By Amy Hope
The rolling hills of Moore County seem to hold secrets. Who would have guessed a racetrack is one of them? Hidden off of Pole Cat Hollow, right down Booneville Highway, is Pole Cat Training Center. The scenic drive is deceptive. After turning and passing a gate sits a full racetrack with state-of-the-art classrooms and a fleet of race cars.
Polecat Training Center (PTC) is a complex driver training center for adult education and continuing education for automotive driver training. This includes off-road, unimproved roads, road racing, automotive manufacturers, and Law Enforcement and military. The idea of creating this facility happened between friends and was inspired by their love of racing. Friends in the racing community, Paul Arnold and Keith Watts raced go-carts in the same circles. Both being from Tennessee, they developed a fast friendship which turned into a dream of a full track of their own. They kept their eyes open for an opportunity. The hunt for the perfect spot was on, which was a challenge. With noise and space concerns in larger city areas, they spread their search to the “country”. When they looked at the rugged land on Pole Cat Hollow, it was rough and covered in briers… it was perfect. The surrounding hills provide a bowl-like sound barrier and the elevation changes make for a challenging course. There was also enough space for off-road and range areas. Construction began. They built a 2.1-mile track that has 125 feet of elevation change and up to nineteen turns. The discrete location also is a combination of being remote yet secure. Last August, in the middle of a pandemic, they opened for classes. The friends haven’t looked back.
Keith has many years of experience that started when he was ten years old. He is a thirty-two year veteran in racing and holds several national titles. He has racing school instructor experience and he has also been teaching high threat, anti-terrorism driving for the United State government and the US military personnel for fifteen years. Along with a handful of fellow instructors with decades of combined driving experience, the PTC is a premier training facility. In addition to driving training, they also have off-road areas that allow auto dealers to test new vehicles before they are released to the buying public. The facility also manages ranges that the government can use for intensive training. There is a race car flavor but is also a training center. Watts said, “we can have marines one week and then race cars the next week.”
PTC offers monthly courses that anyone can attend. The driving school offers a few options. There are one, two, or three-day schools. A student will learn in a single-seat open-wheel race car. They get decked out in a helmet and racing suit. It is the real deal. The course teaches comprehensive skills in braking and shifting as well as actual racing techniques. After completing the educational classes you qualify to participate in days designated for lapping or practice. They also have race days. In addition to racing, PTC also plans on adding a fleet of streetcars for the enthusiast that is not necessarily interested in racing anyone but likes to drive fast.
Watts is excited about the future of the facility. He said there are plans for expansion. The plans include eventually building multiple small cabins for vacation stays and a European-style bistro. “We want to be a one-stop shop for the racing enthusiast.
It will be a place to eat, drink, and race.”
“We are proud we were able to open up right and safely. Now we want to start opening for a greater capacity,” Watts said. “We really appreciate the car community in Middle Tennessee. Half of our business is from around here. ” PTC is ready to expand their visibility, no more hidden secrets. Be on the lookout for more local advertising and a presence at car shows and activities.
PTC has much more information on its website, including how to sign up for a course. Please visit www.ptcdriving.com They also have Facebook and Instagram accounts. The September courses are filling up now.