The Racing License
So you have found a club you want to join, and have found a class you want to race in, now you need a racing license. Again, doing your homework in advance is your best option. Most clubs have in-house race schools as part of their yearly event schedule. You will need your own race car and safety equipment to attend most of these. There are also race schools not affiliated with a specific race organization, such as Skip Barber or Bondurant. They use their own school cars and gear, and will issue you a completion certificate that your club will recognize. Race school is usually a one weekend event, comprising of several hours of classroom instruction to learn about track rules, flags, and etiquette, mixed with several hours of track instruction involving practice starts, cornering and passing techniques, and emergency procedures. This is the time to learn, not to show off. Finish the weekend without being seen as trouble just waiting to happen and you will probably be issued a novice race license and an invitation to come back and race with the club. Remember that your instructors are usually veteran racers in your club that you will soon be sharing the starting grid with. A good reputation as a safe and consistent driver should be your goal for your rookie season, and it all starts in your first race school. This is a small, tight knit community you are joining, and everyone knows who is not welcome.
Your first race school weekend will be a blur. Just getting in and out of your safety equipment takes a while to learn, and strapping into a racecar for the first time takes more skill than most would imagine. The guys on TV just make it look easy because they have been doing it for years; you won’t be so lucky that first weekend. Ask for help, take your time and it will all fall into place. Remember that you will not learn all the skills necessary to be a successful racer in one weekend, it just gets you started. Plan on attending future schools to hone your skills.