In 2010, I took a day-long course at DirtFish Rally School. It was a drippy, cloudy, dim November Monday after Thanksgiving, which would in any other circumstance be rotten weather. But in a rally car, it was awesome.
The instructors spent all day teaching me how to "embrace the slide," after having been trained all my life to fear the slide. The school uses real rally cars, with five-point belts and all the traction control stuff turned off. We went around in circles, and then ovals, then linked the slides together into esses, and finally took on a muddy track set up on the premises. I managed to blow a front tire pretty early in the day, but they swapped it out in the on-site garage in a few minutes.
In the course of a day, I overcame my fear of losing control in a car. I'd never even done a doughnut in a parking lot before, but now I feel far more confident driving in a downpour or a bit of snow. Though, sadly, I have yet to throw up a rooster tail of snow. Forest would likely frown on me doing that in my neighborhood.
- Barnhart, Douglas. Police Officer III, Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles, Calif. Phone interview, conducted on Feb. 23, 2012.
- Duplessis, Forest. Head instructor, DirtFish Rally School. Snoqualmie, Wash. Phone interview, conducted on Feb. 21, 2012.
- Pierce, Ray. Head instructor, Team Oregon. Portland, Ore. Phone interview, conducted on Feb. 27, 2012.