A diploma, and some milling around during Jason Pridmore’s Star School

Jason Pridmore emphasizes some nuances of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway during the Sunday-morning track walk. Photo by CaliPhotography.com.
Jason Pridmore emphasizes nuances of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway during the track walk. CaliPhotography.com.

By Ronald Ahrens

My experience at Jason Pridmore’s Star School on Dec. 20 and 21 significantly benefited my motorcycling skills. The classroom lessons were perfectly straightforward. Applying theory to practice during track time at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway was equally so.

While I’m a fully satisfied customer as far as the school’s curriculum goes, this is more than a no-frills educational experience—it’s also a social one.

A few simple measures could be taken to better manage those aspects:

  1. An arrival letter with details about what to expect upon reaching the track would have been nice.
  2. No attempt was made by any of the instructors or staff to learn my name, although I appreciated it when Jason asked if I was the rider of a red and white Yamaha YZF-R6 and wore a black and white Alpinestars suit. But that was about as personal as it got. And although the instructors were briefly introduced, keeping track of their names along with so many other new details was a little difficult. I felt embarrassed on Sunday when I had to ask James Rispoli to say his name again for me.
  3. There were several classroom sessions each day. With 35 students, even if some are returning and the staff members know them, all were strangers to me and so I was to them. Why not devote the first two minutes of each session to having three or four students say who they are, where they come from, what they ride, a bit about their background? By the end of the second day, we would then have a rough idea who’s who and whether we have something in common.
  4. I’m used to a professional setting with carefully assembled presentations that get to the point. The repartee and jocular back-and-forth among instructors (who were slouching on the floor) became tedious. Same for the fumbling around when looking for photos to be shown to the class. A projector, a PowerPoint slide show, and a remote could solve the latter issue.
  5. Completing the two-day course is a big achievement. Not everyone made it. The final session could be a commencement, complete with four or five special, fun awards along the lines of “most improved” and “best dressed” and “fewest missed shifts”—that sort of thing. Maybe even a drink of punch could be included. And some of us needed to get going, so rambling on about the future of the AMA SuperBike Series was an irrelevant digression. Assume that some students don’t follow racing.
  6. The instructors are professional athletes and men, not “kids.

Here you have suggestions for making the experience less impersonal, ridding it of the “inside baseball” atmosphere, and introducing a more premium feel.

2 thoughts on “A diploma, and some milling around during Jason Pridmore’s Star School

  1. Wow! I hope they take a few suggestions to heart–it brings to mind some courses I have taken that overcame those obstacles quite smoothly without needing to go to great lengths. Gunsite comes to mind, since they work with new groups constantly, but after a week there, you know the guys you are working with, and they know you and your needs. Hunting with a guide certainly had a personal flair, even though you were one of a whole string of clients. Any number of Navy courses handled those details quite well, though a few fell flat. Well, your instructors’ hearts are with racing, and maybe they will take your criticism and run with it for the betterment of their sport–it is, after all, the novice with an interest that keeps the sport alive.

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