Driveway Austin: driving Kart, a race prepped Mazda Miata, a Police Cruiser, and a Formula Mazda race car
In my continuing effort to visit with motorsport industry leaders and history makers, and as well to tour and experience some of the best performance automobiles in the world, this week I took some time out of my schedule while in Austin, Texas to visit the great team at Driveway Austin. While there I drove a racing kart, a police cruiser (defensive tactics), and a race prepped Mazda Miata. Ultimately, on day two, I drove an open wheel race car -- the well known and proven Formula Mazda platform.
I have written on my Formula Mazda experience, and you can find the post here, and a link to the driving videos here. Today I am writing about my first day experience. In short, it surprised me.
I didn't think there was anything I could learn from driving what I would respectfully call a bloated, late model, former police cruiser around a race course. I was wrong. My instructor at Driveway Austin drove this car around the track at speeds I did not believe possible. Ultimately, I drove the car at speeds I didn't think I could around the same track.
Admittedly, with this car the driving line and the 'form' around corners was different, but the car performed when the driver did. And this was the biggest lesson. I also learned how to do a reverse 180 degree turn at speed, just like you see it done in the movies. Below you will see both the version done by my instructor, professional race car driver Scott Dollahite, and the version done by me.
And then there was me.
The race kart handled like it was on rails, and behaved very much like a Formula One race car would (physics wise), which is why they wanted me to drive it before I drove the open wheel car later on. The Mazda Miata drove like it was a full sized slot car, basically. I really do understand why so many people fall in love with the Mazda Miata platform for track day events and as a full blown race car. Affordable, easy to work on, dependable, an impressive power to weight ratio and incredible handling. You can literally throw this car into a corner, and somehow find your way out on the other side most of the time. And it is not so much power under the hood so that you would hurt yourself, but more than enough to have tons grin-producing-fun.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in and around one of the former official Lotus Evora GT race cars that competed in the United States. Bill Dollahite ran than team for Lotus in the U.S. I wrote a little about the car and the car's owner here. Here's the beauty below, with me and Bill Dollahite standing by.
A special thank you to the guys at Driveway Austin.