I woke up with extra energy on the 4th and final day of race school. It would be the first time driving in a Formula Mazda and first time using slicks! In the classroom we were debriefed on the car like how to start the car, how low the cars are (we were warned don't hit the curbing or it will damage the car), killing the engine when entering pits, etc. But the most important part that we should expect to be sore and bruised up. The instructor told us that these cars are not nice and comfortable like the Challengers. He said the pedals are hard we should expect our muscles to be sore like we have worked out our legs.
After the classroom we got suited up and headed over to the shop to pick out our Formula Mazda. I picked a red and white one #15. I love the color red if you couldn't tell by now :) The instructor moved up my seat quite a bit and got me a cushion to help reach the pedals. Being 5' 2'' sometimes has it's perks, lol! The instructor rolled the car back and forth to allow me to get used to the shifting. They were short shifts, just needed the flick of the wrist.
All the students got pushed out of the shop so we all didn't start the cars at the same time and making everyone deaf. The procedure to cold start the car is turn on ignition and fuel switch, pump the gas 4-5 times, hold the start button, and then hold the gas pedal 1/4 way. Once car starts let go of start button. For a warm start it's almost the same thing but no need to pump the gas just hold the gas pedal all the way down. We start up the cars and followed the instructors in a lead and follow.
We started out slowly around the track, getting tires warmed up. The better I followed the faster the instructor went. I got a point by from the instructor and it was my turn to go in front of him. I felt pretty good and confident. I was practicing hitting all the marks. On turn 13 I remembered that I was supposed to lift off the gas pedal to cause the car to turn in. But I was not graceful in lifting my foot like a ballerina. I was more like a brute abruptly lifting my foot of the gas pedal, causing throttle oversteer. Because the car is rear engine the weight of the rear shifted around, I oversteered, went over the curb. Because the car is so low going over the curb it caused the fiberglass fender that covers the radiators to break off.
I was so pissed at myself. Mainly at my lead foot. I don't know why I am so rough on my moments. I really need to practice being more gentle and precise. The tech at Bondurant told me they helped me out. They don't have to replace the fender. He said they would be able to fix the fiberglass and mounting bracket saving me hundreds of dollars. The total cost to get it all fixed was $350. I got a spare car, blue #26.
I called the hubby to tell him how much my mistake cost me and see what time he was going to come to watch me. That's when I got bad news that he's not going to make it because he was taking our doggy, Boom, to the animal hospital. She had been sick for a few days throwing up and having diarrhea, her condition was getting worse. I started to bawl because the death of our other dog still haunts me. I thought to myself it's too soon to lose another pup. My husband said he didn't want to tell me so I didn't worry. He wanted me to continue practicing on the race track and pretty much gave me the best pep talk ever.
I dug deep, I went out to the track but went out slow to help get my mind off of Boom. I just kept a steady pace, let everyone pass me. After that session it was lunch time. I got in my car and drove around. Because I always feel better when I drive my Subie. At lunch I talked to the hubby and he said the vet was hopeful. After lunch I went out on the track with 1 goal to just practice heel-toe. I sucked so bad, I had THE hardest time. After that session the hubby called and told to not worry at all. There is a breakout of Giardia in the area. I was so relieved!
I was so happy that Boom was going to be okay, she just needed some antibiotics. I found my spark again and went out in the last session with everything I got, but cautiously to not spin out again. Several times I got the track to myself and I felt I was flying! I was getting the heel-toe down! The grip in the Formula Mazda was AMAZING! This machine is so sensitive, it only requires gentle inputs of the brake, throttle, steering. I felt the bruises forming on my elbows and knees. My right leg and foot were going numb from heel-toe, my neck was killing me from the Gs. Did I care in the moment? Nope I was having too much fun.
After the last session we got our certificates and grades at graduation. The instructors congratulated us saying our group was one of the funnest groups to teach. When I got home my neck and shoulders were killing me. Especially my neck it hurt just as bad as it did when I got in a racing accident 3 years ago, my old injury flared up. I bathed myself in Ultra Strength Tiger Balm, I used like half of the container. When I put the Tiger Balm on my neck it burn like a raw flesh wound. My instructor was not kidding about the sore muscles, lol!
Overall it's been an amazing 4 days. I wish I could go back and just live there to continue practicing. The instructors are amazing! Especially Rob, and yes I am going to be bias because he was my instructor. One day I want to have the kind of control they have with vehicles. Everyone at Bondurant is super friendly from the moment you walk in until the last day you're there. I got see Pat and Bob Bondurant there, always interacting with the students. They really seem to care about their business and their customers. If you are a beginner or a seasoned racer Bondurant has a course for you. Their sales team is pretty knowable, you tell them what experience you have and what your goals are and they can tell you what class would fit you best. If I had the money I would go back again and go through the Advance Formula Car Racing to get more familiar with the Formula Car. I think that is the direction I want to eventually head towards after doing some more Time Attack races. If you are thinking about going to racing school it's totally worth the money. Especially when you think of the fuel, tires, brakes, and maintenance on the vehicles. My main take aways from the course was heel-toe and accuracy with all movements.
Hope you all found my blog informative and helpful. Comment below if there are any other racing things you would like me to write about.