Is this a driving school which will consist of four 25 to 30-minute track sessions and at least 2 classroom sessions per day. 

Just what is a Track Driving School? A typical track school run by a club will consist of a purpose built road course venue rented by the club, a group of experience drivers hired by the club as instructors, and a group of sports car enthusiasts that want to learn more about track driving or even racing, in a controlled environment. Students are divided into run groups based on experience level, rather than speed potential of the car.

How are Driving Schools Organized? Driving schools are organized by objectives of the organization and/or club that are running the event or series. Most schools fall into the following categories:

1.        High Performance Driving School: Gives a student the opportunity to learn by gaining experience in mastering the techniques and concepts of high speed driving. Students begin to implement the knowledge they usually have read about in high performance driving books. The problem is you can read every book ever published on the subject, fully comprehend all the concepts and jargon, and still have no clue of what you are dong once you get behind the wheel. The reason for this is because the sensitivity, vision, hand, foot, eye, and mental coordination can only be developed with seat time. This is visceral. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. Perhaps people who fly airplanes or have done downhill ski slalom may understand. It’s not that it’s difficult, in fact anyone can learn high speed driving at a competent level, it just takes time and coaching.

2.        Racing School: The high performance driving school discussed above teaches the basic skills necessary to drive at competitive levels but it does not teach you how to race or be competitive in a race. Racing schools teach race craft. Race craft is the strategic planning required to get ahead of the car/cars in front using whatever means necessary within the established guidelines set by the sanctioning body of the race series. Race craft is focused on gaining track position as opposed to driving the "perfect" and fastest qualifying lab. Cars that are racing will almost always turn slower lap times than cars that trying to catch up with those ahead in order to race them. However, part of race craft is having the basic skills to be able to drive the correct fast line in order to qualify well, stay ahead once ahead, or catch traffic in front.

3.      Specialty School Car Clubs do not typically run racing schools because racing schools specalize on a specific form of racing. I would include the Buck Baker Oval Track School, ROY HILL Drag Racing School, Bondurant School, and Stage Rally schools examples of specialty schools.

4.      Clinics such as Asphalt Ventures and Teen Survival which provided individualized focus on specific aspects of high performance driving such as car control, instructing, and specific technique. They may use small groups and divide a venue into segments for running practice drills and excerizes.

What will I learn at a Driving School? This is an important question because it will help greatly to start a driving school with a reasonable set of expectations. You are not going to attend a couple of driving schools and secure a contract driving for BMW Sauber or Richard Childress Racing. What you will probably learn is that you are only capable of using only a fraction of the total capability of the car you currently driving. Most of the modifications you have done already to your car don’t actually make much of a difference (at this stage of the game) and may have actually make the car slower and more difficult to drive. In this respect driving schools will enable you to spend money on hardware both cost effectively and objectively, once you fully understand and have experienced  vehicle dynamics on the track. We have to get the "software" right before we start worrying about "hardware" other than basic safety and track worthiness issues

What you learn at a Driving School is based on the Comprehension and Performance Milestone you are at.

THSCC uses BMWCCA Milestones for novice/beginner, intermediate, and advanced students as follows:

Level 1. Novice or Green Group Students

1.        Rules/procedures/format of school

2.        Aware of vehicle condition

3.        Proper seat & driving position-Mirror position-seat belts or harnesses snug-correct head and hand position.

4.        Traffic Safety Management: Observes pit line starter & watches traffic when leaving pit – checks mirrors often-signals and assists passing cars-observes corner workers & flag status-observes pit entrance procedures

