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Thread: Instructor stories

  1. #1
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    Instructor stories

    I've swapped a few stories over beers and thought it would be fun to trade some here. I'm thinking more of funny stories, but student-from-hell stories can be good too. I'll start:

    I recently had a Swedish novice in, I'd guess, his 70's driving an 87 911. 5 track days of experience. Very nice guy and eager to learn, but frankly the car was kind of a handful.

    Wary of the car, I peppered him with "don't lift, don't lift, don't lift" in each high-speed sweepers. After a session and a half, I hear through the communicator, "what does 'don't lift' mean?" If I'd had a mouthful of coke, it would have come out my nose.
    Last edited by Evergreen Dan; 08-13-2008 at 04:51 PM.
    Dan Chadwick
    Boston Chapter BMW CCA Instructor Development.
    Near-Orbital Space Monkeys, E30 M50-ish
    Driving Evals on-line evaluations for Driving Schools. Paper forms are just wrong.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    A friend talked me into instructing at a SRT event. My student was 75 and drove a Magnum SRT. Considering that he had never been on a track, he did fairly well. At the beginning of the 3rd session he tells me that he has a serious heart condition and he had a heart attack recently. Needless to say, it was a little scary being stuck in the passenger seat...at least I had a lot of metal around me.

    E36 325i racecar - WRL GP2/Spec E36
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    E90 M3 - street car

  4. #4
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    M3 E46 student at his second track event at Gateway. First session he did real good, not doing anything stupid and picking up the line very well. I have a habit of constantly talking my novice students through the entire lap and was offering "Unwind, unwind" at corner exit time.

    Second session we started putting some speed down with his lines. First two laps were very good and on the third we really put down some of that HP. Coming out of turn 7 I again urged him to unwind, unwind. His foot just planted the throttle to the floor and he hardly moved the wheel! At the second revolution of the spin I realized we were heading off into the infield grass and not the wall thank goodness! Took the car into pit lane and stopped. I asked him if he knew what happened. Yes was the answer as he said he did not take the steering out of the car while bringing power in. My curiosity was really stoked now as I thought he had done a wonderful job up till that point. His next comment lay at the root cause of the incident. "I thought when you were telling me to unwind that it meant unwind the engine."

    DOOOOH!!!! Chalk one up to a defective communication link from the instructor to the student! Instructor fail! Once we got our lingo squared away this guy went on to be a very competent driver who joined the instructor ranks recently. I have not forgotten that lesson since!

    OK not a student from hell but it sure scared me.
    POS-325E Track dog/teaching tool/Race car
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  5. #5
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    I was instructing at a Mercedes Club school once at BeaveRun. They don't assign students a specific instructor, it is kinda like whoever is in grid and it is their turn gets into a student's car. Anyway, this lady in a CLK320 pulls up, and it was my turn, so I jumped in. She had these large wrap-around strange yellowish tinted glasses... hmmmm. I had seen her all day on track, and while not quick, she was safe, controlled and seemed OK. So I figured she is probably fine. So I'm getting belted in, and we're rolling down the false grid and she says to me... "I should probably tell you a few things about me"... Me: "Ahh. OK, what?" "Well, I'm actually partially blind, and I have problems with depth perception and peripheral vision".

    Do you know that it's really hard to get out of a modern Mercedes when it is moving? The damn things lock you in.... Anyway, after I recovered from that announcement, and decided to try it for a lap, she actually ended up being OK. I had to "talk" her into the braking zones, but I'll be damned if she wasn't consistent and somewhat safe. I stopped instructing not too long after that though. Racing is easy, but my heart can't take too many episodes like that one....

  6. #6
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    Several years ago at Laguna Seca, I had a middle-aged Asian woman as a student.
    I noticed she would continual shuffle-steer around every turn. Now as a novice student this wasn't her worst habit, but eventually I had to address the subject.

