Although it has had offices and personnel there since 2007, the Skip Barber Racing School is finally ready to call Road Atlanta home.
The world-renowned training institution moved its operations to the Braselton facility in the fall and will complete the move in September when the administrative staff arrives. Moving to Northeast Georgia from Connecticut was a no-brainer according to Michael Culver, the school's chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder.
"We have an office there that we're under utilizing and an office here that we don't need," Culver said Tuesday as he was driving from Connecticut to New York. "I think there's a good labor pool in Atlanta that we can build from as we hire more professionals."
Culver said four people have already been hired to work at the Braselton location, with at least 10 more scheduled for the fall when the administrative staff moves in. But moving to Road Atlanta wasn't all about creating new jobs, it was more about building a business that is considered as the "bottom rung of the ladder" of the "foundation of motor sports."
With success stories like NASCAR drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger, who both perfected their craft at a Skip Barber Racing School, racing fans and prospective professionals are signing up to learn more about what it takes to be a driver.
"There's a lot of once-in-a-lifetime folks who just want to see what it's like, " Culver said. "But there's some people who are interested in racing, start with the racing school and then work their way up to advanced classes."
For those not interested in driving professionally, but who have a desire to learn how to drive better, Skip Barber provides a Mazda and high-performance driving school. The Mazda school is more like a defensive driving class, while the high-performance school is one attended by people who own cars like Porshes and Cadillacs, but want to learn how to drive them using someone else's vehicle.
But most racing enthusiasts are interested in feeling what its like to get behind the wheel and experience speeds they've never reached.
"Half the reason these customers race with us is because their friends race with us," Culver said. "We take people who have no background in racing, and within three days they learn the fundamentals and are capable of driving an open-wheel car or Mazda product."
Culver said that the school, which still has offices on the West Coast and New York, is focused on making the experience enjoyable and safe.
"We make sure the safety is paramount," he said. "We create a very productive learning environment and make sure they are having fun. We make sure that people are smart about what their limits are.
"We have a progressive approach where you crawl before you walk."