Christmas in July

Ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod!

I collected on my Christmas gift today.  Waitasec…  I don’t have it all out of my system yet.

Ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod ohmighod!

11:00 PM last night:  At least the nights have cooled off.  I ought be be able to get to sleep.
 > toss toss <
 > turn turn <

6:00 AM:  Wide awake.  Feeling fidgety and nervous.  Check the weather.  Scan my standard set of morning websites.  Check the weather.  Listen to the radio.  Check the weather.

6:30 AM:  Feeling nervous and fidgety.  Shave.  Cut hair.  Shave again.  Check the weather.

6:45 AM:  Shower.  Cut hair.  Check the weather.

7:00 AM:  Out the door.  Turn on the radio.  Listen to the weather.

7:30 AM:  Down the Deerfoot, arrive at Race City Speedway.

7:35 AM:  Park.  Look out the window.  Check the weather.

7:40 AM:  Get out of the car.  Chat with the guy getting out of the car beside me.  Walk over and take a look at one of these beauties

7:41 AM:  Allen Berg walks over and introduces himself. 




Sure, the interest lies in the details.  Allen Berg put together his racing school a little more than a year ago, and he decided to build it from the ground up and to do it right from the start.  Allen is one of three Canadians ever to drive in Formula 1.  (The other two are named Villeneuve.) 

Allen’s cars are Formula Renault open wheel racers.  Formula Renault is considered an entry-level formula series for up and coming drivers.  These are serious racing cars and are raced by serious drivers - do not make the mistake of taking them lightly.  The cars are carbon fibre chassis - not the older tube frame chassis run by other schools.  Allen’s cars are modern, safe and exciting.  The chance to drive technologically modern cars is worth the price of admission alone.

The cars themselves are worthless without a good team, and Allen has put a solid team around him.  When I think of a Formula 1 racer, I think of a cocky, arrogant, difficult to work with and difficult to be around jerk and adjust from there.  Allen is warm, generous with his time, enthusiastic and interested in making sure every student gets a top notch experience from their time at his racing school.  His name isn’t just on the side pods, he’s active in making certain his students become better racers.  Come prepared to be treated like a professional race driver;  you may not be, but that is precisely how you’ll feel for your day.  On the other hand, Allen sat beside me during lunch and was gracious answering questions and talking about his time driving.

Dave is the other instructor who makes a good compliment to Allen.  He’s also open to sharing his knowledge and teaching you, and after you’ve had your whirl at it he’ll take you around the track and show you how it should have been done.  Sam is one of Allen’s mechanics from his time in Mexico and it was very comforting knowing the cars were maintained by professionals.  I have to apologize (or be corrected) by the others who’s names I’ve forgotten.  Edouard was our course marshall, we had a fellow from MoTeC (Chris?) taking care of our telemetry, and Kyle made sure we came back with data.  I appreciate the other guys who cared for us out there, making sure we had good track time and a good experience.  Every moment was professional and serious.

I should mention the split between class time and track time.  I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten Allen to talk about theory and then to get out on track and execute (or at least try to approximate executing) what we spoke about.  The time in the classroom was also very important to me to return feeling into my chassis-brain interface.

Talking about racing theory and actually doing time on track in a modern car are very different things.  Check everything you think you know about driving race cars - unless you have experience doing it you’ve got everything to learn.  I learned both on track and off.  With the telemetry on Allen’s cars, professional drivers have a huge opportunity to get better and improve their times by being critiqued by one of the best.  I’ll be shocked if Allen doesn’t start filling his times with aspiring drivers looking to improve their skills - it’s an honour to be driving with that group.

Approaching the programme seriously will significantly magnify what you get out of it.  Sure, it’s great for tubby white guys like me, but if you want to get the most out of it, try to show up fit and clear minded.  Racing is hard and it takes a great deal of effort from you.  I was breathing heavily after getting out of the car after the final run.  It was work, a lot of hard work, and the thrill of a lifetime.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely, completely, it was a life’s dream fulfilled and I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.  I’m planning a return down the road for a shot at the two day programme with more laps and more analysis of my telemetry.  I recommend this programme for every single driver on the roads today.  Every one will improve their vision on the roads and improve their car handling and management.  You will be better and safer on a day to day basis out there on the roads if you listen and learn and follow the basic driver skills you will be taught.  You will learn why tailgating is such a bad habit (it leads to tunnel vision) and learn how to drive predictably and stay well within the limits of your tires for safety.

The cars themselves are worth the trip.  The staff get you away safely.  The telemetry and the basic technology is eye-opening and should be considered essential for modern racing schools.  A modern racing school like this should be considered essential to any driver today.  I want my kids to be involved with Allen’s carting programme before they feel they have to get out on the roads and push their road car so they learn this early and get a lifetime’s worth of advantage.

Thanks Allen.  Thanks Dave.  Thanks to all.  What a fantastic day!  I’ll get rid of this smile in a week or two.