What You Learn in Car Racing School

December 5, 2014

Learn about the top US racing schools, enrollment requirements, tips for saving on tuition, and what you can expect to learn at a car racing school.

What you learn in car racing school makes you a safer driver in any situation. There are many car racing schools at tracks throughout the United States, some affiliated with NASCAR, others with SCCA. Most car racing schools are run by veteran race car drivers, so you are learning from their experiences.

Skip Barber Racing School

The Skip Barber Racing School has an introduction to racing class, which includes an hour of lap time with race style downshifting plus competition braking and cornering procedures. The three day program covers autocross, braking, and downshifting exercises with special attention on double-clutch heel and toe downshifting, high speed laps, advanced braking techniques, car drafting, passing, racing in the rain, double file race starts and single file restarts. The Advanced Car Control program includes practicing sliding, drifting, and rotating a vehicle plus a skid pad free of obstacles and autocross instruction. At Skip Barber, you have a choice of a Formula car or Mazda RX8, MX5, or Mazda 3.

TrackTimeRacing Schools

At TrackTime Racing Schools, drivers get a real stock car just as it is raced, wearing a loaner driving suit, helmet, and gloves. At driver orientation class the dynamics of stock car driving, the racing line, car control, weight transfer and management and vehicle response are covered. A vehicle walkaround covers all systems and components. You then ride with an instructor around the track, making transitions and maneuvers while driving the racing line. Next, you get in a stock car on your own. After completing the 40 lap stock car racing program, you are qualified for the Advanced Stock Car program, which includes four ten-lap sessions followed by a one on one race against their expert car driving instructor, using all you have learned.

At the Spring Mountain Motorsports track near Las Vegas is the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offering two and three day programs, the two day Radical Racing Schools, and the two day Lotus Performance Driving School. Ron Fellows is the official Chevrolet high performance driving school offering Level one, a three day entry level Corvette performance driving school. Day one covers car control, accident avoidance, visual skills, heel and toe downshifting, and skid control on wet pavement in a specially equipped car. Day two is a heel and toe downshifting warm up followed by shadow-lapping, which means balancing the Corvette with smooth precision through the corners. Day three is plenty of looping around the track after a shifting warm up and shadow-lapping session.

Schools at Spring Mountain Motorsports

The Level two Advanced Corvette Driving School is an informal two day affair covering power circles plus continued practice of balance, visual scanning, and throttle modulation that takes you to the limit on the high performance Corvette.

The Lotus Performance Driving School uses the British Lotus Elite, a light and nimble car with a long racing history. The one day program on the training track covers four wheel lockup and threshold braking, plus heel and toe braking with the proper foot position. The two day program offers plenty of open lap time.

How Does Race Car Driving Experience Improve Standard Driving Ability?

Race care driving experience can definitely improve standard driving ability. Race car driving is very different than regular driving, however, a race car driver should have an advantage over others. Race car drivers need to be extra safe on the track. Though there is nothing safe about going 200 plus miles per hour with your car inches from the car in front of you, it shows great driving skill to be able to do that. The aggression on the track is not something that translates well to the road, but the techniques race car drivers learn on the race track are still beneficial when driving regularly.

Driving Awareness

When you are driving on the road, it is always a good idea to keep checking your mirrors to know where other vehicles are. A race car driver needs to do this every second of the race. With the cars being so close and going so fast, being aware of where everyone is in comparison to them is very important. This information can be the difference between a crash and avoiding a crash.

Driver's Reaction Time

Coupled with awareness is reaction time. Reaction time is what takes that awareness and transfers it into action. When cars are going over 200 miles per hour, a sudden shift by just one car can cause a major accident. Often, these collisions have dire consequences. Having a quick reaction time can help you avoid being in the collision. Reaction time is important in all driving, not just race cars. Other drivers constantly cut people off and do things you may not expect. Being able to avoid this is imperative for save driving.

Car Handling

Driving conditions are not always perfect. Although we may wish for the sun to be shining year round, driving conditions are altered by the weather. Race car drivers learn how to handle their cars in all conditions and must be precise. Races are sometimes held in very dangerous conditions and a slick track can cause many accidents when the cars are going so fast.

Race car drivers learn proper driving techniques. They may not be in a safe profession, but they are some of the safest drivers out there. They have excellent driver awareness, reaction time, and handling skills.

There are no specific state or national legal requirements in the United States regarding these schools that dictates who may attend. A car racing school will require that the driver who wishes to attend at a minimum have a license in the state where the attendee lives. Additionally, a school may require that you sign a liability waiver in order to protect the school from any harm that may result from your participation in the car racing school.

