Most driving schools start out with a classroom session where they familiarize students wi
Grab a notebook, a pencil, your helmet and your tools-it's time to go to school. In the old days, the only way to become a racer was to actually buy or build a car, prep it yourself and have at it. Now, with the advent of racing schools, it's much easier to gain the skills and seat time necessary to further your dreams of success behind the wheel.
There's also a flourishing industry in teaching the skills necessary to become a racing mechanic or a top-flight pit crewman. Circle Track did some careful research into these schools, and we present that information for your consumption. So, pencils up ... class begins now!
Skip Barber Racing School
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $1,925 to $3,895
Web site: www.skipbarber.com
Available at more than 20 of America's premier racing facilities, Skip Barber Racing Schools strive to teach the skills required to race successfully. For some, these programs are a potential first step toward a professional career. For others, they are the culmination of years of anticipation and curiosity.
Students benefit from a structured curriculum of classroom and track sessions that provide an improved understanding of the fundamentals of racing cars. As a Skip Barber Racing School student you will follow the same course curriculum used to train four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon and CART's all-time winningest driver, Michael Andretti.
For the beginner, you'll want to take the Intro to Racing or Three-Day Racing School. The veteran driver will benefit from a number of advanced activities, including lapping/practice, a car control clinic and the advanced two-day racing school, which maximize seat time and prepare you for the starting grid. Each program integrates the basics of racing: the art of trail braking, heel-and-toe downshifting and finding the fastest racing line.
To participate in the Skip Barber Racing School you must possess a valid driver's license and be able to use a manual transmission (drivers under the age of 18 must have parental consent).
Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School
Location: Spring Mountain Motorsports Park, Nev.
Cost: $1,195 to $2,395
Web site: www.bragg-smith.com
Touted as Chevrolet's official school for Corvettes and Camaros, Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School conducts all lapping sessions and exercises in Corvettes and Camaros-aside from its 2000 Chevy Impala skid car.
Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School believes the art of Visual Scanning(r) is the key to its curriculum. The theory is that since your eyes control everything you do, training them properly is essential to fully controlling your vehicle. Bragg-Smith has trademarked this technique and it is the basis of the education it provides.
The three-day Level One class begins at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. every day. The first day concentrates on braking. This exercise will teach you skid control, car control, visual skills and accident avoidance by a unique comparison of ABS and conventional braking systems, some wet pavement and you behind the wheel. Skid Control, taught in the school's 2000 Chevy Impala Skid Car, and heel-and-toe downshifting are also part of the first day.
Day two features shadow-lapping. Bragg-Smith instructors will teach you how to find your apexes, how to balance the car through the corners and how to drive smoothly and precisely. On the final day of your Bragg-Smith instruction you will spend all day on the track practicing what you learned the previous two days.
Ken Bouchard's Drive to Victory Lane
Location: Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, Conn.
Cost: $50 to $2,400
Web site: www.drivetovictorylane.com
At the Richard Petty Driving Experience, one-on-one instruction is key. Depending on the p
Want to experience life behind the wheel of a NASCAR Featherlite Modified? Take a ride in 1988 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Ken Bouchard's specially built two-seater Featherlite Modified with a professional instructor. You can get the thrill of a full-speed, flat-out qualifying run with one or two laps. Or try the Rookie Test Drive and drive the Modified yourself. A safety and technique orientation program prepares you for a 15-lap solo run in a ground-pounding open-wheel racer.
Drive to Victory Lane also offers an Extended Test Drive where you build your speed with two 16-lap runs behind the wheel of a Tour Modified. For the hard-core or somewhat experienced Modified driver, the school offers the Saturday Night Feature. This is a full day of instruction with three runs to increase your skill and speed. Improve your racing line and settle into the rhythm of running a five-eighths-mile oval track for 42 laps.
For the racer who wants some extra practice with feedback, Drive to Victory Lane has full competition training from Ken Bouchard and his staff, including qualifying, with instruction and reviews between each run.
Bob Bondurant School of High
Location: Firebird International
Raceway facility, Phoenix, Ariz.
Cost: $1,895 to $4,850
Web site: www.bondurant.com
Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving offers its four-day Grand Prix Road Racing class for those who are interested in pursuing racing as a career. This course combines plenty of track time on Bondurant's purpose-built, state-of-the-art training facility in race-prepared Ford Mustang GTs or Formula Fords. Graduates of the Grand Prix Road Racing course are eligible for a SCCA Regional License as well as various other competition licenses.
