Pardon our dust - this page is currently being updated - 2/20/15


You've just found out that there are racing and high performance driving school programs out there, but you don't know where to start. You have a zillion questions but whom should you call to get answers? The right answers, not self-serving sales pitches and half-truths.

With dozens of hours of auto racing coverage on television every week, its no wonder that racing and performance school operators are popping up all over the country at an incredible pace. Not lost in this proliferation frenzy is the concerted effort to get more women to experience what had been and is still considered by some, to be the exclusive domain of men. The fact is that fewer than 15% of school enrollment nationwide is made up of women. That's a shame because women are excellent drivers and usually demonstrate a greater capacity for learning than men do. It is a fact that performance driving and auto racing skills, as with any other sport, are learned, not inherited abilities. If you wanted to better your swing you'd sign up with a golf or tennis pro for a few lessons because you know that a few hours in the right environment could dramatically improve your technique. Driving is no different except that, because we drive cars every day of our lives, we falsely assume that there is little else to be learned from a "professional" and, even if there was, a day or two at a "school" couldn't possibly make a difference, or could it? IT CAN !

Lets take a look at some questions you'll need to ask yourself before you call a professional sales representative to discuss specifics or book a course:

1- Am I looking to improve my street driving skills or do I want a race car driving experience?

Actually, you will pick up skills that will enhance your emergency response capabilities regardless of whether you select a program using street cars or race cars. The difference is that the high performance driving curriculum, as a rule, avoids using a race track and focuses on exercises conducted in wide open areas free of guard rails and concrete walls. This format allows you to push yourself beyond your perceived limits while avoiding the fear of making mistakes that could result in car damage. It's a great confidence builder and the right choice for teenagers in the household. Selecting a program featuring race cars and track exercises will add the element of speed and precision to the curriculum.

2- Do I want the best program available or am I looking for a convenient location close to home?

Some programs offer better value than others but budget or time limitations may dictate your options. The fact is that any professional program will improve your skills regardless of how many years you have behind the wheel.

3- Can I use my own car? I feel more comfortable learning in the vehicle I drive most often.

Truth is that you're not likely to own that car for ever and emergency situations may occur while you are driving any car, not just your own. The fact is that learning performance driving skills in a school car is a better idea. Without worrying about damage liability (some schools don't charge you for car damage in the extremely rare instances when this may occur but some do! Call us to find out which ones) you're more likely to push the envelope when prompted by your instructor. Because all cars have four tires as a common denominator, they will all respond in the same way, with varying levels of performance, given the same types of inputs. What you learn in one car can easily be transferred to any vehicle, as the underlying principles of car control remain the same.

4- What can I expect to pay for a quality program?

Most school programs offer you a choice of one, two or three-day formats. A single day can really make a difference if that's all you can afford and it will nmake for a most memorable experience. The two-day program allows for more exercises to be included in the curriculum and provides for more time practicing each one. We find that students are better disposed to absorb information on the second day of a program as they are more at ease with their fellow students and their instructors and have had a day to settle in to the concepts that are being taught. The three-day program is reserved for more serious enthusiasts and almost always features the use of race prepared cars and on track exercises. High Performance/Defensive driving program prices range from about $595 for a half day and $995 to well over $2000 for a full day. Half-day road racing school programs will run you about $595 with a full day on track ranging in price from $1,195 to over $2300 or more. Three day road racing schools start at about $3595 and top out at about $6500 (or more in some cases). Stockcar driving programs start at around $199 for a few laps around the track and $1,500 or more for additional on track sessions and a little more liberal curriculum. Private test days will start at about $10,000 and the sky is the limit. Personalized coaching for the more advance drivers will cost you from $10,000 to $15,000 a day plus expenses depending on the coach and his reputation or experience level. Again, the most expensive option is not necessarily the best. Accommodations and meals are not usually included in school prices. Tax is included when applicable and in most cases.

5- What kinds of exercises are offered in these courses?

