Is this a Time Trial or a Driving School? Actually it’s a combined event. The driving school will consist of three 30 minute or four 20-minute track sessions and at least 2 classroom sessions per day. After the third Student Run group rotation, the time trial is run for about 1.5 hours.
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 stuff 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 skillsnecessary to drive at competitive levels but it does not teach you how to race or be competitive. 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 specialty 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 indivudulized 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 did 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/TZC 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 east 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 heal & 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. In 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 two web sites you need to bookmark:
www.trackschedule.com (click on schedule)
www.motorsportsreg.com (practically everyone is doing registration 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 chose 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? Any one 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. Minor drivers must have at least one parent on the premises and must sign the minor release form. To prepare 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. In cases where we totally blew the call, every effort will be make to correct it.
Where do you get instructors? You’re in car instructor is the foundation of our driving school. They have the biggest impact in our ability keep both driving and event under control. They ensure you have a good time and learn something useful and return to attend another school. We require instructors to have attended 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, POA, MAZDA DRIVERS, FARERRI OWNERS OF AMERICA, MID ATALANTIC ALFA ROMEO, and TRIANGLE Z CAR) 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 actually teach.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 my 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. As club volunteers we, are paid by reduced or waived entry fees. 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 many groups running driving schools, as there are students to fill them.
Professionally run schools SHOULD offer value for money as well. By economies of scale they can offer venues that may be out of reach for a small club, such as Watkins Glen or VIR’s long Course. 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. You should get value for money and you should get what you paid for with any school that you sign up for.
How do I know a school is any good?
Most club schools run in this area are well-organized good schools. A lot of this may be due to the fact that many of the same people are members of multiple clubs; the instructor core comes from the same "pool", as well as insurance/venue requirements. What you want to watch out for and stay away from are what I call "rogue" organizations that rent tracks and collect entry fees but do not provide organization, enforce technical or safety standard, and generally let the driving get out of control. If you lose count of the number of cars that spun off course or need two hands to count cars impacting tire walls, the event is out of control.
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 motor sports and motor sport is 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-TZC Track Event? All students, instructors, as well as any passengers, are required to wear a helmet with SNELL SA rating not older than 2005. 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 SA2005 and SA2010. Anyone without a proper helmet will not be allowed on track. There are no exceptions to this rule.
What type of helmet do I need to do the Time Trial? All Time Trial participants will be required to have a minimum of SNELL SA2005 or higher specification helmet. There are no exceptions to this rule. Not just any helmet will do. This is of critical importance.
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? In some cases your automobile liability and medical may cover because driving schools are not timed or competitive events but that is changing. It is not racing. You are basically driving on a private road on private property. However, insurance coverage is not to be assumed. 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 shunts at schools have little to no consequences but as the saying goes "do-do occurs". We are very clear about when the school ends and when the Time Trial running. 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 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:
These policies have become very popular with many students and instructors. Lockton’s will also cover your vehicle if your instructor is driving. But they only cover HPDE or Driver education event, not competitive trials or racing.
Hall-Insurance even sponsors our HPDE so call them first!
Is there Time Trial Participant Medical coverage? Yes. Since it can be assumed drivers, when running the Time Trial, may not depend on their road policy’s medical coverage, THSCC provides $100K in participant medical coverage from K&K Insurance. This will kick in where any other policy would end. This costs substantially more money and is offset by the license& entry fee each Time Trial driver pays. However, in fact, this policy covers the entire event, so students benefit as well. However, if the Time Trial is not included in the event, there will not be additional medical coverage.
I would love to do a school, but I’m waiting to get a blower, springs, shocks, and ad infintem, 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 the thing first. Them make objective decisions about where any weaknesses my lie. Most cars need money spent on brakes and cooling systems before adding horsepower. First usually come tire and shock upgrades. Dollars spend 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 seat time.
and www.trackschedule.com for excellent articles about getting ready for a driving school.
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.
What is a Time Trial? A Time Trial is a timed competitive event where cars are released at intervals and complete a designated number of laps. The Laps are timed and awards are given for the quickest times in class and fastest times overall It is not wheel to wheel racing and passing protocol are specified. SCCA calls Time Trials SOLO1 or Solo Trials. See Time Trial Rules & Procedures on this website for details and classing info.
Why does THSCC require Roll Bars for Time Trials when other clubs do not? We believe it is in the best interest of the sport to be as SCCA compliant as possible. Our goal is to insure any of our Time Trial drivers can attend SCCA sanctioned events, such as the Hill Climb, as well as SCCA drivers not hesitate to attend one of our events. We require roll bars because we believe it is the right thing to do and our insurance underwriter, K&K, requested that we do so for the Time Trial. We don’t tell our insurance company it’s a driving school and then hold a time trial to get around this requirement. As of 2011 we require HANS type devices for Time Trials drivers as well as roll bars.
How do I enter the Time Trial?
