Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Racin': Signed up for the Skip Barber Three day Mazdaspeed Racing School

I have driven Laguna Seca Raceway in various driving games now for a couple of years. It has always been a dream of mine to do it live and in person. As of today, that possibility exists in solid form. This morning I signed up for the 3-day Mazdaspeed Racing School to be held at Laguna Seca raceway February 13-15. I'm going there with Bill who's going to be my co-driver in One Lap of America this year.

I am so excited I can hardly stand it. There are a number of road racing tracks that are famous throughout the United States; Watkins Glen, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Daytona, Sears Point, VIR (Virginia International Raceway) and Laguna Seca are usually mentioned in the first round. I have driven a couple of them; Watkins Glen, Road America, VIR, and Sears Point. This year I'll get to do a couple more; Sebring, Daytona, and Laguna Seca.

The school is an intensive experience meant to prepare drivers to go racing in the Mazda MX-5 (Miata) Cup. The cars that we will be driving are Miata Cup cars; about 200 hp and 2500 lbs, so a decent power to weight ratio, but also excellent handling. I don't think that I want to do wheel-to-wheel racing. I enjoy watching it, but don't fancy spending the kind of money it takes to do it. Racing is as expensive as you want to make it and generally more expensive than you want it to be in terms of dollars, time and energy. I like doing One Lap and will surely write about it as I blog along here, but I sincerely doubt that I'll ever go racing with a pack of cars on the track.

So, why am I doing this quite expensive school. Mostly because I want to transfer the lessons I learn both to my street driving and to my One Lap track work. If you work seriously at car control, you pick up habits that will keep you alive longer on the street (your awareness of your car and its relation to traffic is that much more finely tuned and further reaching) and make you faster and smoother on the track. One of the things they teach you in any of these schools it to look and plan as far ahead as you can. Don't look just at the car in front of you; look all the way down the track. Think about the turns coming up; how do you need to set up the car now to sucessfully and smoothly negotiate the turns later. You can do that on the street as well. Broadening and lengthening you situational awareness on the street can definitely keep you out of accidents and help to smooth out the flow of traffic.

Plus, I get to drive one of my dream tracks. One of the most famous corners in North America, the Corkscrew, is part of the track at Laguna Seca. To get to it, you climb a long hill. At the top, just after a kink, there is a 90 degree left that drops quickly downhill (much more quickly than the one you just came up) and bends very quickly into a high speed right hand corner. That's the way it looks in the video games. I can't wait to find out how it feels. Won't have to wait too long for that; a week from Friday in fact.

Yee hah!

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.