DE Crier Report: DE Hooks a New Fish and Father Time Goes Electric!

NER Driver Education Ground School at Palmer Motorsports Park on April 23rd


Well, the weather sucked and that scared a few people away – HAH! – they lost out
on a really good event! NER’s Driver Education team held the annual “Ground
School” event – again at Palmer Motorsports Park – on Sunday April 23 rd . The
thinking behind this is simple: we know there are folks out there who haven’t been
to a DE event but might be lured in. So we chum the waters with some free food,
put up a presentation with some racy pictures and then turn them loose (well, not
really – there is an instructor in the car and they are parade laps) on the track. And
voila! They are hooked and start to sign up for events.

There were 45-50 interested students and 30 or so instructors/regulars to guide
them through the day. And despite the weather all of the “students” I talked to
reported a fine time and an interest in actually signing up for a DE. I rode in the
passenger seat of a 2006 Cayman S (I felt right at home, of course) piloted by
JoseAlberto Betances. Very nice fellow, originally from the Bronx (we didn’t
discuss baseball) who said he was new to driving a manual but acquitted himself
very well and did a good job of learning the racing line in the 5 or 6 laps we did.
We had time to talk about tires and the minor mods he might make to his car
before he went to a DE (brake fluid and pads). I encouraged him to sign up early
for Thompson since it might sell out for novices but not to miss Watkins Glen. I
think we landed that one!

While the primary bait on the hook is the driving, let’s also note the strong social
attraction of the DE events. There is a lot of time at a DE event for making new
friends – people with similar hobbies and similar cars are pretty easy to get to
know! – plus there are the beer/wine/dinner socials when the track goes cold. It
was great to see my many friends after a winter of no driving events.

Thanks are due to many for putting on a well organized event and let’s start with
Track Chair Charlie Kenney who put the whole thing together. Chief Instructor
Dave Berman did yeoman duty in herding cats and matching up students and
instructors. Stan Corbett did his usual registration chores (and reports that he
already has 4 new fish in the net). Ed Mansing was responsible for the nicely done
powerpoint. Dennis Mascetta was there to represent North Country Region and we had 5 NER Board members in attendance.

There were a lot of presenters who did a great job and they won’t mind that I don’t list them all. But let’s thank the food providers. David Peterman (who is now competing against my teammate
Nick Shanny in SRO GT4 America racing – sorry David but I have to root for
Nick) donated a ton of delicious Panera pastries and HMS Motorsports provided
pizza (and Cody also presented and brought some merch for display and sale).
And finally thanks to Al Sandy and Palmer Motorsports Park for hosting.
And speaking of reacquainting with friends, I had noticed that Aaron Walker, a
long time autocross buddy who lives near me, was signed up to go. (Let’s put in a
plug for autocross – a great way to learn your car’s limits before you head to the
race track.) I invited myself to ride with him in his Rivian pickup. I got to drive it
home. Wow. I understand that its 115mph speed limiter hurts its quarter mile time.
Think about that! Aaron points out that if he uses it to tow his GT3 to the track it
might actually be able to beat it. Very impressive and lots of fancy tech as well
(but let’s not talk about the range issues – there would be a lot of downtime towing
to Watkins Glen). I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

– Courtesy: Father Time AKA Bill Seymour