While at the Atlanta International Auto Show on Friday, I stumbled across a man by the name of Bruce MacInnes.
If you’ve followed different forms of racing for the past, oh I don’t know, 40 years or so, you might recognize the name. That’s because MacInnes used to race sports cars back in the day, and rumor has it he was pretty good. More on that in a moment.
MacInnes has been teaching young, aspiring racers how to drive for the past 30 years. As a senior member of the Skip Barber Racing School, MacInnes has taught several of NASCAR and Indycar’s biggest names.
Bruce was kind enough to take a bit of time out of his hectic Friday schedule to talk to me about what he’s done, and the the school is all about.
He first gave me some of his teaching accolades. “I’ve taught all the best guys,” said MacInnes. “Mike and Marco Andretti, Tom Cruise, Jerry Nadeau. I love Jerry; he’s such a great guy. Ken Schrader, he’s a blast. Boris Said. I’ve taught a lot of guys.
“My favorite guys(and girls) are the ones with desire to race,” MacInnes continued. “I can’t give you any favorites, because I might get in trouble,” half-joked Bruce. “If they’re smart enough to hire me, I’m happy to teach them.”
Turns out, hiring MacInnes to teach you how to race isn’t exactly a bad idea. The original professor set a track record at Watkins Glen, a track he’s taught at for 34 years, driving a sports car. Asked what that was like, MacInnes described it as “like being under water with scuba gear; it was so awesome.”
MacInnes set several more track records during his illustrious career.” I have the record at Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Summit Point. It’s been 30 years; I can’t remember all of them. Moroso, Nelson’s Legends. Brainard, I have Brainard too.”
18 in all, to be exact.
MacInnes also had plenty of racing stories to share; all of which sound a lot better coming from the man himself.
“I’ve taught quite a few young guys who have a shot at getting into NASCAR. Most of them are in modifieds now,” MacInnes said when asked about his current students. One who sticks out to him is a young lady named Ashley Frieberg.
“She’ll go into Indy,” said MacInnes. “As long as they continue to have funding, she’s going to Indycar for sure.”
Before we parted ways, MacInnes wanted to discuss what was really important on that day: The Skip Barber Racing School teen driving course.
“We have a teen driving course. It teaches a lot of life-saving techniques,” said MacInnes, in the most serious face he demonstrated throughout the interview. “These teens, nothing happens to them. They have no problems with car control and then all of a sudden they lose control one day and something serious happens, because they didn’t have the proper training to prepare for it.
“At the teen course, we teach them what to do in the event of something like that. Everyone should do it.”
The Skip Barber schools had so much neat stuff to teach. From the racing lessons given to stars like Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, the Andrettis and Jeff Gordon, to the teen driving courses to keep kids safe on the streets, Skip Barber seems to have it all. Including one of the best, most experienced instructors in the world.
Of course, I’m not bragging on Bruce MacInnes. Because in the words of MacInnes, “It isn’t bragging if you’ve already done it.”
For more on Skip Barber Racing School, click here.
For more on Bruce MacInnes, click here.