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Intro to Racing Course at the AGM/WS 2012

Mark Stephenson
Jaguar Club of Central Arizona *

forum user since 2011-11-02

 

Hi, everyone,

At the 2011 AGM (nice job, Virginia Jaguar Club), we offered to host the 2012 AGM and the assembled delegates agreed. We were excited and began preparations shortly after our return. Long story short, we had envisioned the AGM as an opportunity for a week-long escape to sunny Arizona from the tail end of yucky winter in most of the country. And oh, yeah, there was a meeting or two thrown in. When the 2012 Western States Meet looked like it might not happen, we already had a timetable and accomodations arrangements in place, so we jumped in.

The AGM is Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, 2012. The Western States is March 11-13, 2012. To make this a real vacation, we have some extracurricular activities planned before the official start. If we have enough interest, I'm going to put together a Ghost Town and Grand Canyon tour Tuesday and Wednesday, March 6 and 7, 2012. We've set aside Thursday, March 8 for something tracky. I'd like to know how many people are interested in participating.

The course is called "Introduction to Racing" and it's held at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Just to give you some idea of their creds, this is a place where professional racers go to hone their skills. Oval racers, in particular, have improved their road course skills at Bondurant. You might pooh-pooh the idea that you need to develop racing skills, but I can tell you from personal experience, that what you learn on the track improves your road-driving skills tremendously. When asked to summarize my experience at the end of the 3-day High Performance Driving Course, I realized that I had never learned so much about something I thought I knew a lot about.

You might not need to know how to heel-and-toe brake and downshift (although it's pretty awesome when you do it properly) or how to trail brake into a corner, although the latter does contribute to your knowledge of car control and can come in handy when you least expect it. Learning the proper line through a corner doesn't seem critical when driving on the road, but when you add where you should be looking when you round a corner, it becomes a very useful road skill. If you are a recreational slalomer (not a Dick Maury, Gary Hagopian, or Art Dickenson) you could easily take a second or more off your slalom times.

It's difficult to choose what I learned the most from. As a kid from the Northeast who loved to play in the snow, I knew how to handle things when the rear end stepped out, in fact I often stepped it out on purpose, but when the front begins to plow straight ahead? No clue. The skid control cars (with hydraulic casters at the corners that the instructor can use to lift the front, rear, or both ends of the car to simulate slippery roads) give you the opportunity to figure that out under the tutelage of the instructor on a big open area where there's nothing to run into. The skills learned in accident avoidance simulator (not a computer simulator, you're behind the wheel), saved me from a big accident about six months later. Having learned to drive in pre-anti-lock brake days, I broke myself of some bad braking habits. I even had a couple huge "a ha!" moments in the class before we ever got behind the wheel.

The 450hp 6-speed manual Camaro SS pictured is what's used for this course. They have about 20 but can pull in Corvettes and can handle up to 35 students.

You may balk at the price, $1375 before discounts depending on how many people sign up, but when you finish, I'll be surprised if you don't agree it was money well spent. If you avoid one accident, you can cover a good portion of the course cost, depending on your deductible, not to mention the inconvenience of repairs and the potential for injury.

So I need some feedback. How many of you would be willing to take this course at Bondurant? If you let me know quickly, I can reserve space or get to work on alternatives.

(Please share this information with your fellow club members. Thanks.)

Mark Stephenson, Member
AGM - Western States 2012
Organizing Committee


Bondurant 6-speed manual 450hp Camaro SS used in the course.