DirtFish Student Stacy Cooper

Uncategorized | June 01, 2015

I’ve always enjoyed driving. I’m a city/suburban driver with limited dirt road driving in a family Outback station wagon. Before coming to DirtFish, I had no racing or professional driving experience or training. I’m not a gear head either. I don’t know about horsepower, engine size, or how to improve my car’s performance—besides adding gas.

I saw a brief article about DirtFish Rally School. After looking up more information about the school, I couldn’t wait to go. It came down to driving fast in dirt and learning how to control the car all while having a blast. Why not?

My wonderful husband signed me up for the three day class for my 40th birthday as a gift from all my family and friends.

At the beginning of the first day, all the students introduced themselves and told their driving experience. Everyone had racing experience except me. When it was my turn, with a smile I said, “I drive in the city!” It was a little daunting, but as soon as I got into the car with my instructor, having that one on one gave me the confidence to do what I wanted to do – learn to rally! I never felt unwelcome or that I didn’t belong.

The whole DirtFish team and the other students were really supportive and made me feel very welcome. The class was very well organized, it ran smoothly. Having 10 students was a good size. Every day started in the classroom. The first and second day I learned techniques. The third day is when things clicked for me by putting all the techniques together and I used them on the track.

The instructors were patient, supportive, friendly, welcoming, informative, and very experienced. They wanted to be there and really enjoyed training even inexperienced drivers like me. They really encouraged me throughout the entire experience. It was awesome to hear the instructors tell me, “Go faster! Go faster!” They always told me what I could improve on. They consistently coached me to improve in positive ways that made me feel that I could do it.

I always felt very safe while in the car and on the track. The instructors communicated very well with each other, the students and the others on the track.

Michelle, Ted, Mitch and Geoff are a few of the great instructors. I really liked how Ted & Michelle told me exactly what to do with my feet and the wheel for each turn, so I could feel how to execute the turns correctly, reinforcing the techniques I learned.

The first day was really difficult for me to learn so much so fast and do things that just weren’t natural, like braking with the left foot and turning the wheel into the turn before the turn. Everything in me was telling me, “No, this is not right!” but the instructors kept encouraging me until I was having fun doing it the right way. I normally drive looking ahead, but to look ahead to my exit, which could be 90 degrees to my right or left, was nerve racking at the beginning, but by the second day, I had it!


The second day was challenging and frustrating, but still fun. I just couldn’t put everything we learned all together. I wanted to have a smooth run, but couldn’t do it as well as I wanted. Michelle kept encouraging me not to get frustrated and instead focus on my next turn and keep going…

The third day, my very last run on the track was AWESOME!!! Over two miles of going fast, controlling the car, doing the full slides through the turns was AMAZING! Being able to brake through the hairpin turns, downshifting correctly and taking off was a blast! At the end of the third day, I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to keep going and come back again, which I will – probably in the winter in the snow, which the instructors said was a whole different experience.

From Stacy’s husband, Wade:

I knew Stacy wanted to learn how to rally race. She likes the dirt and she is definitely a control freak when it comes to driving. She hardly lets me drive us anywhere (only when I’m the DD or she’s not feeling well). I researched all three rally race schools in the U.S. including interviewing each of them and selected Dirtfish for several reasons: 1) they are in Washington – how beautiful a place to be; 2) they were very professional and focused on providing me all the information without distraction; 3) they are dedicated to rally racing, 4) they have awesome looking cars – love the logo and paint jobs!

Once I paid for the class, they were very helpful in providing all the info I needed to give my wife on her birthday. I bought her a T-shirt and a hat, which look cool and she wears a lot. They provided great directions, great options for places to stay from swanky resorts to budget AirBnB. I selected the AirBnB to save money and the hosts sounded perfect for my wife. She had a great time there, by the way.

Stacy Cooper