Have you ever watched road course racing such as “Rolex 24 at Daytona”, “12 Hours of Sebring” or “Road America” and thought, I would like to see how it feels to be on the track? Well, one choice would be to sign up for a ride at the track with a professional driver at the wheel. I did this at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA during the 2016 BMW CCA Oktoberfest. It was a thrill to go around the track in an M4 at track speed. It was hard to stop smiling. But the experience behind the wheel of your own car at a driving school has an appeal of its own. You develop a greater understanding of how your car reacts at track speeds, which translates to the street.
Our school is a combination of on track driving and classroom time. The classroom section will talk about car control and safe driving habits. New attendants are encouraged to ask questions and learn from the instructor and fellow classmates. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about how your car is handling on the track and how to improve your driving. If you like to work on your car, you will also have to time to chat with fellow participants about how they have prepared their cars for the track.
As a novice, you will have an experienced instructor in the car with you through the twists and turns of the track. You progress at your own pace when it comes to speed on the track. Much of the first day is not about going fast but learning the track, i.e., when to brake, when to accelerate and where to steer. The track at Raceway Park of the Midlands, where we traditionally hold our events, is full of curves that one needs to take at slower speeds when learning. Slower speeds translate to 25 to 40 miles an hour. You are there to learn at your own pace with the assistance of your instructor and the speed is at your discretion. However, you should know that if you decide you want to go all out in an unsafe manner, your instructor will rein you in or the track safety workers will flag you off the track. This is not a racing school; rather, it is a controlled performance driving school. At the end of the first day you would be amazed at how much quicker you can make it around the track. Your instructor will tell you: “smooth is fast;” this wisdom has applications in your daily driving when you need to respond to the person texting and drifting into your lane. On day two, you will apply those new skills you learned on day one. You will feel more at ease and this translates into faster speeds around the track.
You might have a couple of questions, such as:
I am afraid I will damage my car or get in an accident.
If you can survive rush hour in Des Moines traffic you can participate in a track school. When you are on the track with people who are actually paying attention to driving, you are safer than when you drive on the street. Remember, you have an instructor to insure that you are not putting yourself into dangerous situations. As far as wear and tear on your vehicle, if it passed the safety inspection, then a little wear on the brakes and tires are what you can expect from a weekend on the track.
What type of cars can participate?
Almost any street-legal car that is not a convertible, SUV, pickup, etc. All makes are welcome. You will need to have the car inspected for event use beforehand. We usually make arrangements at several locations throughout Iowa to get a free inspection of your car. In the Des Moines area, this is usually at BMW of Des Moines.
Who should attend a driving school?
Anyone who drives. We can all improve our driving skills and the school provides excellent training on car awareness and control.
If you would like to learn more, come out to our tech session “Novice Introduction to Driving School” and we can explain in depth about the school and answer your questions. The event will be March 30 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm for a “Lunch and Learn at Mama Lacona’s.”
The address is: Mama Lacona’s Italian Restaurant, 3825 121st St., Urbandale, IA 50323.
Even if you are simply curious, join us for the food and friendship.