The Penguin Racing School was founded in 1973, making us the first motorcycle roadracing school in the nation. Our primary mission back then was to educate prospective racers before they were issued their competition license. When roadracing started to gain momentum in the '70s, the racetracks became a scary place to ride. New riders were given a 20-minute dissertation on the rules and were then set loose to wreak havoc on the racetrack. As the injury rates rose, the promoters of the now-defunct AAMRR realized that something had to be done.
Founders Jerry Wood and Joe Zeigler put together a program that gave riders not only a complete understanding of the rules, but a foundation to build a successful racing career on. The Penguin Racing School manual Learn to fly? was authored and new riders now had a reference to look to for guidance early in their careers. The focus of the class became the formation of a solid plan that riders could use to improve their riding step by step and mark their progress along the way. Over a short period, the AAMRR races became safer, and the riders became faster.
After succeeding with the basic program, the school started to get requests for a second class to help experienced racers reach their goals. The Penguin Racing School advanced class was formed, headed by the affable John Bettencourt. John was one of the most successful racers ever to come out of New England, winning at the AMA Superbike level and riding for several factory teams. The advanced class was all based around Johnny B's racing philosophy, which took racing from pure uncontrolled aggression and changed it into a thoughtful, carefully planned process for self-improvement.
Upon John's exit from the sport, the advanced class was headed by Dale Quarterley, the last privateer to win an AMA Superbike national to date. Dale brought a new element into the program based around his ability to understand and explain how a motorcycle works. Bikes were getting faster, the suspension was getting better (and more adjustable) and our advanced students were coming away with a much better understanding of what was happening underneath them.
The advanced class is now headed by Eric Wood, son of co-founder Jerry Wood. Eric is one of the few riders who got the full benefit of frequent instruction from both Johnny Bettencourt and Dale Quarterley. Eric has taken the best teaching strategies from each of these mentors and blended them with his own national racing experience to formulate the Penguin Racing School, advanced class, as it is today. His classes, which center on the understanding of rider inputs to the motorcycle and strategies to attack difficult corners, have helped thousands of riders quickly improve their game. The school in 2006 added some new technology to the program with the introduction of the Penguin Racing School video production. We took three days shooting hundreds of riders doing it right, and doing it wrong. A top powersports production company helped us put together a powerful learning tool that does a spectacular job of reinforcing critical riding techniques and illustrating the proper line. The school also now has professional photographer John Owens at most events and John's brilliant work not only makes for a great memento of your day but also serves as a great instruction tool.
In recent years, there has been a great increase in the number of street riders who want to come to the racetrack to explore the limits of their bikes in the safest possible environment. In response to this, the Penguin Racing School has made several adjustments to the program to make both the basic and advanced classes better places for a street rider as well as a racer. In 2010, Penguin initiated the Track Experience Program at all events which are designed to blend our unique riding instruction with a comfortable track experience (with no inside passing) similar to that of a track day.