Thursday winds up with a ceremony where we each receive very classy graduation certificates and plaques. We also get our report cards: Jim and I both earn above-average overall grades, showing we took it to the next level-that's a major compliment coming from these instructors. We also are signed off as eligible for our regional SCCA licenses (both three- and four-day Grand Prix Road Racing courses qualify you for this). That's right, this isn't just a driving course where you get to haul ass and get patted on the back for a job well done-the Bondurant instructors are evaluating your performance every step of the way during a GPR course, and because they have a heck of a knack for what you're doing wrong and how to help you fix it, you become a better driver each day you are here.
We'll leave you with some wisdom instructor Corey Hosford imparted to us one day at the school: When you come here as a student, it's critical to keep an open mind. He said some folks come here having been the fastest at their local tracks, and start driving in a way that's either not fast or is outright unsafe. Unbelievable though it may sound, "Kid, I've been driving since before you were born!" is one thing he's heard as an instructor. In other words, what you get out of a course at Bondurant depends on what you put into it. Put in just a little, and you'll still get a lot. Put in a lot-like your complete faith and trust in the knowledge of the instructors-and you'll get more than you might imagine possible.
Check out superchevy.com for exclusive in-car video of both the Corvettes and the Formula Bondurant machines, as well as an interview with Bondurant himself. Special thanks to Anna Hackett, Corey Hosford, Les Betchner, Jerry Arms, Bob Bondurant, Rusty, and everyone else at Bondurant-we'll see you next time!
After some brief formalities and introductions, we get a 25-minute classroom introduction to vehicle dynamics, including information on weight transfer and quick primers on trail braking and the Accident Avoidance Simulator that we will be going through later in the day. Monday morning also brought a tour of the shop areas where the cars are worked on by Bondurant's skilled staff of full-time technicians. Here we're shown the underhood of one of the red LS7-powered Vettes used in the Z06 Experience classes.
By 8:15 AM, we're ushered out to do our first bit of driving. Before getting into the Corvettes, we receive some quick instruction on one of the skid pads in our instructor's Cadillac CTS, where we each get behind the wheel and practice throttle steering. During this exercise, one must negotiate the skidpad, but no changing of steering wheel position is allowed. This is one of the very basic tenets of car control: an understeer situation is caused by the use of too much speed in a turn. Backing out of the gas allows more grip on the front tires and immediately brings the car in on a smaller turning radius.
We were blessed with LS3-powered Corvettes so new, Bondurant didn't even have the school paint scheme on them yet. All cars used in the Grand Prix Road Racing course are identical yellow Z51 coupes. Mechanically, these puppies are factory, with the few notable exceptions including Performance Friction brake pads and higher-boiling-point Castrol brake fluid. This just goes to show what a race-ready machine the C6 is off the showroom floor! Stock Eagle F1 Supercar run-flats last an average of two, four-day sessions, and Mobil 1 oil gets changed about every 800 miles (necessary because of fuel contamination due to lots of on-off throttle situations). Engine failures are extremely rare, a testament to the bulletproof LS architecture. Bondurant even has a C5 with 40,000 track miles whose LS1s valve covers have never been touched.