Inside the ST Octane Academy

By Cole Q.

To say that Nick Gregson is a car guy would be an understatement. At the age of 29, Nick represents a new generation of digitally savvy car fanatics with a passion for the industry and the skills to share his passion through words, pictures and videos. So when this Ford Social member and Ford Fiesta ST owner decided to drop everything and drive almost 700 miles from his home in southern California to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah to attend the ST Octane Academy driving school, we invited him to share his experience with you.

To Nick, free driving instruction from accomplished professional drivers was too good to pass up. But the complimentary ST Octane Academy experience that Ford offers all ST owners wasn’t the only thing that drew Nick to his Fiesta ST. “The Fiesta ST gives you a peppy turbo engine in a practical five-seater bodystyle, and it manages to beboth fast and efficient,” said Nick. “The enthusiast turbo sport compacts of just a few years ago are, yes, fast and cheap, but get atrocious mileage and aren't that nice to live with.”

As a diligent performance-auto aficionado, Nick fell in love with the Fiesta ST the minute he sat down behind the wheel of one in early 2013 as part of the EcoBoost Challenge® at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. “Throwing the car around on the track opened my eyes and my heart to the little front-drive hatchlet,” he recalls.

The ST Octane Academy, however, would give him a unique opportunity to hone his skills and take his performance-driving chops to the next level. Getting there meant a nine-hour trek through the Mojave Desert and the mountains of Utah, all documented on his company blog, .

“The excitement and anticipation of getting to drive on such a beautiful and acclaimed track reminded me of the video game simulations where the tracks were breathtaking. Except this time, it was real,” said Nick.

The day on the track and in the classroom was full of driving advice and putting that advice into practice, including a real “aha” moment for Nick. “I actually was steering harder into turns than I needed to – as in, turning the wheel farther than I needed to in order to get the car to turn,” he explains. “By lightening up just a bit, the tires stop squealing and the car grabbed, and off I went through the corner. That minor adjustment made me dramatically quicker on every lap afterward, and also gave me a better feel for how the car liked to be driven.”

After a whirlwind day filled with tight turns and high g-forces, Nick left Miller Motorsports Park with some high praise for the instructors and a much better understanding of how to get the most out of his ST on a racetrack. “The instructors were fantastic and had a great energy and made sure to go out of their way to ensure everyone had a good time,” recalls Nick. “My driving skills definitely improved, and I feel like I really know exactly what the limits of my car are now, how far it can be pushed and how much it's really capable of.”

According to Nick, fellow ST owners who do not take advantage of this free ST Octane Academy experience offered by Ford will surely regret it.

Speaking of regret, make sure you don’t miss out on some of the perks of being a Ford Social member. In addition to the fantastic stories , authentic images and compelling ideas from fellow Ford fanatics, there are also plenty of exclusive insider opportunities available to our active fans.

Don’t take our word for it, though. Nick explains the benefit of Ford Social membership as good as anyone could. “Imagine being Facebook friends with Ford, not in the sense of liking the page, but as if the Ford Motor Company were a personal friend of yours that you could literally have a chat with and ask questions of.”