    I asked her why she needed to shuffle-steer, since except for the cork-screw and T11, every turn can easily be taken without moving your hands.
    She replied, that in the novice classroom session they had said to keep your hands at the 3-and-9 position for maximum control. And that's what she doing...keeping her HANDS at the 3 and 9.
    Hmmm...sometimes its the way we say it.
    "faster...Faster...FASTER...Until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death"
    -Hunter S. Thompson

  7. #7
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    I've had some really great students and hardly any I'd complain much about. A couple of big egos and at least one who just didn't seem like he would ever learn.

    I hesitate to say anything negative about someone who may read this but I think I'm safe on this one. Not long ago I had an older man, not sure how old, with a supercharged C6 Corvette. Lots-o-HP/torque. Unlike other Corvette students I've had he was not one to slam down on the loud pedal at every opportunity. On the contrary he was pretty timid. He was so slow in the corners that he'd wind up giving multiple point-bys in every straight. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he almost came to a complete stop at the top of T5 (cyclone) at Thunderhill. When I'd tell him to gas it, he would and he'd be OK but if I left him to his own he'd slow to walking speed and creep over the hill. He actually got black flagged. The track steward said he had reports that he wasn't giving points. I told the steward the problem was he was giving too many and not driving. Nice guy but had no business on a track except to say "OK, I've checked that one off the list".

    Besides meeting lots of nice folks the great thing about instructing for me is that several I've had as students have gone on to drive better and faster than me. Some are racing too. I take no credit for that. The sad thing is I feel like I'm being passed by. I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner than I did.

    Jay

    From wannabe to has been in a few short years..... the older I get, the faster I was

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayhudson View Post
    Besides meeting lots of nice folks the great thing about instructing for me is that several I've had as students have gone on to drive better and faster than me. Some are racing too. I take no credit for that. The sad thing is I feel like I'm being passed by. I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner than I did.

    Jay
    I hear THAT, Jay! Back when I was instructing at the Thunderhill Street School I got in the car with a first time student. I gave him the usual spiel and off we went. I sat there in amazement as this student was nearly perfectly braking, hitting every apex and track out point. He did this consistently for several laps upon which I asked him how many times he had done this before. He replied that it was his first time ever on a track. I asked if he was a karter and he replied no. I told him he needed a better instructor as I couldn't really teach him anything to improve on what he was doing. He remained with me all day and it was a fun ride all day long. The next year he started racing and was San Francisco region SCCA Rookie of they Year. I see him often and tell him he is my 'Claim to Fame' and I had nothing to do with his success.

  9. #9
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    An instructor "friend" made his student cry. Twice.
    "Bench racing" about track times driven by professionals are like a bunch of nerds arguing which Princess Leia is hotter, the slave Leia or the no-bra jail-bait Leia. No matter how compelling your argument is, the plain and simple fact is, none of you will EVER get to hit that.

  10. #10
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    Audi Club, novice student with a brand new S4. After every apex the car would jerk foward violently. Asked him to be smooth in transition onto the gas, car still yanks and lurches foward with acceleration. My neck has torticollis and I have a splitting headache, I finally figure out that every time he brakes he depresses the clutch whether he shifts or not and lets it out when he accelerates, never had driven a straight shift. Pull him into the hot pits for a word.
    Tell my instructor buddy about the session and he offers to switch with his novice student who wants to learn to bump draft.
    Lynn
    95 M3 IS
    "The world is arranged so that the unwary and the ignorant will get caught out....." Carroll Smith

  11. #11
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    My first DE Student ever.... Mid-Ohio, Memorial Day '07, Chin Motorsports.

    A group of younger guys in S2000's show up together for only 1 of the 2 days of DE. I had my reservations about them, but I kept them to myself, hoping that they'd prove me wrong. So I met my student and we walked to his car. He was wearing a shirt that had fake harnesses printed on it with some japanese lettering. He explained that he had done a couple "exibition events" before, but never a DE. As we approached the car, I noticed that the tires were heavily glossed all around, and even up onto the treads. I had a friend lose control of his Mustang as a result of doing this and ended up killing somebody. I certainly wasn't going to be that "somebody".

