In January we traveled to Nevada to attend the Ron Fellow’s Corvette Racing School. The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is located about 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas in the small town of Pahrump. The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is the official high performance driving school of Chevrolet located at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club.
The School is located on 313 acres of land in the Mojave Desert surrounded by majestic mountains.
The tracks at Spring Mountain can be confirmed for multiple course layouts with varying distance, from 1.7 to 6.1 miles. Mr. Fellows created the curriculum and designed the track to make it both fun and challenging. The school incorporates dynamic car control handling exercises to develop eyes, hands, and feet coordination for use on the exhilarating road course. You will practice under wet and dry road conditions to familiarize yourself with car control for either type of weather.
Ron Fellows said: “It’s the goal of every instructor here to make sure everyone leaves with not just a great experience, but a knowledge base that will take them forward and make them better drivers … and you can apply that just about anywhere you go.”
Also housed at Spring Mountain are the Cadillac Academy and Radical Racing School. Several different car and truck manufactures use the track to test prototype cars and trucks.
Before we talk about the school and what you learn, let’s talk about the facilities and what you can expect if you stay.
Whether you are a club member or attending one of their schools, you can stay on the grounds in one of the many condos. School attendees can rent a condo for the duration of their stay. Club members have the option to lease a condo on a full-time or timeshare basis. For those who lease a condo, it comes with use of a climate-controlled garage directly below each condo to house your car and recreational equipment.
Each luxury loft-style condominium has flat screen TV, complimentary wireless Internet access, and kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator, and convection stovetop. After a long day of racing, enjoy a restful and restoring sleep in the king size bed. Several of the condos have large bathrooms with over-sized showers. A few of the condos have balconies offering spectacular views of not only the track, but the surrounding mountains. You can watch the race action right from your terrace with a cup of fresh coffee in the morning.
Club members can lease trackside garages to store their cars between visits.
There is a small putting green and observation tower near the clubhouse. In addition; there are racquetball courts, shooting range, and a climbing wall to entertain you between races or for those accompanying you.
After an exciting day of racing, relax in one of the plush patio chairs in front of the gas fire pit. On a warm evening enjoy a cookout using the gas BBQ as you knock golf balls around on the putting green. During the day, watch the racing from the 28 ft. observation tower near the patio area.
Spring Mountain’s 8,000 square foot clubhouse is the ideal place to relax between race sessions, discuss the race with other drivers and refuel yourself with cocktails (only when not racing) and delicious meals. The facility also has includes spa and massage therapy, pool and Jacuzzi, fitness center, lockers and showers, business center and meeting room.
We attended the first two days of the Level 1 course. During the short classroom time we learned about seating position, safety, braking and accident avoidance, shifting, heel and toe downshifting, cornering, early or late apex, over, under, and throttle steering. Once we finished the classroom instruction, we took what we just learned and utilize it in the Corvettes.
The driving school is now in possession of the new generation Corvette Stingray, the C7 (the seventh generation of the iconic American sports car) and still have a few of the previous generation in Z06 for special programs.
Most of the morning of the first day was spent in the Corvette familiarizing ourselves with the car and its handling characteristics by performing various exercises. We learned the “blip” technique to maintain engine rpm when shifting by driving numerous times on short straight aways. Thank you Chevrolet for having the “rev match” option in the Corvette, as I did not master the “blip” technique.
We learned how to use our periphery vision to see using an exercise where we how to look at a spot away from the course while maneuvering around a set of cones. One time during the exercise the instructors put a sun screen over the windshield to make sure we could not look straight ahead.
The instructors were extremely knowledgeable about racing and car handling. In fact, most of the instructors still race in various types of car racing. They were extremely patient and positive when teaching the group. They would correct our errors without being negative. While on the track, they kept in constant contact with us via two-way radio. There were nine in our group and we had five instructors throughout the entire two days. They gave each of us individual attention and instruction several times.
Watch this short video clip and listen as the instructor shown above instructs his students around the course.
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Handling and car control was practiced on the Wet Braking Course, Handling Oval and Wet Figure 8 Track. Doing a controlled 360 in a Corvette was quite exciting.
Having learned the basics, we now moved on to learning the 2.2 mile, 10 turn track by driving around the track in a van driven by an instructor. Once we completed the track familiarization, we were broken up into groups of three and conducted Lead / Follow runs around the track where we followed an instructor while driving by ourselves. Each of us had the opportunity to run at least two laps directly behind the instructor so he could provide us with personalized instructions on how we were doing.
The second day was building on what we learned the first day with improved techniques. The majority of this day was spent on the track doing lead / follow sessions. (The third day of level 1 is where the students drive what is known as “hot laps” without being lead by an instructor.)
Also on the second day we had the opportunity to ride with an instructor as he raced around the track. The first time they drove at approximately 70 percent of the speed they could achieve, which turned out to be the maximum most of the students were achieving. The second time the we rode with an instructor, they went at the maximum. What a “rush” that was!
The final session, Auto Cross Competition, was a fun session where we individually raced around a short auto cross course to determined you could achieve the fastest time. Oh well, I did not win but I definitely had fun racing the Corvette around the course. According to trusted offices like Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby, if you are in an accident driving a corvette, but have attended these classes, it can not only help your case but prevent you’re insurance rates from going up.
When your class is over, the group gathered for a commemorative group photo. By the time you leave, everyone is your best buddy.
The “mind-speed processing” was key in racing around the track. Their program helped you learn to process information quickly and accurately and how to coordinate your eyes, hands and feet, improving your driving skills. It was an thrilling and educational, adrenaline-rush driving school, where I learned a multitude of driving skills for racing as well everyday driving.
The owner of Spring Mountain has plans to build houses around the track and also a man-made lake. It will be interesting to go back in a few years to see how much it changes when these things happen.
Disclosure: We won this trip from the Tire Rack (www.tirerack.com) program in conjunction with Michelin, who as sole tire supplier to the 2014 Corvette Stingray with Pilot Super Sport tires supported the event. We shared our experiences to give you an idea what you could expect if you have the chance to attend the school.