Got somebody on your holiday gift list with a need for speed? Miller Motorsports Park has everything necessary to give the gift of … thrills. For anyone who ever dreamed of racing cars, motorcycles, karts or even off-road vehicles, MMP has a learn-to-race program that will fill the bill for practically any age.
Ever since I was a kid watching Indy racing with my dad, I’ve yearned to haul ass around a race track. But I never dreamed I’d get to do it on a world-class track like the 4.5 mile road course at MMP. In fact, anyone can do it.
Learn-to-race programs at MMP run the gamut from low-priced Intro to Karting programs to the full-blown, three-day “Super Car School,” which can run up to $7,995. For $300, you can give the gift of the MMP Mustang Experience—two hours of learn-to-race lessons, time in a “skid car,” and on-track lap time.
My Mustang Experience began with a classroom session conducted by British race driver (and could-be male model) James Burke, who instructed me first in the finer points of braking (don’t, unless necessary), heel-and-toe gear shifting, and how to negotiate turns, turns, turns. It turns out (pun intended) that going fast—especially on a road course like the one at MMP—largely comes down to entering and exiting turns at the exact speeds and angles. As Burke discussed the importance of maneuvering the apex of race track corners in relation to speed and the shifting weight of a race car, I began to realize that auto racing is as much about physics as anything else. To quote Burke, “Racing is largely about abusing the laws of physics.” If I went into a hard left turn at 75 mph incorrectly, the souped-up Mustang GT I was driving wanted to skid or roll—not ideal. But with Burke’s expert instruction, I was soon “hitting my marks” and optimizing my speed through the turns and on the straights.
Hitting speeds in excess of 100 mph on the track straightaway, however, I began to experience the “pucker factor” Burke had mentioned in class. My hands and knees were shaking a bit—probably not the optimal state for a race driver!
After completing my own solo laps, I got to ride with Burke during a few of what they call in the racing biz “hot laps.” Talk about pucker factor! It turns out that racing has a lot to do with always being just on the edge of disaster. Remember the comment about abusing physics? Well, I may never get to drive or even sit in a race car again—who knows? But, it’s been a few weeks now since my MMP Mustang Experience, and I still can’t wipe the silly grin from my face. I sure know what I want for Christmas.