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Thread: Driving Schools

  1. #1

    Default Driving Schools

    I am beginning research to do a a couple days at a high performance driving school this spring. I have always wanted to get some formal instruction and am also hoping to try some autocross next year, so I figure this a good first step.

    Does anyone have any experience with local driving schools? There appear to be quite a few options. The closer to Denver the better, and I would also like to to use my own car if possible.

    Let me know if anyone has any recommendations.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Platinum_Member Evo of Doom EGbeater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhurt View Post
    I have always wanted to get some formal instruction and am also hoping to try some autocross next year, so I figure this a good first step. ... and I would also like to to use my own car if possible.
    Joe,

    I haven't done any formal driving schools but I've been involved in amateur motorsports for a while. Almost all of it here in Colorado.

    What is your current performance driving experience, and what are you trying to gain?

    I see that you're thinking about trying autocross, but there aren't any local autocross instruction courses this time of year. There are opportunities to participate in autocross schools held by the SCCA (the local region is generically referred to as "RMsolo" for "Rocky Mt solo," "solo" being what autocross used to be called: rmsolo.org), BMWCCA, and by Evolution school (Phase I and II, evoschool.com/).

    Most people just get started and learn as they go. Depending on how "green" you are to performance driving, it might actually be better to establish a baseline of familiarity with performance driving basics before you pay someone a decent amount of money to teach you how to improve. Autocross in particular is EXTREMELY conducive to beginners and DIY type of people, so there's really no need to get formal driving instruction before you try your first autocross.

    Our autocross region/community (and most others, I'm sure) are very beginner friendly; all you have to do is announce yourself as a noob on the forum before you show up at your first event, and plenty of people will volunteer to ride with you (or for you to ride with them) to help you get the most out of your first event, both in terms of your enjoyment and your ability to learn as quickly as possible. Or, just show up an autocross event, and spectate or catch rides—there's no cost if you're not driving yourself. Bring a motorcycle helmet if you have one, since you need to wear one to be a passenger, and the number of loaner helmets is limited (although in the winter time, the overall event attendance is lower so it's very unlikely there won't be a loaner helmet available for you).

    In terms of track driving, well, someone (me) has put together a pretty comprehensive first-timers guide for going to an open lapping day at HPR (High Plains Raceway): http://www.coloradoevo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6314

    If you want to have an instructor with you on your first track day, I'm sure Mike Pettiford would accommodate you, and he's certainly an experienced instructor and a highly accomplished race driver (in a car as well as on a motorcycle), but it's not going to be cheap: http://www.go4itservices.com/track-courses

    Also, there is no need to wait until "next year" (assuming you meant "next spring/summer") to get involved with driving events... there are winter autocross events (we just had our last 2015 event yesterday, 2016 winter events TBA), and HPR is open for lapping days too:

    http://rmsolo.org/schedule.php
    http://highplainsraceway.com/drive-t...s-information/

    –Hsun
    The Evo of Doom's best lap times: 1:28.9 @ HPT (2.1M "NASCAR" config), 1:31.9 @ MPH, 1:35.9 @ PMP, 1:55.5 @ HPR

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    Platinum_Member Evo of Doom EGbeater's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that at SCCA and NASA sanctioned track events, there are options to have an experienced driver/instructor ride with you on track. It's not like you're paying to have a dedicated instructor riding shotgun with you exclusively all day though, and the level of instruction you receive can vary, so I wouldn't think of attending an SCCA PDX (Performance Driving Event) or NASA HPDE (High Performance Driving Experience) event as "attending a driving school."

    SCCA PDXs and NASA HPDEs are definitely great ways to get on track with the additional structure of having a sanctioning body that is catering to beginners running the show though, as opposed to going to an open lapping day held by the track itself, where basically anyone who paid the entrance fee is allowed on track, and you'll potentially be on track with people with decades of racing experience flying around in full-blown race cars... and some people in street cars with no idea how to drive them, and even less knowledge of track etiquette/passing expectations. It's a potentially volatile combination.

    https://www.nasaproracing.com/hpde/

    https://www.scca.com/pages/performan...ing-experience (this page is pretty useless; if you want more details about the local SCCA PDX program, contact Jason B. (an owner of an Evo X himself)... he runs the PDX program: mrrmrenfield at gmail dot com
    The Evo of Doom's best lap times: 1:28.9 @ HPT (2.1M "NASCAR" config), 1:31.9 @ MPH, 1:35.9 @ PMP, 1:55.5 @ HPR

  4. #4

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    Wow, thanks for all the info!

