk with the Rothsport guys about bigger sway bars and bigger brakes for the 911. Yes, I know I said I was no longer happy with the 911’s performance. I was wrong, I take it back.
I will post a video tomorrow or the next day.

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