After having such a great time at the Quattro club Thunderhill event, I'm looking for more events to enjoy. I have been thinking one-day events would be easier on the budget and the family.
What are the primary differences between a Q-club event, a NASA HPDE, and the Thunderhill Street School. I know there are other options too, so I would be interested in those as well.
My main concern would be safety, quality of instruction, and time/congestion on the track
Thanks for any opinions you can offer
01-24-2001, 11:44 AM
NASA HPDEs (at least in Northern California) tend to be somewhat less organized than QCUSA events and more crowded, but the price is low and fun factor can be high. If you go only one day, the track is generally more open on Sundays. You'll see a wide mix of car types and can also see race groups in between. IMO, these are o.k. for novices but are better once you have a bit more experience.
Steve S can comment on the THill Street School. My impression is that it is much more structured than an HPDE, so might be better for a newcomer.
I'd also recommend Tracquest (www.tracquest.net), more expensive, but excellent instruction and lots of track time. Lots of Porsches, but many Audis show up too.
Finally, for cheap safe fun, try autocrossing ("Solo2"). Though I like the track much better, autocrossing is still a nice event to mix in in between, and somewhat complements what you are learning on the track. The main drawback is that you are only getting a few minutes of actual driving. No formal instruction, but you can surely grab somebody to ride along and help you out.
01-24-2001, 12:29 PM
Q-Club is largely aimed at the newbie to the intermediate level driver. Though now that they have standardized with a "C" group, that group gets more track time vs. exercise/classroom time. If you are an advanced driver, you will get a reasonable amount of on-track time, but if you want "advanced" instruction, it may not be your best bet (don't get me wrong there are a number of great Q-Club instructors, but it can be hit or miss that you are assigned to one that is experienced in instructing advanced drivers).
SCCA HPDE is not a bad choice. The advantage is that you'll likely get an instructor that has racing experience and can provide you that insight, but the downside is it's highly likely that they've never seen the inside of a newer Audi before. I've found the quality of instruction varies.
NASA is a controversial one. They have a reputation of being loose on rule enforcing and crowded. Quality of instruction varies, similar to SCCA. NASA would probably be a good placed for a more advanced driver who was comfortable with open passing, close driving with other aggressive drivers. I'm OK with driving in at least the Group 3 crowd, but would likely get frustrated with 1 or 2.
TracQuest is another option. There is no classroom instruction (it's best to come with a basic understanding of common driving principles), but you get good quality one-on-one instruction and LOTS of track time as they keep driver counts low.
Car clubs or private groups often rent out Thunderhill for days and you can sometimes attend those, but formality of instruction varies depending on the organization running the event.
01-24-2001, 02:16 PM
I have done HPDE and SCCA Street Schools. The SCCA events were great for a beginner. Very low pressure in terms of speed. If you do Sundays at Thunderhill it is the whole track vs. half. If you go, try to find Steve S. if he is there or a guy name Joe. I don't know his last name but I had him twice--dark hair, mustache,almost always in shorts. He races Formula Fords and is great for teaching how to be fast in corners. He would make me slow down on the straights when in traffic so I would have some open corners. Having an instructor that drives a low hp, good handling car was great.
NASA is a little crazier but damn it is fun. I hope, as a NASA official and regular attendee, I can encourage a few changes that would make it more enjoyable. For example, although open passing why not get in the habit of pointing passing cars by, that way everyone knows what's up? I do it but most cars in Group III don't. Not that I would wait for one.:-) NASA can't be beat for price, dates and flexibility (you can go for one day).
The BMWCCA events, if you can get in (only BMW's unless not full), are very well run, very safe and very instructional. Just a bit conservative and you can't switch up to a more advanced group until they let you.
I met an M5 owner at America's Tire Co. that runs with Miata Club almost exclusively and enjoys it. Most clubs don't fill up so try them and Shelby Club, etc.
18" BBS RC's
Brand new big 345mm floating rotors w/4 pots
01-24-2001, 03:46 PM
you've got to watch out for these Big White things that go flying by you really quickly!
there where some Stock car racers in their White cars at a NASA event, that sort of spooked Morgan (and me too!)
But, open track was a Blast!!
Drive safe, and have fun!!
01-24-2001, 04:12 PM
NASA has the HPDE events...SCCA has the Street Schools. You got them mixed up in your post. Well, you didn't mention Street Schools...but you did associate HPDE with SCCA (which it usually isn't associated with)
I know...I know...a nitpicky thing. :-)
01-24-2001, 04:33 PM
Maybe it's symantics, but "driver education" and "street school" are pretty close, especially when you're talking beginners with instruction then track time. I've been through both and don't think that NASA or SCCA make a clear distinction in the format of their "events". The practical difference to me is that NASA will sign you up to go solo from the get-go, and last time I went to an SCCA school, you had someone sign you off or talk to the head guy up front.
Lloyd of the Rings
01-24-2001, 05:07 PM
01-24-2001, 09:27 PM
After the first day at THill, I was feeling much more comfortable at speed around the track, and was able to get pretty smooth around most corners, at a faster speed and with less tire squeal than the day before. My instructor made the comment that I should be in the B group for the next Q-Club event and said he thought I was getting around the track better than most of the other cars in the A group. (I don't know how he knew this, but I was passing a lot of other cars and not getting passed myself).
I want an event with less paddock exercises and fewer cars on the track -- Hmm, Tracquest sounds good, but I have to justify the extra expense!
01-25-2001, 06:51 AM
They'd be an excellent idea since you've already had the basics (no one needs to explain understeer & oversteer to you).
How do you justify the expense? No other HPDE will give you as much track time as TracQuest. Big Fun.
01-25-2001, 11:54 AM
considering you get a lot of track time. I have to say I was a wee bit dissapointed to wind up in A group at Sears Point, and QUSA does have a *lot* of cars. I dread what's going to happen at Laguna Seca. It was nice of Corey to sympathize and let me into the C group. Much better room to breathe and stretch the 'lil old VR6's legs.
TracQuest is really nice because all you have to worry about is really learning how to drive. With me, I learn more if I initially get the basics down and then experiment by myself. Todd's school offers that as you don't have to have an instructor all of the time (the first run sessions you do, though). When I think I'm out of experiments, then I get the instructor once again. By now I know when I really screw up the corner, either by going too fast, or bad entry angle, etc. As soon as I set up, I think "sh*t, I f*cked up that one", and be really conscious of it the next time around.
But QUSA is really good starter, and novice friendly, and you can't beat meeting fellow Audi folk.
I'm bummed that I can't go to Todd's Laguna Seca event, but hopefully this time around, I'll get to the C group right off the bat at the QUSA Laguna Seca event.
Sometimes, though it is better to put myself in A group when the track is new to me.