Driving school

Chandler school offers ‘high definition driving’ in Formula 4 cars

By Alex Gould
Cronkite News

Engines roar, tires squeal and rubber burns at Radford Racing School, where drivers learn to race a range of cars used in professional and junior racing categories.

Students can drive cars such as the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the Lotus Evora GT and the Ligier JS F4, the exclusive model of the American Formula 4 championship. The Formula 4 category helps drivers take the first step in pedal karts towards single-seater racing cars.

But the skills taught at Radford aren’t just for would-be racers — they’re invaluable for everyday riding, instructors say.

Brett Barnard, who attended the four-day school with his son over spring break, said the most exciting thing about driving the F4 cars is how remarkably different they are from commuter cars. .

Radford’s F4 cars have a carbon composite monocoque and are powered by a 2-litre Honda engine, which can produce around 160 brake horsepower.

“There is no windshield in front of you; you can see the tires in front of you locking up, how they move,” Barnard said. “When you get into Formula 4 you feel everything, you feel every shift you make, every braking you do and how you turn, and if you’re doing it wrong you know.”

His son, Cole Barnard, said the F4 driving experience was unlike any of them.

“It’s freewheeling, you’re just sitting 2 inches off the ground,” he said. “It’s like driving in high definition, there’s nothing in front of you but the road.”

The only thing that protects riders from the wind is their helmet and racing suit.

The Barnards and a third student, CJ Enns from Canada, spent the morning of their last day at school learning the differences between the Ligiers and the Dodge Challengers they drove the first three days. They drove F4 cars that afternoon, following an instructor around the track.

BJ Zacharias, a Radford instructor, said the skills learned by students on the circuit – from how to regain control of a spinning car to focusing on safety at all times behind the wheel – can be used on Highway.

“Everything we teach here at Radford Racing School applies to whether you go buy a carton of milk from the grocery store or qualify at Le Mans,” said Zacharias, who was a student at the school in 1993, when it was Bondurant High Performance Driving School.

The school was sold in 2019 and renamed in 2021. Radford is now the test track for Radford Motors, a car manufacturer co-owned by Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button and Motor Trend TV star Ant Anstead .

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park will close next year due to Interstate 10 construction; however, Radford Racing will not be affected by the closure.