After lunch while viewing a video of vintage Mustang TV commercials, it's back to the track, once again following an instructor. This time, we pick up the pace, along with practicing hand-signals for passes on the straight-aways, which also gives everyone a chance to move directly behind the instructor for a few laps. By this time, we've learned the course pretty well, realizing too that the new Boss 302 Mustang is an awesome track machine. As fellow student Dave Hoste exclaimed, "I had no idea my car was this fast!" Between sessions, we retreat to an air-conditioned classroom where the instructors ramp up our knowledge and insist that we drink water to stay hydrated. Driving cars fast is a lot of work!
For the day's third on-track session, an instructor hops in the passenger seat to oversee our first solo laps. This is where the Boss Track Attack instruction really pays off, as I learn when Brian Smith keeps reminding me to turn my head to look past the turn's apex. It's harder than it sounds because, at speed, it's difficult to take your eyes off the pavement or car directly in front. But it works. By glancing at the course ahead, I find that I'm able to drive through the apexes and out of the turns quicker.
We're told that the Boss 302 has enough torque to lap the entire course in Fourth gear, but it's lot more fun to shift because the Boss version of the 5.0L Coyote engine also has enough rpm range to run the track in Third, which provides more torque and acceleration coming out of the turns. With upshifts to Fourth needed only at the ends of the straight-aways, this also provides two opportunities per lap to practice heel-toe while down-shifting back into Third. When I miss a couple of down-shifts, Brian quickly realizes that the culprit is my left foot resting on the clutch pedal, just enough to heat up the clutch. With everything coming so fast and so much to remember--braking, turn-in, heel-toe, the next corner, look ahead!--I'm absent-mindedly forgetting to remove my foot from the clutch, something I never do in normal street driving.
The Boss Track Attack tries...
The Boss Track Attack tries to place owners in a car to match their Boss 302 at home. Having your name on the windshield is a nice touch.
Time for the class photo....
Time for the class photo. Why am I the only one still wearing a driver's suit? Because my shirt got caught in the driver's suit zipper, requiring three instructors and a pair of pliers to free me. That was the best photo op of the day but no one caught it on camera. Thankfully.
Graduation time. At the end...
Graduation time. At the end of the day, everyone gets a trophy made from a genuine Boss 302 rod and piston.
For the fourth and final session of the day, we get to put our education to use for solo laps, although I elect to keep my instructor on-board because I find his input helpful. If I take the wrong line through a turn, Brian quickly tells me what I did wrong and how to correct it on the next lap. I must have been having a great time because the checkered flag was soon waving on the 30-minute session.
And just as we're beginning to feel good about our driving abilities, it's time for the instructors to show how it's really done. I climb into the passenger seat of my Boss 302 with instructor Jon Capps, who started racing go-karts when he was 12 and has competed in everything from USAC and SCCA to NHRA Funny Car. Within a couple of laps with Jon, I realize that I could have been diving in deeper, braking later, and coming out of the turns faster, all perfectly within the capabilities of the stock Boss 302. It's a good thing the instructor drive was saved for last. There would have been a lot of off-road Bosses if the students had tried to drive that fast.
The day ends with a “graduation” ceremony, with students receiving a certificate and one of the coolest trophies you'll ever see--a real Boss 302 rod and piston. Even better, a photographer has been following us around all day and everyone gets a Boss 302-shaped thumb drive loaded with photos to document their Boss Track Attack experience.
If you haven't purchased a Boss 302, the Boss Track Attack program gives you another reason to run down to your Ford dealership to pick up your own '13 model.
To expand on the driving skills learned during the single-day Boss Track Attack, participants are offered a second day of instruction and driving in either a Mustang GT school car or a Ford Racing FR500S. After all, once you've committed to the trip to Salt Lake City, you might as well stick around to gain even more on-track experience.
Although similar to the Track Attack, the second day ratchets everything up a notch, especially if you opt for the FR500S. Ford Racing's Mustang race car is just that--a race car--with race seat, BFGoodrich racing slicks, window net, and 350 pounds of weight savings, so it feels, sounds, and drives like a race car. It's a blast, and the extra instruction and seat time is well worth the cost, which runs $995 for the Mustang GT and $1,395 for the FR500S.