Critical performance on and off the track
Driving a racecar is a serious business. It’s intense, high performance and requires a total commitment to detail. So many things have to go right to keep the whole effort on track, literally. Operating a top-level driver training academy at multiple locations around the country brings a completely different level of focus and complexity to the motorsports arena.
That’s what the Skip Barber Racing School does. SBRS is the preeminent and iconic driver training organization, according to Dan DeMonte, co-owner and chief marketing officer. “When it comes to racing, that means training 50 percent of all IndyCar drivers, a similar number for NASCAR, and producing successful racecar drivers at all levels since 1975, including Formula One,” DeMonte says. Those organizations have extremely high standards.
SBRS is also an “experiential firm,” according to DeMonte. In addition to the hard-core training and skills improvement for amateur or professional drivers, SBRS reaches a wide audience of non-racers. “We’re a driving academy and the academy teaches people on a more consumer basis, how to be safe and secure, while confidently operating a vehicle. And that can be a team, somebody new to driving. That could be the other side as a professional driver. Anybody that has to drive for a living can learn and benefit.”
Mack Trucks plays an important role in that process, with three Mack Anthem® 70-inch sleepers now part of the Skip Barber fleet. The Anthems are transporters, carrying the race cars, tools and equipment the school uses around the U.S. on a circuit of 8 primary racetracks. If the Anthems and their contents don’t get there on time, some very excited would-be racers will be extremely disappointed. That’s unacceptable.
“It’s not that just the truck’s not going to show up, but encased in that truck is going to be tools, equipment, anywhere from four to 8 vehicles. And so, if you’re going to ruin somebody’s day, that affects us from a revenue stream by not being there and being consistent,” says DeMonte.
Mack is a good partner for SBRS, says DeMonte. The trucks are reliable, the transport drivers love them, and the Anthems look very sharp in their visually prominent role as mobile workshops and garages on the side of the racetracks. The organization is “on track” with students and customers over 200 days each year, “constantly on the move,” DeMonte says.
“When you play in an industry where failure is not much of an option, it’s hard. When we show up to an event, it’s very important what we look like, how we act. The performance of that vehicle on the road is critical to us. We’ve got to be in certain places at certain times.”
Mack has an earned reputation for performance and consistency that appealed to Skip Barber. DeMonte said equally important was the ability to build trust with Mack and SBRS’s dealer, Transource, and put together a program that worked for them. The Anthems come in the school’s signature Viper Red paint and have full aerodynamics and Mack’s top-level Elite interior trim for driver comfort. Power comes through the powerful and efficient Mack® MP®8HE engine with 445 horsepower and 1,860 lb.-ft. of torque combined with the Mack m DRIVE™ 12-speed automated manual transmission. The SBRS Anthems are also equipped with Bendix Wingman Fusion collision avoidance systems, and Mack Command Steer, a variable steering-assist system that mitigates steering feedback from uneven terrain such as dips, ruts and potholes. Command Steer reacts to those inputs by smoothing the steering response and reducing steering wheel “kicks.” This results in a smoother experience and less fatigue for driver.
DeMonte approves of this focus on the driver and safety. “As a business owner, safety is important for me. We’ve got to make sure our employees are safe and comfortable in our equipment.”
Overall, he thinks the Mack Anthem contributes to the impression he and the rest of the Skip Barber team strive to present at all times to their very demanding clientele. And no wonder.
“The reaction that we get from people that come to our program is really amazing. I have people that come up to me and say, ‘Hey, this could be the best day of my life.’ And I say, ‘Listen, don’t tell your wife or kids.’ But, it’s all a wow.”