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Discussion Starter #1
Hi... I'm going to be attending a pro coaching day at Thunderhill on March 25. Anyone interested in joining me? Some details:

- There will be 16 cars max running in two run groups (8 cars max per group). There will be a minimum of six sessions for the day, but in a nutshell, they will be running cars on track for the full day (minus lunch of course). This usually translates into 7 or 8 sessions if nobody needs a tow.

- Pro coach in your passenger seat at all times. Coaches and drivers will be communicating through a wired headset.

- Thill is a great place for coaching, as the track offers a lot of different corner challenges, and it's by far the safest of our three norcal tracks.

- In between track sessions, they will be holding paddock exercises on heel-toe, braking, and maybe even trail-braking. So if you're looking for seat time, you will get it.

- All instructors are from the Skip Barber coaching corps. All of these guys are either former or current pro racers (both sports car and open wheel). In between Skip Barber and racing, these guys do a lot of private coaching. Grant Ryley, the racer who wrote the trail-braking, heel-toe, TTO article for my magazine, is scheduled to coach. I have done two Skip Barber schools, and I have a lot of respect for these guys.

- They are not timing laps, but you can run your own timing equipment and cameras for data acquisition.

- Cost is $1,395, which is a lot of money for a single day at Thunderhill, but here's the deal: I want to make real progress on my lap times. I have hit a plateau, and I generally feel that amateur/club instructors don't have the specific coaching skills (let alone the driving talent) to help me with any more "breakthrough moments." And it really comes down to the issue of coaching -- pro coaches simply have a larger arsenel of tricks to coax speed from the driver. I guess it comes with spending their "work day" focused on driver development. I.e., it is a profession for them; not a weekend hobby.

At any rate, I am leaving a lot of speed on the table, and I am willing to spend some money if it means making a true leap forward. So I'm throwing down despite the high price tag. And, who knows, some of you may be in the same boat.

- Also, it may be debatable if the price is actually high, given the run time and the coaching talent. I get into this topic in the Skip Barber review I did for High-Performance Driving magazine. If anyone is interested ina copy, PM me.

- If you sign up and you need to cancel, you can do so one week out for a full refund. Between one week and the day before, you can cancel for a 50% refund. If you need to cancel the day of, or just don't show, you are out of luck.

- The program is being run by Robbie Montinola, who can provide more info via email: [email protected]

- I really hope to see some Lotus drivers (especially the guys I drive with frequently!) on the 25th!
 

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That is kind of tempting. Had talked to Robbie a bit in the past about coaching services. Thanks for the heads up.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That is kind of tempting. Had talked to Robbie a bit in the past about coaching services. Thanks for the heads up.
Larry: You should do it! It will be fun! I will also encourage powerbookguy (Daniel), srwhitman (Scott), and all of the other usual suspects.

Do it. do it. DO IT! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Um... I have 20 personal vacation days every year (not even counting the 10 paid holidays everyone gets), and the bigger problem is taking enough days off to satisfy company policy. For instance, last year many of our employees were forced to take vacation days because the company was carrying too much of a vacation liability, and it was hurting cash flow. I definitely have enough work on my plate to work 24/7 and still not finish what needs to get done -- but the bottom line is that if we don't take vacation time, the company has to maintain hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserve to pay off its vacation liability (that is: the amount of money required to pay off the vacation balances of the entire work force if everyone quits at once, or if everyone is laid off at once).
 

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I’m doing a drivers school (track day with instruction) at Thunderhill, 2 ½ days March 21, 22, 23, 08 for $455.

Check out the 2008 Miata Performance Driving School. ANY CAR OK. March 21, 22, 23, 2008 Thunderhill Raceway Park $455. There are classes for beginners, thru advanced.

I took this course 2 years ago when it was Miata only. The Hales are well organized, have lots of instructors and Thunderhill is a great track.
Graphite Bruce

http://www.norcalufo.org/miataschool08.html

Contact: Peggy Ann Hale
Miata School Director
Desk:(408) 721-3084 Cell:(408) 242-2109

[email protected] OR [email protected]
Dennis Hale at (831) 336-2444
Miata Performance Driving School – 08
8683 Glen Arbor Rd.
Ben Lomond, CA 95005
 

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Where do you think this will fit with the 3-day Skippy school? Replacement, warm up or further skills?

I was planning on doing Skippy this summer but this sounds like a tempting replacement.
 

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I did Skip Barber 3 day school at Laguna Seca a few years ago and while it was fun I don't think I learned a lot. Nothing beats driving your car with someone in it with you who knows more than you do. If money is no object do both, but 3 days like this would be much more beneficial than the 3 day SB school.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Where do you think this will fit with the 3-day Skippy school? Replacement, warm up or further skills?

I was planning on doing Skippy this summer but this sounds like a tempting replacement.
Well, one of the points that Robbie Montinola made is that the only remotely analogous one-day Barber curriculum at Laguna costs $1,595, which is $200 more than than this 03/25 day. Meanwhile, the Barber three-day racing school (the course I would expect you to take, Rahul) is $4000, which is roughly equivalent in price to Robbie's coaching day. (Though, it must be noted, in the 3-day racing school, you put wear and tear on the school cars, not your own!). So that's the price analysis.

To answer your question, I would have to say that this coaching day would fulfill the "further skills" category.

- It cannot be a replacement for the Barber (or Russell) school, because there is no experience quite like driving an open-wheel formula car for the first time. Now, the 3-day racing school gets into many of the same driving concepts that you would find at a competent club school (smoothness, vision, basics of the line, slow-in/fast out, etc). What it adds is structured instruction of heel-toe, trail-braking, threshold braking (surprise, no ABS on formula cars!), race starts, passing, and other race-craft concepts. The three-day racing school is a fun, mind-blowing EXPERIENCE, but because you are not getting side-by-side, real-time instruction, you lose a particular dimension. This can be either good or bad depending on your learning style.

