Many people take a Driver Skills (DS) class to simply advance their skills - a lot of our customers are Teens. Driver Skills classes are about the 'physics' and art of driving, not so much about traffic laws and the rules of the road. The things you learn in driver skills do translate well to the real world, and I often say some of this will "save your life" one day. I have tons of anecdotes from former students, friends and family members. Others take a drivers skills class as a necessary "gateway" to move on to the world of lapping, or High Performance Driver Education (HPDE).
While there are some outfits that will turn you loose to run your own car on a race track with virtually no training or barriers, the ones that offer in-car instruction tend to put the student through some form of driver skills; not only is it a great idea for the student, it's sort of the basis of the 'contract' with the instructor. He or she wants some idea of your basic skills and a common vocabulary before strapping in to your car and going 100 mph.
Here are the basic elements of a Driver Skills course:
That's the basic description of a Driver Skills (DS) day. Some clubs prefer to call it a Car Control Clinic (CCC). There's no difference in definition, but perhaps in execution. Some also offer essentially the same program and call it a "Teen Clinic" while others may have a run group of teens integrated into a larger DS class.
Most of us use the above terms for the concepts I wrote about earlier, and refer to High Performance Driver Education (HPDE), taught at higher speeds on a race track, as simply 'DE' or Driver Education. I've heard folks use the terms almost interchangeably, so this may be a false distinction, but it's what *I* mean when I use them.
At this writing, I head up the Driver Skills program for Audi Club Northwest, and I teach DS and DE up and down the west coast with multiple Audi / BMW / Porsche clubs.
In the greater Seattle area, Audi / BMW / Porsche clubs share instructors, instructor development, and the same basic framework and approach to education. If you successfully complete a DS or CCC with one club, you're considered to have met the basic requirements for all three clubs.
Audi Club NW offers three DS events a year - One standalone event in February in Monroe, University of Quattro, and two combination events with DS / DE, Matt Ammon Memorial Driver Skills at Shelton in May and QuattroFest at Portland in November.
BMW Car Club of America Pacific Northwest Region offers four CCC events at Pacific Raceways in Auburn in conjunction with HPDE events that go on at the same time. CCC students are invited to go for ride-alongs on the big HPDE track with instructors after they have completed the CCC, but it's not possible to to drive in both at the same event (except for instructors).
Porsche Club of America Pacific Northwest Region offers six or more DS events at Bremerton Motorsports Park throughout the year. These are completely separate from their HPDE events.
MotorsportReg.com is the platform the Audi / BMW / Porsche clubs use in the greater Seattle area to sign up for DS and HPDE days. In my experience, it's used across the USA, but not universally. If you've landed on this page and want to see what's going on in your area, I encourage you to sign up at MSR (it's free) and search for events within 100 miles of your location.
By the way, the car clubs I've mentioned by name above are all volunteer organizations. The vast majority of the folks involved are all unpaid volunteers who teach for the love of the sport and discounted track time. Some clubs will contract with one or more "celebrity coaches" for certain events to come in and add some excitement, but these are non-profit volunteer organizations first and foremost.
For entertainment purposes, I'll include a link to a first person account of my first Driver Skills day in the Northwest.
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