Everyone enjoys doing activities in life that are cool and perhaps even the thrill of a lifetime. Those activities can range from riding the tallest roller coaster to visiting the arch in St. Louis and riding to its peak. Or how about standing over the little stream that is the start of the mighty Mississippi River. How many fans have watched a NASCAR race and thought they would love to drive a race car at least one time?
That’s a dream that’s crossed my mind while imagining how it would feel if it actually did happen. Well, as a contributor and co-host at Fan4Racing Blog and Radio, the chance of a lifetime finally did happen with Buck Baker’s Seat Time Racing School at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past weekend and it was amazing.
Seat Time Racing School was the first school established for stock cars back in 1980 by the legendary NASCAR driver Buck Baker. Some of NASCAR’s biggest names have come through the school and have given their instructors credit for developing their careers. Patrons include NASCAR champions Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart as well as Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton. Director Walt Young and his team continue that tradition today, providing an opportunity for drivers to hone their skills and the chance for fans to experience the thrill of racing from behind the wheel and on the track.
“I think the key element that sets us apart here is the atmosphere,” said Walt Young, director of Seat Time Racing School on why the school is still in business and is the top school available in his opinion. “Yes, we get paid but most of us would do it for free because we love it.”
Every experience begins with the head instructor Brian Glass, an asphalt late model driver from the North Georgia area. He has been working at the school for 25 years and is responsible for the initial briefing and safety instruction course. Although serious about his job and the topic, Glass keeps attendees engaged with some humor, while ensuring they are confident, competent, and safe in their encounter with the school. He addresses everyone’s experience level, from first-time attendees to multi-time professional drivers looking to hone their skills.
Next is the individual seat time with an instructor. My instructor was Tom Thompson, who is a product of the school. He admits that he had no driving experience before coming to Seat Time Racing School. He took full advantage of their instructors by riding along in the passenger seat and absorbing all the information they provided. Now after working there for 20 years, Thompson is teaching even a rookie driver like myself how to adapt to the car and get faster after just two runs, with the chance to display what I learned on the third run, my solo run.
In addition to me, the range of people attending Seat Time Racing School this weekend was a full spectrum. 69-year-old Bill Comolli of Elberton, Georgia was checking off a bucket-list item. The 2017 Sportsman Division Champion Keith Fields from Senoia Speedway, a local dirt track, was there increasing his personal driving skills and performance. Top iRacing driver Jason Jacoby was doing some promotions on his YouTube channel while getting experience in and around the car, industry, and atmosphere. Others were just there for the thrill of riding on the track with an instructor.
At the end of the day, everyone walks away safely as a winner with a smile and a lifetime memory which is the ultimate goal. Anyone interested in attending Seat Time Racing School can find more information at Seat Time Racing on Facebook or Seattimeracing.com. Spring dates for Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Atlanta Motor Speedway have already been announced, so be sure to secure your date for a lifetime memory now.
As for my adventure this past weekend, it was definitely the ride of a lifetime. And while I showed improvement throughout the day, it may take another visit or two or three before calling Rick Hendrick about the open seat for No. 48 in 2021!