    As we continued to go through the car, I asked him to remove everything from it. He protested about every single thing, including radar detector, cd cases, and random tools in the trunk! I couldn't believe he was even questioning me... Anyway, so we get in the car and I ask him to head over to the back parking lot so we could scrub that tire gloss off. I ask him to drive a few circles in each direction. As he sets off with the wheel cranked, he dips the clutch, spikes the revs, and drops the clutch... He drifts around in a circle in 1st gear. I literally put my head in my hand, not believing that this was to be my first student...
    I asked him to stop and tried again to get the concept into his head that we were trying to generate some lateral load on the tire to scrub the tire gloss off. He sort of did it with a little less drift and we got ready to head out on track.

    On track, he was going very easy on the straights. Fine. That doesn't bother me. He wasn't tracking out and wouldn't follow my suggestion to do so. He took most corners relatively easy, except for T9, which was taken pretty much at his car's limit. I asked him to back that turn down so that it was proportional to the others, so that he didn't overcook it when he got faster on the rest of the track. He insisted that he drove each corner on its own and that wouldn't happen. He refused to adjust.

    He was trailbraking a decent bit into the turns. It wasn't getting him out of shape at this speed, but I thought it would be good to correct that now before he got himself into trouble. I told him to get his braking done while he was straight and he told me that he wanted to trailbrake and experiment with correcting oversteer. I told him NO, he would not be doing that at this event and with me in the car.

    As that session ended, we sat in the paddock discussing. He felt disrespected that I was telling him how to drive and told me that I needed to "just trust him". I said HELL NO. I'm sitting here in an open-top car with someone who's never been on the track before. I have absolutely no reason to trust him.
    The kid obvioulsy wanted to be a drifter and this wasn't what he was looking for. When I was going out on track, I asked him to ride along so I could show him both how much fun our type of driving can be, but also that trailbraking and controlling oversteer are ok, but once you've built up to them (over years of experience). He DECLINED the ride and requested a new instructor.

    The chief instructor later asked me what the situation was and I explained. He said that I handled it exactly as I should have and the new instructor would tell him the same thing. Thats what happened and when I asked the kid if he'd try this again, he said no. Oh, well... Not everyone is cut out for it.

    The good news is that I really enjoy instructing when I don't feel like my life is being threatened. I find it very rewarding to see an immediate impact/improvement from my input, as well as the enjoyment from the students. I try to make sure that they're having a great time!
    -Anthony Magagnoli
    #80 BMW M235i Racing - Pirelli World Challenge TC - 2017 Rookie of the Year
    Rooster Hall Racing / FCP Euro
    '87 BMW SpecE30 #007 - 2012 NASA SpecE30 NATIONAL CHAMPION
    '08 BMW "130i" 6MT, '01 Z3 3.0i Coupe 5MT
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    Send Your Teens to Street Survival

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottagofast13 View Post
    A friend talked me into instructing at a SRT event. My student was 75 and drove a Magnum SRT. Considering that he had never been on a track, he did fairly well. At the beginning of the 3rd session he tells me that he has a serious heart condition and he had a heart attack recently. Needless to say, it was a little scary being stuck in the passenger seat...at least I had a lot of metal around me.

    ..........
    ..."keep a little love in your heart and a taste of jazz in your soul."

  13. #13
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    OK....I got one....I hope you are not on here teacher...cause I forgot your name...but you were from Sandusky, OH and this was at Harv Rogers famous "Blizzard Event" of April 07 at Mid-OH.

    I will be the FIRST to admit that I was not the best driving school student. I can't think about what I am doing too much....or I just get all messed up. Has to just flow....like when I played football 1,000,000 years ago. If you are out there on the field thinking during a play...it;s already WAY TOO late for you. For me, driving is the same way...it;s almost in the background.

