The Allen Berg Racing School (ABRS), located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is a small but extremely professional race school, and home to a fleet of six Formula Renault 1600 race cars each with an Italian-made, carbon-fiber monocoque chassis. The school's owner, CEO, and chief instructor is former Formula 1 race driver Allen Berg, who competed during the infamous turbo-era of the mid-'80s.
ABRS has been in operation for two years offering streetcar, winter, racing kart, and their flagship formula car programs. The formula car program consists of half-, single-, and two-day courses as well as advanced lapping days for previous graduates. I was invited to experience the one-day course this past summer.
Once you register, don the appropriate equipment, and consume a light breakfast, the day begins with the first of several group classroom sessions on driving theory--vehicle controls, cornering, braking, friction circle, and so on--track exercises and safety protocol explanations. The group is then led to the pit area for orientation of the Formula Renault. Students are split into pairs and personally fitted into an assigned car. Group one goes on track to perform slalom exercises and alternates with group two, which is lectured on vision theory followed by a peripheral vision exercise in the pit area. The groups alternate between additional classroom lectures and in-car, heel-toe downshifting exercises on track.
Next comes a guided tour of the entire road course. Students are then set loose for a lead-follow session in the formula cars. This alternates with touring car lapping with a professional instructor in the passenger seat who provides feedback on driving line and smoothness.
After lunch, it's back on the track for open lapping sessions in the Formula Renaults. This allows controlled passing on the main straightaway for a smooth flow of traffic, while at the same time keeping everyone safe and learning at their own pace.
ABRS uses the MoTeC data and video acquisition system on all the Formula Renaults, allowing full analysis of each student's laps between on-track sessions. Berg himself provides feedback, encouragement, and instruction to each student personally in order to improve their on-track driving performance. The MoTeC system acquires track position, speed, engine revs, lateral, acceleration, and braking force, gear, steering position, throttle position, and brake pedal pressure. Student data can also be compared to pro data for speed, driving line, braking points, shift points, and g-forces. There is no faking or hiding out there--the data never lies! For example, your heel-toe downshifting can be completely critiqued to the last detail, as they can even tell if you lose or gain brake pedal pressure during each heel-toe "blip" operation. The software also tabulates lap and section times, providing hard data that reveals improvements throughout the day, analysis of consistency in each session, and an estimate of a student's theoretical best lap time.
Another excellent selling point rests with the Formula cars themselves. Yes, they're 100 percent European, built in Italy by specialist racing constructor Tatuus in the same factory that produces chassis for a number of Formula 1 teams utilizing similar chassis technology (see www.tatuus.it). The double wishbone monoshock pushrod suspension represents the latest technology currently used in all advanced formula race cars as it reduces both weight and air resistance. Gearboxes are five-speed sequential transmissions with "no lift shift" upshift programming, akin to those used in Champcar, IRL, and Formula Atlantic, while the powerplants are Renault 1600cc, fuel injected, inline four-cylinder engines rated at approximately 140 hp.