When I (Larry Dukes) signed up for Kentucky Region’s Summer Heat High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE), the plan was for my track mentor, Mike Love and I to drive up Friday and room together for the weekend. We had attended the Central Indiana Region’s HPDE last October at Putnam Park and I really enjoyed it. I was also excited because Mike told me that the KYPCA did a great job with hospitality cookouts at the hotel and it was a great way to meet fellow PCA members who were track enthusiasts.
Alas, two weeks before the event, Mike had to have surgery, so he couldn’t go. I talked with Jamie Diehl who was going and he said Steve Scariot was also going to be there, so I could hang with them.
I had made reservations at an adjacent hotel (event hotel was booked) and checked in about noon, then went to the track and went through technical inspection. I had received an email from Innes Mather who said he would be my instructor and when I got to the park on Friday to come back his garage bay.
I parked my car next to Jamie’s tent then walked over to meet Innes. I then found out that I had been assigned a new instructor because Innes had two students and they had an instructor join late so they had me work with him. I talked with Innes, and then I walked back to my car. As I approached it, this guy came up and introduced himself as Kevin Wadell. He said hi , I’m your instructor and I’ve got some bad news, that guy sitting over there writing up insurance information hit your car! I looked over and this gentleman who was clearly distressed was writing away. I said no he didn’t, it was like that. I am waiting until after HPDE to put in the body shop. I told Gene Hoffman that he was fine, he didn’t do any damage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so relieved!
I met Kevin’s friend Jim Scarbrough (who I called “Steve” all Saturday afternoon) who shares my love of sports car racing and who took me for a few laps of pure joy in his Guards Red Spyder!
Friday night there was a great cookout at the hotel.
Saturday morning an “all-hands” meeting was held to overview the schedule and safety concerns. Then it was off to instruction class or to the track. Drivers are assigned a group based on experience and skill.
Beginners are in Green group, with experience you advance to the Yellow, Blue and Red groups. Since it was my second HPDE I was in the “Yellow” group. After class, I had my first run on the track. Kevin was a very knowledgeable and patient instructor. I admit I was a bit nervous, but once I hit 2 nd gear I was back in focus and having fun. I improved line and speed in every session. Kevin indicated that I knew the line and was good at watching mirrors and letting faster cars pass. As they say, the more you do something, the better you get at it!
Saturday, a group of PCA members from the Kentucky Region and the Bluegrass Region did a drive up for the Porsche 75 th Anniversary celebration sponsored by Bluegrass Motorsports.
Ed Steverson, Corbin Steverson, Mark Whelan and Ron Barbato represented the Bluegrass Region. During lunch break all of the Porsches did laps on the track then were lined up 3-wide on the straightaway for photos by a drone.
Again on Saturday night, Bluegrass Motorsports provided an Italian dinner at the hotel. There was really good food and fun meeting other drivers and discussing successes and mistakes on the track.
Sunday morning there was the threat of rain and storms, and sure enough, once we were ready to go on track it was raining. I was REALLY apprehensive, but we talked about the “rain-line” in class and Kevin told me where to drive. It went from terror to exhilaration! I figured out the line and was able to control the car even with some sliding. It is fun going fast in the rain. All of the instructors said they loved tracking in the rain and I understand that now.
It was a wonderful weekend. I met a great group of guys and hanging out with Jamie Diehl and Steve Scariot was a blast. Jamie and I drove home together and it was and adventure going in and out of downpours. Some of the lessons I learned on track helped on the drive home.
The only downside of the weekend is that my friend Michael Love wasn’t able to be there. He assures me that he will be with me next time!
I can’t wait to do it again!
Article written by Larry Dukes