Bryson Schutte recently travelled to the Skip Barber Racing School Karting Scholarship Shootout and was one of three Canadian’s to take part in the 3-day event. With the judges selecting five winners, Schutte was awarded third place for his efforts and earned a cool $20,000 scholarship to be used towards a Skip Barber Winter or Summer Series campaign.
The first day started off with an in class lesson with Terry Earwood about highway safety and the dangers of distracted driving. Once the class was over we headed over to the skid pad to work with car control in the Mazda RX-8, this was a really cool experience. I had to deal with pushing a car far beyond its limits and bringing it back to a controllable level. Proceeding the skid pad session following a short break, I was first up for my interview with Bob Varsha and David Hobbs. Initially I didn’t feel very nervous but once I walked through the door and saw them both sitting there it hit me that I was being interviewed by the voices of Formula 1! Almost as soon as the nervousness hit it was gone. I soon realized that they are just normal people and it became easy to converse with them. With the end of the interview I did the autocross in both a MazdaSpeed 3 and the Skip Barber open wheel car. With the completion of the autocross we had a drivers meeting at the end to discuss how the day went and the plans for tomorrow.
The entire morning of day 2 was taken up by talks given by Townsend Bell on the business of racing and how to make a partnership to move up in racing. A talk with Bob Varsha and David Hobbs about how to handle the media and a talk with Gerardo Bonilla about preparation of the driver, which were all very insightful! Preceding the informational talks we had lunch and our first two on track sessions. First session I went out was a track learning session; I took my time, built up my speed to not bite off more than I can chew. After that it was flat out. It was awesome to receive feedback from the instructors after each session and be able to go into the next session and apply it to drop my lap times and become more consistent. The day ended with a brief drivers meeting with Gerardo Bonilla reviewing how the day had gone and his expectations for the next
The last day started with a brief drivers meeting and then we were immediately directed to get ready and into cars for our last two sessions. From practice 2-3 I was stuck running a 1:19.2. It was a mental wall I had to break. After receiving feedback from the instructors in each corner of the track and quick call to Remi Lanteigne, a race engineer and good friend who gave me the last bit of advice I needed to break the wall, which I did. I was able to go faster by half a second per lap. Immediately following a quick debrief with the instructors, we were given the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dean Case, who is the communications officer with MazdaSpeed Motorsports. He presented us with the business side of racing and what skills you need to make it. Dean also gave the perspective of a sponsor/business partner. He really opened my eyes to what people really want in a business relationship. Dean was highly expressive of Mazda’s involvement in driver development. The day was concluded with the scholarship winner’s ceremony, where I was awarded 3rd place and a $20,000 scholarship to be used in a Skip Barber Winter or Summer Series.
SKIP BARBER PROGRAM OVERVIEW
I felt that the Skip Barber program with the Mazda road to Indy was incredible. They really focus on the grassroots of racing, getting the karters ready to move into cars and up the Mazda road to Indy. The instructors were very in depth in their feedback and seemed to show a connection with you and that they really wanted you to keep improving. It was an overall amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone in karts looking to make their jump into the world of cars
I would like to thank all the staff and instructors from Skip Barber, Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, Remi Lantienge, Marco and Daniel Di Leo and my parents, I couldn’t have done it without them.