5.        Up-shifts and Downshifts properly and selects appropriate gear.

6.        Smooth clutch release and observes engine redline.

7.        Knows track layout and the proper driving line

8.        Does not early apex

9.        Vision- looks into turn, past apex and toward exit.

10.     Smooth turn in and smooth turn out – knows largest possible radius

11.     Throttle on before turn exit.

12.     Correct hand technique, will introduce shuffle steering

13.     No abrupt sawing steering wheel inputs.

14.     No driver body lean-keeps head up and vision far down stream

15.     Clips apex’s consistently

16.     Understands understeer & oversteer

17.     Knows the location of run-off areas

18.     Knows how to drive off track

19.     Understands threshold and/or ABS braking

20.     Performs had barking without lockup

21.     Corner entry speed correct

22.     Follows directions & responds to instruction

23.     Maintains appropriate car spacing (2 seconds)

24.     Is at ease driving on the track

Level 2. Immediate Yellow Group Students

1.        Scans and attends entire visual field - Has high situational awareness

2.        Brakes hard and late on straights

3.        Knows and achieves brake traction limits

4.        Has consistent brake point selection

5.        Left foot braking as appropriate

6.        Consistence cornering force

7.        Can correct a skid – knows spin limiting techniques

8.        Knows acceleration limits exiting turns and uses correct RPM range

9.        Performs turn analysis

10.     Can drive in both wet and dry

11.     Uses very small steering corrections

12.     Understands the significance and can evaluate corner exit speed

13.     Can execute a early apex (capable of driving off line and stay on track)

14.     Can execute a late apex (capable of driving off line and stay on track)

15.     Knows "S" turn line and performs driving line analysis

16.     Is aware of errors and can self evaluate/self teach

17.     Steers accurately and consistently

18.     Can recognize and is sensitive to vehicle feedback.

19.     Can evaluate vehicle feedback

20.     Reads traffic-Looks through cars ahead

21.     Exhibits calmness and self control

22.     Knows driving terms

23.     Has a action plan for each corner

24.     Changes vehicle position by altering trajectory

Level 3. Advanced Blue Group Students

1.        Demonstrates spatial memory of course

2.        Performs error analysis

3.        Reacts well to the unexpected

4.        Anticipates changing conditions

5.        Reads road surface

6.        Performs heel & toe down-shifts

7.        Hard braking into turn/trail brakes

8.        Can double clutch

9.        Can Throttle steer vehicle

10.     Knows principles of vehicle dynamics

11.     Knows weight transfer and is aware of brake bias

12.     Is sensitive to vehicle dynamics

13.     Understands tire dynamics

14.     Understands slip angles-effect on grip-and cornering speed

15.     Knows rain techniques

©copyright BMWCCA Tarheel Chapter

Will I learn all these items in one school? No, again it’s important to have reasonable expectations of what can be accomplished in one weekend. These are the set of skills that can be expected to be accomplished before moving to the next run group. Depending on the person, what background and experience they bring, it can take several or many, many, weekend schools to achieve a milestone. Typically an instructor will pick one or two items to work on at a time that will give the most return on the effort. Anymore and the student will go into overload and the learning process will stop.

Where can I find out about doing more schools?

There are the web sites you need to bookmark:

www.motorsportsreg.com  (practically everyone is doing registration & scheduling via motorsportsreg.com)

What is MotorsportsReg.com?  Website devoted to managing amateur motorsports events, participation, scheduling, registration, and entry fee payments.  Cost is paid by the club posting the event.  You set up a drivers profile once and then choose the events you wish to enter off the schedule. It will tell you about events and clubs in your area and help manage your schedule.

Can my son or daughter enter the driving school? Anyone that is 18 and has a valid driver license can enter the driving school. New drivers are suggested to have attended a defensive driving school first.  To preparea minor for a driving school, see http://www.streetsurvival.org/  for info about the Teen Driving program.

How do you know what group to put me in? The driving school coordinator will make a judgment call based on the information provided on the entry form. We look to see if this is your first time on track, what other venues, and organizations you have driven if any. We give most credence to driving schools that have credibility and in-car instruction. Just because you attended 25 member days/lapping days at VIR, does not mean you have reached the advanced level. For all we know, you have been repeating the same mistakes for 25 days. The ultimate evaluation will come from an in car instructor.

Where do you get instructors? The in-car instructor is the foundation of our driving school. They have the largest impact in our ability keep both your driving and the event fun & safe. They ensure you have a good time and learn something useful and return to attend another school. We require instructors to attend at least one Instructor Clinic in the past two years and have been instructing at least one year. The vast majority of our instructors started out as driving school students and graduated through the run group ranks at of the Marquee Club (BMWCCA, PCA, TRIANGLE Z CAR, etc.) run events. They have vast experience of the driving protocol, procedures, and the proper running of a driving school event, as well as the communications skills to teach their students. Many are current or former SCCA racers or have instructed for a professionally-run school such as GarGuys, TrackQuest, etc.  They are in fact, if not quasi-professional, a very proficient group of experienced drivers that have accumulated vast amounts of seat time, between 20 to 30 schools, before they started instructing. Look around at the students attending your school; you will be the "next generation" of instructors.

I’ve been shopping around, some schools cost about $300, others $500, and some run into the$1000’s. If all the instructors and venues are the same, why such a difference? Of the types of schools discussed above, they can be organized by a local/regional car club, or a company that does this for a business. At the grassroots level, the best value for money, in our opinion, will be schools run by car clubs. We put on drivers schools for the benefit of our membership. Entry fees are based on cost: renting the venue, operating cost of the event, gifts or t-shirts, with just enough money left over to pay the rental deposit for the next school. All of the officers and staff at our events are volunteers. Some marque clubs specify that you can only participate in a specific make of car. Others, sell out so fast, it is difficult for non-members to get enrolled, so there are almost as many groups running driving schools as there are students to fill them.

Instructors at professional schools should have additional qualifications. Many of the upper scale schools will offer additional instructional tools such as telemetry and electronic lap times. Schools where you drive your own car are going to be substantially less expensive than schools where you "arrive and drive". Professional Schools can offer instruction in Sedan, Sports Car, and even Open Wheel Race Cars.

