Inside the Alan Rudolph Racing Academy
EKN looks at the sport’s finest driver development school
The sport of karting welcomed its newest dedicated school in 2017, when veteran driver and educator Alan Rudolph officially opened the doors to the Alan Rudolph Racing Academy at the beautiful Speedsportz Racing Park in New Caney, Texas. In the world of driver development, the launch of this new school ushers in a tremendous opportunity for every potential and existing kart racer to learn the basics of racing, expedite the learning process or to take their skills to the next level. With Rudolph at the helm, a world-class driver and a respected member of the industry, every driver in the sport would see value in coaching available at the school.
Rudolph has been a full-time kart racing instructor for almost 20 years. From 1999 to 2015, Alan headed up the karting component at the Bondurant School for High Performance Driving in Arizona. The dream was always to develop an eponymous school of his own design, and when the opportunity arose to design both the track and the school curriculum, Alan jumped at the chance and moved his family from Phoenix to Houston to dedicate himself to this new effort.
Speedsportz Racing Park is a facility that Alan designed from a clean sheet of paper, drawing from all of his experience to produce his vision. He was given the plans for a 27-acre property and was told to layout a Pro Track and a Rental Track, and position all the brick and mortar buildings that were needed. Construction persevered through uncharacteristic rain, which slowed progress, but the end products is truly one of the jewels of Texas karting, and American karting for that matter. The track is still a work-in-progress, as the paddock area has been recently paved to make way for national karting events, as well as autocross instruction and events.
Located just northeast of Houston, the facility boasts two tracks; one for their Birel ART rental kart fleet and one for full-on karting competition. The 0.8-mile ‘Pro Track’ is where races such as the Texas ProKart Challenge and the Speedsportz track series are held. The track held its first competitive event last October, and feedback from some of the best drivers in the country has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s a tough, technically and physically demanding layout that at the same time offers no less than six prime overtaking opportunities. It’s also where Rudolph takes his academy students to develop their skills.
Not surprisingly, the Academy provides a full spectrum of courses designed to address those at different levels of skill. Whether the student is an experienced racer or a newcomer to the sport, Rudolph’s One and Two-Day Advanced Skills classes are designed specifically is expand each driver’s unique skill set. Rudolph and his staff will cater the curriculum in these two courses to each individual skill level as they offer personalized instruction with a 2:1 student-to-instructor ratio. Whether you’re a rookie club racer or an experienced SKUSA Pro Tour driver, Rudolph will be able to take you to the next level.
Here’s a look at the spectrum of classes that Rudolph has designed:
The Kart Racing Experience ($199) is exactly that, a three-session ‘experience’ that provides the track’s rental kart customers with the opportunity to sample the competition karts that they may have watched in action on the Pro Track.
Jumping fully into a race course, as opposed to just an ‘experience’, the school offers a ‘Intro to Karting’ program at both Half Day ($499) and One Day ($799) commitments. When it comes to educating potential races on the sport, these programs are crucial to the growth of karting.
For an experienced driver, the 1-Day Advanced Skills Class ($799) covers all the basics and fundamentals of performance kart driving. They explain karting techniques – including vision, line techniques, proper throttle, and braking techniques.
In the expanded 2-Day Advanced Skills Class ($1499), the drivers receive additional seat time in their race kart, while also racing wheel-to-wheel with their instructor. In this course, the instructor will focus on racing etiquette, advanced passing techniques, race starts, and will also examine more in-depth data acquisition to help the student acquire those ‘last few tenths’ of a second to raise the driver’s game.
For those wishing to learn more than just race craft the Karting Clinic 2 or 3-Day (2-Day $1249, 3-Day $1949) is what you need. This course takes you from a beginner to an experienced karter in a short period of time. Day 1 will be the same format as the Advanced 1-Day, however, on Day 2 you’ll trade the drivers suit for a pit apron and tear into the kart where you’ll learn how to maintain, race prep, chassis tune and engine maintenance/rebuild. Again, this course is catered to the individual and will focus on the particular areas with which you may need assistance.
If you choose the 3-Day Clinic, Day 1 will be on the track, Day 2 will be in the shop and Day 3 will be back on the track the same as the Advanced 2-Day.
It’s hard to detail how important a quality school is to the growth of karting. First and foremost, it will be the gateway for bringing new racers into the sport. Just as crucial, a program led by the likes of Alan Rudolph can provide the existing club, regional and national with the coaching needed to move up the grid order thanks to true skill and racecraft development.
The Houston location of the Alan Rudolph Racing Academy provides school openings 52 weeks a year, make it one of the most productive ‘destination tracks’ in our sport. To learn more about the school, give them a call at 866-607-7223 x103 or head to www.speedsportzracingpark.com/racing-academy