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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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San Diego’s New ‘Don Swanson Racing School’

 

First, before I lose any of you, this is NOT just about a racing school so please keep reading.


Wet track conditions

At long last San Diego finally has its own professional driving school. I’m not talking about a school where they teach teenagers and other first time drivers what is in the DMV’s drivers’ booklet, or the absolute basics of how to operate the controls of a motor vehicle. No, I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness, REAL performance driving school that teaches the essentials of car control and vehicle dynamics. You know, things that people really need to know before they find themselves in a potentially serious accident situation. I want my kids to learn how to AVOID accidents, which is a far better outcome than conceding defeat in advance and sending them out with their new licenses into the world of driving in tank-like vehicles. Oh, and they also teach racecar driving techniques too (Don would be very disappointed if I didn’t at least mention that important detail).

So just what is it that makes this school so special? Simple. It is located in San Diego. One no longer needs to drive to one of California’s unfortunately distant racetracks or to Arizona (Chandler, for Bondurant) to attend a legitimate, professional driving school. No more will people need to worry about the expense of hotels, airfare, rental cars and the like. But wait, you say we don’t have a large racetrack here (Cajon Speedway only has a small oval) so how can there be such a school?


18-wheeler & Honda coupes

The answer is mobility. Don has come up with a brilliant idea. He assembled a team of experienced racecar drivers and, with the much-appreciated help of his sponsors, outfitted a large, 75 foot 18-wheeler with everything needed – including four well prepared Honda TTR coupes), to conduct a first class driving school right here in San Diego. But wait, you say again, there’s an important element missing. What about the track?


Dynamic driver training

The answer is brilliant in its simplicity. Because he has mobility, Don’s school can travel to and set up almost anywhere, and does. For example, at the Press introduction to his school, they set up in their base of operations – a large parking lot at the San Diego Sports Arena. They can just as easily set up in other locations in and around San Diego, or travel to racetracks if desired.


Wet weather driving challenges

Although it didn’t look like it at first, we and they really lucked out for the Press preview, as the changing weather gave us a golden opportunity to experience the cars and instructors as they perform in both wet and dry track situations. The wet weather grip of the Sumitomo tires was thankfully excellent. The Hondas were a blast to drive, decked out in their colorful sponsor graphics, and fully equipped with racing seats and harnesses, and all the right modifications to the drivetrain. Trust me when I tell you that this is one fun and highly instructive driving experience. I want my kids to attend as soon as they turn 16.

Besides new drivers and aspiring racecar drivers, the school also is perfect for businesses looking for a great team-building activity, a reward of high-speed entertainment for valued clients, and for individuals looking for a supervised way to have some real, yet safe, fun behind the wheel.

                   
       Several of Don’s professional ‘lead-foot’ drivers                                  Don Swanson

Don Swanson is a genuinely nice guy to talk with and learn from, as are the members of his team of professional, experienced drivers. He is a professional racing driver, test driver and long time racing instructor who has driven in numerous types of racecars and venues, including Southern California’s popular Long Beach Grand Prix.


Learning cornering skills & about vehicle dynamics

This school has been a dream of Don’s for a long time. He has raced since he was nine years old. He recalled watching a stock car race as a child and getting so excited by it that he set up his bicycle to try to make believe he was a stock car driver. Like so many of us had also done, to do that he attached a baseball card to the spokes with a clothespin. That sounded so good that he added more and more cards, until “after about an hour I had so many clothespins and so many baseball cards it wouldn’t roll!” He was hooked on racing and high performance driving, and remains so to this day.   

For more information on the Don Swanson Racing School, contact them at (858) 558-4696 or by email at TheRacingSchool@sbcglobal.net. They are also on the Internet at www.DonSwansonRacingSchool.com.

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com. Enjoy the archives and more at www.AutoMatters.net. Drive safely and do join me again next time.

 

Copyright © 2004, 2006 Jan R. Wagner – #124r1 AutoMatters

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