Every fall a few friends and I would make a pilgrimage to Monterey, CA to the Laguna Seca Raceway for the last Indycar event of the season. We had a standing reservation for the same room in the same hotel for 14 straight years. It was one of the larger rooms and we had the space for a few roll-a-way beds.
Thee Jim Russell Driving School was located at the track and we stopped in to talk to the staff about their courses. We made the decision to attend. My friend Scott would take the beginner "Techniques of Racing Course" and I would attend the "Advanced Racing Course" during the same period. My "Grand Prix Road Racing" course at Bondurant qualified me for the advanced training.
Laguna Seca Raceway is a beautiful 11-turn, 2.2 mile jewel of a road course track with good elevation change. The signature turn is the "Corkscrew" a very fast downhill left, right, big sweeper left combination that is a blast to drive at the limit.
The advanced class was a three day affair taught in a Formula Maza, an open wheel, purpose built car with wings and slicks. These cars can do a quarter mile dragstrip run in 11 seconds at about 115 mph. They can stop from 60 mph in under 80 feet. Lateral acceleration is over 2 g's. This car only weighs about 1150 pounds and has about 180 horsepower, that's roughly equivalent to 500 horsepower in 3000 pound car.
Turns 8 and 8A - The Corkscrew
I was the second oldest driver in my class at only 47, it really is a young man's sport. I had the flu and had a three digit temperature during the entire three days. I had the same problem with my big size 13s in the extremely small foot box of the Formula Mazda. We made a trip to a big sporting store that night and both purchased wrestling shoes, they wear like a second skin with an extremely thin sole for good pedal feel. I wish I had thought of that at the Bondurant School.
I was disappointed in the quality of instruction and personnel at this school. No one seemed to give a damn and most everyone was just going through the motions to get this class done and move on to the next. There always seemed to confusion about who would take the track and what to do next. The class had a lot of squawks about the poor maintenance of the cars.
Unlike the Bondurant School, who I would highly recommend, I give the Jim Russell Racing School a big "THUMBS DOWN".
Laguna Seca Hot Lap
The Jim Russell Racing School is now know as the Simraceway Performance Driving Center and located at Sears Point Raceway.