The Calgary Herald
August 16, 2002
Article by Greg Williams
"Pushing the Limits: Race car driving school gives participants a taste of a fantasy lifestyle and a few skills they can take back onto the regular road."
Speeding around Calgary's Race City Motorsport track in a rumbling AC Cobra replica race car would be a dream come true for any enthusiast hooked on speed and raw power.
And David Zubick, owner of Racing Adventures Driving School, is someone who can facilitate that adventure.
"We See people who have come out to live a dream," Zubick says. "And I want people to have fun and to be able to stretch their limits a bit. . It's not just about driving fast, its also about pushing their personal inner limits." Powerful 275 Horsepower, 302 cu.-in. fuel injected Ford V8 engine provide the get up and go for the Cobras, built by Factory Five Racing (FFR) in the US. The FFR Cobras weigh 945kg (2,100lbs.) are equipped with five-speed manual transmissions, will go 0-100 km/h (0-60mph) in four seconds and have the potential to reach 265 km/h (165 mph).
There's been much talk of racing this week, with actor Jason Priestley being involved in a race car accident in Kentucky. While accidents can occur, proper education and safety precautions greatly reduce their risk, say racing experts.
Equipment is also important. Zubick says he spent the better part of a year investigating the various manufacturers of Cobra replicars, and after much development work with FFR, together they built a fleet of Cobra race cars.
He has come to know each one of his cars intimately and, in fact Zubick has nicknamed each Cobra in his race fleet. "I Know what these cars will do, and I can usually tell what students will do - the cars and students are basically learning together," Zubick explains.
I spent a day with Zubick as he taught his Level One driving school at the Race City facility. Our class consisted of a father and son from San Diego, and enthusiast from Atlanta, two from Edmonton and two from Calgary.
During an hour and a half classroom session, we were told how to properly hold the steering wheel- with hands placed either nine and three o'clock or preferably, at 10 and two o'clock.
"Don't hook your thumbs over the spokes of the wheel," Zubick says. "You want a firm yet light grip. One thing I've learned about race cars is that they are dead stupid and dumb. This is about piloting and hurtling a 2,000 pound piece of metal around the track - or on the road - and the control required starts right at the steering wheel."
Zubick talked about vision, and drove home the importance of always looking in the direction you want to go, and always looking further ahead. "Whatever you look at, thats where you're going to go," he says. "If you're only focusing 35 feet ahead of you you will have already passed that spot in less than a second. The further you look ahead, the safer you'll be." We covered weight transfer, and "smooth is fast" became our motto. Oversteer, understeer and four wheel drift are all indications of a vehicle heading out of control. Zubick explained the dynamics of each situation and possible ways to rectify each problem. Cornering, and setting the car up for a corner, was an important lesson. "There's a work zone in every corner," Zubick says. "And this is where you want to set the car up for that corner."
First, look where you want to go. Then, look at the apex and slow the car down with the brakes, or by lifting off the gas, and select the gear you want to be in to launch out of the corner. "Do as much of this work in a straight line, and then ask, 'Am I balanced?' Set the car on its suspension, and turn. We want to go into a corner slow, and come out fast."
Eager with classroom knowledge, we headed to the track where the Cobras were waiting. While the majority of us approached the day with nervous excitement, Cathy Wilhelm from Edmonton had even more reason to be nervous - she had not driven a standard on a regular basis. Wilhelm had just taken a short AMA course on the basics of clutch and gears. "I'm here for the thrill and the adventure," Wilhelm says. "And I hope to become a better driver."
Race suits and helmets were then fitted individually before we were paired up and assigned our Cobras. Peter Fitzmartyn, a Calgarian planning to build his own Cobra, was my partner, and we were sharing Thumper, a bright red car with No. 66 on its hood and doors. First off, climbing into the cockpit is no easy feat. But once settled in the driver's seat, the five-point safety harness hold one securely in place. Turn the key, and the 302 c.i. Ford mill is thundering through open side pipes. The cacophony spreads across the tarmac. Everyone is grinning.
