I was up at 4:44 a.m. on Saturday morning. The early wake up call was by choice. No sleeping in to recover from the work week, but a chance for my wife to learn high-performance driving at the Radford Racing School.
It was my birthday gift to the love of my life and would afford her the chance to drive fast in a legal and safe manner, while also blowing off some steam from her very stressful career. Stress release is important for those you love, especially when your husband can occasionally be high maintenance. I knew that she had always wanted to try driving on a track and conveniently there’s a high-performance driving school 30-minutes away.
It’s still dark out and we are exhausted, more walking dead than functioning adults. I can imagine that our dogs aren’t exactly happy with us and our early rise, but we’re a family and hopefully they can nap later to offset this inconvenience and subsequent fatigue.
By 6:00 a.m. we’re on the road to Chandler with an espresso for me and a Monster for her. We both need something robust to shake off the cobwebs and after exiting the 10 we see our destination and spirits surged. Like us, the school was waking up as the staff got everything set up for the day.
The instructors at Radford Racing School have strong resumes with extensive racing experience. Danny Bullock is the Chief Instructor and has been teaching drivers at Radford since 2000. He’s confident in his demeanor, voice and overall vibe. This strength comes from a long racing career with Touring Cars in the National Auto Sport Association, and ProAutoSports Association. He also competed nationally in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge. Bullock is an internationally certified MSF Instructor. Heavy credentials and that’s just want you want from a racing instruction. There shouldn’t be any posers and under qualified faculty when piloting a 700 horsepower that weighs more than 4,400 pounds.
A little background on the Radford Racing School. It was founded in 1968 as the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Due to financial issues the school was sold in 2019 and was re-branded Radford Racing School. Radford has no affiliation to Bondurant.
There are more than 500,000 graduates from the school and its staff have taught numerous celebrities the finer points of high-speed driving for movies. Alumni from Bondurant include Paul Newman, Christian Bale, James and Tom Cruise. But the school isn’t just for movie stars prepping for their next movie role. It’s to teach anyone how to race.
I had my expectations on what a racing school would offer and those notions centered around the racing line and finding the apex. I was wrong.
“What your wife can expect is to gain some life saving driver skills that will help on everyday driving, “Bullock said. “But is also a little bit of a foundation of what we do when we’re driving at an escalated level or elevated level on the racetrack, or when we’re competing, against other drivers. We talk a lot about vision skills, because the vision skills are the foundation. Then we talk a lot about vehicle balance and good car control skills. Along with those two things driver can do so much more with a vehicle than the average driver.”
His words made sense. As the lessons learned on the track at higher velocities would carry over to the highway at lower speeds. Vision and focus are paramount for a driver. Even as an observer I was learning about driving and realized my habits needed some fine tuning.
Class is about to begin and I will observe the tutorial. Truthfully, this might be the coolest classroom I’ve been in.
To be continued…