Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Performance Driving - Road Course 101
Getting on track is easier than you think, but beware - you will get hooked.
Ask any first-time participant and you will hear two things: they can't believe how much they didn't know, and most are impressed with the amount of track time. At a typical event, you can expect to drive between three and five times a day in 20-30-minute sessions, plus classroom instruction.
The basic techniques will be driving/seating position, hand placement on the wheel (often 3 and 9 o'clock is what you are told), how to manipulate the throttle and brake pedals to control the sprung weight of the vehicle, as this greatly impacts braking performance and control, cornering grip, corner exit speed and ultimatley acceleration. You will learn to dissect the track layout and run the proper driving (or racing) "line" which is the fastest and often safest way around the track. Bottom line: Performance driving is one of the most mentally and physically challenging things you can do, and the adrenaline rush wlll envelop you.
Most new drivers are amazed at how aggressively they can brake (while maintaining control), and how much speed they can carry when the apex is nailed properly. As you gain confidence and control things happening in front of your eyes will mentally slow down.
You will also learn the proper etiquette for sharing a track with other drivers. Most schools allow passing, but in a prescribed area, so you'll learn where to pass, how to signal a pass, how to let a slower car know that you want to pass, etc. You will also learn how to pit properly, and more importantly, how to "read, understand, and acknowledge" the various flags that are used by the corner workers. By the end of the weekend, you'll have a great appreciation for everything it takes to be a smooth, safe and fast high-performance driver.
As you can see, driving fast on track, is far different than ripping it up on the street.
There are several abbreviations, such as HPDE for "high-performance driver education" or "high performance driving event." Typically, if the word education is used, the event will have an established process for classroom sessions and use of in-car instructors. The best solution is to contact the event organizer and ask about the format and if classroom and in-car instructors are part of the program.
Where To Find Road Courses
Many road courses don't hold weekly "spectator" events like most drag racing tracks do. So if you don't know the names of the tracks in your area, use the Internet and, visit www.na-motorsports.com. This website isn't fancy, but it provide a way to search for all types of race tracks (road course, oval tracks, dragstrips, and kart tracks) by region.