Rounding Gurney Bend, the Killer was on a mission. We had just nailed turns 4 and 5, hitting the apexes perfectly, and I was busy applying throttle and unwinding the wheel when I clicked the Camaro into Fourth gear. It was pulling hard now, with the braking zone markers coming up fast on the left side of the track. Throttle off, brakes on, pedal directly to the floor. “Uh, Matt, we don’t have any brakes…” Yep, the moment every road racer fears had just happened to me. The brake pedal dropped all the way down to the sheet-metal, no braking effort could be felt at all, and the STI Killer was heading right into the hairpin at well over a hundred miles an hour. “DOWNSHIFT!” yelled Matt, who was simultaneously tightening his 5-point harness and wondering why he agreed to instruct me on this session. From Fifth gear, Second seemed like the next best choice, even if it meant over revving the engine and locking up the rear tires. The noise that followed was incredible, as was the feeling of the ring gear shearing teeth off of itself while trying to deal with the massive load we had just placed on it. But the Camaro was slowing down now and the wall wasn’t as close as we thought. Past the turn-in we went, heading down into the runoff area that Sebring kept for this exact reason. Twenty miles an hour now, another downshift, slowing even more, and the brakes are finally coming back around. I hadn’t taken a breath since this debacle started and my heart was beating at what felt like 2,000 beats per minute, but we were alive and the Camaro was still in one piece. The rush was incredible and the only thought left was, “I hope we can fix this and get back out on track soon!”
That’s how good this type of open track event is. Even facing what could have been a “major incident,” all I wanted to do was get everything sorted out, change my shorts, and get back in for the next session. Twenty minutes may not seem like a very long time, but when you’re out on track, it’s the best 20 minutes of the day. Yes, even possibly compared to that other 20 – okay, 10 – minute activity that we’re also so fond of. And the best part is that anyone can get in on this action, and you certainly don’t need a full on racecar to do it. Heck, we’ve seen enthusiasts run an entire weekend in a rental car. It’s just not that important what you’re in as long as you are on track and having a blast. And that’s one of the best parts about a Track Guys event, this crew just wants everyone to have a good time, drive safe, and learn all that they can. With run groups for every possible student, including many who have never been on a racetrack in their lives, the Track Guys group has got you covered, no matter your experience. If you recall our last event, we started in Group 2, where we covered the classroom instruction, on-track driving, and instructor led laps. This year, we graduated to Group 3, which allowed us to drive the track with or without an instructor, giving us time to learn on our own or with some help if need be. For the pros in the group, Track Guys offers a Group 4, which is the real deal for track hounds looking for the ultimate on-track thrill. Now, we’re not sure what kind of experience you have, but we know there is a group for you, so the real question is, why weren’t you out there with us?
With safety and education as the main focus, each day starts out with a mandatory driver safety meeting, which gives everyone a chance to go over the rules and ask any questions they may have. Jef Lacina, Track Guys owner and lead instructor, spends a considerable amount of time each morning going over the rules, regulations, and flags, which is extremely helpful to both novice and experienced drivers alike.
After two exciting days at Sebring with the Track Guys Performance Driving school, we left with much more skill than we entered with, a ton of on-track driving time, a wicked sunburn, and the STI Killer in (almost) one piece. That's what you get when you run with a quality driving event and it's what keeps us coming back year after year. Now if only we could get back out on track sooner!