Before putting all that raw power to use on the track, students perform a number of driving exercises including the threshold braking and my favorite - accident avoidance. This an exercise where Zubick stands in the middle of two rows of pylons as students drive straight towards him. Just when you think you'll hit him, he raised either his left or right arm, signaling which way he wants you to go. All the while, I remember what Zubick said about piloting a "2,000 pound piece of metal that is dead stupid and dumb."
"Probably the most important thing I teach is accident avoidance," Zubick says. "The lesson teaches people how to drive around an obstacle - rather than slam on the brakes. Each skill builds on the others, and it's basically a bag of tricks that students learn to use," Zubick explains. Taking that bag of tricks to the track, students put the rubber to the road - shoe rubber that is. A preliminary track walk helps students become familiar with the corners and any track irregularities. Now, tire rubber hits the track.A "mother duck" exercise allows each student to follow the instructor and get a feel for their Cobra on the track.
In between each exercise, the Cobras were swapped so partners had an opportunity to experience the lesson - right up to open lapping sessions. At the end of the day, Wilhelm had not only learned how to drive a standard-shift vehicle, she had also become a more confident driver. "Today I learned how to drive a standard, had fun and improved my driving skills. I can now transfer that confidence to the real world," she said. So realize your dream of driving a Cobra replicar on a race track, tell someone - and like Tim Mitchell from Atlanta, you may wake up to find your wife signed you up for a Racing Adventures Driving School (www.racingaventures.com) course.
The Calgary Sun
Monday August 20th 2001
"Cobra bites speed demon, race school owner enjoying wheel-to-wheel competition at Race City"
If you think racing an automobile around a 3.2km roadcourse is scary, try downhill ski racing.
A former veteran .ski racer Calgary's David Zubick, was a high level ski racer from 1976-1981. "I remember at one downhill standing in the starting gate ready to go the hill was so steep, you could look right between them and down the hill, I mean right down the hill - it was pretty scary.
I pushed off and when got into my tuck and it was the fastest I'd ever accelerated," he continued with a big grin. " So I tried to straighten a bit to bleed off some speed, it didn't work very well as I continued to accelerate even more... but I made it to the bottom somehow."
So when Zubick decided to trade racing two planks for four wheels in the mid-'80s, he would have been hard pressed to think of a scarier moment than that one - period. "Ya, this is pretty sedate after that," he joked from the pits at Race City Motorsport Park yesterday.
When you get a mental picture of your average transplanted Calgarian who calls Scottsdale, Ariz. Home half the year, Zubick is no doubt a far cry from that geriatric image.
He's no snowbird with white slacks and sensible shoes. Zubick made the pilgrimage down south to build what has become a very successful mobile Cobra racing school. Zubick and his Cobra Adventures Racing School returned to Calgary in June for the summer and this weekend he took part in the Vintage on the Prairies roadcourse event at Race City.
The veteran-racer outlasted the 22-car field Saturday night, winning the king of the Hill endurance race, finishing 32 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Vintage on the Prairies proved a rare chance for Zubick to get some quality seat time, not to mention his big win Saturday would look pretty goon in any future brochures for the school. "It'll help," said Zubick. "But running the school, I get more time in the car than most other professional drivers do anyway. I'm usually out on the t rack two times a week, so I still get out a lot. But that said, it's nice to get out for some actual wheel to wheel competition."
The 37 year-old Zubick spent eight years as Race City's marketing director before bringing the now highly successful Legends cars north to Calgary in '94. He started up a Legends driving school in '95 but started looking for a new challenge a few years later. "I wanted to have a car that had a couple of components: A mild-steel chassis with a fiberglass body, which makes it easier to take care of, and I wanted something that was world class, something everyone would recognize and want to drive," explained Zubick. "And the Shelby Cobra is the most recognized car in the world and everyone wants to drive one it seems, so that's how the school became."
