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7 Reasons Why You Should Sign Up for Performance Driving School

Posted by Auto Loan Solutions on July 26, 2016 @14:27:50 EDT

Performance driving schools can benefit all drivers in unexpected ways.

Performance driving school seems like a place designed solely for an aspiring race car driver, perhaps the next Lewis Hamilton or Ty Dillon, hoping to win a grand prix someday.

So you may think it’s pointless for an average citizen to attend performance driving schools. After all, it doesn’t take the godlike talent needed to speed 300 km/h around a racetrack to get to a grocery store.

Regardless, schools that teach performance driving can benefit you as a motorist in virtually all aspects of driving. These “academies” could in fact give you superhuman driving skills that’ll make you an object of envy.

You don’t need to be a pro or aspiring driver to attend performance driving school.

Two Different Beasts

First off, we have to make a distinction between your local driving school and a performance driving school far out in the fields of Nowhereland. They’re not synonymous. Although both refine your driving skills, they work at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Your average driving school focuses on establishing basic skills, and it’s often necessary for new drivers to undertake. On the other hand, performance driving schools focus on amplifying the skills you should already possess. Think of it this way: driving school turns you into a competent driver, while performance school turns you into a polished driver.

How they differ

Regular Driving SchoolPerformance Driving School
  • Focus on road rules & safety
  • Basic car maneuvers
  • Defensive driving
  • Uses economy cars for students to practice driving (ie. Toyota)
  • Designed to make drivers ready for traditional roads & highways
  • Focus on speed and handling
  • Intermediate & advanced driving maneuvers
  • Ideal posture and positioning (ie. sitting and better hand placement)
  • Uses high performance vehicles for students to practice driving (ie. BMW)
  • Designed to make drivers skilled for traditional roadways, race tracks and off-road conditions

A Look at BMW’s Performance Driving School

Although the students coming out of either school will have different experiences, both share similarities.

What they share

Driving Schools/Performance Schools
  • In-class/in-car sessions
  • Defensive driving techniques (although they may emphasize different concepts)
  • A scheduled curriculum that focuses on particular skills

Regular driving schools and performance driving schools provide both theoretical and practical advice. And even though performance-focused skills are training grounds for race car fanatics, safety is still a priority.

Taking Notes

Upon entering a performance driving school, you’re going to practice skills that the average driver is most likely unaware of. In fact, what you’ll learn will change the way you see driving and the manner in which you interact with your vehicle.

If you ever wanted to learn tricks you wouldn’t find in the driver’s handbook, then going to a school for performance driving will feel like finding treasure at the bottom of an ocean.

Many of these skillsets are the kind of stuff only auto racing aficionados and car junkies talk about. However, they’re not reserved to these folks, and the average person can not only learn these skills, but master them if they’re willing to put forth the effort.

Typical Course Curriculum at Performance Driving Schools

Performance CategoryDescription Skills
Car control and handling Involves lessons that train drivers to relearn basic maneuvering skills for maximum performance
  • Hand position/grip
  • Braking styles (ie. cadence, threshold, left-foot)
  • Under/Oversteer
  • Gear shifting/rev matching
  • Vehicle dynamics
Racing techniques Techniques designed to acquaint drivers with the basics of auto racing
  • Acceleration
  • Use of racing lines
  • Drifting
  • Race-related turns (ie. Scandinavian flick)
  • Track familiarization
Road safety & efficiencyInstruction on road safety for various types of terrain, surfaces and conditions
  • Winter driving safety
  • Driving through unavoidable floods
  • Improving fuel economy
  • Driving up and down hills
  • Off-road driving
Car technology Refreshers on car technology and how to use them to improve driving performance
  • Use of gearbox
  • ABS
  • Stability control systems
  • EBD
  • Proper use of cruise control

Each school will have their own offerings, but the skillsets listed above would most likely get taught to you if you enrolled in a performance driving program.

What’s the Point of Performance Driving School Anyway?

A driving school for performance no doubt seems like the best place to learn how to race. But you’re probably asking, “what the heck will it do for me?” After all, you’re not drifting or doing circuits in the middle of the city (at least we’d hope you’re not).

