|“Winning is a function of enthusiasm, desire and a willingness to sacrifice… tempered by discipline. The same things that can get you a lap record and a national championship are also the things that can get you killed if they are not tempered. Racing is truth—if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose, there is nothing else.”|
|1977. Elvis Presley dies, Reggie Jackson leads the New York Yankees to a World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a brash, young race car driver called Bruce MacInnes becomes an instructor at the Skip Barber School of High Performance Driving. More than 30 years and tens of thousands of students later, Bruce is packing up his desk, shutting off his computer one last time and reflecting on the last three or so decades.|
|“I’m honored to have instructed for the greatest racing school in the world, to have worked with an outstanding group of professionals, and training some of the best race car drivers who have ever lived.” While most people in the Skip Barber family know him as the guy with the radar gun or the driver on some high speed van-arounds, Bruce’s racing resume is enviable. Bruce is a two-time SCCA National Champion in Formula Ford, back when that meant something. His drive from the back of the grid to the win in his Lola T-333/Chevrolet Can-Am car in torrential rains at Lime Rock Park in 1985 is the stuff of legend. He’s driven Datsuns for Bob Sharp and been flipped off (and kissed) by Paul Newman. He’s been described as a “sweet, wonderful person”, “a gentleman” and “a madman”… all by the same person. It’s been quite a journey, and the stories it has produced are pure Bruce.
“In the early 70’s we were in a recession, much like we are in today. I was sponsored by a real estate guy, who shut down our Formula Atlantic team and went to Canada with no means to contact him. My friend “Chicken Chuck” and I broke into the race shop at 3 o’clock in the morning and stole the race car to go to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix weekend. We came from the back of the grid to beat Gilles Villeneuve and Bobby Rahal. The only time I ever raced those guys”
“My biggest regrets? One was a DNF the St. Pete Grand Prix Can-Am race after rebuilding the engine in the pit area. I got up to third after starting last in our Lola T-333 Chevy when the throttle cable broke with about a half hour to go. I’ve also lost four National Championships; two to mechanical failures while leading and the other two by a whisker at the finish (one on two wheels). They awarded me Driver of the Year at the Run-offs that year.”
Lessons from the track
Aaron Hollander, CEO of Skip Barber Racing School LLC, reflected on Bruce’s impending part-time status.
“I met Bruce MacInnes when I went to my three day school 18 years ago. He was enthusiastic, zealous, and a bit crazy but most importantly having as much fun as his students. I’ve wandered down to the track many times since and always see that same fervor from Bruce. I once asked him how he maintains that passion for every class of new students over the years. He said it was easy, “I love what I do and there is nothing I’d rather be doing than teaching.”
I think the first lesson from the track for me is to find something that you really love to do. If you love what you do, it looks easy;it’s fun and makes a lasting impression on others. It’s contagious. Bruce’s teaching has been a gift to thousands upon thousands of drivers. I can’t count how many people have said to me “I had Bruce as my instructor.”
Heading on down the road
While we here in the Lakeville office are going to miss having Bruce around day-to-day, don’t expect to see any less of him at the track.
“I’m still instructing for Skip Barber and I’m gearing up my private coaching business, MacInnes Motorsports. Otherwise, I’m keeping myself busy.” said Bruce on of his last days in the Lakeville office. “I’m catching up on some projects around the garage; there’s work to do on my Sterling GT and the Tri-Magnum (two home-built cars). I’ve been working out. I’m flying with Vikki (Bruce’s new bride, Vikki Greenleaf). Life is good”
Over the years Bruce has seen it all, from teaching some of the world’s best racing drivers… and a guy who robbed several banks to race with Skip Barber.
“I’ve always felt that when I was living in my car and eating dog food to race that if I had millions of dollars I would sponsor up and coming drivers. Not likely to happen, but I sure enjoy teaching them.”
Bruce in his Ralt RT-1 Formula Atlantic,
Long Beach, 1980.
|For more information on Bruce and his personal driver coaching, or to hear another one of his stories, contact MacInnes Motorsports at
(413) 329-0995, or visit macinnesmotorsports.com.