Lowndes. Brabham. Schumacher. Senna. Webber. Johnson. Brock. Recognise a few names?

They all have one thing in common. Actually, they have quite a few things in common, but perhaps the most common link is the training, the practice, they undertook — even when they were recognised names.

Naturally there was talent in the blood and they inspired many to get into motorsport. For some, though, the sheer cost of it is prohibitive.

But now there is an opportunity for people who wish to become a race driver, or already have driving experience and it’s not a huge financial impost.

Talent, though, is still crucial, and here’s a way to find out.

Race Academy International (RAI) is a new operation, staffed by people that, collectively, have more racing experience than many of us could ever comprehend.

Some of the people doing the training have oil and petrol running in their veins.

Matt Shylan, a regular competitor at Sydney Motorsport Park, is a relative late starter, competing in motorkhanas at the age of 12.

Highly respected driver, team manager, and experienced motorsport PR, Gary Mennell brings 30 years of experience to RAI.

Josh Muggleton was a competitor in the Nissan GT Academy International, has raced at Bathurst, and works with the Trackschool driver training group.

Linda Devlin brings an extensive CV to RAI, with endurance racing, historic racing, and numerous class racing wins. Linda started competing at just 8 years of age.

Key to the success of aspiring drivers is the sheer spread of the instructors ability and feedback. It’s a genuine, and real, driver’s academy, where scores are weighed up by the instructors after each applicant is put through a stringent series of tests.

To give aspiring drivers some variety, there are different cars to choose from in each level.

Level one, the Freshman, is just $990 and looks at car setup, feedback to the instructors, reviewing and interpreting data, plus a full half day session at Sydney Motorsport Park which includes two, 15-minute track-work tests. Just to add extra spice, a problem solving session with an engineer during a data review will be conducted.

Level 2 is the Clubman, at $1850, and is perhaps for drivers that have already had some track time and need or want to improve upon that. There will be more intensive scoring and, in addition, a media training session and debrief interview with a motorsport journalist. Finally, flag comprehension for drivers will be covered in a training session.

More experienced drivers can opt for Levels 3 or 4, with the State and Ultra sessions especially tuned for those that have the experience and mental drive to win. All sessions in each level are scored and runners up will be formally recognised and awarded. Costs here are just $2850 and $2200.

Currently based at Sydney Motorsport Park, Race Academy International offers more than a track focused drive day. It provides a genuine opportunity for those that feel they have the magic in their feet and hands to see if it’s for real — or just a pipe dream.

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Conole

Dave Conole hails from Perth where he co-hosted a car show on one of the city's major community radio stations. Although he's had formal training in stage, TV, and film, it's his face for radio that gave him his start in the automotive field, both reviewing and motorsport commentary. After moving to Sydney in 2004, Dave has worked for some of Australia's biggest media groups and is the anchor commentator at Sydney Motorsport Park. This has lead to anchoring major events such as the Top Gear Festival (and, no, he didn't get punched by Jeremy).