Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
We arrived in Phoenix for the NCM Board Meeting on Sunday morning and were picked up at the airport by Bill & Bobbie Weir:
Since the whole board was to be in the same hotel it was decided that we car pool and save each of us a few dollars. As you may or may not know, all the expenses involved with a board meeting are incurred by the individual members, so every little bit helps. The reason we were having the meeting so far away from Bowling Green was that we were all going to attend Bondurant School of High Performance Driving while we were out there.
After arriving at our hotel, Vicki & George Hicks called and Bill went after them. As it was somewhat near lunch time, we decided to walk to Cracker Barrel and partake of their wonderful cuisine. Upon leaving we noticed a car in the Handicapped section of the parking lot with a flat tire and set about trying to change it. As you can see it does take a few board members to change a flat:
However after breaking one jack and then finding another, and with a little bit of luck..
..the lovely lady was sent on her way:
We then prepared for the events of the evening which consisted of a gala party at Chuck & Carolyn Van Santen's..
.. beautiful home. They had invited all the board members and a group of Corvette friends from the area:
By the time we left for their house, Jimmy & Brenda Goodnight had arrived, so we all piled into the van and headed off. The whole evening was a great success not only for us, but also for the other guests. We all got a chance to swap stories and partake of the wonderful "goodies" provided:
It was a real shame that the evening had to come to a close. Thank you very much for having us over, Chuck & Carolyn!
The next morning was sort of free, so we piled into Bill's truck and headed for the Heard Museum. This was a Native American Museum, which was very nicely done. But before we knew it the cell phones were ringing and Buzz, Bill, & George were off to the airport once more. They left the gals to continue to tour.
The rest of the day consisted of picking up the remainder of the board as they arrived and preparing for the meeting, which was held at the hotel. Just to be on the safe side Buzz found a little "bull----" in case the meeting got too boring:
The next morning, we all piled into vans and various vehicles and headed off to Bondurant..
..for our 1½ day FUNdamental course. This being Valentine's Day, some of us were hoping that our significant others would enjoy the festivities. At first we had thought the ladies would like to go shopping, but much to our delight all wanted to enjoy the fun. We arrived and were introduced to our instructors, Pete Miller and Tim Maddux:
After a brief description of the day's events, we had the pleasure of meeting Bob Bondurant himself and the CEO Rusty:
We then piled into their vans, two vans 12 people each..
..and went for a tour of the facilities. Firebird Raceway is quite a complex with a ¼ mile drag strip, road courses and a ¼ mile drag boat course. After seeing all we thought there was to see, we went along pit road toward their race track. We thought we would get to see the track, but had no idea how close we would get. As Pete approached, he gunned the van and we proceeded to take the course at about 70 or 75 MPH! I'm talking a van ride none of us will ever forget. Now I know why he said that it was a good idea to buckle up!! We then went into the classroom for instructions and reminders of the way we should drive and behave:
After we caught our breath, it was time for lunch, a picture with Bob & Rusty:
.. and off to the Cadillac CTS cars for auto crossing:
This was an exercise we all enjoyed.
After the autocross, it was our turn to have the "skid car" experience:
I have to tell you that it is quite a thrill to see what a car can do with "under steer" or "over steer". You hear about it on race coverage, but it was a real treat to actually be behind the wheel as it was happening:
After we all had a chance to wear some rubber off the tires and spin around, it wound up board members 24, skid cars 0. Oh well they do have a great garage facility:
After a few minutes of rest and a chance to drink a little water, we were off to the road course and the Corvettes. We donned our helmets..
..(who said the chairman doesn't have a big head?) and climbed into the cars and played "follow the leader" around the road course:
It was a great chance to find the correct line and see what the cars can do. After a few laps, we changed drivers and went out again:
By this time the adrenalin was really pumping. After this, it was a real let-down to get into our regular vehicles and head back to the hotel. It had been decided that we would eat at the hotel as most were a little tired from the day's activities:
A good night's sleep was had by all.
The next morning found us at the track once more for another set of thrills. We did the autocross once more, but this time in Corvette ZO6s instead of Cadillacs:
(Could this be the next feminist movement?)
(This is Christy and she had this smile all the time she was behind the wheel of anything)
Needless to say this was a little bit faster and more fun. After the autocross, it was time for the go carts:
Well, I have to tell you that these were not the kind of carts I remember. They were really fast and really small. Perhaps if I had stayed away from the table for the last fifty or so years, it would have been a bit easier to fit in and more fun, but it was still a thrill to drive:
The course was longer than the autocross, so we could really get going. Soon it was Jackie's turn:
As you can see she only wore part of her pants and found out that the small bits of rubber were very warm and hurt just a bit:
After the rides, Bill & Wil discuss their performances:
After we regained our composure, it was off for the helmets once more and this time a chance to do the track at speed. This means that our instructors would buckle us in and take us on the ride of our lives:
Well, Pete was taking Wendell around for his first lap..
..and the ZO6 spewed forth a real pretty blue/black smoke from the exhaust. It was NCM board 1, ZO6 0. This little delay even caused Bob himself to don a helmet and give a helping hand:
I seem to remember hearing from Vicki that she would even suffer from the dreaded "helmet head" for a chance to ride with the boss. All who wanted to go were allowed to participate. This is my bride buckling up and seeing what it would do:
We then went into the lounge for lunch. The instructors gave out their award for the auto crossing. Jack Matukas was the fastest..
..and his wife Donna went away with the "cone" award for losing it the most:
I would love to see the inspector's face as they went to get on the plane for home with the cone in hand. After that it was time for graduation and diplomas for all. The one thing we did notice was the fact that after every phase of the courses, we somehow found our way into and through the gift shop. It must have worked since many left with shirts, hats and more than a few purchased racing shoes for the new type of driving we all looked forward to. What a treat to have spent a day and a half learning such skills. I would highly recommend that any one interested in Corvettes, spend some time at a school of your choice.
Some of the members had to go home after the course and others were heading out to spend a few days in Arizona. A few of us decided to take a ride around the city and into the country. I was volunteered to pilot one van and we loaded up and headed out with others in a car following. As you can see there was much pre-trip mapping and discussion going on, so I just followed instructions that we were given:
We headed out onto the road and turned right as instructed. My navigator extraordinaire quickly surmised that we were going in the wrong direction, so a "U-turn" was in the cards. Off we went for a "Three hour Tour." The rolling hills and canyons were absolutely breathtaking:
Of course so was the fact that we had lost all pavement and were about to undertake a "Mission Impossible" through the wasteland:
All would have been better for the passengers if someone had taken more notice of the fuel situation:
I still don't think this should be completely up to the driver. As you can see along with the information of no paved roads, came the light and notice of no fuel. Even with the situation becoming rather bleak, George found a way to get that perfect picture by opening the sliding door:
After what seemed like an eternity, along with many remarks from the back seats, some of which sounded like prayers, we found a gas station and all in unison breathed a sigh of relief. We are not sure if the Hicks or the Goodnights will ever get in another vehicle with us.
After all the events of the past few days, this was the climax and would send us on our way toward home.
Back to our Main Page..