25 Sep,2013

Jason Pridemore – STAR Motorcycle School

My buddy (Big) Tigger and I were invited to participate in Jason Pridmore’s STAR (Skills and Techniques for Advanced Riding) Motorcycle School, held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, VA. Our excitement set in immediately. You mean we can learn to drag our knees properly on a professional race course without buying full leathers or using our own bikes? Count us in!

So who is Jason Pridmore (JP), you ask? Simply put, Chief instructor Jason Pridmore is an AMA Formula Extreme Champion, AMA Supersport Champion, FIM World Endurance Champion and the only American to ever stand on the podium of a World Supersport race and countless podiums wins. So, we’re about to learn directly from this guy? SWEET!

Awaiting our arrival on class day was an awesome lineup of Suzuki GSXR 600s, 750s, and SV650s for students who didn’t bring their own bikes. More than half the class did just that, including Yamaha R6s, R1s, Hayabusas, Harleys, and even a Honda Goldwing showed up. After signing the required waivers and liability forms, we donned our Dainese leather track suits and headed to the classroom to meet and learn from JP.

After the introductory session, the class was divided into a Street Group and Advanced Group, each group taking turns between classroom instruction and running laps on VIR’s 2.25-mile North Course. The purpose of these laps was to learn passing, hand signals, and more importantly, the track. I was happy to ride their Suzuki GSXR 750, which happens to be the same make and model as my own bike.

After about 10 or so laps, we headed back into class to learn downshifting techniques, how to locate the true entry point, apex and exit of a curve, and when to begin acceleration after a turn. Then it was back on the track to practice. The goal here wasn’t speed, but to learn and practice your new techniques. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, speed will come, Jason assured us. Despite that guidance, guys and gals alike were getting seriously busy on the track. The experience was thrilling and exhilarating, but above all: SAFE. No need to worry about cars, gravel, oil patches, tractor trailers, douchebags in M3s; nothing but the wind and the track. OoooooooWeeeeeee!

After lunch, it was back to the classroom to learn proper riding positioning for better cornering. The class was then invited to watch, and more importantly listen to, Jason run laps on the track. We watched his speed. Checked his form and positioning. Listened to his downshift and acceleration. Then it was back on the track to practice what we just learned, with JP’s fellow pro riders on the track offering invaluable one-on-one coaching.

One of the best parts of this class is being able to “2-up” with JP. The purpose is to physically feel when he downshifts and accelerates, observe his speed, witness his lean angle and feel how often he moves in his seat.

After getting my turn to 2-up, all I could to say is WOW! Words can’t describe the thrill and fright that comes along with physically witnessing a pro rider’s breathtaking speed and stance. I thought I was going to fly off the bike no less than 10 times. And we were told he was only riding at 40% of his ability! The other words that describe the feeling I had riding with JP contain far too many expletives.

After a bit more classroom time, we ran more laps, combining all of our new techniques, including proper breathing. I could feel the improvement. I downshifted better. My positioning was right and I was going faster and faster through each turn.

At the end of class, we had the opportunity to purchase professional photos showing off our track day. Then, Jason took questions and handed out certificates of successful completion. Jason was then politely mobbed by students, thanking him for such an awesome day and asking even more follow-up questions.

If I ever have the chance to do something like this again, I’m absolutely taking it and highly encourage all riders to do so. The skills learned in Jason’s STAR school will surely benefit every type of rider, whether you are a road racer or a weekend warrior.

A huge THANKS to Michael Jordan Motorsports, Jason Pridmore, and all of the instructors and employees at VIR and STAR school for such an incredible opportunity. For more information and class schedule, visit: StarMotorcycle.com and Michael Jordan Motorsports at 23race.com.

by Insana Collins of Insana Collins Photography

writer Insana-Collins

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