Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 1, 2008
Photos By: Jeff Lacina, Larry Ward, Gene Pavliscsak
Getting Ready to go out on the track requires you to pull up in the pit lane and wait for your instructor to join you. Chances are he just got out of another student's car or his own ride. Once the run group is ready to go out, the flag worker at the end of the pit lane will give you the green flag to go.

Month after month, we tell you about the latest in Pony performance parts and show you how to install them. But what if we told you there was a modification you could do-to the driver-that would make your car go faster? No, we're not talking about getting on Jenny Craig-we're talking about honing your driving skills at a high-performance driving school, as we did recently at the Camp Steeda/SVTOA Sebring Sensation.

The SVTOA, or Special Vehicle Team Owner's Association, hosts a number of high-performance driving events across the country, and each year its Florida event teams up with those crazy corner carvers at Steeda Autosports in Pompano Beach for two fun-filled days at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Honda.

Steeda and the SVTOA have put on this driving event for the past several years. Last year, we dropped by to take some photos and bring you all of the hot on-track action ("Spring Sebring Fling," MM&FF Sept. '07"). This year, we talked with SVTOA lead instructor and MM&FF contributor Jeff Lacina about covering the event from a student's perspective.

The Author poses with SVTOA lead driving instructor and MM&FF contributor Jeff Lacina (center) and instructor Will Franssen (right) at the pit exit.

Project Stolen Goods, our '93 Cobra, was built for this type of exercise, and since your author had never been to a performance driving school (watching F1 on SPEED doesn't count, apparently), this was the perfect fit.

Plans were made, and on May 23 we were in Ed Zerbe's registration line inside the Chateau Elan; we then unloaded Stolen Goods to run through David Hughes' tech inspection in the hotel parking lot. We highly recommend staying at Four Points by Sheraton at Sebring, otherwise known as the Chateau Elan, as it sits right on Turn 7 of the track, and you only have to go across the street to get in. Plus, most attendees hang out in the bar at the end of the day to shoot the breeze, and the dinner banquet is held there as well.

Saturday Morning started with the mandatory driver's meeting. Here, lead instructor Jeff Lacina goes over the flags and the signal for pitting in.

The tech inspection was quick, as the SVTOA gives you a checklist that you run though before getting to the track. It's up to you to make sure your ride is in good working order and won't fall apart on the track, but they do inspect each car so you won't be a blatant danger to yourself and others.

Saturday began with a driver's meeting at 8:00 a.m. We started our day a little earlier as we still had to finish wrapping Stolen Goods with the ISC Racer's Tape to protect its pristine paint from rock chips and debris on track. ISC produces a number of different adhesive tapes for various uses, and its latest offering, Surface Guard, is a clear protective tape that's available in 2- and 4-inch widths. It's fairly easy to apply, and our results would've looked much better if we'd spent more time on the task. From a distance it looked great, and the ISC Racer's tape did an excellent job in protecting the unblemished paint on our project car. Finally, it was time to get down to business.

Prior To the Sebring event, we experienced some clutch-adjustment issues at the dragstrip. To remedy this, we ordered a new stock-replacement Ford clutch cable from Ford Racing Performance Parts, as well as a UPR Products triple-hook aluminum quadrant and quick-click firewall adjuster. The triple-hook combined with the firewall adjuster allowed us to get the clutch engagement exactly where it needed to be.

The mandatory driver's meeting started off with a salute to our great country. It was Memorial Day weekend, and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by lead SVTOA instructor Jeff Lacina, was followed by a brief overview of the day's activities, introduction of the instructors, and an explanation of the flags that the track workers use to control the cars on the track. Knowing the flags and finding the course workers is part of the foundation of driving at speed on a road course.

The Group 1 Beginner class, of which your author was part, got out on track first. As we brought our cars to the pit grid, the instructors got behind the wheel for a few slow laps in our cars. This is to give the instructor a little bit of confidence in your ride-rather important as he or she will be trusting you with their lives at speeds in excess of 100 mph-and it also gives them some sort of idea of what your car can and can't do.