    ANyways....here we are ......it's the second session of the day.....we are sitting in the paddock and the whole hood of the car is covered in fresh snow/slush that is coming down hard.....so of course, we go out on the track ....

    About halfway through the session, the wind and snow pick up to the point that it is a freaking BLIZZARD inside my car....going down the back straight...snow is going sideways through the car......Hell....we are coming into the sharp right at the end of the back straight and you can;t even see the brake distance markers, it's snowing so hard....I remember hitting the turn right in the middle and slowing down a bit. My instructor promptly told me....."You MISSED your Apex there by a good two feet..... I said, Yep, I sure did, as I am just trying to stay on the damned track at this point........the session was Black Flagged the next lap.....cause the corner workers COULD NOT SEE US...it was snowing so hard. But that man kept teaching to the bitter end....whether I freaking wanted it or not.
    Last edited by BobWright; 08-13-2008 at 09:29 PM. Reason: spell
    ..."keep a little love in your heart and a taste of jazz in your soul."

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayhudson View Post
    The sad thing is I feel like I'm being passed by. I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner than I did.

    Jay

    Don;t be sad Brother....you have helped so many in person and on here...WE OWE YOU a big pat on the back.....
    ..."keep a little love in your heart and a taste of jazz in your soul."

  15. #15
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    Oh, geez. Great thread.

    Where do I start?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrome Horn View Post
    Where do I start?
    Me and/or Sean

  17. #17
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    Too many...or...NOT

    ....a clinic...

    in a nutshell.....during an Instructor Clinic, I was to be the "student" that was an entry level/first time track guy.....and I had this "I wanna race, gotta race" attitude...

    Funny thing....a friend of mine was the "instructor to be"....and I sort of AMPLIFIED my jackasserie on the track.....driving very erratic, with much, much "racer wannabe" stupidity.......

    next......the buddy of mine/"instructor to be"......brought me in to chat..he gave me the "sermon".....and we went back out.....I continued my senseless "I wanna race/Jackasserie" on track........to an extreme degree......

    End Result....the "instructor to be" (friend of mine) made me pull in, took me to the Chief Instructor to report me and have me disciplined/reassigned/ejected from the track weekend.

    The Chief Instructor was a bit dumbfounded when approached by both of us, as I imagine that he had never had a "mock-student" brought in to have this type of extreme chat. After much conversation and many apologies by myself...and promises to be a good boy....I was allowed back on track for the remainder of the clinic/simulation. the "instructor to be" handled the situation great/awesome...very calm/cool/collected.

    the end of the session he says...."there's no way you have students like that...right?"...

    .....full circle.....the "instructor to be" friend of mine graduated to become an instructor....and he actually sat in the passenger seat in coming months with other students...and whaddya know.......

    ....he had a REAL LIFE..."Racer/Wannabe" with the same erratic driving behavior/attitude that I simulated....

    I took it a bit over the edge to give this simulation to my friend, but the best part of it is.....he was prepared for the reality that sometimes....sometimes.......the student...can be quite an "unpredictable" driver....and he was prepared to handle him.

    Ohh yeah......it was also quite funny to actually be able to tell this story.

    Who taught me this tactical approach?.....none other than "Bruthaman" himself....Oktoberfest phenom....Mike Washington!!!

    Next time you see him....tell him the "Hindude" appreciates his wisdom and is passing it on..
    Last edited by AirDoc; 08-13-2008 at 10:41 PM.
    Nitin G. Shanbhag
    BMWCCA #101510
    87 951, 88 M3 2.5, 88 E30 S52 Project, 95 M3/2 Slicktop, 96 E36 "TrackBeater", 97 M3/4 Slicktop, 97 TJ, 98 M3/4 Daily, 00 F150 7700
    E36 TrackBeater Project Thread: http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=884145


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg S View Post
    Me and/or Sean

    Actually nothing to tell there. You were/are both excellent students. Well, except that your shift "knob" bites the big one & Sean's car should have the word "Fiat" on it, it is so unreliable!


