Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
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  • Continued Education

    Posted on January 28th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    My experience at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving was truly life changing… and I can’t stop looking for ways I can get back on the track!

    My goal has always been to get the G8 out on track, but I spend so much time on the road that just seems impossible. To do things right I’d have to swap brake pads, order my track wheels/tires, install a race seat/harness, etc… then there’s the maintenance (flush brake fluid, oil change, tech inspection). After the track day I’d have more maintenance, etc… it just takes more time than I have.

    In addition to the learning, one of the great things about a driving school is that you don’t have to worry about getting the car ready… you just show-up and drive!

    Bondurant was an incredible school and I learned a ton about vehicle control, extending your vision, and being smooth. I’m sure I would learn a bunch more if I returned, but I think trying another school (more specifically at a different track) would be more beneficial.

    I looked into the California schools (Skip Barber at Laguna Seca and Jim Russell at Infineon Raceway), but they seem to be mostly focused on Formula cars… not something I’m interested in.

    One of the schools that I hadn’t looked into originally was the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort outside of Las Vegas.

    Ron Fellows was a very successful factory Corvette driver (I’ve photographed him many times)… GM even produced a special edition Corvette to commemorate his career. Naturally, the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School uses Corvettes.

    One of the great things about the Ron Fellows school is that they have multiple levels of courses. This allows me to pick-up from where I left-off after Bondurant.

    My schedule is quite crazy due to work, but luck has it there is a Level 2 course (concurrent with a Level 3 course) coming-up in a few weeks. I decided that I need to make a trip towards the West Coast… and what better way than to stop at a driving school along the way!

    The Level 2 Course is a 2-Day program includes ~250 miles of driving on their 2.2 mile and 2.4 mile courses. The majority of the time is spent on track working on car control (throttle steer, brake induced over steer and under steer, etc.)… but there will also be drills on their wet skid pad! The Corvettes are also equipped with a 2-way communication system for increased on track instruction.

    While I’m really looking forward to attending this course, I know that a couple days on track isn’t going to be enough!

    Last year I spent six months living/working in the little town of Tooele, UT. The whole time I was dreaming about getting on track at the Miller Motorsports Park, which is located just north of the town.

    Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) is one of the premier racing facilities in the world. My favorite feature is the variety of course configurations that are available. There are completely different West (13-turn 2.2 mile) and East (12-turn 2.2 mile) courses, which can be combined to produce the Outer (14-turn 3.0 mile) and Full (23-turn 4.5 mile) courses. With all this variety, it will take many trips just to learn the nuances of the track!

    The 3-Day course a MMP includes days on both the East and West courses… allowing me to increase my experience on reading a track and determining the proper racing line. The course also has an incredible option… you can upgrade to drive the Ford Mustang FR500S, an all-out race car!

    The standard vehicle for the course is a modified ’05 Ford Mustang GT (left) that includes a roll cage, racing seat/harness, and performance brakes/pads. The FR500S (right) undergoes ~350lbs of weight reduction, has a built-in data acquisition system and a complete aero package, and uses a DOT approved race tire! Both cars have similar engines/power, but the race-prep can shave seconds off of lap times. Upgrading to the FR500S is a no-brainer for me, when is the nest time I’ll be able to drive a race car? I can hardly wait!

    One of the best things about the 3-Day course at MMP is that it has elements that appeal to someone who has done previous courses (like me), but is still designed for someone who has never done a driving school before. When I took my course at Bondurant, after each of the drills I found myself thinking how much my Father would have enjoyed it… and the MMP course would be perfect for both of us! Now I just need to convince him to get behind the wheel!