Reader Question: Where to Learn to Drive?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Mark asks: I’d like to learn high-performance driving, or at least how to get more out of my own car. I checked out the Bondurant school, and it’s a bit pricey for me. Even the one day course is a bit steep for me; forget about doing multiple days! Are there more cost effective options for learning how to get the most out of your car, particularly if you don’t own a high performance car? Thanks!

My reply: Track time isn’t cheap and neither are tires (and the wear and tear on the car on the track) which is why high-performance driving schools aren’t. You’re also getting one-on-one instruction from people who’ve raced professionally and know how to drive.

The cost should be weighed against the skill you’ll acquire – in the manner of flight school, also not cheap. But once you graduate, you will be a much more formidable – a much better – driver. You will have experienced what happens when a car is pushed to the limit of its grip threshold; how to maintain control in situations that would result in loss of control (with an average and unschooled driver behind the wheel). You will also learn how to do things most people – including AGWs – do not know how to do. Which may come in handy some day.

You could also join a club that does weekend slaloms/track days; this will entail using your own car, of course – but the cost is more manageable as the track day fees are spread out over a group and you aren’t paying an ex F1 driver to show you the moves. You can learn a lot in a controlled environment, where it’s safer to push a car (and yourself) than on the street.

Avoid “defensive” driving schools as these generally fixate on reactive driving as well as on inculcating obedience to signage and that “speed” always “kills.”

. . .

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  1. Contact the nearest road race course and see if they have a one or two day school. For this you may be able to rent a car (Spec Miata) and get some instruction. Cost is around $600 or so plus car rental but, you can probably use your street car so long as it’s not a convertible(open cars require roll-over protection). Bondurant is a great school but, as you said, pricey. You also might want to look into SCCA’s autocross program. Not being on a track, the cost to participate is much lower, $50 per event. Learning at a lower speed how your car acts at the limit is much safer as well.

  2. “Defensive driving schools” only exist for one reason: to parrot the government line while collecting money from people who’ve either been ordered to take the class, or who are trying to get a discount on their insurance.

    Taking a class at the local Golden Corral (meal included in the cost of the course!) while you watch a video doesn’t improve your driving.

    • But it really brings in the revenue. My new freezer for my new calf, was just dropped off. It was guys working for a company that I’d never have bought it from had I known before hand they supported BLM. But the guys were pissed when they found out. He’d gotten laid off from the patch when I did.

      We’re in for a fight, literally a shoot-out. He said they could have his guns when they got his ammo, one round at a time. I reiterated his sentiment.

  3. How far are you from west Texas? I’ve been practicing hard since 1962 honing my performance skills. Bring your big rig too. Just buy me a six pack of Shiner Black at the end of the day. I can definitely show you how to find the ragged edge and use it to get around corners at the fastest speed it’s capable of doing.
    I’ll even show you how to adjust your air pressure all the way around to get the best performance. This is even more critical with front wheel drive than rear wheel drive. I’d advise you to get a bottle of nitrogen too since you’d rarely have to use it you’d have a small bottle last you all year and it would be worth buying your own bottle. But probably it would be of little advantage on a street car although I used to get it free and that’s all I used, even in my big rig.

    Once you’re ready for it, we can disconnect that damned ABS which gives you more ability to reach the ragged edge.


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