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Ron Tanemura: 30 Minutes That Kindled a Racing Passion

All he wanted was to drive laps and polish his driving skills. Then the mock race in ProFormance’s Competition course changed everything.

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“I didn’t think I wanted to go into competition; I didn’t want the time commitment,” says ProFormance Racing School regular Ron Tanemura. “I did the Two-Day Competition Race Licensing course for the heck of it, figuring it was a good way to work on car control. It’s a perfectionist thing – finding another tenth of a second here, another tenth there.”

What changed Ron’s view was the 30-minute mock race at the end of the two-day course, in which seasoned race drivers are brought in to deepen the racing experience. “Driving door-to-door is entirely different from lapping, I love that!”

Mock Race For the Win

In fact, Ron claims that the mock race actually made him a better driver. “In the mock race, you’re all in the same cars, and they throw in a few PRO3 drivers to give you some real world experience.”

What’s the benefit of having seasoned drivers on the track with you? “You’re not just driving the racing line,” Ron says. “Up to now you’ve been told told, ‘hug turn one, keep on the throttle’. But now, in the mock race, that PRO3 guy is pushing you out, and you’re going to have to decide, should you back out on Turn 1, or go through it with him two-by-two?”

Ron Tanemura, mock race enthusiast, on race track
Ron Tanemura putting his BRZ through the paces
Photo: https://www.karlnoakes.com/

Another example of how having professional racers in the mix changes things entirely: “He’s coming down to you on the entrance to 3A, going wide, intentionally leaving you a place to get in. Should you to take it or not? They’re training you to take it! They’re not racing you; they’re creating situations where you have to make decisions!”

When Ron told Chief Instructor Don Kitch, Jr. that he’d like to do more mock races, Don suggested that he get right into competition. Last September Ron, who is a financial consultant when not in the harness, got his novice racing license. He now has two races under his belt.

Simulation Adds Stimulation

Sim racing is also part of Ron’s motorsport life. He competes in a Sim league with people from the US, UK, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. “It’s a safe environment to practice car control,” he notes. “Sim leagues are good for racecraft: you start learning what’s a legitimate overtake and what’s not, how to defend and how not. You also learn how to follow another car closely and how to read the other cars. There’s a kind of communication happening on the track, almost like telepathy.”

He also enjoys the fact that it’s competitive.

A Slippery Start

Ron’s first non-virtual race, a little less than two months ago, was on a flooded track. “It was crazy, crazy, crazy, cars spinning everywhere! I was thankful for ABS and traction control, because I could push the car reasonably hard.” The car in question was a BMW E46. On track he drives a Subaru BRZ to which he’s made a few mods: exhaust to sound better, wheels to look better, and some serious improvements to the header and suspension. But the E46 is his racing car.

Ron is working on his Conference license. “My goal for summer is race at three local tracks: Pacific Raceways, Portland, and the Ridge. I want to do as many race weekends as I can. I’ll do what it takes to get my senior license, and then assess where to go from there.”

Community: Support Where it Counts

Like most Northwest drivers, Ron enjoys the people he races with. “The track racing community is fabulous. Everyone’s trying to learn, everyone’s trying to be safe. We support each other and also push each other.” The culture of ProFormance is particularly praiseworthy, he says. “Nothing is better than when you see a good family business be successful.”

Ron’s Advice: Do It!

According to Ron Tanemura, the fence is no place to sit. “If you like lapping, and are thinking that maybe you want to race, take the ProFormance competition course. There are other programs to get certified, but only ProFormance does the mock race.”

ProFormance’s 30-minute mock race, then, gives you a taste of what racing is really like. “If you take the competition course, and you like the mock race, you’ll want to invest more time in racing.”

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