Five Desert Lightning Team members received the opportunity to drive cars at a private motorsports club’s race track in Willcox, Ariz., Jan. 17.
Graham Dorland, Inde Motorsports Ranch owner, opened up the club for a day to D-M Airmen after talking to Chief Master Sgt. Dawna Cnota, 355th Fighter Wing command chief.
IMR is a private motorsports club, located on 1,700 acres. IMR offers their members year round track time, fly-in and race capabilities, vehicle concierge services, private garages and residential lots for sale. Many of the members are millionaires.
Chief Master Sgt. Carlos Figueroa, 55th Electronic Combat Group superintendent, said he stepped up to lead the project after Cnota talked to the Chiefs group on base. Cnota met Dorland during a community event in Tucson, where he extended the invitation as a way to express his gratitude to base personnel.
Airman 1st Class Dylan Deforge, 55th Electronic Combat Group knowledge operations manager, was one of the Airmen selected to visit IMR. He enjoys cars and jumped at this opportunity.
“I love cars,” Deforge said. “This gave me a chance to be around cars and meet people around the base who have the same interest as me.”
Before the Airmen were allowed to drive, they were briefed on the track, the dangerous points and how the cars would react under the extreme pressure they would be under. Some of the Airmen brought their own vehicles, which they were able to drive on the 2.75 mile track. They were also able to ride professional drivers through the circuit.
The Airmen also received a tour of IMR, where they got to see some very rare and expensive cars.
Visiting the track was a Porsche club, Deforge said. Members of the club gave the Airmen rides. Dorland even owns a Shelby Series 1, a very rare car with less than 300 produced.
Deforge explained that IMR has a platform where drivers can do donuts and spin-outs, but that wasn’t the sole purpose.
“They wanted us to see how you can control your car when you spin out, what you can do and how your car reacts,” Deforge said. “It was all fun, but at the same time there was a big lesson to be learned.”