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Taking the fast lane
Burdette fulfills need for speed at Roebling Road
Roger Burdette, racing helmet on, surveys the course ahead of him - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

There’s a place in Effingham County where you can drive just as fast as you want. And one local man loves to do just that.

Roger Burdette was at Roebling Road Raceway on a Friday morning to take his newest car for a checkout run. Roebling is not at all like a run of the mill racetrack. Here the emphasis is on driver education and safety. There’s not even a place for spectators to watch the action. This is where you go when you want to learn the art of racing. It caters to individual drivers and to car clubs such as the local Porsche Club that Burdette belongs to. Clubs such as those rent the track and hold races at different times during the year.

Burdette said he got started when he was buying his first new Porsche.

“I had an older Porsche at the time, and somebody invited me to one of these things,” he said. “And I went. I came out and I haven’t stopped since.”

He gets excited when he talks about the racing.

“There’s nothing like wheel-to-wheel, fighting for every inch you can get,” Burdette said. “You’re trying to get around somebody — it’s just wonderful. And with the race car, I’ve gotten 18 wins and three second-place finishes.”

He preaches safety and driver’s education, and is, in fact, an instructor. He said it’s relatively inexpensive for the education drivers get.

“You get a full day of running, you get a free instructor, you bring your own car and you can run in street tires, street gear, whatever you want, “

Burdette said. “It’s kept at a slower pace and the passing’s more controlled. You’ve got some classroom instruction that comes with it – ranges from $180 to $200 for a weekend. It’s economical in that sense. The car stuff’s what you really spend the money on.”

Burdette runs with his stock engine in the classes he participates in. The X-51 engine alone costs $11,000. Transforming a street car into a racing machine means taking out “everything on the interior,” he said.

“Replace the steering wheel with a quick release racing wheel, your seats will be different, and you’ll have a full roll cage, of course,” Burdette noted. “You’ll have harnesses that strap you in, so when you’re racing, you don’t have to hold on – you just drive the car.”  

And at speeds that flirt with 150mph and more, that’s a good feeling.