Something you might want to consider when scheduling your course is the time of year. We scheduled for 4-5 January as we are in Las Vegas for CES during this period and it keeps us out of the 100 Degree temps of July. Something we never expected, however, was the onslaught of rain that shut down any track records on the final afternoon of the program.
With a backdrop of the Spring Mountains, the resort contains 3 race tracks (1.5/2.1 and 2.2 mile) that can be changed to 50 unique configurations for over 6 miles of the most challenging run in the US. Our track was the red 2.2 mile run shown here.
Initial runs around the track are at a very slow pace, the instructor explaining the track and the best driver movement as things move along. Each member will get a turn behind the lead vehicle and it is recommended that they try to follow in the same path as the instructor. As things progress, speed is increased and the lessons taught fall into place. If the group you are in is much too slow, don’t be afraid to approach the instructors as they want to match drivers of similar ability. It’s not unusual to see groups change often as instructors keep a close eye on the skill level of each student.
Instructor experience and professionalism is beyond reproach, some having driven professional circuits in the past. Each is handpicked and under the gun in every run as safety is paramount. Most people find multi-tasking two or more activities simultaneously difficult; these instructors make it look easy. Not only are they negotiating the track and increasing the pace as things progress, but also, they are constantly describing the right move turn for turn while at the same time monitoring each driver through their rear view mirrors and correcting them via radio. Look at this picture carefully!
At one point, an old work habit revealed itself and I got picked up with my hand on top of the wheel, Dang! Yup…not only did she mention it on the turn, but also, the photographer got the shot! Guilty!
COMPARING THE C7 AND THE Z06
Just prior to lunch on the last morning of the course, instructors hop into the driver seat with the students beside them to demonstrate how things are really done, students advised that this drive might be a bit unsettling to some due to its speed and aggressive nature. I was inadvertently asked to jump into a Stingray initially, after which the error was realized and I was taken in the Z06. I found this to be any interesting experience as, while in the Stingray, I always felt like the car was right on that edge of letting go of its grip at every turn. If you listen close in this video, I even mention it. The instructor assures me this isn’t the case, however, it is the feeling I experienced.
Doing that same ride in the Z06 immediately after provided me with a true appreciation of the difference between the two cars. That feeling of the tires barely holding on was never there and speeds were higher all around in the Z06. This is the Z06 run as seen from our GoPro on the front of the car; one might understand why the initial warning is given to students.
And then came the rain… Pahrump gets an average of 4 inches of rain per year and it was all accounted for on this day. If you are planning you’re course at anytime for the rest of the year, you should be good to go! As much as I had never run a track prior, it was definitely amusing running it in the pouring rain and having to avoid large pools that had formed in many turns. Quite frankly, as much as I really wanted to test my dry weather driving skill on that afternoon, this was a picture I might never get again.
This is my final run and I wanted to post it for several reasons, the first being to demonstrates the significant washout formed on the track. Not only can it be seen, but also, listen as the tires push through these puddles at times. Our top speed was just over 80MPH which I am fairly happy with. Within, there is another great example of me being corrected when the rear tires break loose at the 5:11 mark. The instructor picked this up while accelerating out of a turn in the pouring rain and negotiating ‘track-soak’. Could I have caught just one break do you think?
All in all, the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School Corvette Owners Program at Spring Mountain was an amazing adventure. The resort, accommodations, meals, friendliness and professionalism by all was beyond reproach. At such a savings, I don’t really understand how less than 25% of Corvette owners take advantage of such a valuable opportunity. Both myself and Karen enjoyed it thoroughly and I hope to get back to the Resort some time in the future, if only to get that last afternoon in! In fact, it would be great to do follow up reports on the Level 1-3 Programs (hint, hint), although I am fairly certain that it will be some time before Level 3 is appropriate.
The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is held at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club and consists of Corvette (Stingray and Z06), Corvette ZR-1 and Cadillac Driving Programs, Radical and SCCA- Radical as well as level 1-3 track training. One can check registration availability and register here. Any questions whatsoever can be answered by calling Jenifer Shaw at (800)391-6891 Ext 252.