Scott says he was pretty anxious-almost apprehensive-about getting into those cars that fi
The Track-And That Famous Corkscrew
OK, let's get this out of the way-the Corkscrew is fun. Plain and simple. "It's a pure joy to drive," said Scott. "The approach was actually scarier than the Corkscrew itself." You can't see where you're heading as you crest over the hill-you need to set yourself up correctly from the beginning, because there's no time for correction once you're in. "It's an absolute thrill."
But there's more to Laguna Seca than just the famous Corkscrew. The track is perfect for learning because it combines high-speed and low-speed corners, challenging turns with more than one apex, and lots of runoff to accommodate student mistakes. Driving just a few laps is worth the price of admission-although there was a lot more driving than that.
Here's the quick and dirty. Day one: fundamentals of downshifting, braking, racing lines, getting a feel for the car and for the track-useful for less experienced drivers. Day two: high-speed braking, trail braking-more intense and perfect for learning how to handle a race car. Day three: passing, drafting, race starts and re-starts-definitely got you ready for your first competitive racing event.
What a drop! When it comes to the famous Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, one of the home track's
"The curriculum has been around for 30 years," said Mikel Miller, the lead instructor. "It's designed to teach you what you need to know to race when you walk out of here after your third day." Upwards of 70 percent of the time is spent in the car.
"Mistakes happen," said Miller, "and as long as you learn from them, you won't be reprimanded." It's this philosophy that permeated the entire three days, creating an atmosphere where you weren't afraid to screw up.
The instructors for this particular three-day school all came up through the racing ranks, which means they know exactly what it takes to make the jump into a racing career.
"Being a racing teacher has taught me to approach things more methodically," said Miller. "I've learned that you need to approach racing like you'd approach a business. It takes a certain amount of money and it takes persistence. So you need to approach it methodically like you do a career."
Jim Russell's chief instructor, Nicolas Roundet, is a French-born, Brazil-raised triathlet
Fellow instructor Steve "Stevie" DeBrecht said that Skip Barber's biggest endorsement is the fact that the industry's heavy hitters send their kids there. "We've seen the Andretti clan, Alex Gurney, the Unsers," said DeBrecht. "Go ahead and look at the Grand Am grid these days and I defy you to show me a dozen guys who haven't passed through Skip Barber at some point."
What advice does Scott have for guys interested in coming to Skip Barber? "Bring paper to take notes on," he said. "I ran out of room writing on the back of my track map." Also, he said don't show up as a know-it-all. "Listen to what's being taught and don't shut it out. You need to realize that you are probably doing some stuff wrong and you can learn." And most importantly, he said, "Take advantage of the fact that you have professional instructors all around the track critiquing your driving. It's a rare opportunity to get this level of attention."
You Should Go To Skip Barber If...
You want to drive a race car around one of the country's most famous tracks and through one of the country's most famous turns-the Corkscrew! Or, you can attend at any number of tracks where Skip Barber operates around the country. This school is for anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of becoming a race car driver in a fun, supportive atmosphere from some of the industry's top instructors.