~ by Chris #16 Demaras ~
We started early in the morning. A stop at the gas station to top off the tanks, and set the air pressures. Daniel in his WRX and me in the Mini Cooper. Off to Shannonville for Brack Driving Concepts race school.
I was signed up for Racer Development 1 course. This was actually my second time at Shannonville this year, as Daniel raced KartStars Nationals there this summer, and we spent 4 days at the track!. Then, of course, there was Daniel’s day in a NASCAR last autumn. But that’s him, not me.
Despite my familiarity with the facility, Id never been on track at Shannonville myself. Ever. This was going to be a steep learning curve!
I spent some time in the classroom with lead instructor John Burnet. He reviewed the track map, helped us understand which corners were early apex or late apex (and why). He also made it clear that nobody was timing us, or expected a new track record from us.
I was then paired up with my driving coach, Chris. A true gentleman with an easy-going style, he’d be right next to me on all my laps. Those first few laps were nerve-wracking. It was all moving so fast! I couldn’t remember the track layout and would approach corners without knowing if it was a hard braking zone, or a flat-out corner. But Chris was cool. He gave the corners names, and repeated his instructions in the same slow, methodical manner every lap.
Getting to take an advanced driving course with your son is not something that happens every day. Even though we spend nearly every weekend at the kart track together, we’re never on track at the same time. Sometimes he watches my ‘arrive & drive’ race on a Friday night, then I’ll wrench on his kart during the Saturday club race. But this was different. We were on a proper racing circuit in cars, not karts. It was very real.
During our third on-tack session, I exited the pit lane just behind Daniel and got a chance to watch him drive his WRX in anger. That same car we spent so much time into restoring this spring to use as a daily driver was now a track weapon.
The Mini Cooper is a well balanced car with quick steering and stiff suspension. I’ve heard commercials describe it as having ‘go-kart like’ handling, but as a person who’s raced go-karts since 2014 I can tell you that is just an exaggeration. The Mini Cooper is, however, an ideal car for learning how to drive on track.
There’s a true feeling of accomplishment in doing advanced driving courses. I may not be getting a call from a NASCAR team just yet, but I gained so much confidence in my ability, and a greater understanding of the car’s handling dynamics. I’m actually a better driver today because of the Brack course.
I absolutely drained a full tank of gas during racing school, and Daniel’s Subaru even used up the emergency jerry can we brought. After saying goodbyes to Ken, John, Chris and the Brack crew, Daniel and I were right back at the gas station where we started our day.
Watching drivers enter and exit the gas bar, I was amazed at how poor the driving was. So many near misses. People not focusing on their driving. I guess you’d say my eyes had been opened by this driver’s course.
I’ve decided to come back in spring 2022 for the Level 2 course. I still have so much to learn!
For more information about the school, named after Canadian racing legend Bill Brack, check out their website at http://www.brackdriving.com.