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Boris Peharda’s day job may be in product support for Caterpillar, but his accomplishments on the track should not be taken lightly.  He is the Motorsports and Track Events Chairperson of the Illini Chapter of the BMW CCA, the lead coach for Hooked on Driving’s Great Lakes Region, a 1994 graduate of the Skip Barber Driving School and has completed both the Porsche Club of America and BMW CCA instructor training programs.  Whew!  Boris has driven on some of the nation's best tracks, including Laguna Seca and Daytona, but the track nearest and dearest to his heart is Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.  In fact, he and his wife Kelly saw their very first sports car race at Road America.  Boris and Kelly have owned many performance cars through the years, including four BMWs.  Their current track car is a 2013 Porsche which was acquired via European Delivery.  Boris writes for his BMW CCA chapter newsletter, the Roundelian, and offered to allow us to publish his articles.  So enjoy this one and keep your eyes out for future articles submitted by Boris.

 

Daytona is a serious track with steep banked turns.  Similar to Homestead Miami Speedway, it is a NASCAR track with an infield road course.  Such tracks often have a lot of walls in addiition to the banked turns.  At Homestead, track day events typically involve only the straights and the infield. The banked turns are not used.  Driving at Daytona is a unique experience since the banked turns are in play, as they were at the event described below.  Rest assured that these tracks are very different from most other road courses and that most track day events do not mix street cars with full on race cars.  For Boris, a very experienced and qualified driver, this was a bucket list experience that he was fully prepared to handle.  His student was lucky to have his guidance.   

 

Daytona International Speedway:  Turn by Turn Analysis

by Boris Peharda

 

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“Do you want to go to Daytona in December and be my instructor?” asked Kerry Riley when I saw him at Badger BMWCC’s OctoberFAST driving event (DE) at Road America.  Normally my DE season ends with the Badger event at Road America, but the thought of driving on the steep banks of Daytona International Speedway and experiencing the Rolex course a month before the 24 hour race was too much to turn down.

Six weeks later, Kerry and I were at Daytona wondering what exactly we may have gotten ourselves into.  Big transporters, some with racecars in them, occupied most of the paddock and the banking seemed even steeper in person than it does on TV.  The running order was simple:  half hour sessions, starting with instructors.  This was good news for me since I had never driven the Rolex course and hoped I could learn it well enough so I wouldn’t be embarrassed when it was time for me to show Kerry the “racing line.”  It was also comforting to know his 2011 Turbo S was equipped with the PDK sequential shift, dual clutch transmission because shifting from 5th to 6th at 160 plus miles per hour and/or downshifting from 6th to 3rd while going into turn-one and the bus stop chicane is extremely challenging.  The term “bus stop chicane” comes from an actual bus stop that was on the public road portion of the Spa-Franorchamps circuit and which was used as a chicane to slow cars down in the 1978 circuit re-design.  Also consider the fact that when you are on the high banks, you are looking through the upper left corner of the windshield while having to shift.  In fact, shifting a manual transmission turned out to be too challenging for three of our good friends from Ohio.  As a result, all three of their GTE RSs were damaged due to missed shifts.

Here is one lap of the Daytona Rolex Course:

You exit the pit lane slowly because it gets very tight just before you enter the infield course, halfway between turns one and two.  You then accelerate toward turn three, which is shaped like a horseshow, and brake heavily to set the car up for a late apex and accelerate toward the dogleg turn four.  The dogleg turn is a very sharp bend-like turn.  Racecars go flat through this turn (similar to the kink at Road America) but in a street car like the Turbo S, you either lift or brake, depending on your speed, before accelerating again toward turn five.  Turn five is identical to turn three and taken the same way.  Then you accelerate toward the horseshoe turn six, which is designed to slow you down before you accelerate onto the oval.  As you’re driving on the oval, you continue accelerating and climbing the high banks, if no one faster is behind you.  This is when having a passenger (or a spotter) is handy since you can’t see much, other than black pavement bank behind you.  In our case, we often had to drop down to let racecars by on the upper portion.  This included one open-wheel Indy Car as well as several Daytona Prototypes and many Grand Am racecars.  It is quite an experience to be going 160 plus miles per hour and have a racecar go by you at 200 plus mph…something I have never experienced elsewhere!  Once you exit the banked turn and get on the backstretch, you continue accelerating.  In the Turbo S, I would see 170 plus mph before lifting and braking heavily for the bus stop chicane, thus going from 6th to 3rd gear and then accelerating again, back onto the banked turns, leading to the front straight and climbing back into the 170 plus mph range, before turning toward the where you need to brake heavily in a straight line to get a approach to turn one.  Now you can accelerate toward turn two for your second lap.

What a blast!! But I don’t understand how anyone - or any car - can handle this for 24 hours!

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