I cashed in my birthday present. A day of racing at Skip Barber racing school at the Lime Rock racetrack in northwestern Connecticut.
You start the day off in the classroom in a lighting round of instruction including the general physics involved, proper racing line, braking, and race style downshifting. After getting fitted for a race-suit, helmet they put in you in the car and adjust as necessary.
There were ten of us in the session I was in, divided up into groups of two or three. We followed the professionally driven pace cars around the track at progressively faster speeds. After a few laps we’d come into the pits and they’d give you some notes, how to improve your line, etc. The cars were the best part. They have relatively low horsepower for a racecar, but the whole thing is very lightweight and the handling is predictably great.
Special props to the Lime Rock circuit as well, the best part being the nice steep up and downhill sections. Coming up over a blind bluff is rivaled only by bombing down a hill with a 90° turn at the end. After three of four laps I was comfortable in the car and itching to go faster than our instructors would allow. By the last laps our top speed on the straight was right around 100 mph. But given the limited classroom time, you can hardly blame them for restricting us. And of course, I really wanted to know who was the fastest, dammit.
As they made very clear at the end by offering a 20% discount with a $200 then-and-there deposit, the real action is in the three-day intensive race class. That’s where they let you go as fast as you can, draft, pass and race the other classmates and get a racing license at the end.
Tip: Do some neck exercises in the weeks leading up to race day and get the padding put in behind your back. Two days later I still have sore muscles in my neck and back.
Thank you Emily and everyone in my family who chipped in for this — and to Vinod for my from-Italy Italian driving gloves. It was an unforgettable day. I am still running laps in my mind when I go to bed at night.
Full photo album here: picasaweb.google.com/nuwanda/LimeRock