At first, it may seem like the kind of stuff you’d say is a waste of time, perhaps, like how some view knitting. The ability to sew a hat or sweater may seem useless until you realize someone makes a killing by selling their own hand-knitted items on Ebay or Etsy.

Likewise, some of those “niche” driving skills that only seem practical on a racetrack come in handy for non-standard driving experiences as well as everyday driving situations. In fact, there are several benefits that come with learning what a race car driver knows.

Skills acquired on the track are often applicable on real roads.

The Benefits of Performance Driving School

  1. Better control of your vehicle – You’ll learn the best position for steering, the best methods for braking and the best techniques for shifting. As a result, you’ll learn how to handle your vehicle with more finesse than the average driver.
  2. Slow down wear-and-tear – Here’s a side benefit of the point mentioned above – less wear-and-tear. Few people realize that “driving a car to the ground” often occurs when drivers don’t know how to handle their vehicles smoothly. You can avoid the premature breakdown of car components by learning how to drive more efficiently.
  3. Sharper cognition – There’s no such thing as highway hypnosis while ripping down a race track. Performance driving forces you to use senses and think fast while behind the wheel, putting you in a state of heightened awareness. That same conditioning serves you well for daily driving since it gets you in the habit of focusing on the road and your surroundings.
  4. Elevated awareness of driving physics – Racing instructors spend a lot of time teaching students about racing lines and steering around tight corners. Since you’ll weave around tracks that feature all sorts of loops and contortions, you’ll get acquainted with various types of turns and know how they should “feel” before you even complete them.
  5. Ability to drive in virtually all conditions – Typical driving instruction says things like “drive carefully” in snow or avoid driving in deep water. Performance driving schools dish out practical and hands-on training that actually puts you in the trenches, so that no road surface or weather condition intimidates you.
  6. Turn into a safer driver – Don’t believe the hype – faster drivers aren’t necessarily more dangerous. And remember too that racers are arguably the best motorists in the world despite reaching unreal speeds. The techniques taught at performance driving school enforce total concentration, defensive driving and smooth steering, all of which promote safety on the roads.
  7. Beginnings of auto racing skills – Let’s be honest here: almost all of us have fantasized about (legally) racing cars before. And performance driving schools teach the skills needed for it. Assuming you want to race on an actual race track, attending one of these schools gets you prepped for the experience.

Good things definitely await those willing to take the plunge into a performance driving school. That’s why you should ignore the misguided “logic” of friends or your significant other who may discourage you from enrolling in performance driving school (unless there’s a legitimate concern).

A Disclaimer

Now keep in mind that learning the skills of race car drivers doesn’t mean you should use those skills to drive like a race car driver. You know that corny quote, “with great power comes great responsibility?” Well, it’s worth listening to no matter how lame it might sound.

So that means using your superhuman driving skills for good (avoiding accidents, keeping your passengers safe) rather than mischief (speeding, drifting). If you want to feel like you’re starring in a car flick, then take your ride to the track.

Keep the racing on the race track!

Also, be advised that your expectations may need some adjusting here.

For starters, performance driving schools are pricey – there’s no denying that. A decent school will cost anywhere from $800 – $2500+, so we don’t recommend this if you’re strapped for cash.

It’s a great investment for anyone who sees themselves driving for a long time, and it can refine driving skills that otherwise decline (due to aging or lack of use). But with that said, don’t splurge if you can’t afford it.

Finally, keep your ego in check. Just because you think you’re a great driver or have a clean record doesn’t mean you’re a master behind the wheel. If that we’re true, most of us could compete in a Formula 1 or NASCAR race without any need for training, which of course is not the case. So humble yourself beforehand, or else your instructor (and the track) will do it for you.

Accepting New Students

Sure, your life won’t end if you decide not to enroll in some high-octane school for performance driving. But you will deny yourself the opportunity to enhance your driving skills to levels far beyond what the average person possesses.

You could just go to a simulator for practice, but where’s the fun in that? In fact, simulators are somewhat useless. At performance driving schools, instructors put you behind the wheel of a car designed for speed and power, so that you get the feel of what it’s like to drive like a professional.

We say give it a try if you can spare some change. You might not turn into a hot shot race track superstar, but you’ll definitely find your day to day driving much easier and lot more fun.

 

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