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  Chicagoland MG Club:Club Info

Utica Driving School Report

by Dennis Trowbridge

To quote Tom Cruise in Top Gun "I feel the need for speed". Well, driving an MGB around a go-cart track may not be the same as punching the afterburners on an F-14, but getting into the second turn too fast and ending up in the corn can be pretty exciting too. On April 11th, the MG club met at Utica to learn how to go fast, and not end up in the corn.

This event differed from the past in that it was not a competitive driving event, but a driving school. Members took their cars around the track a number of times to learn better how to control the car, and lower their times. Solo track time was combined with instructors in the car teaching the drivers how to improve their skills.

A classroom session led by Reinout Vogt taught the basics of how to get around the track in the fastest possible way. Using a large sheet of paper he drew diagrams of the different types of turns, and how to get through them. Reinout explained the concepts of turn in and exit points and how to know where the apex of the turn should be.

Each of the different instructors brought some of their own insight into how to drive around the track quicker. The infamous hairpin turn was discussed at great length, and everyone seamed to have a slightly different slant on what the best line was. Everything was explained form how important the tires were to how the cold weather would effect the day's driving. After the school the drivers took a few laps with their instructors to get the feel of the car and the track. Unlike the regular race days cones were placed at the turn and apex points to help the students work on their line.

Don Anderson, Scott Anderson, Barney Gaylord, Kelvin Palmer, and Reinout Vogt were the instructors for the day. All of them are very good drivers with autocross or wheel to wheel experience. The teaching styles varied a great deal from Kelvin's "I think you could go faster" to Barney screaming "turn, turn" into his student's ear.

Later the drivers had a chance to get out on the track for as many laps as they wanted. The instructors got behind the wheel of each car and demonstrated to the owners what their cars could do. Dave Benni decided that if his MG could take the thrashing Barney Gaylord gave it he might as well push it to, and ended up with most improved time of the day. Many of the cars were driven by different drivers so each could feel what the others car felt like. Mike Olson, it seemed, let almost anyone try to break his MGBGT for him. After the runs with the instructors the final timed runs of the day were held.

For a taste of something different Scott Anderson brought a rented V-6 Mustang that anyone could try out on the track. Thirtysome years of technology has made the driving experience easier it seemed, but on a whole, the times were not that much different than what our MG's did. Everyone said the Mustang was fun, and some like Scott and Joanne Trowbridge didn't ever want to come in. At least the Mustang was a convertible, and the only one with it's top down on that frigid day.

The day was also a good time for people to give the cars a good road test and find out what they have to do before the next event. Dennis Trowbridge's new to the road '76 MGB handled great, but the engine had power problems that limited the RPMs to about 4000. On the other hand Dave Bralich's '76 MGB had all kinds of power but very poor brakes as Scott Anderson found out when he took Dave around the track.

Everyoneıs time improved over the day and they learned more about just what their car could do. Thoughts of the next event at Utica and what could be improved filled each memberıs mind. After the driving was over it was time to head for Duffy's Tavern for some food and some heat to warm up with.

After some good food and better beer Don and Scott Anderson handed out certificates of completion to the dayıs drivers. Dave Benni was also given an award for the most improved time of the day. The next driving event at Utica is on June 6th. Please plan on coming out and seeing what you and your MG can do!

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