After a chaotic start to the season at a rain soaked Auto Club Speedway, I was excited for a more normal weekend at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. California’s premiere desert circuit.-- literally, it’s in the middle of the desert.
What is Comp School?
But this was no ordinary test or race weekend. It was time for NASA’s Competition Drivers School, better known as Comp School. This is a 2 day event designed to test drivers to see if they are ready to race. Can you handle a car on the limit? Can you race someone wheel to wheel? Would you want to be on track with any of these other comp school attendees? Would they want to be on track with you? Do you know what the speed limit is in the paddock? And do you understand the flags? To my surprise, lead instructor Steve Stepanian really grilled us drivers on the flags.
Comp School consists of 2 portions, on track driving, and classroom instruction. At the end of the course, everyone has to take the NASA Club and Competition Rules Test, which if I’m honest is just as miserable as the college entrance exams. Despite my racing experience from karting, there were a few times when I felt vulnerable as I wasn’t 100% clear on things such as the flag rules and safety car procedures. Comp School simulated every possible on track scenario and if you didn't follow the correct procedure on track you were subject to lots of embarrassment in the classroom afterward.
Despite this, I managed to not only survive Comp School, but I also passed the Club and Competition Rules Test. And then to my surprise, when our certificates of completion were being handed out, Steve announced that I was the valedictorian of the class. That was something I did not expect at all. Leaving Comp School I definitely felt that improved as a driver and I learned what the 500 different flags mean! Now it’s time to race!
Feb 21, 2023
February 18-19, 2023