The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




A Weekend at the Track

Racing traffic Photo by: Rich Sainato

An exhilarating hobby amongst car enthusiasts, high performance driving schools offer drivers the opportunity to live out their race car driver dreams on race tracks throughout the country. At an internationally acclaimed track in North Georgia the BMW Car Club of America hosted one of these schools. 

Early Friday morning before the event, first-time driver Dominic Lightfoot was excited to show off his track-ready Ford Fiesta ST, “I did a good amount of track prep to my car, new tires and brakes and pretty much every fluid change I could do to the car. I also bought a helmet and watched some footage of other cars on the track to try and get a little more familiarized with what my line may look like.” 

Lightfoot checking his car before his session Photo by: Joshua Reid

The first day of the three-day event gives novice drivers a chance to get familiar with the track and watch some more advanced drivers in a 90-minute endurance race. Lightfoot explains the almost overwhelming feeling of first arriving.

“I felt pretty giddy. Just the smell of the track is intoxicating, the smell of tires and gas and the sound of all the cars is really incredible. It’s a lot to take in at one time. I walked around and started to look at all the cars everyone brought and it was intimidating seeing higher power, more track focused cars running in my sessions.”

At 7:30 the next morning, all the drivers congregated near the registration building for the drivers’ meeting. The majority middle aged group were visibly tired but still cracked jokes throughout. At the end of the meeting, the novice drivers were introduced to their instructors for the weekend, instructors being more seasoned drivers who will help the novices build a line around the track and teach them one on one in the car. 

The first drivers meeting Photo by: Joshua Reid

Lightfoot, a 20-year-old 6-foot-4-inch tall Brit, stuck out from the crowd both because of his height and apparent age difference from the rest of the group. After meeting with his instructor, Lightfoot was optimistic about the day ahead, “I’m really excited and really nervous about today. I met my instructor and he seems like a really nice guy. I don’t get on track for another couple of hours so I’m probably going to find a spot to sit and watch the first few sessions.” 

The drivers are all split into three groups. A-group was the most advanced, B-group was the intermediate drivers, and C-group was the novice drivers. Lightfoot comfortably sat in the C-group which allowed him the opportunity to watch some of the advanced drivers in their earlier sessions. 

Lightfoot observing early sessions Photo by: Joshua Reid

He spent the first few laps taking it slow and getting comfortable being on track and then slowly got faster with each lap. Lightfoot’s ‘spunky’ Ford looked quick from the sidelines. It was noticeably smaller than the rest of the cars on track but held its own. 

After his first session, Lightfoot was ecstatic, “It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I know I was slow out there but it felt so incredible, the sound of cars flying by you and getting to push my car is an amazing feeling. I’m also starting to understand how to form a line around the track.”

“I think I really learned a good bit after my first day. I feel really accomplished, this was something I have been wanting to do for a very long time finally having that dream realized was a really unique feeling.  By the last session of the day I had a good idea of my line on track and my relationship with my instructor was really solid. I knew my strengths and weaknesses and I was ready to start on the next day almost immediately,” said Lightfoot.

Lightfoot also began to realize the drawbacks of his car, “I can definitely feel how my car is lacking compared to some of the others. It’s front wheel drive and that does me no favors and it’s significantly under power compared to some others. Still, I got some good passes in which I was thrilled about.”

The instructor assured drivers that this was a school promoting smart, fast driving, and a successful day at the track is one without incident. 

Lightfoot in traffic Photo by: Joshua Reid

On the second day, Lightfoot was one of the only drivers out in the first session of his group. His mostly stock car was not subject to Braselton’s ‘quiet hours’ as most of the other cars were. This meant Lightfoot had an open track for the first few laps of the day. 

“I don’t know if I prefer being out there alone, it was definitely a unique experience but a good amount of the fun for me is passing or getting passed,” said Lightfoot. “I noticed that my first session felt very put together. It all kind of clicked and it felt really smooth.”

By the end of the second day, everyone was visibly exhausted, multiple hours of high-speed driving takes a serious toll on the drivers. 

Lightfoot leading the pack Photo by: Joshua Reid

“The weekend was definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life. It more than lived up to my expectations and I feel extremely proud of how I did. I am already trying to figure out what I want to do to my car to make it perform better and I’m already planning my next event. Definitely something I would recommend.”

If you are interested in participating in an event at Road Atlanta their event calendar provides the necessary information to sign up. For participation in a BMW CCA event visit their upcoming schedule to sign up. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to Vanguard

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Vanguard

Comments (0)

All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
A Weekend at the Track