How I Got into This Sport

I didn't even know it was possible to do racing-like driving in my car at a race track. Someone at work mentioned that there was a "Test Drive" course at Sears Point one could take.  I did that, and it was fun, but it was only for a morning and we didn't get to spend much time on the track.  Then, I won a contest and got a 2-day Skip Barber driver's course at Laguna Seca. That turned out to be very interesting, even though it involved only paddock driving.  But the exercises were meaningful, and I got to drive a Dodge Viper!


Photos by Mike Meier and GotBlueMilk

Around that time I had learned about Thunderhill so I looked it up on the web, found the "Street School", and immediately signed up.  I learned so much that day, and had more fun than I had had in years.  Among the things I came away with were the knowledge that my car can do about three times as much as I would ever ask it to do on the streets, that driving near the edge in a street car is very manageable, and that screwing around on the street makes no sense at all when you compare it to how much harder you can drive, and drive safely (no on-coming traffic, safe run-offs, no trees, no curbs, no dogs and cars, no children, no police, no guilt).  Also, high-performance driving is nothing like the hot rodding you'll see in movies, etc. You learn to be smooth, rather than throwing it into the turns, sliding and squealing the tires. You try to get the most out of your car without abusing it, and the level of cooperation among driver's on the track is, well, I just wish freeway driving could even compare.

Since my first Thunderhill event I have driven at over 30 track events (as of January 2010).  The tracks I've driven at include Laguna Seca, Reno-Fernley, Phoenix International, Buttonwillow, and of course Thunderhill. I still need to get a day at Infineon, and maybe even the Streets of Willows, and of course the new Merced track when it is done.  My driving has gotten much better and now I even instruct new drivers. I've been modifying my car to make it safer and to improve its handling, and am slowly getting around to the engine to get more power. I guess there really is no end to this, which is fine with me.