Summit Point Driver Training
Testing performance cars, at high speeds, on a race track, is an important part of what we do at MotorWeek. To bring you our perspective on how they do when pushed to their limits. Now our newest staff writer, Garick Zikan, is not one of our regular performance drivers, but he still needed to experience the thrill of putting the hammer all the way down!
GARICK ZIKAN: “Wow, that Camaro looks like a handful, how do you guys drive so close to the edge all the time and in so many different cars?”
DAVE SCRIVENER: “Well, you gain confidence from experience. After 30 years, I’m rarely surprised what a car does, you do need good reflexes and a healthy survival instinct, and willing to push the car as far as it can go to get a good feel for it. You need to experience it for yourself, and know just where to go.”
GARICK ZIKAN: Summit Point motorsports park runs a full schedule of club events, road racing and drifting competitions each year. It’s also one of MotorWeek’s favorite testing venues. And for driving enthusiasts of all experience levels, summit’s driver training school is the place to learn and polish the skills of high-performance handling. And today, they’ve put together a special course for us, not as racers, but as car testers..
GARICK ZIKAN: “Hey Chris, we’ve brought some really cool cars for our day of training.”
CHRIS WHITE: “Well, welcome to Summit Point, Garick. Those are really cool, but we’re going to use these cars today.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “Really?”
CHRIS WHITE: “Really.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “Not quite the hot ride I was expecting, but don’t let the plain white wrapper fool you... These Crown Vics are an excellent teaching tool, and boy can they take a beating!”
CHRIS WHITE: “What we’re going to do for you today is teach you vehicle dynamics, how to recognize what the car is doing, how it’s talking to you and communicating with you, but also how to recognize your own personal limits, so that you can get more out of the vehicles that you test for the manufacturers and communicate that clearly to the people that are watching you.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “I was ready to put the pedal down, but first came a lesson on using your eyes.”
CHRIS WHITE: That one we needed a little steering and where were you looking, straight ahead we want to look over here.
GARICK ZIKAN: “Before you can go fast, you must learn to stop.”
BEN PETTIS: “You want to pivot, and then want to use your toes, you wanna just use the sensitivity of your toes to brake.”
BEN PETTIS: “Stop! … release… gently… ok”
GARICK ZIKAN: “It’s amazing how closely the steering and the throttle work together, which I quickly found out on the skid pad..”
CHRIS WHITE: “I’m gonna relax the gas. Take a little bit of wheel out...look at that, by steering out, the car’s path tightened up. And your natural instinct told you what? Go right.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “Right. Exactly”
CHRIS WHITE: “And you were adding more steering. I call that stupid car syndrome.”
GARICK ZIKAN: (LAUGHS)
CHRIS WHITE: “Stupid car! And you steer more and more…but it ain’t the car being stupid..”
GARICK ZIKAN: “Sure.”
CHRIS WHITE: “Little bit better. Little bit better. I want you to relax on the wheel, you’re kinda… you’re death-gripping that steering wheel. I want you to relax a little bit…relax your arms.. The more relaxed you are, the smoother your inputs are gonna be.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “After a whirlwind of exercises focused on threshold braking, throttle control, skid correction and weight transfer, it was time to put it all together for some full laps around the challenging Shenandoah Circuit.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “Finally, as a special treat for the end of the day, we got to ride along as pro drifter Dan Savage was all-too-happy to demonstrate his craft in the BMW M2”
DAN SAVAGE: “Yeah, Whoo. There’s a bunch of smoke. This car is awesome!
GARICK ZIKAN: “I think I’ll save this lesson for next time, and just hang on !!”
GARICK ZIKAN: “We’ve had a great day here at summit point. Some really good instruction, I’ve learned a lot. Bring on the McLaren!”