My friend Kevin and I are both Ford ST owners – Kev’s got a Focus ST and I’ve got a Fiesta ST. We recently found out about the free ST Octane Academy at Ford Racing School, where we’d get the chance to drive a Focus ST and Fiesta ST on a real race track, get professional instruction and learn some cool stunt driving techniques.The catch? It’s in Utah- and how you get there and where you stay is up to you. Kevin and I decided we’d make a roadtrip of it, making use of the Fiesta ST’s lighter weight and slightly better fuel economy.
It was a great decision. The mountains around Park City and Tooele where the track is were snowcapped and framed by rolling green meadows below, more like the Alps than something you’d think of as being right here in the usa. We got a neat behind the scenes look at Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Headquarters, the place where his cars and projects are built and housed on Friday Night and a light dinner, where the staff prepped us for the next day. We showed up about 40 minutes early for ST Octane Academy at Miller Motorsports Park.
By arriving early, we got to check out the Museum right there at mmp – it’s an amazing car collection of some incredible history-making Ford and Shelby racecars, including one of every variant of the legendary Ford GT40. The next moring, my fellow ST owners and I donned race suits and sat down to get schooled in the classroom. The instructors recapped the ground rules, the track layout and some basic safety, and then we were out to the cars. We were taught forward 90* & 180* handbrake turns in Focus STs, then learned how to pull reverse 180*s in Fiesta STs.Then we moved on to an outrigger-equipped Ford 500 awd for some skid pad exercises to learn better car control in understeer and oversteer situations in a safe, low speed environment.Later we got the chance to take the Focus ST and Fiesta ST out onto mmp’s East Track for a Lead-Follow session with a driving instructor. By following the instructor, you learn the “line” of the racetrack. Check out the video we shot below! Then we were given the choice of Focus or Fiesta – an instructor jumped into the car with us for 1-1 driving instruction on-track. I became a much faster driver as a result. Then we got the chance to hot-lap with the cars, driving solo. It was amazing to race “my” car in such a picturesque setting. It was like living a video game. We ended the day with timed competition on the Urban X course. Kevin took home 2nd place. All in all we highly recommend that you attend Ford ST Octane Academy while you’ve got the chance! -Nick Register now for Octane Academy!