Jeff Lacina
April 10, 2013
Photos By: Evan J. Smith

Registering for the Driving School
Okay, it's time to register. Simply emailing or calling the event organizer and telling them, "yep, I'll be there" isn't enough. Most performance-driving schools require pre-registration and can have a limit on the number of drivers they can accommodate. Many are online, however some prefer the information sent via traditional mail.

Typical registration forms ask about previous driving experience, how long you've been driving, what tracks you've driven, and what car you'll be bringing (unless the school provides cars).

Some driving events allow for registration the day of the event, but don't count on it. Event organizers rely on this information to place you in the proper run group. If you're a first-timer you'll be placed into a run group with other first-time or novice drivers. And while you may be the next Parnelli Jones, when starting out it's best to first learn the basics. Trust us, you won't be able to concentrate and learn if you are being passed 15 times a session because you thought you could run with a quicker group. If you are constanly being overtaken, your eyes will be glued to the "rear-view" rather than the racing line

Naturally, some of you will have raw talent, so fast drivers fret not,. If the instructors see you've got mad skills, they will move you up accordingly. They're not there to hold you back, but to see you succeed.

You may also need:

  • Form of payment (credit card or personal check
  • Proof of insurance
  • Driver's Medical Form
  • Proof of a valid driver's license

Vehicle Inspection
Most likely, you will be provided with a "vehicle safety inspection" form. These forms make sure your car is ready to be driven in a "spirited fashion" for one or two days. The event organizers want you to focus on driving technique, not vehicle maintenance or repair while at the event. Chances are, you're going to be some distance from home, so it makes sense to have your Steed in top mechanical condition. The other reason to inspect your vehicle is for safety.

Bring your completed vehicle inspection form with you to the event. This is the only indication that you have inspected or had your car inspected prior to the event.

Many groups will do a "quick tech" at the track, checking items like battery hold-downs, look for obvious leaks or other underhood issues, throttle return springs, brake lights, lug-nut torque (yes, they'll use a torque wrench), and they'll also inspect your helmet, looking for that all-important SFI SA-rating decal (more on that next).

Also, remove all loose items from the interior of the car before taking it out on track, including floor mats, cell phone chargers, empty soda/water bottles, etc.

Chances are, if you're driving your car on the street every day, you've got a pretty good start.

Safety Equipment
For most events, the factory seat belts (and air bags if so equipped) are perfectly fine. You don't have to install aftermarket or race-type harness' or seat belt system, but you can if you so desire. The same can be said for a roll bar. It's generally not required, but if you want to run one, you certainly may.

The only safety equipment needed for sure is a helmet that meets the group's requirement. Track Guys requires either an SA-05 or SA-10 rating. They do not allow helmets that carry a DOT or M- rating. SA-rated helmets have met manufacturing and testing criteria established by the Snell Foundation for automobile racing.

Brand new SA-10 rated helmets start around $165 for an open-face model and go up from there. You only get one head, and the level of protection is your choice. Some groups may have rental or loaner helmets, but your best bet is to purchase your own helmet and bag.

And no, you don't need a driver's suit. At most events students and instructors can wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes while driving on track—think jeans, a long-sleeve denim shirt, and good leather or canvas shoes.

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