Drag Racing Stars Go to Road Racing School at Miller Motorsports Park TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (April 17, 2008) -- Ashley Force, Robert Hight and Mike Neff are not unaccustomed to racing Ford Mustangs. As teammates on the John Force Racing team...
Drag Racing Stars Go to Road Racing School at Miller Motorsports Park
TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (April 17, 2008) -- Ashley Force, Robert Hight and Mike Neff are not unaccustomed to racing Ford Mustangs. As teammates on the John Force Racing team in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, however, the Funny Car-class Mustangs that they regularly drive have more than 8000 hp and can go from zero to 330 mph in 4.5 seconds on a quarter-mile dragstrip.
For the past two days, the three teammates have been learning the ropes in a much tamer Mustang, as they attended the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park. They went through a full two-day racing school, with skid-car training, vision training, shifting and braking maneuvers and on-track lapping.
For all of them, it was a completely new experience.
"I was nervous coming into it," Force said. "They (Hight and Neff) were very excited and pumped up, and I was very quiet. I didn't have much experience with a stick shift. I was quiet throughout the first half of yesterday, but the instructors didn't make you feel pressured in any way; everyone in the class was really friendly as well, and by the end of lunch yesterday I was really having some fun and pushing myself a little more. Today, on the second day, I am having so much more fun! I slept a little bit better last night than I did the night before."
In addition to having never experienced road facing, none of the drivers had visited Miller Motorsports Park before.
"It is unbelievable," Neff said. "(Director of Ford Racing) Dan Davis told us it was a world-class facility, but you think, "Oh, okay, it's out in the middle of Utah. I had never been to Utah, but to get out here and see how nice all the buildings are, and how professional and nice the people are, it's just one of the best experiences I have ever had. I had been to a NASCAR driving school before, but this is awesome. I would like to buy a school for somebody for Christmas; it would make a great gift!"
Perhaps the biggest lessons the three drag racers learned was to keep their eyes focused ahead on the track.
"One thing that amazed me the most is using your eyes and looking around and looking ahead," Hight said. "If you're sliding of out of control in a turn and you're looking where the car is going, that's where the car is going to go. If you can get yourself to look ahead and feel what the car is doing, you're much better off. These instructors always stress to keep looking ahead, and in the entrance of the turn you need to be looking at the exit and the beginning of the next turn. It's amazing what your eyes can make your hands do with the wheel, despite what you are seeing."
All three drivers said they learned a lot, and said that what they learned on the track in the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School would make them better drivers both on the street and on the dragstrip. Dan Davis said that was his intention when he invited the drivers to visit Miller Motorsports Park.
"I hope, someday, that maybe what these guys learned here may help them in accident avoidance," he said. "You leave here a better driver. You leave here more aware, and it's a good learning experience. I know it's intimidating in the beginning; I think that now the second day is here, they have started enjoying it, which is what we wanted all along, for them to learn and enjoy. I want all of our pro racers to see all the things that we at Ford Racing do. So we have the drag racers come and race sports cars, and we take the NASCAR guys to drag races. We like to just spread around some of the different curricula we are in, and show people what we do."
The Ford Racing High Performance Driving School is part of the Performance Training Center at Miller Motorsports Park. Other programs offered include the Teen Driving Academy, the Winter Driving Academy, the Highway Survival School and kart training. For more information, call (435) 277-8790 or visit www.mmpschools.com.
The next major event at Miller Motorsports Park will be American Le Mans Series' Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels, scheduled for May 16-18. Support races will include the SPEED World Challenge Championship, the STAR Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, the IMSA Lites presented by Hankook Tires, the IMSA Challenge by Michelin, and the first of this year's "Magic of Miller" Celebrity Races.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call (435) 277-RACE (7223) or visit www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.