Additional Requirements Imposed by the School

Some schools further require, for reasons of insurance and liability that the drivers who attend the car racing school be over the age of 18. There may be imposed additional requirements with respect to the skills you have prior to the class. All of these requirements are self-mandated and not legal requirements imposed by any state or federal government. The only legal requirement that will be imposed or upheld by the car racing school is that the attendees present a valid, legal driver's license. As long as this requirement is met, you will be permitted to attend, provided you meet any specific requirements imposed by the car racing school.

4 Tips to Save Money on Auto Racing School

A racing school can be as little as $1,000 up to several thousands of dollars. Being able to save money and get the most value for the type of auto racing school experience that you are looking for requires some work or creativity on your part. There are some ways in which you can save money including looking for discount packages, attending a school during an off-peak demand period, limiting the number of instruction days and finding a school that is closest to you.

Discount Packages

Many schools offer discounts for groups and other types of occasions. The best way to find these types of deals is through a travel agent or by signing up for Twitter or Facebook posts that the school may have. This will give you access to valuable updates and information when looking for discounts. Because you can often link this updates to your mobile phone, you should be able to react almost immediately when a discount package comes your way that is affordable.

Go During Off-Peak Demand Periods

Waiting a few months to have that auto racing school experience may be the difference between paying a lot or paying a little for the experience. Although many schools set their training schedule well in advanced, it is possible to find a time when demand is not as much as what was expected. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to find the best time for you at the lowest cost.

Limit Number of Days

Instead of attending a full three or five-day school, limit your days to a one or two-day course. This may provide you with an intense, compact experience that will still provide you with the fun and instruction that you were looking for, albeit in a limited timeframe. The difference in price between attending a full week or 1/2 week school and a one to two-day session can be around $1,000 to $2,000.

Find a School Nearest to You

In addition to the costs associated with an auto racing school's tuition, there may be lodging, travel and food expenses that are not always factored into the equation. One way to limit these additional expenses is to find the nearest auto racing school. This will reduce your travel expenses and the amount of time that you need to spend away from home while you engage in your auto racing school experience.

Common Causes of Injury at Drag Racing Schools

Although drag racing schools are the safest way to get into the relatively dangerous sport of drag racing, accidents do happen, and it is possible for students to sustain injury while learning. The super comp dragster driven by any drag racer is souped up with nitrous oxide, a gas that can be added to fuel to make it more flammable. This, combined with the super comp dragster's aerodynamic design, allows the vehicle to move at extremely high speeds, making any drag race a dangerous endeavor.

Because crashes at such a high speed can be so fatally dangerous, anyone who attends a drag racing school should practice proper accident awareness to minimize the chances of a crash. Practicing accident awareness means taking time to go over and understand the causes of crashes so individuals know more about them and are less likely to make them.

  • Leg injuries. In drag racing cars, there is only a little space for the driver's legs because of the car's triangular shape. This makes frontal crashes into stationary objects or walls the most common cause of a crash. Because as the car buckles inward to absorb the force of the crash, the driver's legs can get smashed.
  • Head injuries. Another common cause of injury for drag racers is head impacts. Because the car is going so fast when a crash occurs, the driver's head can sometimes smash into the steering wheel. It is for this reason you are required to wear a helmet.
  • Neck injuries. Whiplash is also a common injury at drag racing schools. Even if the helmet successfully protects the face and head in the event of a crash, the quick jolt can damage a driver's neck.

The Top Racing Schools

  • Bob Bondurant's School of High Performance Driving. Over 40 years old, Bondurant has seen many students on its track. Rather than develop specific skills, such as for Formula One driving, Bondurant's instructors teach ordinary high performance driving, highway performance driving, Corvette (Z06) skills development and highway survivability. A two- to three-day course, it costs $2,500 to $3,500.
  • Skip Barber. With locations across the country, Skip Barber and race training have become synonymous. Barber has such Indy car alums as Jeff Gordon, Bobby LaBonte and Kyle Petty. Barber offers six different training schools, including Formula One training and Mazda Driver Training.
  • Simraceway Performance Driving Center. The absolute dean of teachers, British ex-pat Jim Russell founde what has become Simraceway in Sonoma, California more than 50 years ago. It is for people who want training in Formula One driving. Russell teaches a total of seven courses that range from $500 to $6,000.
  • International Motorsports Entertainment and Development Corp. With schools across the country, IMEDC concentrates on Formula One, Indy Car racing and stock cars (NASCAR and dirt track car racing).