IAM Skills Day at Croft Circuit by Norman Stansfield

Signing on for the morning session took place from 8.15 am: this was not a problem as my wife, Mary, had located a superb country hotel only three miles from the track.

The briefing covered all the salient points necessary for this type of event, as one would expect, safety and no damage to the cars of course being imperative. There were approximately 24 drivers present, who were allocated to the instructors, two per instructor. Track running time for each run was around 20 minutes, and then the instructor sat with his other driver for their 20 minutes. This was a very good system, as it allowed the drivers time to relax and the cars to cool down before the next session.

There was a diverse array of cars involved – an Astra, a couple of MX-5s, a Honda S2000, Mazda and BMW saloons, a Volvo estate, three Porsches, a Ford hatchback, and others.

In all we completed five 20-minute sessions, with the track open from 9.30 am until 12.30. The track was laid out with cones for the various gear changes, braking points, corner apexes, turning-in points, etc.

During the morning everyone increased their original performance, carrying more speed through and out of the corners on this fairly tight course. At the briefing, the recommended speed down the two 300-400 metre straights was 90 mph. Initially my speed was 80-85 mph. My instructor, Toby, ignored the recommendation, and we finished up at 95-100 mph in my 31-year-old 911.

Skills days allow anyone to experience the potential of their car, and speed is not the ultimate aim. The E-reg Volvo estate was driven by a gentleman in his mid-70s who had never driven on a track before, and despite a couple of ‘offs’ at the hairpin bend, he really enjoyed the experience.

Another skills day at Croft was scheduled for 28 September, but I understand that this has been put on hold due to lack of entries. I feel that this is a shame because so much more awareness for road driving can be learned by taking part. I have an entry at Thruxton (a circuit which I have never driven)on 28 September, so maybe more later.