For those of you who have racing experience, whether in your own car or from a previous Bondurant course, the Advanced Road Racing course is designed to improve specific areas of your driving and racing techniques. The course uses SVT Mustang Cobras (the Formula Ford is also available for an extra fee) and utilizes Pi Data Acquisition systems training.
Drivetech Racing School
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $95 to $2,100
Web site: www.drivetech.com
Drivetech Racing School students can drive a high-powered NASCAR racer in a controlled environment. The school provides classroom instruction, course materials, and Simpson helmets and driving suits. Drivetech believes its low prices mean more people can afford to start a racing career with first-rate training or just experience a lifetime thrill.
Following a one-hour session to discuss driving techniques, safety procedures and other important issues, it's straight to the car. After a few warm-up laps behind the pace car, it's time to put the pedal down. Instructors coach drivers over the in-car radio, and drivers are allowed to pass slower traffic.
Drivetech offers a variety of courses for the aspiring driver. The Taste of Speed is 20 minutes of driving, simply for the thrill of doing so. The Racing Adventure is 30 minutes of driving, plus one pit stop. The Super Racing Adventure is 40 minutes of driving, plus two pit stops. These courses are designed to have lots of green-flag racing. The Championship Adventure is a one- or two-day class that features 60 minutes of driving per day. Drivers can play one-on-one pursuit with an instructor, race side-by-side, work on starts, qualifying or just plain driving.
Fast Track High Performance
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $90 to $2,700
Web site: www.fasttrackracing.com
Fast Track High Performance Driving School uses Winston Cup-style stock cars-some of which have actually competed on the racing circuit-capable of reaching speeds from 70 mph to 150 mph, depending on track conditions, experience and the students skill level.
Many driving schools want your experience in a race car to be as real as possible. Most sc
Fast Track offers a variety of courses "for anyone from the novice to the experienced racer," according to company brochures. The Thunder Course is for those who want to actually experience driving a Winston Cup stock car but aren't sure they are ready for the advanced one-, two- or three-day courses. Courses range from a Half-Day Challenge Course at Bristol Motor Speedway or the famed high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway to three-day advanced courses at tracks like Lowe's Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
FinishLine Racing School
Location: Various tracks in the Southeast
Cost: $99 to $2,850
Web site: www.finishlineracing.com
FinishLine Racing School's specialty is the Serious Three-Day Program designed for the soon-to-be race car driver or even the experienced driver who is having difficulty getting to the winner's circle. "You'll learn more in three days by attending the FinishLine Racing School than you will in three years on your own," states chief instructor Mike Loescher.
FinishLine Racing School teaches strategy, chassis changes, driving style and smoothness-all the elements it believes makes you race-smart. Minimal time is spent in the classroom. FinishLine Racing School and Chassis School is committed to giving its students a balance of simple chassis setup and driving techniques.
SpeedTech Auto Racing School
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $90 to $2,800
Web site: www.tospeed.com
SpeedTech offers several racing programs, increasing in difficulty from the beginner's courses through one-on-one training for the serious driver. SpeedTech's first course is actually a hot-lap ride where you can experience the thrill of the speed of a real stock car. Beginners can start with the Warmin' Up course, which features classroom training in the basics of car handling and proceeds trackside to discuss safety equipment and procedures. From there the student is solo in their own stock car. For more solo laps, Gearin' Up features the classroom training and more solo laps.
For the more experienced driver, SpeedTech offers a variety of courses. The Summer Thunder course offers the experience of racing under the lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway with three to five other cars on the track. Start Me Up is a course that features more seat time with instructors observing the student's driving style and offering feedback. Crank It Up is an intense training course with one-on-one instruction from a professional SpeedTech instructor. For those of you who want to fine-tune your driving style, SpeedTech offers the Advanced course and an Exclusive course, which is one day with school president and driver Randy Baker.
