Racing Dreams Stuck in Neutral

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OLYPHANT -- The IndyCar race at Pocono this past weekend may inspire some to become a racecar driver.

A man from our area spent thousands of dollars at a well-known racing school in hopes of learning how to drive like the pros. But the man never got any lessons and he never got his money back.

Take the steps down to Bruce Smallacombe's basement in Olyphant, and you'll see he's a fan of all things motorsports. Bruce wanted to be a more competitive amateur racer, so two years ago, he spent $2,700 and signed up for the Skip Barber Racing School in Georgia.

"It wasn't like I wanted to go and become a professional racecar driver. I just wanted to be able to do it on the weekends here and there in the summer and just go out and enjoy myself with people at the track," Smallacombe explained.

The school canceled his first training program in 2015, but a representative for Skip Barber Racing enrolled him in another program six months later. That too was canceled, so Smallacombe tried to get his money back.

Emails over the past year and a half show a representative for Skip Barber Racing promising a refund, but never delivering.

"It is a lot of money to lose. I'm out $2,700," Smallacombe said. "Plus, I put it on my credit card so I've been paying interest on it to pay it off."

This spring, Smallacombe went to court. He won a $2,700 judgment at magistrate's court in Archbald.

He also complained to the Georgia attorney general and joined more than a dozen others who claimed the racing school took their money but never trained them to race.

We called the Skip Barber school for comment and got a recording saying operations, events, and programs have been suspended until further notice.

The racing school folded in June even though it still advertises training programs on its webpage.

The racing dreams of would-be students like Smallacombe remain stuck on pit road.

"If I had gone through this program two years ago like I wanted to, at this point, I could have had several races in. I could have purchased a car that I could have used," he said.

Smallacombe says he wishes he knew Skip Barber Racing School was in trouble when he signed up.

Last week, a company in Michigan bought the assets of the school in bankruptcy court.

Smallacombe is unsure if it will lead to a refund or a chance at getting the racing instruction he paid for two years ago.