I took my SLK to a road course for the first time Sunday. Tracked at Pueblo Motorsports Park, it's a 2.2 mile road course with 10 turns and some hills and blind turns. A section of it is used for a 1/4 track, got closed to 120mph, had to brake for other slower cars. I'm somewhat familiar with the track as a I did some corner work with BMW CCA last year, also rode with instrutors for a few laps. BMW CCA did not allow my car on the track w/o roll cage so I didn't run. I think this road course is great for beginners, it's not an easy track, easy to go off track (many did), but not extremely difficult.
here's the track layout.
Here's my car, all setup and ready for it's first lap.
I wanted to be number 350 but this number was taken
I was not nervous at all, I thought I would be once I got into the car and get on the track but I was more anxious and excited to get started. I was on the proper line most of the time, except turn 7 (hairpin) that was a bit tricky. The instructor was suprised at how calm and relax I was, normally beginners are all over the place and didn't fly off track on turn 4 (uphill blind turn). I felt like I belong on the track and should have done this years earlier, man did I missed out on all the fun. I guess all my time watching track videos on youtube did help.
My only other track experience was autoX, did that all last year, it was fun but nothing like going on a road course with the high speed and turns. AutoX is too short, just when you are getting into it, the fun ends. Also alot of rough turns, it's not as smooth as a road course.
Things I have to work on according to my instructor, smooth shifting, I was rough a few times, he said I needed to learn to heel and toe, I'm okay with heel and toe in my old bimmer b/c it was easy to do. The SLK was nearly impossible, the gas petal is too deep in and or the brake petal to high up. I need to adjust it. Will create a separate tread for this. I remember slktyperice had the same complaint. I wanted to try it a few times but was not comfortable in doing it, I can barely do it on public roads going at a safe speed, not going to risk it at high speeds.
About the car. What a blast, it handles well, now I don't really know how it compares to other cars yet, there were alot of nice cars in HPDE1 and 2, Subura STI's, 350Z, M3's, Corvettes, Vipers, etc but we were all beginners and noone was really pushing it that hard, including myself, except for the last run, what a difference it makes when you hit all your apexes and take the proper lines. I was flying thru corners at an incredible speed and the car remains balance. It's a big difference when you have to correct all the time, you can just feel it when you have it right. Will be tracking my brother's M3 sometime in the future for comparison. I did not have to shift much, left it in 3rd gear mostly, had enough torque to power out of most corners. Only used 5th gear on the straights.
About NASA, what a great job they did to organize this event, this is only their second year here in Colorado and the first event this year and was filled up easily, had five people on the waiting list for HPDE1 and didn't get to participate, my friend included but he was not disappointed, their were time trials and actually racing so he had a great time watching. Some of the guys went all out and was flying off track, hitting each other. The spec miata and spec 944 racers was just plain crazy, thought they were going to flip and hit the walls many times but had enough skills to correct themselves and get back on track. It was a joy to watch. Don't think I will ever get that serious.
Wow, just went back to proof read a little and noticed it's a long thread already that's what happens when you are still excited about it. The next one is going to be less than a month. My brother is trying to get his car ready for La Junta, it's looks like a simple track, isn't as technical as Pueblo. Pueblo was 1 1/2 hours drive, La Junta is 3 hours, will only go if my brother is coming, dont' want to drive that distance w/o company. Next one at Pueblo is going to be in July, I don't think I can wait that long, so will try and make it to La Junta.
In summary, the SLK is a joy to drive on the track, my instructor was very surprised, he didn't think MB made cars that can handle, had many people compliment the SLK. It's the best and safest way to enjoy your SLK, everyone has to do it at least once in their lifetime otherwise they will never know how well balance, how well it handles, brake, and exccerates out of corners. Highly recommended.
Will post more pics later on, think that's enough for now.