Whoa, cars spinning off and impacting tire walls - can I wreck my car doing this, or even get hurt? Yes. This is a form of motorsport and all motorsports are dangerous. You are required to wear a SNELL approved helmet when on track at all times. This is not cosmetic or to make you feel like a racer. This is to help save your life in the event something goes seriously wrong. A successful school is a partnership of the Students, Instructors, and Organizers to do the best possible job they can, help them and help their fellow drivers towards reaching the prime objective: Driving home safely in the same car your arrived in the same overall condition. See the question about getting HPDE insurance for your car.

Do I need to bring a helmet or will the club provide one? Students must supply their own helmets. The club has a very limited number of loaner helmets as backup for sub-standard or helmets that do not meet the requirements.

What type of helmet do I need to enter a THSCC Track Event? All students, instructors, as well as any passengers, are required to wear a helmet with SNELL SA rating not older than 2020. Full face or open face design is up to the discretion of the student. We recommend full face for the added protection it offers. Examples of acceptable helmets are SA2010 and SA2015.  Anyone without a proper helmet will not be allowed on track. There are no exceptions to this rule.

What is SNELL? "The Snell Memorial Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards. Since it’s founding in 1957, Snell has been a leader in helmet safety in the United States and around the world." Visitwww.smf.org and learn as much as you can about helmets.

How can tell my helmet is good? All SNELL rated helmets will have the Snell Memorial Foundationsticker attached to the inner surface of the helmet under the cloth liner slightly above and behind where the ear would rest. This label will have the SNELL logo and rating such as M95, M00, SA00, or SA05. The letters indicate rating and the number specify year. Visit www.smf.org for additional info. If you are ever in doubt about a helmet’s condition, contact the manufacture and arrange to have it tested.

Why are HPDE Drivers required to have a higher spec helmet? The SA rating stands for "Special Applications". This rating was done specifically for automotive competition use and is tested for blunt force impact as would be experienced hitting a roll bar/cage or B-Pillar in addition to being fire resistant. The M rating stands for Motorcycle. M helmets must meet a minimum specification for visibility and peripheral vision as they are primarily designed for motorcycle road use. The SA helmets offer better impact protection while many of the newer styles have excellent visibility and can even be worn with glasses.

Who is responsible for my safety? You and only you are responsible for your personal safety and for the safety of your car. It is you driving the car and you are expected to be in control at all times. In this sense you control the risk. Everyone is responsible for his or her own damage and for any property damage that could occur. This does not need to be an issue unless you make it one. Never lose site of the Prime Objective.

What happens if I wreck? To be sure you must obtain and read your actual insurance policy. If you are not sure about a clause in the policy, have your agent contact the underwriter for clarification. Most accidents at schools have little to no consequences but as the saying goes "do-do occurs". We don’t post or advertise any times for student drivers so there is no confusion about this not being a timed event. This is why some schools do not allow stopwatches in the paddock.   The driver is responsible to pay for any damage to the track or facility. If you bend the guardrail or tire wall, you pay for it, not the club.

Can I get Insurance for my car at a Driving School?

At one time you were on your own but this has changed.  Vehicle damage insurance for reasonable rates is available for Driver Education Events from several sources. This can prevent insurance rates from increasing or your coverage being dropped due to a total loss track claim. Check out the following:

http://www.hall-insurance.com/Motorsports_Programs.html

http://hpdeins.locktonaffinity.com/Default.aspx

I would love to do a school, but shouldn't I wait to upgrade the suspension/motor/interior/exterior of my car first?  Remember, as stated above, High Performance Driving schools are not hardware dependent. You generally want to start out with a stock type car on street tires and learn to drive it "as-is" first. Then make objective decisions about what is getting in the way of you becoming a better driver, but only after you have mastered the car as it is. Most cars need money spent on brakes and cooling systems before adding horsepower.  Dollars spent on driving school will pay dividends long into the future and allow you to enjoy the capabilities of what you have now. If there are safety issues, by all means, be sure they are corrected before you drive on track. The best time and money spend is for seat time.

What is Track Driving like? Track Driving should always be fun but challenging. It should absorb 100% of concentration. It is work, but fun work. You should never feel intimidated or stressed out. If so, let the instructor know and work together to fix it. You should always know exactly what to expect from every input you give, if you are not sure, and then talk that over with your instructor.

How do I prepare for a school?

1.      Down load tech forms and info at http://www.thscc.com/  and register by going to http://www.motorsportreg.com/index.cfm/event/login.form and find our event on the schedule.

2.        Go over each item on the tech form to insure your car track worthy and will last the weekend. We are serious about making sure the break fluid is not more than 3 months old and that none of the hoses or belts or suspension components are marginal.  Read the Tech Guide so you know what to check.

