Honda Ron Haslam Racing Academy Review

We check out the Honda Ron Haslam race school and see if it's value for money

Preconception: I hope the Haslams like my tribute sideys
What I learned: Sideys don't mean squat when you've just crashed in front of two generations of racing leg-end

When I was 11, I could strip and re-assemble an AK47 in under a minute. Blindfolded. At 13 I could map-read like a WRC co-driver. Why? Because my dad (who joined the Army when he was 15) knew that one day I would be old enough for him to drive to Dover Army careers centre, where he would send me in. Then drive off. Dads, you gotta love 'em.

Look at Ron and Leon Haslam, Ron knew when Leon was knee high to a pint of Tetleys that one day he would make a good racer, and so began coaching and moulding him into the unquestionable talent he is today. This shows a couple of things, first off Ron knows a thing or two about teaching people how to ride, and secondly Leon should thank his lucky stars that Ron wasn't a parking attendant. 

The Haslam race school is more than just a trackday company operating under the banner of an ex-racer. I spent a day at Donington experiencing the on-track and premier levels available.

The on track experience is pitched at anyone who wants to get a feel for riding a bike on track, in my group there were 13-year-old brothers, coupled with 40-plus mums who had spent years riding pillion. After being properly kitted out head-to-toe the group underwent a quick brief on track etiquette and the flag system. Riders were then paired together and matched to an instructor, who for the next 40 minutes would lead them around the full GP circuit.

The bikes used for the on track course are either CBR125Rs or CB500s. All of the bikes I rode felt factory fresh even though some of them were dropped during the day. Our 40-minute session was only broken up by other riders, erm, testing their leathers. Fortunately no one was hurt and the session was only stopped for a couple of minutes. The track riding experience was cracking and, barring one particularly hairy near highside moment after which my instructor told me I would have landed 'with snow on you' had I pushed a fraction harder, I came away feeling pretty good.

The on track experience is by no means over once the track session is complete. A fantastic car park based tutorial followed that had novices doing stoppies and riding slalom courses stood on the seat or the pegs using only one hand. All of which was perfectly explained by Ron then demonstrated by Leon, absolutely priceless to any bike racing fan in its own right but also some mega useful riding techniques passed over as well. I did manage to drop a CB500 right in front of Father and Son while trying to negotiate some particularly gnarly traffic cones (they even bloody laugh the same).

I don't think anyone would walk away feeling short-changed and I would recommend the course to anyone lacking in the confidence or skill required to ride a circuit.

It was the perfect stepping stone for me as in the afternoon it was the premier course and CBR600RRs. Another smooth briefing followed and I was matched up with another and an instructor. Three 20-minute track sessions flew by with some fantastic feedback from my instructor. The pace was always where I wanted it to be and I managed to iron out some issues I had with body positioning.

The next step up from this course is the Elite, which involves riding Fireblades, but doesn't necessarily involve going quicker as a few of the Elite course found when we buzzed past them. I set myself a goal of getting as close to two minute laps as possible. According to our instructor my last few laps were just dipping under the two minute barrier so I left feeling as though I had really learnt something and had a chance to apply it properly. Even if you have done a trackday or two on your own, don't think you won't learn something after spending the day with these guys. The whole day confirmed my belief that instructor based track riding for people new to riding on circuits (such as myself) is the best way to achieve results. 

Rocket Ron needs little introduction. Three World titles, four British titles and over 100 GP starts. He is a cracking bloke, really approachable. His sideys ain't too shabby either...

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