It was a long winter but clean living prevailed, and we finally got on the track. The NER season opening DE was over Memorial Day weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park: three days of rip roaring fun for novices and veterans alike.
On Friday there was special attention paid to drivers new to DE and to the track. After a classroom session by Ed Mansing and their first on-track session, the Green and Yellow drivers (two novice run groups) were sent to a big parking lot for braking and cornering exercises. Autocross Chair Chris Ryan and his AX crew led the drivers through two sessions of exercises which included a wet skid pad. (The skid pad was left open during the day for anyone to use.) There were also classroom sessions for Advanced drivers led by Peter Tracy and Kevin Gross.
Friday saw a little mist in the morning but the day stayed dry. Not so on Saturday where the afternoon was pretty wet (great opportunity for learning!). Sunday was beautiful and the reduced turnout allowed combining run sessions so drivers could wear out their tires to their hearts’ content.
Saturday night there was a track social that featured a nice selection of your favorite beverages and a catered dinner. Thanks to Judy Mansing and Pam Mascetta for their usual fine job.
As has become the tradition for this event, there was acknowledgement each day of the purpose of Memorial Day with a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the service of their country. Stan Corbett distributed flags from American Legion Post 234 that had flown over the graves of fallen heroes.
Turnout for the event was a little disappointing and the current signup for the second NER DE at Palmer is also below normal levels. What are you folks waiting for? All those people I talked to at the Ground School, where are you? C’mon and signup! Here are the counts from Thompson…
Total attendees: 90
Green (Beginner): 17
Yellow (Novice): 13
Blue (Solo): 7
White (Intermediate): 9
Black (Advanced): 16
Red (Instructor): 28
Note that 10 attendees had never been to a DE before and an additional 10 had never driven at Thompson before. Speaking of people who had never before attended a DE, one who fit this description was Bill Miniscalco of Sudbury who came with his 2018 Boxster. Bill was having a great time and encouraged anyone who was on the fence to give it a try. I asked him what if anything surprised him and his reply was “what a wide variety of cars and levels of experience there are.” Everything from completely stock cars driven by those with no track experience to PCA club racers driving dedicated track cars. And all were very friendly and willing to help and offer advice when asked.
So thanks to co-track chairs Adam Schwartz and Charlie Kenney for running a great event and to Stan Corbett for all the work he does as Registrar (assisted by Paul Skinner and Judi Mansing). There was a bit of last minute work shuffling as the Covid took out two Chief Instructors (Dave Berman and Tom Buckingham – leaving Mike Woodward in that role). And thanks to Instructor Development Chair Matthew Wallis who is hard at work molding the more experienced drivers into instructors. Our sustainable future depends on attracting new drivers – and in order to host Green and Yellow students we must have a strong cadre of Instructors.
And speaking of moving on up, here are the promotions that occurred at this event…
Green to Yellow: Patrick Bergstedt and Benjamin Zendejas
Yellow to Blue: Ana Malone Oliver, Duan Yutong and Diou Shi
Blue to White: David Timberlake, Jeff Croteau, Ana Malone Oliver (she advanced 2 run groups at Thompson)
White to Black: Dan Zal, Bobby Jacobsen (NER Region President)
New Instructor: Michael Bodden
Finally, on a personal note, I was there on Sunday with no car – planning to drive Dave Berman’s car after his generous offer. But Dave was down with the Covid. Up stepped Bob Binder and Chris DeGrace (one of the PCA club racers!) to graciously allow me three sessions of driving. You know the saying: “It’s not just the cars, it’s the people!”