Bucket List: Competition Licensing School
January 30th, 2017 by James Chartres
Story by Blake Tatum
Today’s world seems to be about crossing things off of our bucket list. Us baby boomers have lived a pretty good life, but we seem to think that the fun should never end. We need to have a list of things that we have always wanted to do. Things like skydiving, bungee jumping or learning to fly.
When I tell people that I like to race cars, I often times hear “that is one of my bucket list items”. If you happen to be one of those people, it is now time to start working on it. The easy path to claiming you have raced cars is to sign up for a driver’s school through a professional organization like Bob Bondurant, Allen Berg, or Skip Barber. These are all great but what do you do if you actually want to race? I mean what if you really want to be out on the racetrack and be racing with the guy next to you? What if you want to mix it up for several laps over an entire weekend? What if you want to race at more then one racetrack? What if you want to race at historic places like Laguna Seca or Sonoma Raceway (aka Sears Point) or Road America?
If your bucket list is more then saying you have driven a racecar on a racetrack then you need to get a racing license. The best place to get a racing license is through the San Francisco Region’s Competition Licensing School. Notice it is not called driver’s school. It is not called a driving experience. It is a school designed to teach you how to race cars on a real racetrack. Our Licensing school is not one of those things you attend and if you show up you pass. Our school is designed so that when you are done, you can go out and race on a real racetrack with real racecar drivers and compete for real wins. It is not driving around at a reduced speed so that the car is not damaged.
I know this sounds harsh, I know it sounds like it might be to too big of a challenge, I know it seems intimidating, but do not worry, the staff of professionals that run the school start you out slowly. They break down the process into manageable bites. They take the art of racing and start with a rough sketch. They teach the students the proper racing line. They teach the students apexes. They teach the students about vehicle dynamics. By the end of the weekend they have created a canvas of racing artwork which is the graduating student.
They know that you have to walk before you run. They realize that the standard is high, but they also know that when you are done you are ready to race a real racecar on real racetracks. They want you to be safe and they want you to be competent. They want you to have the best experience you can possibly have. They want you to become a member of a select group of people who have achieved a bucket list item. More importantly they want you to realize that the rest of the bucket is not important any more because the thrill you get from racing cars is like nothing else in the world.
This might sound like a difficult task. The purpose here is not to discourage you but to pump you up. I explain this because the school is the best three days you will ever spend in a racing car. To ease the anxiety you might feel about going to the Competition Licensing School I will share some comments from participants.
Allen McCrary said his school experience was a similar adrenaline rush to flying. It woke up some feelings inside him that he thought were dead. He liked the fact that it was mostly all hands on training. He liked it because each lesson took him to his max and then the next lesson took it from there. It had a lot of parallels to his flying lessons.
David Deflyer said the school had fantastic track time and it was overall a fantastic experience. His best and worst memory was kind of the same. He had a lot of car issues. Favorite part was overcoming the adversity of car problems. He said the school races were fantastic!!! He rated the SCCA a five out of five and said they were awesome; they did an amazingly good job. They were there to make sure everyone had a good time.
Nuno Gonzales said the SCCA volunteers really committed to making sure it was a good experience. He said the instructors were very helpful. His best memory from the school was the first and the last race of the school. The first race because he realized that he really enjoyed auto racing. He had fun with the wheel-to-wheel racing. The last race of the day because when he came onto the track he was literally crying.
Ross Lindell gave the course content a five out of five. What he liked the most was that within one or two sessions you are pretty much racing—-the feedback regarding the theory of racing was great. He got a lot of pure racing experience out of the school. He really enjoyed his instructor Robert Murillo. He had a good sense of humor that he used on the students. The sense of humor helped communicate to them ways to make them better while being a good delivery method for a pep talk. Ross had so much fun he said he might make a career out of going to driver’s school.
Todd Rueppel said he was thrilled with how much on track time they had. Really felt like he learned a lot. The school is geared towards learning by doing. He felt the help from the instructors was very good. He liked the fact that they did not have too many whiteboard exercises. His best memory was how much track time there was. He was expecting lots of video and powerpoints and was happily surprised by how much driving time he had.
Zach MacLean said racing is all about seat time, it is hard to get that amount of track time. He gave the SCCA volunteers a rating of five out of five. He said they were all awesome. Could not do the event without them. He said everyone was nice and friendly. His best memory was winning the last race, beating the second place driver by a nose.
Competition Licensing School is one of the most memorable experiences I had in my life. It is the reason I am still racing today. The challenge is great, but not insurmountable, the experience is memorable, the satisfaction is life changing!