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Review: The First Utah REV Performance Track Day Event

| June 20, 2024

Photo credits: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen of Racing Anxiety; Rick Bairett; Marcia McGovern.

Utah’s first REV Performance Track Day Event, offered at the Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC) on May 4, 2024, was a smash hit! Mike McGovern promised a comprehensive experience designed to take participants’ driving abilities to new heights and he solidly delivered. As one of the 20 drivers participating, I know I loved it. 

The Preliminaries

Pre-event communication was great, with the schedule and expectations emailed early. We arrived an hour and half before our track time. Right inside UMC’s main gate one of the instructors greeted me warmly and guided me to the pit area for UMC’s West Course. 

After signing the usual waivers, there was time to empty loose items from our cars and get to know some of the other drivers and their vehicles. The lineup included AMG GTs, Porsche 911s, Mustangs—including a Dark Horse—a Camaro ZL1-1LE, a Lotus Elise, and even an all-electric Lucid Air. My personal favorite was a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. 

In that company, my NB Miata wasn’t much. However, it proved to be more than enough. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

Drivers Meeting

For the drivers’ meeting. REV Performance owner Mike McGovern, a former pro racer and chief instructor at Bondurant Racing School, introduced himself and pro instructors Donny Edwards, Jen McGlamery, and Perry Needham. We drivers also introduced ourselves.

Many participants were new to the track. So of course Mike expounded on high-performance driving and safety basics. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

Track Intro

We split into four groups of five, each with an instructor. The instructor for each group drove the lead participant’s car, to demonstrate the correct racing line and good technique to that driver. The rest trailed behind in a lead-follow format, trying to mimic the instructor’s line. 

After a couple of laps, we returned to the pits and the instructor switched to the next car. That rotation ensured everyone got a professional demo on how to drive their car on a road course. 

I got to be in Mike’s group. I’d had plenty of instruction prior to the May 4th track day. If I’d learned nothing else, I knew that there’s always more to learn. Thus, it was a real privilege to see the differences between my driving and how an experienced pro drove my Miata. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

Open Track Time

Once we completed these rotations, the track was open to all 20 of us for the remainder of four glorious hours. This was my first time driving on track as often and as long as I wanted. That alone was worth the $499 registration fee ($513 including vendor fees).

Photo credit: Marcia McGovern

Who Should Attend?

I later asked Mike who the main audience is for REV Performance events. He said he’s especially targeting those who own a performance car and want to learn to get more out of it—drive it like it was designed to be driven—in a safe environment. 

I’m not exactly that audience. As a member of the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) who’s been on track for over a year, I understand what a racing line looks like. A few others also had some experience, including a licensed Porsche Club of America race driver. 

So did more-experienced drivers still get their money’s worth? Absolutely! 

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Lead-Follow Benefits

The lead-follow pace—perfect for first-timers—felt slow to me. It occasionally got frustrating behind someone who would lag so far back that there was no possible way to see, much less emulate, the instructor’s line. Yet the experience made me a better driver. 

During the drivers meeting, Mike emphasized that your car is going to go where you look. Thus, you should be looking beyond your current track phase. Entering a turn, you should already be looking to the apex. Approaching the apex you should be looking at the exit. When exiting, you should be looking and thinking ahead to the next turn. 

Well, the slower pace gave me several minutes to practice focusing further down the track than I’m used to. As a result, I’m convinced that I drove better and faster for the rest of the session. 

Professional Instructor Benefits

All of the REV Performance instructors have plenty of racing experience and all earn a living helping people drive better and faster. Each was quickly able to determine where my skills were at and what to focus on to take it to the next level. 

Two summers ago I’d watched Donny Edwards demonstrate the correct racing line, both as his passenger and during lead-follow. So I already knew he was an excellent instructor. Still, I’d never had him sitting next to me on a road course. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

Donny quickly saw that my transitions needed to be smoother. He also convinced me that “slower is faster ” entering tight turns. Two turns had been especially challenging for me. Entering them a little slower and a lot smoother did, indeed, help me exit faster.  

With the track reserved all afternoon, I had plenty of time to work on smoother inputs and entering tight turns a little slower. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

Later, I grabbed Perry Needham: the first instructor who tried to help me (perhaps suffered me) to get a Lotus Evora GT around the track fast. He had also encouraged me to work on “momentum driving,” so was one influence on my Miata purchase. 

It was fun to drive with Perry again after building experience for a season-plus. Given Mike’s demo, Donny’s instruction, some solo practice, and a new set of track tires, I was on my A-game by the time Perry jumped in. His enthusiastic comments like, “you’re driving the wheels off this thing!” and “this car is set up beautifully!,” were certainly encouraging. Still, I was now at a point where my racing line and timing could benefit from some fine-tuning, and Perry had plenty to offer on the finer points. 

Photo credit: Tapley Mitchell and Jace Poulsen, Racing Anxiety

It Was a Blast!

With gobs of time to drive hard, reflect, get instruction, and refocus, I kept getting faster. And faster always plasters a smile on my face.  

The camaraderie was fantastic too. For instance, I’d had great long-distance interactions with Mike & Marcia McGovern. I finally got to meet them in person and found them a great team. 

I also connected with former Rocky Mountain Raceway sprint car record holder Eric “Redline Rick” Pardee. He saw some potential in my driving and spent plenty of time mentoring me. So meeting new people and renewing old acquaintances made a great day better.

One of the best parts for me personally was that my mostly-stock Miata was finally not one of the slowest cars out there. I found myself getting by cars that I normally wouldn’t have been able to pass. Experience really does make up for horsepower at times. 

So whether you’re new to the track or more experienced, you’ll have a blast at a REV Performance Track Day Event. I love NASA Utah track weekends and UMC’s Amateur Track Days, and will keep taking advantage of both. The Intermountain Region Porsche Club of America also convenes fantastic track events. Now, Utah drivers have a another unique alternative for getting their own car on track. I highly recommend the REV Performance experience. 

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