Dave Blaney's Outlaw Driving Experience
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $99 to $999
Web site: www.daveblaneyoutlawexp.com
Dave Blaney's Outlaw Driving Experience offers the experience of winged Sprint Car competition to both the advanced racer and novice driver. Eight full-time instructors begin with an introduction and classroom instruction, then lead students to their open-wheel machines. Each student session consists of 10 laps, with instruction and critique to follow.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Location: Various tracks
Cost: $89 to $2,999
Web site: www.1800bepetty.com
The Richard Petty Driving Experience provides both fans and aspiring racers a chance to drive a 600hp NASCAR-style stock car at more than 20 tracks from coast to coast. Solo sessions are available from eight to 80 laps.
Southard's Racing School
Location: New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Cost: $500 to $2,000
Web site: www.racingschool.net
OK, so you might not drive this car, but at Dave Blaney's Outlaw Driving Experience you wi
In a five-day period, students of Southard's Racing School will have 24 working hours of chassis training, including about 10 hours on the track and one day in the chassis shop applying what they learned during the first three days. This day is spent entirely in the shop, going through a complete chassis set-up. Southard's Racing School feels that no matter how much is learned in the classroom or from books, none of it is worth anything unless you are able to apply this information to the actual race car. It believes this is the most critical of the classroom days as students apply all they have learned to make the car work better and ultimately go faster.
With this information, the goal is that a student will be capable of setting up anything from a four-bar sprinter to a Grand National stock car and everything in between. Southard's Racing School has found that many students are quite surprised at the things they can do even to a Hobby Stock to make it go faster and be more predictable.
Stock Car Racing Career Development
Location: Asheboro, N.C.
Web site: www.crewschool.com
The Stock Car Racing Career Development training courses are designed to prepare students for a job with a touring division race team. Most graduating students who are interested in making a career of the sport are able to start their career with teams in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Winston Cup Series or Hooters Pro Cup Series.
The SCR10 program is a packed course approximately 10 weeks long. Training is primarily hands-on, and is conducted in a real race team shop. This course includes fabrication, mechanics, chassis setup, guest speakers and much more. Students will also have the option of an at-track experience. In addition, students may elect to "try out" and train for "over-the-wall" pit stop duties. Upon graduation, students will be assisted with job placement.
Uti's Nascar elective
Location: Houston, Texas
Cost: Call for tuition information
Web site: www.uticorp.com
UTI's training is designed to get students where they want to be fast. Hands-on training and classroom experience allows students to focus on necessary technical skills, and there are no unrelated academic classes. UTI offers both day and evening class schedules, so you have the opportunity to work your way through school. UTI's fully trained financial aid staff will work closely with students to secure a financial package to cover their needs (for those who qualify).
UTI's exclusive six-week NASCAR elective is offered at the Houston, Texas campus. Course work covers principles of engine construction, electrical, fuel and lubrication systems, drivetrains and chassis constructions and modifications. Students also learn NASCAR rules, regulations and modifications.
Not only will students get a solid, hands-on NASCAR-enhanced technical education, they can be a part of a pool from which teams can potentially draw entry-level NASCAR technicians.
Five Off Five On
Location: Mooresville, N.C.
Web site: www.5off5on.com
A well-rounded curriculum prepares students for a variety of situations and events encountered while preparing for a career as a Pit Team Athlete. Guest instructors share their expertise and provide essential "real-world" knowledge on such topics as Team Dynamics, Representing Your Sponsor, Media Communications, and Race-day Nutrition. Pit Team Athletes have access to a fully equipped strength and conditioning center in order to achieve and maintain peak performance. A staff strength coach works with individuals to design a program based on need and team position. The curriculum includes regular conditioning and workouts.
There is usually only one driver on a team, but the mechanics are the ones who get the car
Six complete indoor practice stalls in a nearly 9,000-square-foot building are the essence of performance. Students learn all aspects of being a Pit Team Athlete including equipment handling and maintenance, pit-stop philosophy and rules, choreography and adjustments. Students can practice on the school's cars with school equipment, or they can bring their own. Video and review equipment is available.
Courtesy of www.jayski.com
Catawba Valley Community College Bobby Isaac Motorsports Technology Program
www.cvcc.cc.nc.us/specporg/racecar/BOBBY.htm or www.teamconcept2000.com
Central Piedmont Community College
Motorsports Engineering Program
Luzerne County Community College
University of Northwestern, Lima, Ohio,
High Performance Technician
Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville, Va.
Rowan Cabarrus Community College
Motor Sports Management
University of North Carolina, Asheville
University of North Carolina,
Charlotte Motorsports Engineering
Wake Technical Community College