2021 HPDE at Blackhawk Farms Raceway
On a lovely Friday at the end of August a cadre of HPDE instructors, experienced solo drivers and seasoned autocrossers gathered at one of the legendary club tracks in the Midwest, Blackhawk Farms Raceway in northern Illinois, for the first chance to drive the track under the Windy City BMW banner in decades.
The idea for a low pressure driving event for our top drivers arose roughly a year ago and the idea to end the day with a series of autocross style (i.e. standing start-one lap) timed runs was a bit of a wild card for our driving committee. But our sponsors, BMW of Schererville, Clearwater Capital Partners, Big Door and Hagerty were behind us so we forged ahead.
This event was something different from our usual high performance driving events in that no instruction was offered. Instructors got to drive the course and actually relax between sessions with no obligation to hop into a car. To make it work safely we restricted the signups to our HPDE instructors and our solo experienced driving group (28 in all). But we also wanted to encourage our other competitive driving group, our avid autocrossers, to give the track a try. John Schwarz, our Autocross Chairman, helped us vet the autocross applicants and we were glad to welcome a number of them (8 drivers shared the track) to the joys of driving a course for a lot longer than 40 seconds with no possibility of a DNF. Blackhawk Farms proved to be the perfect venue for such an event, with only seven turns, no real elevation changes, no blind corners and good runoff. Autocrossers and drivers new to the track were soon up to speed and having a great time.
John Saccameno, a long time North Suburban Sports Car club member, and also a Wiindy City BMW member, who helps run the Midwestern Council autocross program at Blackhawk helped us organize a system for timing and spacing of cars. John Schwarz brought the autocross timing equipment and a handful of willing volunteers to work the gear and record the times—and they were certainly kept busy as at times we had up to five cars on course. Everyone who wanted to do the timed sessions got five runs.
At the end of the day the paddock was full of smiling faces, even Randy Everson, the Driving Committee’s Chief in Charge of Worrying.
Thanks again to our sponsors: BMW of Schererville (who also brought goody bags for everyone), Clearwater Capital Partners, Big Door of Mundelein and Hagerty Insurance.
We hope to see everyone (and their friends) at next year’s event.