When the Rocky Mountain Region (RMR) PCA member brought his 2007 base Cayman to his first DE at Pueblo Motorsports Park, it was pouring rain.
“I had these silly racing shoes that I bought and people made fun of them so I just thought to myself, “OK, I’ll learn as I go,'” Leary said.
His instructor that day was none other than Vicki Earnshaw, National PCA Club Racing Chair.
“Vicki showed me the ropes and gave me a lot of good instruction,” Leary said. “I was so fortunate to have an opportunity to have Vicki as my first instructor. For new track or autocross drivers, PCA DE instructors are the most important person they will meet at the event – people won’t come back if they don’t get positive support from their instructors and have a good experience with them.”
The Littleton, Colorado resident participated in the first RMR DE event at High Plains Raceway (HPR) when it opened in 2009, and became an instructor at the track in 2011. Kathy Fricke and Earnshaw continued to mentor Leary and soon enough, he accepted the role as the Enduro Chair for the RMR PCA club race. He then took over as the club race event chair in 2013 for the Rocky Mountain PCA region Zone 9.
“This will be my last year as club race chair,” Leary said “I was promoted to be one of the chief driving instructors for the Rocky Mountain Region, so that’s changing my direction within the club a little bit. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s nice to be able to share what I’ve learned over the years at another level.”
This March, Leary kicked off “DE 101” – a first-of-its-kind class for the Rocky Mountain PCA Region that covers all of the different aspects of DE. Leary saw other PCA regions presenting similar classes for their drivers and knew from experience on how he started out in DE that new drivers needed someone to guide them before they ever registered for their first event so they knew what to expect.
“My concern was that we were not seeing enough new faces in the DE program, and the experienced DE drivers were moving onto club races, much like myself,” Leary said. “I started a DE 101 class in Denver with my friend and fellow CDI Scott Henderson, and it was a huge success. I was really excited.”
Around 55 people showed up for the first class, which consists of topics such as how to register for a DE, how to get your car ready for the track, what to expect as far as wear and tear on the car.
“I like to tell people that if they have a garage queen, this is probably not the place for them – your paint gets pitted and your tires and brakes are going to get worn down,” Leary said. The class also discusses how to maintain your car yourself to save a little money, what to do when you get to the track, where to register and what to expect from your driving instructor.
“Your first time at the track, you’re sort of on your own sometimes – you don’t have a mentor to kind of take you around,” Leary said. “I’m a big picture person and my whole career was like that where you have to look at the trees, but you have to look at the forest at the same time. We want people to come in and participate in DE, but we hadn’t addressed the problem of educating the driver on what to expect with the whole DE program.”
“A lot of times when people come into events like this, if they don’t have somebody to help them out then they can leave just as quickly as they came in and that’s my biggest concern is that you want to get them in and get them hooked, because these are the people that will then become the future instructors, volunteers, club racers or even board members of the club. But, you have to satisfy that need at the beginning, when a Porsche owner is sitting around their office thinking, ‘Gee, I’d like to go out to the track. How do I do that?'”
During his time as the RMR Club Race Chair, Leary worked to enhance the annual event by focusing on improving the overall event experience and increasing driver safety. He created an event website for the participants and scheduled a “Brats, Brews and Blues” party on Friday night for the drivers which included a live band. He even created a spreadsheet with a month-by-month checklist on how to prepare for a club race that is now used by other regions too.
Leary most recently competed in his first-ever sprint race at PCA’s Rumble at the Oak Tree event at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) and was supported by Autometrics Motorsports. The rookie club racer ran in the White group and placed second in the GT4 class in both sprints.
As Leary gets closer to retirement, he said he’s ready to move on and get even more involved with PCA.
“My plan is to get more focused on the racing side of PCA and all the things that are happening in the region and see where it goes from there,” Leary said. Leary would like to see every region have a DE 101 class at some point.
Source. LST Marketing