Boston Rob At The Wheel

When Lynne Black was faced with teaching her 16-year-old son how to drive, she turned to Rob Mariano for help.

Writing from Fort Edward, N.Y., Black said, "We need Rob's help. Our son just turned 16 and we need to teach him to drive. Since neither his father nor I have said anything intelligent to him for more than two years, we want Rob to teach him to drive. I'm sure our 16-year-old will be sure to explain to Rob that he knows all there is to know."

Having survived "Survivor," as well as his time behind the wheel in "Amazing Race," it was a challenge Rob was ready to accept.

"I can tell where Chris' parents are coming from," he said. "Learning to drive is a scary thing for a parent. I had to basically lie to get the keys when I was a kid."

But upon further thought, Rob decided to turn to the experts. "I decided to send Chris to the Skip Barber Racing School at California's Laguna Seca Raceway. Skip Barber graduates include some of the best drivers in the world including Michael Andretti and Jeff Gordon."

So Chris headed west, with the help of Orbitz.com, for lessons with Skip Barber's lead instructor, Randy Buck.

"The first car Chris got behind the wheel of was a Dodge Neon. Randy took him through some basic braking exercises and explained the fundamentals of navigating a turn," said Rob. Once they had covered the basics, Rob sent Chris back to learn how to drive a stick shift and, "Believe it or not, Randy had this kid driving stick in less than five minutes. It was unreal."

Then it was time to raise the stakes.

"Now that Chris was able to master a manual transmission, it was time for Randy to take him to the skid pad. They wet the track down and spin around," Rob said. "I even got up enough nerve to go for a ride with Chris."

As for Chris' mother, Lynne, she was thrilled to have it all behind her.

"I think this was a great experience," she said. "I think he learned things today that we could never have taught him."

Another mission accomplished, and next up for Rob: an adventure in babysitting, this time with the help of his wife, Amber.
  • Polly Leider

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