[review] The thing about luxury cars is that they often aren’t given the chance to live up to their potential. There’s a false sense of equality with the Honda and Mercury Tracers of the road. A Lotus on the backed up six lane highway of clogged Atlanta traffic is wasted. Stop, go, burn the clutch, waste gas, sigh, stop, go, burn. Over and over it goes. Well, that’s where a company like Skip Barber comes in.
The premier racing school operates racing, driving schools, racing championships, and special projects across North America. It’s the school Mario Andretti sent his kids to learn to race at. That makes it good enough for A&P. We checked out Skip Barber’s 2 Day High Performance Driving School at the Connecticut Limerock Racetrack where the slaloms are quick and the straight-aways long and hard. You’re put in the driver’s seat of race worthy BMW, Lexus, Lotus and Porsche automobiles and get to see what you can really do when you open these guys up.
This Racing School focuses on teaching as opposed to selling (like performance schools hosted exclusively by a manufacturer will do) or just giving you a “thrill ride” type of experience. It’s designed to teach you how to drive better; not just faster. The “faster” you try to drive, the slower you actually end up going. That’s what the half assed mustang trying to beat you at the light eventually learns when you take what you learn to the street and leave him biting your calculated and expertly maneuvered dust.
We asked Michael Culver, CEO of Skip Barber and adrenaline junkie, what makes this program different from other driving schools. “It includes vehicle dynamics, emergency breaking and lane change, skid pad exercises and track time. The customers drive a variety of High Performance Vehicles including different configurations in real-life situations with world-class instruction from some of the best instructors in the country (arguably the world). The customer graduates with a strong appreciation for safe high performance driving. They think about driving differently than before; they are proactive drivers.”
What’s his favorite program? “I’m partial to our Race Series in the Skip Barber Formula 2000 Open Wheel racecar. A racer never stops learning! Also, the camaraderie among our racers is second to none. It’s great therapy!”
Skip Barber also hosts Corporate Events, an awesome team building concept that promotes togetherness in one of the most badass ways possible. Beats a yoga retreat or a day of relay races and burnt barbecue any day. Michael told us “From Skip Barber Racing School’s perspective it allows us to get in front of prospective customers who may not have had prior knowledge of what we do therefore strengthening our Business to Business relationships.” And from our perspective, a happy and smiling staff on a Monday morning after a weekend at the track makes for an exceptionally productive team.
What Skip Barber really does right is focus on quality. Just because you have the cars and access to the track doesn’t mean you have the qualifications to run a driving school. They have an amazing staff of instructors who know what they’re doing. Yes, you might spend half of the first day in the classroom and start to get a little stir crazy, but if you listen and take notes, you’ll realize how important those apexing pointers really are once you’re cruising along at +100mph. I asked Michael about the Skip Barber approach to customer service. He says “Our dedication to creating an exceptional learning environment, one focused on the individual, so that we can safely train our customers to be better drivers is the most important quality of our company.”
They’re dedicated alright. Michael and I chatted while he was en route to California, flight level 350.