3.        Read the HPDE Survival Guide  &  Other documents from the HPDE MENU.

4.        When you are reasonably sure you have addressed all the issues on the car, have the Annual Tech inspection performed at a shop of your choice or attend one of our tech days.

5.      All registration is on line now. If you need help just email trackadmin@thscc.com.

Can I get the Tech Inspection done locally or do I have to attend one of the tech days? Annual tech can be done by the shop of your choice. We schedule several annual tech days for the sake of convenience. We only ask that your car be thoroughly and independently verified once a year ,independently on a lift, using the checklist on our form. A short grid checklist is also included on the form for you to use on the day of the event.

Do I still need the Tech done if my car has a Logbook? No. We will honor current SCCA Club Racing, BMWCCA Club Racing, PCA/POA, NASA, and other nationally recognized organizations logbooks. However, all cars can be subject to a safety audit at any time or as deemed necessary by the Technical Director. It is the driver/owners responsibility to insure the car is SOLO1 compliant.

Do I need to have a roll bar if I’m only doing the driving school? No, Unless you are driving a convertible.  Only convertibles are required to have SCCA TT spec roll bars and vehicles participating in the Time Trial.

What is a SCCA TT Spec Roll bar? SCCA roll bars are defined in the SCCA TT Rules Section 18.2. It must consist of a main hoop, two vertical supports and a diagonal bar. The Roll bar should also contain a horizontal bar for mounting the harness straps. Most OEM "Show Bars or Roll Hoops do not meet this requirement. We require that all Time Trial bars be inspected and verified SCCA TT Level 3 or 4 compliant.  The Tech Guide is kept up to date.

Please read the Tech Guide for specific info.

What is needed to enter the High Performance Driving School?

1.        Reliable road worthy car that passes the safety inspection checklist.

2.        Mfg suggested speed rated tires with at least 2/32nd tread.

3.        Stock 3pt seat/shoulder belt in good condition.

4.        SNELL approved helmet SA2010 or higher.

5.        SCCA TTR 18.2 spec Roll bar only for convertible cars (not Targas, factory T-Tops)

6.        Long sleeve shirt and long pants of natural fiber material &close-toed shoes.

Suppose the weather is bad? The event will run rain or shine. If weather conditions become dangerous, such a lightning, or winter conditions,  the event will shut down until conditions improve. Refunds cannot be given if an event is shut down or canceled due to reasons beyond our control.

Can two people share a car? Yes. So long as both people are not in the same run group. Be sure to mention this when you register.

Who do I see about a complaint or protest? Please find someone in a yellow staff shirt at the event and we will address your concern as best we can.

What kinds of things should I bring to a HPDE event?

Our own Mike “spreadsheet” Whitney has compiled a list you may find useful:

Having forgotten something at nearly every driving event I've been to, I decided to get, ah, organized.  Feel free to steal / copy my list and make it your own!   This is based on a list I copied from a BMW website.  Items I consider optional or that are not always needed are in italics.

Getting there and getting in
Registration materials Radar detector
Maps / Driving directions CB radio
Hotel Reservations Cell phone
Helmet GPS
       
Clothing & Personal
Jacket Snacks
Cap Water / drinks
Sunglasses Cooler
Suntan lotion Cash, Credit Cards, License
Lawnchair Pens and Notebook
First Aid Kit / bandages Towels
Camera, film Blank checks
Umbrella Rain suit
Lock and cable Extra shoes (if raining)
       
Supplies and Disposables
Garbage bags Duct tape
Brake Fluid Anti-Seize, Locktite, WD-40
Motor Oil Towels
Window Cleaner Work gloves, latex gloves
Paper Towels Bungee cords
Tie Wraps Fire extinguisher
Headlight tape Transmission fluid
       
Tools
Flashlight Funnel
Sockets, ratchet, extensions Fluke Multimeter
Test wires / leads Tire Pressure Gauge
Shock adjusting knob Tarps
Floor Jack Torque Wrench
Old Blanket Breaker Bar + 17 mm socket
Wheel Chocks Knife
12 Volt Air Pump    
       
Parts
Race Tires Spare Nuts and Bolts
Spare Lug Bolts Repair Manual
Electrical Connectors and Tape    

 

Track Event list and optional

Registration materials
Technical Inspection Forms
Helmet Release
Spare Brake Pads
Spare Rotors
Extra Brake Fluid, 1 or 2 Liters
Brake Cleaner
Brake bleed hose and wrench (7 mm)
Spare Brake lines
Jackstands
Long pants
Long-sleeve shirt
Battery Operated Drill
Drill Bits
C Clamps
Jumper Cables

To-buy list

Rain boots + shoe covers
Portable Airtank
Turkey Baster (Brake Flushing)
Spare Fan Belt
Pressure Bleeder
12 Volt Trouble Light