Photos: Terry Zorich/Event Photo Now
Want to improve your track riding skills, becoming faster and safer in
the process, but don't want to shell out thousands of dollars to attend
one of the exotic, multi-day schools at a far away track? Sportbike
Track Time's PRO school is just $100 over the cost of a regular trackday
(typically $175) and has a curriculum that includes most of the skills
taught by its more expensive competition.
STT just started doing the Performance Riding Option school in its Northeast region this year as a way to help its existing customers improve their skills and learn to better enjoy the company's trackdays. STT already runs its Novice class like a school, complete with classroom instruction and on-track training, so the PRO school is targeted more at Intermediate riders who want to improve or who need that last bit of polish before moving up to Advanced. You ride your own bike in the school.
With either the PRO school or the Novice classes (which don't cost extra), you get the same track time as you would without the classes, riding one 20-minute session per-hour. You don't sacrifice track time with the school, you just spend the other 40 minutes in a classroom.
Grant and I attended the PRO school at the very wet Monticello Motor Club's North Course on July 23, STT comped the fee. Despite the heavy downpours, the school continued as planned. Perhaps a good mark of its efficacy is that none of the students crashed, even during torrential downpours of the kind pictured above.
The PRO school is run by Dave Podolsky, who's also in charge of running all STT Northeast's trackdays and Chicken Hawk Racing tire warmers. Dave's a successful club racer, that's his 1198 I'm riding in the pictures. Other instructors are drawn from STT's regular riding coaches and the day that we were there, AMA Daytona Sportbike racer Kyle Wyman was helping out too. There were about 15 students and five instructors.
The trackday's schedule necessitates brief classroom sessions, but STT focuses on a single skill -- body position, racing lines, passing, etc -- in each, so they don't feel rushed. After learning the theory, you head out on the track to practice that individual skill with a series of drills in the first few laps, followed by open lapping. Instructors stand trackside and ride around with you, giving you feed back immediately during the drill and afterwards back in the classroom.
The drills were very similar to some of the ones employed by the Skip Barber Superbike School -- trail braking to a stop at designated points on the track -- but were necessarily limited by the 20 minute sessions. Where Skip Barber was able to spend as much time as necessary on each drill and advance the drills for each skills through levels of difficulty -- the trail braking, for example was done around corners -- the PRO school only had time for brief, single-level exercises.
Despite that limitation, the PRO school was teaching up-to-date riding methods designed to make the most of the latest tire and chassis performance, although the body position they were teaching was somewhat more conservative than that favored by Skip Barber. Don't look at my horrible form for an example, but Skip Barber wants you to turn your torso more towards the corner where the PRO school teaches a torso that's parallel to the bike, just off the side.
Due to the high instructor-to-student ratio, the PRO school was able to adapt its curriculum to the skill level of the students in attendance on that day, glossing over the basics like counter steering and focussing more on trail braking and improving our lines.
I picked up a killer new line entering 3A and increased my confidence level while trail braking to the point where I'm braking probably 10-feet or so deeper into the corners. I'm sure I'd have improved more if they day hadn't been made so difficult by the weather. Still, both of those are worth way more than $100.
By the last few sessions of the day, the school changes to essentially open lapping with personalized instruction, both on the track and afterwards back in the classroom.
The last classroom session of the day is a run down of racing protocol for students using the school to obtain their WERA licenses, an option available to all attendees.
Not asking you to sacrifice any riding time, the PRO school should be a no-brainer for any STT rider. The $100 price is an absolute bargain. Sure, the PRO school doesn't offer the kind of transformative experience Skip Barber and other schools do, but at 1/30th of their cost it doesn't need to. Everyone can learn something from the PRO school, something that's worth way more than the tiny asking price.
Sportbike Track Time PRO School
Photos: Terry Zorich/Event Photo Now