How to be a Race Car Driver: From Hobbyist to Pro on the Skip Barber Ladder

Courses are offered in one-day, three-day, and advanced two-day career school formats, each building on previously acquired skills and techniques. The minimum entry age is 16, although younger students with approved karting experience may be considered.

The reference to go-karting might lead some to believe that experience is essential to being a successful student. In fact, the nature of karts—light, low, agile, and no suspension—encourages a driving style more suited to the school’s F4 racing cars than its GT vehicles, whose higher center of gravity and suspension produce characteristic very different handling. “Students with a strong karting background can progress faster in some areas, but for GT cars we need to change their driving style,” says Fartuch. “For some, that can be quite a struggle.”

Naturally, those with a lot of kart experience are likely to choose Skip Barber’s formula car school. Fartuch says those with only street car experience will find GT School more appropriate and rewarding. “Personally, I feel the transition to a GT car is easier for those used to the closed cockpit, high center of gravity and long suspension travel of a road car. Once they are familiar with it, a GT is a great way for the novice racer to understand vehicle dynamics, the effects of weight transfer and how to set a good racing line.”

F4 car at Skip Barber Racing School

Karters will feel at ease with Skip Barber’s F4 cars

Whichever Skip Barber racing school a student chooses, these and other basic principles of the art of racing are common to both and are presented in greater detail and complexity, beginning with the one-day racing school.

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one day racing school

The day begins with sessions on vehicle dynamics and the racing line before students move onto the skid to explore basic car control techniques. These sessions are followed by One Corner Fundamentals, a fascinating “deep dive” into this endlessly challenging aspect of racing. “We teach students how to deal with a corner and predict what they should do as they get closer,” says Fartuch. The morning ends with a reconnaissance of the track, the instructor talking to the students about the turning point, the apex and the exit of each corner, a session that instills in them the value of preparation.

Instructor leads at Skip Barber Racing School

The Lead-Follow system offers a practical demonstration of racing lines.

After lunch and other classroom sessions on taking the correct racing line and formulating racing strategies, the students, now separated into groups, head to the cars to practice the racing line during which a group of students, driving the race cars, follow each other in rhythm. cars driven by the instructors, a system called guide-follow.

By the end of the day, all students have been introduced to the basics of racing. For some, the experience will fuel a desire to know and achieve more. For these folks, Skip Barber’s three-day racing school is the next logical step.

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