Lance Holst explains various...
Lance Holst explains various lines for a series of turns during our introduction to the Pahrump course.
I was a little confused following the lecture-I could not fathom a way to use body steering to my advantage-but I was determined to try, as this is the meat of Pridmore's teachings. Besides, how can such a fast guy be wrong? We had one final riding session before lunch. I spent the first half trying a combination of weighting the pegs with my toes, when I could, and pushing against the tank with my knee to turn the bike. I was surprised to find everything had clicked and I was tossing the ZX-7 around like a toy in the transitions. Wow, I had learned something!
Following lunch, the lectures were conducted by Holst. Generally, Pridmore rides during the afternoon, but he was suffering from the flu and sat out most of the sessions. Holst's lectures are decidedly technical, whereas Pridmore relates things to his personal experiences and spends most of his time answering questions. In fact, Pridmore had digressed enough during the morning lectures that we missed discussing lines and downshifting as scheduled. However, the sidetrip proved more insightful and we probably learned more than if we had listened to a straight lesson.
The street and advanced groups combined for the first postlunch lecture which covered braking technique and, specifically, how it is more important to have an end-of-braking marker than one to start braking. The street riders followed up with a braking drill off the track, and the advanced riders returned to the circuit. I spent some of the session trying the braking technique but quickly realized I didn't know the track well enough to have end-of-braking markers established, and I would have to practice at a familiar track. I concentrated on the lower-body steering instead, which I thought was more important while it was still in my mind, and ended up being followed by Rich Alexander. Even though we weren't hanging about, he realized I wasn't practicing the braking drill, caught the two mistakes I had made and suggested a different line in the first turn. Excellent tutelage!
Holst's second lecture dealt with overcoming panic and some of the more subtle techniques of braking and shifting. This was followed with a practice session to bring everything we had learned throughout the day together. I completed a few laps, but by that time I was pretty worn out from all the track time (100 track miles at that point), and I still had to ride the 300 miles back home that evening. Once again, I got hooked up with an instructor for a few hot laps-with such a good student/teacher ratio (about 3:1 on this day) I was getting quality one-on-one lessons each time out.
I turned probably my fastest laps of the day in the last session, but they came as I was hanging on for dear life as a passenger aboard Pridmore's Katana. Another carryover from his father's Class schools, Pridmore offers rides at the end of the day and I had to sign up and try it. He wasn't wasting any time, passing people in the advanced session and dragging hard parts, but it was oh-so-smooth and a fantastic view of the quick way around the track.
No points for style-body steering...
No points for style-body steering was awkward at first but it paid big dividends late in the day.
The final lecture covered basic suspension setup. This subject is intentionally left for the end of the class, so students can concentrate on their riding and not get sidetracked playing with settings all day. Holst and Pridmore answered questions following the lecture, and then we were presented with our diplomas.
As with any kind of formal training, what you get out of it depends on the effort you put into learning the material, and the Star school is no different. It was obvious some students were there just for the track time, although it's pricey (between $265 and $295 for a one-day course) to look at it that way. Those riders were already quick at the start of the day, but they weren't any faster as the sessions progressed. The students who took the time to absorb the information and thought about what they were doing showed definite improvement, a strong indication that Pridmore's methods work.
The Star School was a fantastic experience for me, and I recommend it for riders of all levels. The concepts taught at this school will not only make you faster on the track, you'll be safer on the street too.
Jason Pridmore's Star School
4587 Telephone Road #206
Ventura, CA 93003
(805) 658-1395 fax