Guest contributor: Andrea Cairone of Axis of Oversteer
Profile of a consummate track rat
Andrea Cairone is editor of the popular motorsports blog Axis of Oversteer and a seasoned track day veteran. We have always held Axis in higher esteem than like-minded blogs because they are not armchair enthusiasts, but active practitioners of the craft of high performance driving. We recently had a chance to talk with AC about some of his experiences on and off the track.
MCB: How did you get into track driving?
AC: Autocross was the gateway drug.
MCB: Where have you tracked (domestically as well as globally)?
AC: Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Pocono, Summit Point, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Monticello in the US. In Europe, Paul Ricard, the Nürburgring, and the Monaco GP circuit once!
MCB: Favorite track in the US? Abroad?
AC: Watkins Glen and the Nürburgring are my favorites— both have Armco right off the track!
MCB: Hairiest on-track experience?
AC: As an instructor, every time I get in a student’s car for the first time is a hairy experience. Oh, and my first time at the ‘ring, it was raining.
MCB: Beyond track days [which are non-competitive], any desire to race and compete wheel-to-wheel?
AC: That is a goal, but the logistical aspect of having a trailer in New York City is a big obstacle.
MCB: Your current track toy is an E36/8 M Coupe, a car we’re quite fond of. How long have you had this car, and what has your ownership experience been like?
AC: The M Coupe is going on ten years now. I learned everything I know in that car, from driving it to fixing it! It looks funny but it’s well set up and is possibly the last old school car BMW produced, for better or for worse. Still has a fantastic performance/cost ratio.
[Technically,] the car was a mutt— it has parts bin pieces from three generations of M cars: the rear end from the E30, the front from the E36, and the engine from the E46. The new 1-Series M is a bit that way.. perhaps it will have a bit of the same scrappy character.
MCB: You’re around plenty of nice cars— Axis doesn’t mess around. Best car you’ve ever driven?
AC: I’ll be tempted to say the Gumpert Apollo I drove at Paul Ricard just because of the sheer madness, but I think [Axis contributor] CG’s 997 GT2 is just an amazing accomplishment for what is a perfectly usable street car.
MCB: Any new car(s) on the horizon? What are you looking to get into next?
AC: I’m saving up for a GT3… one day.
MCB: You’re a New Yorker, and a driving enthusiast. Describe what that’s like.
AC: Hell? Epic potholes and track suspension don’t mix. On the plus side, dodging New York City cabs promotes crucial situational awareness!
MCB: How did Axis of Oversteer get its start?
AC: CG and I shared a car (an E46 M3) at an SCCA national tour event. I made up some ludicrous fictional press releases, and it kinda snowballed from there.
MCB: Did you invent the word ‘tracktard’?
MCB: Any words of wisdom for someone who has never been on the track, but would like to? Or even a current ‘tracktard’ who’s hoping to one day get to the top of the DE food chain (e.g., HPDE-4, Group 52)?
AC: Concentrate on feeling relaxed and at ease, not on being fast. One of my pet peeves with a lot of “schools” and instructors is that they try to control novices by instilling fear— fear that you’ll spin, fear that you’ll turn in early and crash in a ball of flames. Tracking successfully is about feeling comfortable, being aware— not being an idiot but having fun while out there. Add a reasonable respect for the laws of physics and everything else will follow naturally.
1-Series photo by Car and Driver. All other photos courtesy of Axis of Oversteer.