To wit: I have had some BAD experiences with instructors in my street car -- some have chattered, blabbered, made me nervous, and have offered nothing to help me have a breakthrough moment. This suggests to me that my learning style -- in general -- jibes a bit better with the racing school approach (wherein you get little chunks of advice in the pits during a session, and then larger chunks during post-session downloads). It also suggests that many club instructors, while perhaps being fast drivers, don't really have any coaching skills. And, remember, this is what we should be paying for on March 25: coaching skills.

Now, all that said, I have also had a few good street-car instructors, and these guys have helped me immensely. They say the right things at the right times to help the driver have a breakthrough moment where everything suddenly makes sense, and speed just magically appears. I am hoping that ALL of the coaches coming to this coaching day will help me immensely in this style. As has been stated: having a coach in the car with you, side by side, offers particular benefits.

- I don't think this coaching day will be a warm-up to the 3-day racing school, because you, Rahul, have all the experience you need to slide right into the racing school curriculum. (The racing school is designed to work for newbies through track junkies.)

- So i guess the coaching day -- for me at least -- is about developing further skills. The 3-day racing school was very fun, and it was particularly helpful in regard to trail-braking. But i really want to see what the very same coaches can teach me in my street car (the car in which, let's face it, I'll be doing most of my driving, as a formula season really isn't in the cards for me).

Hope that helps answer your question. I have never done this type of coaching day before, so I am sort of in the dark as well, but all of the above explains my motivation. Also, in your case, it doesn't hurt to pay 1/3 of the $4000 entry fee just to see if you like the Barber guys -- because these are some of the same folks you'd be working with should you attend the 3-day school. :)
 

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I concur with Jon here. Pro coaching can be very valuable. A professional coach (not necessarily a professional driver) is very much different from an instructor. An instructor can teach you techniques by either showing you how to do something you do not already know or correcting your bad habits. A coach can and should do much more than that. For example, some of us are auditory learners, others are kinesthetic while the rest may be visual. A professional coach should be able to recognize your learning style and adapt to it. Basically, a coach is versed in not only driving techniques but also in coaching techniques.
 

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Thanks guys, I'll probably end up doing the Skippy school first and then do some pro-coaching so that I'll know exactly what I want to work on.
 

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For those in SoCal who are interested in 1:1 coaching I can also make a couple of recommendations of people who are excellent instructors if you are doing HPDEs where outside instruction is allowed.

Steve
 

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Re: 2008 Miata Performance Driving School. ANY CAR OK. March 21, 22, 23, 2008 Thunderhill Raceway Park $455. There are classes for beginners, thru advanced.

It starts with classroom, then exercises in slalom, skidpad, threshold braking, and an instructor showing you the apexes (from their car). The instructors are amateurs, but there are many, and you can choose the one you want, try another, or run alone.

There is a full range of classes from beginner to advanced, plus a passing school and open track sessions. Your choice. A bargain $455.

http://www.norcalufo.org/miataschool08.html

Contact: Peggy Ann Hale
Miata School Director
Desk:(408) 721-3084 Cell:(408) 242-2109

[email protected] OR [email protected]
Dennis Hale at (831) 336-2444
Miata Performance Driving School – 08
8683 Glen Arbor Rd.
Ben Lomond, CA 95005

I took this course 2 years ago when it was Miata only. The Hales are well organized, have lots of instructors and Thunderhill is a great track.

I’ve done some Russell schools. Good but expensive. And since they had single seaters…nothing can match the appraisal and feedback you can get from the passenger seat.

I’ll be there in March with my ’05 Elise w/sport pack.
Graphite Bruce
 

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hey guys! many thanks to jon for helping get the word out for our coaching programs!

We do feel this is an "advanced" activity to focus on your driving skills but since we have a one-to-one instructor ratio on track we can also help the novice or first time driver just as well. So if you can't afford to do a Skippy 3-day, we can give you a crash course before you go out on track (the morning of, or we can meet up before the event).

Our coaches have years of experience racing and instructing at various levels (skip barber, jim russell, formula car race teams, sports car race teams, etc).. To name a few of our coaches (not all confirmed, but you can see the level of our staff)
Robbie Montinola - www.montinola.com
Jonathan Bomarito - www.jonathanbomarito.com
Tommy Fogarty - various formula car racing, sprint cars, etc.
Randy Buck - cheif instructor for SBRS, various formula car experience
Benny Moon - www.bennymoon.com
Grant Ryley - Toyota Atlantic, Star Mazda, and other formula car experience
Mikel Miller - www.mikelmiller.com

A quote from one of our current students, "Robbie is a skip barber instructor, a bunch of us have done private days with him and his gang of other skippy guys, they are awesome. you can't get better instruction and more laid back track days than this. price is fantastic once you factor in the basically wide open track and 1st class instruction. My buddies bring exotic cars -- ferrari, lambo, even ariel atoms. meanwhile i like to drive my lowly vette. :)"

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Don't forget to let me know Jon referred you!

Thanks!

Robbie Montinola
Silicon Valley Racing
www.DriveSVR.com
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Larry, Nick: Are you in? It will be a small group, so lots of track time!
 

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Nope, not this time. Already have a "make up" day April 4 for T-Hill. So it would be tough to take more weekday time so close together. Plus at the moment, dumping money more towards the track safety end of it.

Let me know if another day pops up, later in the year.
 

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Damn, the one day of the week I can't attend. Sounds like a good idea to get "over the hump".
 
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