Mechanics love to give you orders. They tell you how to drive and how you should’ve driven, and sometimes you find yourself thinking “What does he know, he isn’t even a driver!”. I can’t say that about my mechanic, Andrew. He raced karts from the time he was in diapers, and raced all the way to Formula 1200. The guy knows how to drive.
Andrew took me out to a track day at Shannonville Motorsports Park in his beast of a Volkswagen Golf GTI. The first thing I noticed about this small, unassuming car when he picked me up was the unbelievable amount of sound it produced. Driving down the highway felt like being in a small airplane on the 401.
We got to the track and saw all the beat up Miatas, convertible Corvettes and Mercedes station wagons drifting on the half of the track we weren’t using. Despite the intimidation of all the smoke and tire squeals, I was excited to go out on track. I strapped on my helmet, put on my seatbelt, and Andrew stepped on the gas pedal.
One thing I learned at the track day was that nobody is going to hold your hand. When something goes wrong at Goodwood or Mosport, the track send out a recover vehicle (an ATV with a trailer) to pick you up and bring you back to the pits to your mechanic…with his disapproving look. But on a track day at Shannonville, you are the recover crew. You and your buddies just have to push the car back to the puts yourselves.
Andrew Waring is one hell of a driver. Despite being in his daily driver, on slicks, on a track that was slightly wet, he absolutely sent it through the corners, hooking his tires on the inside of the kerbs, passing cars and moving seriously quick. When the rain came, he gave me a running commentary of how he was figuring out the track’s wet line, which gave a glimpse into the thought process of an experienced driver.
Driving a car is clearly a lot more work than a kart. They are so much bigger, heavier, have so much more power; you really have to be on top of the car. More than that, you have to change gears, and if you put it in the wall, there’s no PRO team to put the car back together.
I’ve never been in a car around a racetrack before, this weekend was a truly unique experience before, and a whole lot of fun.