1. Apply and obtain a THSCC TT license
2. Pass the Time Trial annual tech
3. Pre-Register for one of our events
How do I get a TT license? Follow the directions on the license form. The intent is to ensure that all TT drivers have a minimum level of skill. We currently have two levels of license:
1. TT License – intermediate run group and higher including instructors/ full SOLO1 or club racing license holders, or proof of suitable experience.
2. Provisional License – two track schools in the past 12 months verified via Logbook. Participation at the current school’s Time Trial provisional upon signoff by the Instructor and Time Trial Chairman or Licensing Director. The current school can count as one of the two required.
How do I prepare for a school?
or go directly 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: http://www.thscc.com/timetrial/nonhtml/Tech_Guide.pdf
3. Read the HPDE Survival Guide & Other documents from the HPDE MENUE
4. When you are reasonably sure you have addressed all the issues on the car, and then have the Annual Tech inspection perfomred 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 call me. I can manually enter the PC “challanged”. Payment is done via credit card & you can elect to pay by check but you must pre-pay to get a slot.
Who can I call if I have any questions? By all means if you are not sure about something ask.
Brad Makey email@example.com 770-335-0249 THSCC Track Events V.P.
Mark Vitacco firstname.lastname@example.org 919-790-9020 Instructors & Time Trial Entries & Tech.
Stacy King email@example.com 252-637-3977 HPDE Co-Chairman
Steven Westerfield firstname.lastname@example.org Official THSCC-TZC Track Registrar & overall nice guy.
Mark Cooper email@example.com 919 466 0553 Tech Questions, Solutions, & Track Inspections
John King firstname.lastname@example.org 919-210-1591 Web Site & Forms access help.
What kind of cars runs in the Time Trial? Mainly Solo2 Stock, Street Prepared and non-open wheel Club Racing Classes, Sedans & Sports cars. Lots of Miata’s. Usual mix of Detroit Iron, imports, the occasional Speed Challenge car. Vehicles that are banned from SOLO2 are also banned from SOLO1/TT. This will include all SUV’s or Pickup trucks that have been raised or have a high center of gravity. THSCC/TZC has the right to disallow any vehicle we deem is not track worthy.
Suppose my car does not fit into one of your classes? If a car does not fit into one of the SCCA Solo classes we will attempt to class it in a suitable club racing class. Failing that, one of the "catch all" classes like SPO or Street Mod. The only classes we currently cannot support are open wheel.
What is the Student Log Book? The Student logbook is a means of keeping a written record of each driving school attended as well as feedback from your instructors. It will also be used to evaluate Provisional Time Trial driver’s suitability to participate in the Time Trial.
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 still need a Time Trial license if I already have a SOLO1 or Racing License? Yes. All Time Trial drivers must apply for and obtain a THSCC TT license. We use this as a means of policing the driving. The one time $25 fee is used to help offset the 100K medical insurance initial costs for our TT events.
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 run in the Time Trial?
1. SCCA TTR 18.2 Level 3 or 4 spec. Roll bar as described above.
2. 5 or 6 pt harness that meets SFI 16.1 or FIA spec no more than 5 years old. Y straps are not allowed.
3. SNELL SA05 or greater helmet
4. Arm restraints for open top cars, H&N restraint device.
5. 2lb fire bottle bolted or clamped with a metal quick release strap.
6. THSCC TT Full or Provisional License.
7. Long sleeve shirt and long pants of natural fiber material, leather closed toe shoes (driving suits are optional)
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 SA05 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, leather closed toe 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? Brad Mackey, Mark Vitacco, Marty Howard, or Stacy King.
Who do I contact if I can’t get access to the forms or web site? Contact John King atwww.catseyeweb.com.
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||▢|
|Clothing & Personal|
|Cap||▢||Water / drinks||▢|
|Suntan lotion||▢||Cash, Credit Cards, License||▢|
|Lawnchair||▢||Pens and Notebook||▢|
|First Aid Kit / bandages||▢||Towels||▢|
|Camera, film||▢||Blank checks||▢|
|Lock and cable||▢||Extra shoes (if raining)||▢|
|Supplies and Disposables|
|Garbage bags||▢||Duct tape||▢|
|Brake Fluid||▢||Anti-Seize, Locktite, WD-40||▢|
|Window Cleaner||▢||Work gloves, latex gloves||▢|
|Paper Towels||▢||Bungee cords||▢|
|Tie Wraps||▢||Fire extinguisher||▢|
|Headlight tape||▢||Transmission fluid||▢|
|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||▢|
|12 Volt Air Pump||▢|
|Race Tires||▢||Spare Nuts and Bolts||▢|
|Spare Lug Bolts||▢||Repair Manual||▢|
|Electrical Connectors and Tape||▢|
Track Event list and optional
|Technical Inspection Forms||▢|
|Spare Brake Pads||▢|
|Extra Brake Fluid, 1 or 2 Liters||▢|
|Brake bleed hose and wrench (7 mm)||▢|
|Spare Brake lines||▢|
|Battery Operated Drill||▢|
|Rain boots + shoe covers||▢|
|Turkey Baster (Brake Flushing)||▢|
|Spare Fan Belt||▢|
|12 Volt Trouble Light||▢|