Nothing is worse than being at the track and getting stuck behind some driver who has no idea what they're doing. You know, braking too early, not allowing passes, driving slowly, or driving erratically. Don't laugh, we might be talking about you. Or us even. The sad part about our society is that all the driving movies with fancy stunts don't prepare you for real world racing. Just like watching all of Jet Li's movies doesn't give you the ability to beat up 10 Hong Kong street gang members at one time. When you're competing in something like our Super Lap Battle (SLB), you're playing with the big boys, so you need to know what you're doing. And although nothing is more important than actual seat time, you want to ensure that you're using that time properly. The sad truth is that you can spend every weekend at the track practicing your bad driving techniques and habits just to pull off slow lap times over and over again.
That's where racing schools like Skip Barber come into play. For years, they've offered the open-car-formula racing programs all across the nation. Which, although it provides tons of training and racing info, isn't the type of car most of us are going to drive in a competition. Just recently, Skip Barber added the Mazda Miata MX-5 Cup Racing School, a better fit for close-wheel competitions like our SLB. For three days, you get the opportunity to pilot 200hp, six-speed MX-5s comparable to the actual ones that race in the SCCA Pro Racing series while learning skills like heel-toe downshifting, trail braking, and all that goodness. Between the auto-cross course and big track, one thing you won't be running short of is seat time. Being a two-seater over the open-wheel one-seater gives you the advantage of having an instructor riding shotgun and giving you on the spot feedback. Not to mention, the MX-5 Cup cars have certain luxuries not offered in the open-wheel cars like power steering and ABS, which aren't crucial, but definitely make your track time easier.
Sadly we got the one-day version of the MX-5 class that left us begging for more (I'm proud to say nobody from our magazines crashed a car or went off course). So much that we're going to be building an MX-5 of our own in the upcoming issues of Project Car magazine. Of course, we're not fiddling with a fancy late-model MX-5; ours is a '91 first generation with a hard top to avoid the jokes, though it's not working.