A Track Instructor's Confession.

[Ed: An email sent to me by my friend Tom Coucill who instructs at Mosport Raceway]


Hi Alex:
 
I am one lucky bastard. The fact that I'm still allowed to instruct is my pension plan, and for that alone I'm grateful.
 
I get to drive fast cars around a race track and drive them quickly. As you can imagine, we're told to take it easy with the customer cars, so I would guess my driving discretion is limited to about 7/10th's. This limited lapping is enough to occasionally cause an owner/passenger, to exit their car and kiss the ground in the pits. Believe me, this is not my intention. I've often felt like doing the same thing after being the passenger of cars driven by people who shouldn't be allowed to drive... period.
 
As far as God liking me; I suppose he does. If I were a religious man, which I'm not, there are many times, following certain life-threatening lapping sessions, when it would have been handy to have a small altar in the pits so I could kneel down and cross myself, giving thanks for surviving.
 
Now here's a sad fact;
 
There are certain limited models by many makes of high-end cars (i.e. Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Corvette etc.) that push the level of performance into race car territory. These are always very expensive and are really not meant to be used as daily transport. Few people can afford to own these exciting machines. 
 
In my experience on the track, I would say that 75% of the owners of these ultra-high-performance machines have purchased way more car than they are capable of ever handling. I'm not sure how the owners of these cars feel about themselves after learning that their driving capabilities are light years away from the high level of potential performance of their cars. It must truly be a humbling and frustrating experience.
 
I regularly see letters in car enthusiast magazines from individuals asking, "What's the best thing I can do to improve the performance of my car?" The wise editors always reply with, "Take an advanced driving school." I would only add one word... "often".
 
That being said, if you have the wherewithal to afford the best, what salesman in his right mind is going to challenge your reasoning and say something like, "I'm sorry Mr. Moneypants, but following our test drive in the Alfunzo DeCredenza GT SS RT, I have determined that you sir, have the driving skills of an untrained Russian bear. May I suggest you consider a scooter or perhaps, a skateboard. Oh, and the new McGuinty Moron Motorist Law requires me to destroy your driver's licence with this pair of sissors." 
 
I really do have to thank my lucky stars that these cars are available to anyone who can afford one, otherwise they'd never show up at the race track and hand me the keys. Golly, how many people ever get the chance to sit in one, let alone drive one on a race track? Hum, maybe there really is a God after all. Lord knows, I can't afford one and in all likelihood, I never will.  
 
There is no doubt in my mind that I could write a mini book about my 35 years instructing, with subsequent mini interest. Heck, if I had to rely on earning a living by writing about my experiences as a driving instructor...by chapter 11, I'd be declaring Chapter 11. May I also point out that a "novel" is a fictional story. My stories may seem like fiction, but in my case there's no need to embellish the truth. I still may give it a go. I've even come up with a title, Rich Man, Poor Man - A Driving Instructor's Story. Here's a taste;
 
One day I was instructing a guy in a 911 turbo. In the early part of the lapping sessions he was all over the track. In an effort to get him to clip the apexes of the corners I told him, "I want you to get so close to the apex that you hit the orange cone." He said, "I can't do that! The classroom guy said that if I hit a pylon it would cost me twenty bucks!" I broke out laughing and replied, "Your insurance alone must be costing you twenty dollars a minute. Now, hit the cones!" He owes $120 to the Porsche school.   
 
Cheers, Tom