    My experience is zero in cars, and very little on motorcycles and motocross. I figured that taking classes at the beginning might be safer and benefit me more than learning bad habits. Rather than slamming on the gas and then slamming on the brakes at every corner, I want to make sure I understand what I should be doing and why.

    Due to the time/travel commitments of my job, I do not have the time to commit to running a full series or getting out a few weekends in a row to practice. I will probably be lucky if I get in 5 or 6 days a year. I figured getting a couple days straight of instruction might help me more than trying to learn on the fly, however if it is better to get the basics first then I will definitely go that route. If I can get the basics through riding with other people (and not spending thousands of dollars at a school!) and starting out slowly, that would be great.

    It sounds like the best option right now, would be to show up and try to get rides with people. I didn't realize that was even possible. I guess I will keep an eye out for events and just bring a helmet!

    Thank you for the help.

  5. #5
    Platinum_Member Evo of Doom EGbeater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhurt View Post
    Wow, thanks for all the info!

    My experience is zero in cars, and very little on motorcycles and motocross. I figured that taking classes at the beginning might be safer and benefit me more than learning bad habits. Rather than slamming on the gas and then slamming on the brakes at every corner, I want to make sure I understand what I should be doing and why.

    Due to the time/travel commitments of my job, I do not have the time to commit to running a full series or getting out a few weekends in a row to practice. I will probably be lucky if I get in 5 or 6 days a year. I figured getting a couple days straight of instruction might help me more than trying to learn on the fly, however if it is better to get the basics first then I will definitely go that route. If I can get the basics through riding with other people (and not spending thousands of dollars at a school!) and starting out slowly, that would be great.

    It sounds like the best option right now, would be to show up and try to get rides with people. I didn't realize that was even possible. I guess I will keep an eye out for events and just bring a helmet!

    Thank you for the help.
    You're welcome. One thing that coming to an autocross event to spectate and ride along will make clear is that it is a different discipline than track driving. The objective is the same, but the techniques that must be refined are somewhat different. The good thing is that autocross teaches lessons that are core to car control, which of course comes into play at the track too. Autocross teaches you to process things visually very quickly; to make very sudden inputs and transfer grip from the front to rear contact patches, but without upsetting the car and exceeding the friction circle; to always look ahead and anticipate what the car is going to do, NOT to respond after it's already doing it (where after about 1/3 of a second, it's usually too late); and to be able to "see" the right line through a corner (we call them "features" in autocross) even though it's not clearly defined... in fact, it's not defined at all.

    For most people with very limited or no previous experience in performance driving, if you first acquire a modicum of experience and ability in autocross, track driving ends up being much easier, for multiple reasons:

    1. The track is huge and the "features" (corners) are so far apart, compared to autocross. Therefore, the brain processing required to keep up with the basic inputs is laughably easy. Sorta like how downhill mountain bike racers will cross-train on motocross dirt bikes to increase their eyes/brains' ability to handle things coming up them much faster.

    2. You'll much more easily intuit the proper race line, be able to "read" the camber of the track surface and understand how to use it to your advantage, grasp the key importance of getting on the throttle as early as possible exiting each feature, and be able to understand exactly what an instructor means when he/she tells you things like, "the fastest lines through most of the corners at HPR is a late apex, but not on T13... that turn, you want to turn in early."

    3. You'll already be more comfortable with how your car feels when you exceed the grip limits, because it's easier to work up to sliding the car at 35–60 mph than at 65–100 mph, and as a result, you'll more likely to do the right thing to keep from having a bad four-off at the track where you damage your car, and you'll have increased confidence in your abilities to retain control of the car near the limit, so that your track driving skills will improve at a faster rate.

    This is a video of me driving at the last event held at PPIR, Fountain, CO, on Dec 6th:

    The Evo of Doom's best lap times: 1:28.9 @ HPT (2.1M "NASCAR" config), 1:31.9 @ MPH, 1:35.9 @ PMP, 1:55.5 @ HPR

  6. #6

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    Wow! Do they make the course a little more open in the winter series? That looked like a fun course! I will be out playing in my STU Evo X this year. I ran a BS STi last year and was middle of the pack all season. Glad to be back in my Evo though.

    What are your thoughts on the time attack series at PPIR? I'm going to show up next week and try it out.

  7. #7
    High on Boost muffner's Avatar
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    the time attack is fun. espeically if you get cars around you speed and driving ability. then it becomes more fender racing which i enjoy but it does ruin your timed lap.
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