Erica Enders gains valuable experience

Erica Enders' Week At Bondurant High Performance Driving School A Valuable Learning Experience PHOENIX, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2005 - Chevy Cavalier driver and Rookie of the Year candidate Erica Enders made her Pro Stock debut at the...

Erica Enders' Week At Bondurant High Performance Driving School A Valuable Learning Experience

PHOENIX, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2005 - Chevy Cavalier driver and Rookie of the Year candidate Erica Enders made her Pro Stock debut at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and although she failed to make the tight 16-car field, Enders' performance during three days of time trials (and only three qualifying attempts) left her only .025 of a second off the swift season-opening pace. Her run of 6.786 seconds at 202.88 mph makes her the quickest and fastest woman ever to drive a Pro Stock car during competition, which are performance numbers that are certain to improve as the year moves ahead.

Wasting no time following the Winternationals, the 21-year-old Enders took a few days away from her marketing degree courses at Texas A & M University and spent last week in Phoenix at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. There she received four days of comprehensive classroom training on maximum car control technique, and on-track instruction driving a Chevy Corvette on the challenging 1.6-mile, 15-turn road course adjacent to Firebird International Raceway.

Did they say you could apply your week at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving Toward Your Marketing Degree Credits At Texas A.M.? "I wish I could."

How did you come to the decision to attend Bondurant? "We all felt it would be a terrific learning experience and would help me overall with my ability to drive the Pro Stock Car. Being a successful professional drag racer is a long-term project and I'm not going to learn everything overnight. The Bondurant High Performance Driving School was just another step in the process. The school puts you through multiple scenarios and uses a number of techniques to give you a feel of how the car can react to a number of different variables. The entire experience is to get you to feel as one with the car."

What were some of the key lessons you learned from the school? "My instructor, Austin Robison, had me explain to him what I do in a Pro Stock Car. He was able to take my input and come very close to simulating that in the road course car and on the skid course. Vision is very important in what we do in drag racing, and it's also very important in what they do, transferring your eyes to the next point ahead. You're taught that wherever you're looking, that's where the car is going to go. I knew that from drag racing, how to pick out a spot on the horizon past the finish line, but they teach you how to apply that in a road-racing situation by having your eyes focus on the apex of the corner. When you hit the apex, you're then looking toward the exit of the curve. It was really fun and I learned quite a bit about driving and the handling of the car."

How quickly did you adapt to the road course? "When I first got there I was a little concerned because I had never driven on a road course and turned at speed like that before. The most I had ever done was with my friends at a local go-kart track in Houston, so I knew it would take a little time. It was so different from what I expected, and now I have so much more respect for IndyCar, F1 and road course drivers. Physically and mentally it was very taxing. After the first day, when I got back to the hotel, I was beat. It's a completely different ballgame, but it was thoroughly enjoyable all the same."

Did you improve over the duration of the course? "Yes I did. We spent a lot of time in the classroom each morning and the instruction was primarily on what you could expect to learn and experience during that particular day. The first day they let you pretty much drive the course the way you felt was correct. The instructor would then get in the car and tell you what you were doing right and what you needed to do differently. They were very, very positive and a cool bunch to work with. They know we're racing this weekend in Phoenix and they'll be out to watch us race."

Even though you were making turns, were there some similarities with the Pro Stock Car that will help you? "Just learning to be one with the car was tremendously helpful, and especially after the race in Pomona, I'm getting more and more comfortable in the car and it's starting to become second nature. The Bondurant School helped me get a better feel for what is going on, and I think I can apply what I learned there to drag racing - minus the turning part."

Do you want to be a road racer now? "I'll stick to drag racing, but I would definitely like to go back and learn more. They gave me a licensing card, and because I took the course, I can get my SCCA regional license, and that was cool. You're allowed to race four regional SCCA events and then you can apply for your national license. That would be something fun to do on an off-weekend, but the whole experience in itself was great."

Are you looking forward to the CSK Nationals this weekend in Phoenix? "Pomona was our first race as a new team and we'll get things going pretty quickly. The guys on the Cagnazzi Racing team are so awesome, they're working so hard on our Chevy Cavalier and I can't wait to drive again. I think we'll make the show this weekend and hopefully we can go a few rounds on raceday."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Rob Austin , Bob Bondurant