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrome Horn View Post
    Actually nothing to tell there. You were/are both excellent students. Well, except that your shift "knob" bites the big one & Sean's car should have the word "Fiat" on it, it is so unreliable!

    You talking about my knob is kinda creepy.

  20. #20
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    Dude, it's this horrible monstrosity.

    I do have some really, really good instrcting stories, though..




  21. #21
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    Things I've heard in the passenger seat over the years...

    "Watch me blow this guy away."

    "I spent all winter taking 200 pounds out of the car - and now you have to be here with me."

    "Quit tapping the mirror."

  22. #22
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    Instructor over the communicator:
    "Porsche... it's for lunch"


    Carlos.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralphwarren View Post
    Things I've heard in the passenger seat over the years...

    "Watch me blow this guy away."

    "I spent all winter taking 200 pounds out of the car - and now you have to be here with me."

    "Quit tapping the mirror."

  24. #24
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    Turn 5 - Road Atlanta...

    My student, a C student in a NICELY equipped E46 M3 is pushing pretty hard and I'm trying to keep him at bay, requesting he brake a little earlier, hit his apex perfectly and stay off the gators on the Exit of turn 5 ( an off camber uphill with steeply banked rumbles followed by kitty litter and armco).

    He cooks the corner, gets on the gators, hero's to get off too quicklyand as the back end is inevitably coming around on him, I say LOUDLY in my communicator...

    "Both feet in, both feet in " trying to avoid snap oversteer into the inside wall.

    His response?

    "huh?"

  25. #25
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    Excerpt from my write-up from the Memorial Day BMWCCA / Chin Motorsports weekend...

    Tuesday was a misty day when I got in with my student again. He had certainly improved overnight (this is typical). Things were going well and I was getting ready to sign him off to get a check ride to run solo. I wanted to work on a couple more things before doing that, so I addressed them in that session. He had been braking very early at the end of the back straight, so I gave him a reference point, which was still early, but about 1 ˝ car-lengths later than where had been braking. It was a jut in the wall, which I told him to consider as the “5 marker”, after which there were cones indicating 4, 3, 2, and 1. The next lap around, he braked precisely at the 5 marker and had plenty of room to slow. I was pleased with that. However, on the next lap, I did not say anything more, but as we approached the braking zone at 120 mph, he passed his original braking point, then passed the “5 marker”, at which point my eyes went wide, and I was yelling “BRAKES!!!” as he was passing the “4 marker”. The 4 marker is pretty much the absolute limit for a car of his speed. He buried both feet into the brake pedal and got the car slowed down by the outside of the turn. I looked at him and asked what had happened. Since he had been able to slow in time on the previous lap, he had taken it upon himself to push his braking zone back by the same amount again. We took a slow lap or two while I explained the exponential nature of pushing the limits. At first you can make large gains, but then you must push the limits in smaller and smaller increments so that you can still correct yourself when you just step over them. I reminded him to not try anything new like that without first telling his instructor and definitely not during his check-ride. Consistency is key and keeping their instructor calm should be a primary goal of a student. I did sign him off to run solo and his check-ride instructor approved, as well. He completed the day without issue and had a car in one piece to drive back to Minnesota with.
    -Anthony Magagnoli
    #80 BMW M235i Racing - Pirelli World Challenge TC - 2017 Rookie of the Year
    Rooster Hall Racing / FCP Euro
    '87 BMW SpecE30 #007 - 2012 NASA SpecE30 NATIONAL CHAMPION
    '08 BMW "130i" 6MT, '01 Z3 3.0i Coupe 5MT
    '88 Pontiac Fiero GT 5MT (my childhood dream car!)
    Send Your Teens to Street Survival

    Drive Faster Now

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