Zubick spends most of the winter on the road, from the end of September to the end of May, taking his school on a circuit that stretches as far east as Washington, D.C., and as far west as Los Angeles with plenty of stops in between. "And when it gets too hot down there , like it is now, we come up here to Canada," he said. "I mean this is a nice April day in Phoenix." Cobra Adventures is growing quickly, cashing in on its demographic of men aged 28-65 who are interested in learning about high performance racing but not necessarily getting competitive.
"It's one of the few schools where you can drive a V8-powered car and its the only school where you can drive an open cockpit convertible V8 car," said Zubick, who's raced professionally since '88. "And of course, these are Cobra's. That's a big deal to a lot of people."
"For those who want to take that next step, the Shelby Cobras are replica racers built from kits produced in Massachusetts. The significantly lighter kits are combined with the guts of a Mustang, which produces an extremely fast roadcourse ride. To build it yourself, it'll cost in the neighborhood of $30,000, while a professional built models will run closer to $36,000. For more info on the school, call 203-1977.
Making Memories the reward of experience a driving school worth staying awake in
Racing Adventures will rev up your incentive recipients' engines.
Now you can laugh when you see your sales team spinning its wheels! The Racing Adventures Driving School gives your top performers an opportunity to kick into high gear and experience the wind, rumble and speed of real-life sports car racing.
Under the direction and supervision of professional coaches, your Racing Adventure recipients can explore the world of precision and speed from the seat of powerful Factory Five Cobra racecars.
A typical full-day program includes catered meals, classroom instruction from professional drivers, and use of protective uniforms. Of course no day at the racetrack would be complete without a grip-and-grin commemorative photo. All participants receive an 8 X 10-inch glossy and a certificate of achievement that's suitable for framing.
But speedy laps aren't only for fast-talking salesman. Texaco Canada Petroleum Inc. rewarded its top industrial customers with two exciting days of racing. "By our customers' reactions, there is no doubt that we have landed on an event the is innovative, fun-filled and truly memorable." the companys' CEO wrote in a thank-you note to Racing Adventures.
Raceway locations include Houston, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Washington, D.C and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They'll also scout out a track near your corporate headquarters if you want to stay close to home. Most locations offer split-day sessions so you can cover a corporate agenda with half of your group while the other half races, and then races, and then reverse things out in the afternoon.
We would be happy to supply you with a personalized gift certificate for birthdays, anniversaries or the holiday seasons. Just tell us the person's name and we will not only put their name on an appropriate certificate and get it out to you, we will also send along a Racing Adventures T Shirt or Ball cap. That's right, you can give that person more than just a piece of paper.
Gift Certificates are available in any dollar amount.
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At Racing Adventures High Performance Driving School we not only have the coolest racecars we have the most modern progressive race school programs available anywhere for individuals, corporate programs, incentive programs, team building and group programs. As well we have more convenient race track locations across North America in Canada and the United States. More locations to serve you than any other sports car race school, high performance driving school or Extotic Supercar lapping program anywhere! We deliver racing school programs in Los Angeles at Willow Springs Raceway, Houston at GrandSport Speedway, Phoenix at Arizona Motorsports Park, and Colorado Springs' Pikes Peak International Raceway.
In Ontario, Canada we run at both Mosport International Raceway and Shannonville Motrosport Park.
* Our High Performance Driving School pricing starts at $625 for a half day program, $1150 for a full day program or $2100 for two days. With Corvette, Cobra Repli-racers and Porsche 911 Carreras we have all the racercars anyone would dream to drive.
You can also use your car in our program for $399 per day or even take some private lessons.
Our Exotic Supercar lapping Sessions start at just $225 in our World Class, Aston Martin Vanquish, Audi R8, FFR Cobra repla-racers, Corvette, Ferrari Modena, Ford GT40, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911 Carrera sportscars.
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