A father’s review
Have you ever looked at pictures of Rossi or Spies and wondered exactly what they're doing or why? I know nothing about roadracing, having grown up competing in motocross. I study photos of the world’s top pros in action and tell my boys, “See right there? I think you need to do it like that.” Unfortunately, I don’t know if my suggestions are right or wrong. After sitting in on the Yamaha School of Champions, I have learned that there are reasons why “The Aliens” do the things they do.
The course starts with a meet and greet in the track’s awesome museum, which alone is worth the trip to Miller. After dropping everyone’s gear in the classroom, the group headed off on a van ride to take a look at the track layout. the van ride was a real eye opener. If you think that such a large vehicle, filled to its seating capacity, would be an impossible platform for teaching high performance riding…. Let’s just say you’d be surprised.
At one point during the ride, we all got out to watch one of the instructors demonstrate proper and improper techniques for cornering, with Dale Kieffer acting as our demonstrator. Next, we headed for the classroom to take care of all the paperwork which the school requires; then it was lecture time. In one shot, the instructors presented and discussed everything which would be covered over the next two days. It was a lot to absorb but was well done. Most importantly, this was the last time that the students would be in a classroom. They were told to gear up and head out for bike assignment.
The school supplies a very nice fleet of Yamaha R6s. School personnel adjust shifter, brake and clutch levers to ensure that each bike fits its rider perfectly. Next stop, the track! The students are sorted by skill level into groups, each consisting of five or six riders and an instructor, with two additional instructors floating to observe and assist anyone having trouble with the drills. It’s important to note that this isn’t a school where the fast guys get all the attention. Scott Russell spent most of his time with the slowest rider in the class. His goal was to make sure that this student would be going home a more confident rider than he'd been when he arrived. Scott was also more than willing to give students a two up ride, since this was his opportunity to really open it up. I don’t think he had to remind his passengers to hang on!
As the school progressed, students participated in drills followed by breaks. Any time that wasn't spent in the saddle involved verbal instruction. There was no set schedule for when class would end and track time would begin. Each subject was given as much discussion as was necessary for everyone to understand it. Even at lunch, the instructors were right there eating with the students and open to conversation, which was very cool! In addition to the discussion sessions, there were video reviews on both days.
What in the world was I doing paying this much money to send my son, Kaleb, through a two-day riding school? This had been the thought going through my mind as we rolled up to the track. Before the first day's class was half over, I was already trying to figure out when I could get my second-oldest, Mason, here as well.
(Editor's note: Find out more about this fast family at www.DEKEYRELRACING.com)