Are performance driving schools overrated?
Local street driving schools have a core curriculum
primarily focused on helping students pass their test, not on
controlling their vehicle.
A performance driving school, on the other hand, do not
take place on public roads. They are typically on a race track,
or sometimes a large parking area. This allows the instructor to
encourage students to discover, and go beyond, the limits of the
vehicle. This is extremely unsafe on a public road.
You learn how to find the limits of your vehicle, and how to get
the most from it. You learn that some of the things that people
often find somewhat counterintuitive, like smooth and silent are
more or less always faster than squealing and screeching.
What do you learn on the track that translates to the
streets? Car location. Know where the corners of your car
are. Car placement. Be able to put the car where you want it to
go. Understanding and dealing with under steer and over steer to
go where you want, not where the car takes you. Limits. How to
find the limits of your car. How to get to the limits in driving
and not exceed the car's abilities. Smoothness. Shifting,
braking, and other transitions to not break traction. Smoothness
is one of the most important skills on the track. Car control.
Being able to put all the above together in real-time.
Let me tell you a short story about how a performance
driving school course should not be used. This young fellow
comes up to me and asked me if this kind of driving course
really can help him to handle his car better. Yearh, for sure I
said. Then he told me about his cousin Ralph (a man who drives,
on average, at around 110 mph) is able to handle his car so well
at high speeds, and most other conditions; and that Ralph took,
some years ago, a race-car driving course. And now this young
fellow wants to know if he can learn to drive like that too?
Well, his cousin Ralph may be able to handle his ride at 110mph,
but the little old lady isn't going to be expecting to be passed
by him at that speed when she changes lanes on the freeway. Is
he ready for that?
A performance driving course is a great thing, because it
teaches you more about how to read your car and the road that
could ever be tested in the standard 5 min driving test people
usually take when getting a licence. But don't take that kind of
driving to the street because the rest of the general public
does not know how to react to it!