First Timer’s Tips for a Driving School
The BMW Club driving schools take place several times a year at race tracks throughout the country. Each participant brings his or her own car to the event, and participants are grouped by experience level, so that beginners won’t have to cope with advanced students breathing down their necks. As a participant, you’ll get to practice, lap after lap after lap, with a qualified instructor next to you, helping you learn when and how much to brake, turn and accelerate in order to get the most out of your car. You will find that you develop an intimate knowledge of the race track, your car’s limits and your personal limits.
There’s not much preparation involved, outside of normal good vehicle maintenance and reviewing the materials provided with registration.
- You need a helmet. Many club members can recommend a vendor. From a pure safety standpoint, a full-face helmet with a visor is recommended, but any Snell 2000,2005, or 2010 certified helmet is acceptable. Snell 2000 helmets are only acceptable through the end of this year, so I’d recommend purchasing a Snell 2010 helmet unless you’re getting a smoking deal on a 2005 helmet or you‘re given (or you’ve stolen) a 2000 unit. You may also be able to borrow a club helmet – check event materials.
- Depending on the temperature conditions at the track, the event organizers may permit short sleeve shirts and/or shorts in lieu of the long sleeves and pants specified in the registration materials. If you have them with you, you’ll be able to exercise that option.
- If you’ve got larger feet, you may find limited options as far as suitable footwear outside of driving shoes. Though the color options were limited, my driving shoe purchase was the first time I’ve ever actually been able to buy size 12½ shoes—and they were available at an extremely reasonable price! Any closed-toe shoe with little to no heel is acceptable; it’s better to minimize synthetic materials if you can. A pair of old running shoes with little sole can work well. Keep in mind that you will be standing, walking or driving in these shoes for most of the day, so comfort is important.
- It’s all detailed in the Tech Inspection sheet, but it boils down to having a well maintained car in good operating condition with relatively unworn tires and brakes.
Arriving at the track
- Find a place to park in the paddock and unload your vehicle. Folks are friendly, park anywhere that someone hasn’t already staked out with their gear! If you don’t know anyone, park next to someone with a similar vehicle—you’ll find something to talk about!
At the driving school
- Have fun learning the track, experiencing an addictive new skill and meeting new people!
- First timers should expect to drive home on the same tires and brakes they arrived with.
- If you’ve had your hood open, make sure it’s completely closed and latched before you leave
- If you’ve changed your tire pressures, adjust them back to your normal driving values after things have cooled down