All curriculums start with a classroom session on vehicle dynamics. This covers proper hand position, seating, visual focus and general car control concepts such as tire adhesion (grip) principles and an explanation of the terms oversteer and understeer and the effects of weight transfer. But you can't learn much from a static classroom environment and that's why the school's program emphasis should always be on spending as much time as possible at the wheel. In High Performance/Defensive driving programs, exercises should include "treshhold or panic braking", emergency lane change and accident avoidance, and autocross or simulated road course driving at speed where you get an opportunity to bring together all the different elements of skill you've practiced to that point. A skid pad or slide car exercise is a plus and should be something you want to have included in the curriculum.

The three day racing programs feature lots of track time in the race cars. You'll practice different braking techniques, heel and toe downshifting, double clutching, passing/overtaking and drafting. There may be some discussions on the differences between the "dry" and "wet" lines and of course, an explanation of the different flags used in racing and their meaning. As a rule, you can expect to spend 25% of the time in the classroom, 25% observing other students as they lap the track and 40% actual driving time. There is a 10% margin for time spent going from one exercise to another and for any delays encountered during the program such as on track spins, breakdowns etc., requiring school vehicles to intervene on track. Stockcar driving programs are similar in that the longer the course, the greater the speeds you'll reach and the more variety of exercises you'll get to experience.

6- Are these Performance driving courses suitable for my teenage kids and drivers young and old alike?

The simple answer is yes, very much so. A high performance driving course will make your children better, safer drivers by teaching them that you can have more fun with a car by understanding and applying car control and collision avoidance techniques than by focusing on top speed as an indicator of performance. They will better understand the capabilities all cars have to get them out of dangerous and unexpected situations. Understanding and practicing skills in a car at it's handling limits will teach them life saving skills they otherwise wouldn't know are available to them or feel comfortable attempting in a panic situation. This is not driver's ed! For the most part, the High Performance programs are better suited to young students than are the racing curriculums. The bottom line is that you'll spend thousands, several thousands in most cases, buying a car, it makes sense to spend a few hundred to learn how to use it properly. Both types of programs will do that.

7- What about the different types of schools out there?

There are schools that offer programs in street cars, single seat Formula 1 style racers, NASCAR style stockcars, Sportscars, Karts, Dragsters and many other different types of vehicles. In future articles we will address the different disciplines of racing found in motorsports like Stockcar, Formula, Drag Racing and Karting school options. There are operators located nationwide in every one of these disciplines. They all have different ways of presenting their curriculums, use different types of race cars and feature a variety of different pricing levels. We hope you will look for these upcoming, informative articles in the weeks and months to come. Additionally, the staff here will provide their own feedback and insight on a few programs they will attend themselves over the next several months.

8-What are some examples of good schools that offer the types of programs described above?

There are good school programs everywhere in the country. Deciding on a specific school or program can be daunting considering the shear number of schools vying for your business. Our service, founded in 1996, will make deciding on the best program for you as simple as making a single phone call. represents over 70 of the best racing / high performance driving schools in the country. Our experienced representatives' only focus is on helping you choose the right program, one that meets your specific goals, skill level, budget or geographical preference. The service is available to you at no cost. Our fees are paid by the schools not the students, so go ahead, get your list of questions ready and give em' a call. You'll get unbiased program information, free enrollment services in any of the many schools we represent and you're likely to learn a thing or two just by talking to them. You may reach them toll free at 866-941-3877 or by e-mail.

Article written by Robert Prevost, President & CEO of Interactive Motorsports Entertainment Corp. Robert spent nine years at the Skip Barber Racing School as its Corporate Sales Manager and has driven and or raced just about every kind of racecar in the past 25 years. During the 1998 season, he was Chief Instructor for the first modern day Formula One Driving experience in North America and was instrumental in offering authentic F1 driving experiences in Las Vegas between 2005 and 2007 when he owned the American Racing Academy at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (the school formerly owned by former F1 driver Derek Daly).


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