While SCCA Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack is a fun, non-competitive way to have a blast at a racetrack on a weekday, the program also appears to be a great way for people to learn if wheel-to-wheel racing is right for them.
For example, take Clint Billimack. The teen grew up watching motorsports at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, Illinois, about an hour away from his home. Last year during its inaugural season, Track Night in America scheduled a few events at that venue near the Wisconsin border and Billimack recognized he now had a perfect, inexpensive shot at getting out on a real racetrack with his own street car.
“I decided to participate in Track Night because I had been looking at getting on a racetrack for a while and when I saw how good of a deal Track Night in America was, I knew that was the one to settle on,” Billimack said. “It also wasn't an all-day event, so it’s easier to attend and wasn’t too much for me or the car.
“I participated in the May, June and July Track Night events at Blackhawk Farms Raceway last year,” Billimack continued. “I used my street 1995 BMW 325i for the visits. That car was great to learn how to drive in because the power level isn't insanely high, but it offers a good amount of speed at a racetrack.
“At Track Night, I learned so much. You start with the basics of how to take a turn on a racecourse and what the corner flags mean, but then you can learn so much about a car, such as where the limit is, what it feels like to break it loose, and even what it's like to slide around in the rain,” Billimack noted. “So even if you aren't serious about actually going racing at some point, Track Night is good just to learn more about how to handle a car on everyday streets. I felt so much more comfortable with my car when I left Track Night, and that's what makes it fun is that you can leave the track knowing you improved and had a good time.”
Not everyone that comes to play at Track Night is interested in going racing, and that’s just fine. But for Billimack, that was the prize on which he had his eye for a long time. And in April of this year, Billimack successfully completed a Sports Car Club of America racing school at Blackhawk Farms Raceway to earn his SCCA Regional Competition License.
“I learned so much at Track Night that basically everything applied to getting a competition license,” Billimack pointed out. “At racing school, they take flags and race etiquette very seriously because racing is dangerous and it needs to be safe as possible. But by learning the way around the track beforehand with Track Night, which way the corners go and the proper line around the track, it gave me that much of an edge going into driver’s school because I could focus on other things rather than trying to learn a new track on top of a new car, and all the other rules.
“Racing school and Track Night in America are certainly different, and they should be,” Billimack said in summation. “Track Night is more laid-back. It’s not an all-day commitment plus a long classroom session like driver’s school. Track Night feels like a true track day versus a race weekend. It's hard not to have fun at Track Night while legally going fast in a car, but the best thing is that it's not about racing other people or setting the new track record. It's about improving your driving skills and improving yourself as you go through sessions while having a lot of fun.”
So whether you’re interested in just having fun with your car, or looking to explore motorsports and working toward a competition license, SCCA Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack is the perfect place to play. It’s an entertaining, easy and inexpensive way for nearly anyone who loves cars or racing to get on a racecourse in their own vehicle during weeknights. All that is required is a valid driver’s license and access to a helmet and street car in good working condition. The cost is never greater than $150 per event, and no previous on-track experience or Sports Car Club of America membership is required.
Drivers participate in the Advanced, Intermediate or KONI Novice Experience group so on-track activities remain fun for all. Everyone gets three 20-minute sessions on course, as well as feedback from SCCA driver coaches on site. Admission is free for people who just want to stop by and watch the fun, and leisurely circuit parade laps are provided for all Track Night guests.
Visit www.TrackNightinAmerica.com to learn more, find a circuit near you and schedule your weekday track adventure.
Photo: Clint Billimack in his BMW during an SCCA Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack event.
Photo Credit: Ken Billimack