A few hiccups which I’ll get to later, but I think I can confidently say Starting Line is worth the money! Not to rehash the website, but I’d like to break down what all you get for $325.
- 1 year of SCCA membership + Sports Car magazine ($85, slightly depending on region)
- 1 entry to a national level event ($100-150 depending on event)
- 1 entry to a regional event ($35)
- 1 year of Grasroots Motorsports ($15)
- Hat and Lunch ($10)
- Professional autox instruction from national level drivers
So without even counting the value of the professional level autox instruction, and for me personally doing a very pricey national level event due to a previous error on the website, It’s already a $295 value. So, what exactly does that $30 get you?
- Broken into two heat/groups, my group first starting with practicing on an oval/figure 8. For me personally, this was really good practice for braking/turn in, with some late apex emphasis for the oval. It was good to get that feel for the car, practicing over and over round and round, feeling how the car responds to braking inputs in particular. I realized I would benefit and do need to practice squeezing/being gentler on the brakes, which felt surprisingly grippy on the figure 8. My tire pressures were pretty high at this point (45+), so I may want to experiment with higher pressures.
- SLALOMS! This is the big one I was looking forward to. I struggled with things like slalom entry, and oftentimes just getting into that good feel/rhythm of the slalom. Where else could you practice a slalom literally back to back about 20 times? Not even at a test ‘n tune or evo school do you get that kind of slalom practice. By the end I felt really confident going through it, hopefully something I can carry into my events.
- In theory, for the afternoon sessions, you get the instructed runs through a half-course of autox. Our particular Starting Line had a few problems with this. 1, the area we were supposed to be autoxing on (which is also where our normal events are held) was filled with trailers from guys who had come to drag race. Thus our autox was relegated to a stretch of the road course. Sounds cool, right? Except the course was not much of one, if I remember correctly it was 2 tight chicago boxes in a row, followed by an offset gate or so, a 4 cone slalom, and done. I don’t blame the school at all, it’s just the stretch we had to work with. I’ve seen other Starting Line courses, and they look similar to Evo School Phase I courses. Anyway, no complaints there. The real problem was that we started getting thunderstorms with lightning(!) just as we were getting ready to walk it. Obviously, we can’t have workers out for that, so after a long period of waiting and on/off possibility of running the course, ultimately the runs were canceled.
So, despite not getting any runs, I still feel the school was beneficial for me, especially because of the slalom practice I got. Considering that theoretically for $30 bucks I would have gotten all I did plus instructed runs, this is a tremendous value. Obviously most novices are not going to be inclined, at all, to want to go to a nationals level event. In that regard, I think this is a fantastic deal for mid level drivers like myself, and a very good step towards improving driving.
Mid pack driver: this is for you! There are several things that can be addressed in the morning exercises alone, let alone on the practice course you’ll get!
Update 6/5/14 – because our dry runs on “course” were rained out, we are all being offered a variety of choices for how we wish to be reimbursed – for me, I’ll be taking $100 in credit – what a deal for everything that came with Starting Line. One of the best autox decisions I’ve made recently.
Things to work on:
- Slither through slaloms, set up early and get the rhythm going to backside cones
- Squeeze the brakes, squeeze the throttle
- Continue getting closer to key cones, looking ahead and setting up the proper line to carry more speed
Run count: 106 (fudged, counting ~20 oval and slalom runs combined)