On Saturday June 20th I attended a one day autocross driving school taught by the Evolution Performance Driving School folks, and give it a big thumbs up for anyone looking to improve their driving skills! EVO SCHOOL LINK
By the scenic Chesapeake Bay on the Joint Base Little Creek (mostly Navy but also Marines and Army), it was a long hot day that also required a lot of water and Gatorade! Let's just say my t-shirt and top-o-the-socks tan lines are looking good!
There were 30 students for the day, and we each received the same instruction and same amount of seat-time behind the wheel. Compared to your average day of autocross where you might get 4-6 runs, just the amount of time driving time at this school was a big plus for me!
I'd say most of the students had at least some experience in auto-crossing, although a few were just getting into the sport. Regardless, with a day spent with instructors who have won national championships, I'm sure we all learned something. Was it worth it? Well, judging by the number of students that had taken the same course before but came back for more practice, the answer is "YES"!
One fun thing about autocross is that while you can compete with a very expensive car that you bring in on a trailer and don't even drive on the street, you can also autocross with your daily driver. Just check out this classic Datsun!
With the 30 drivers divided into 6 run groups, all of us also got to work on course (typically picking up cones the other drivers knocked over) part of the time and just watching the other groups part of the time. Besides learning from the instructors, this is a great way to observe other drivers on course and see how they approach the different sections.
But seriously folks, the pad where we were driving is a great place to hold an event like this, complete with scenic water views!
Other than one Italian car and the NSX and older Datsun, most of the cars were Subarus, with the standard joke of "which Subaru is yours...The BLUE one!" since they ALL seem to be blue.
Cars, cones, autoCross, Corvette, COOL!
The Corvette is checking out the course, our cars are on grid, so we're just about ready to start driving. The weather was clear, other than a few clouds and about 5 drops of rain in the afternoon. And hot, so I'm still drinking water. And Gatorade. And Lemonade. And a Diet Pepsi. And more water.
I did my first three runs, and my fastest was a 32.079. When we get to the final 3 runs of the day we'll see if I can beat that time with some great instruction on top of 17 more times of driving the same course. The EVO folks also have a 2nd day of this course, which builds on the techniques of day 1, so I hope to take that one next time and get even faster!
Here's that Datsun out on course, you might be able to click on the photo and see that there is an instructor riding along in the passenger seat here at the end of a run. Oh yeah, if you don't know what a Datsun is, ask someone older!
I have heard that there are two kinds of teachers...and these guys were the GOOD kind! They had a lot of insight, experience, and solid techniques to teach that we should be able to apply to just about every type of driving maneuver. Naturally safety was a big issue of the day, and this was stressed throughout the day too.
It looks easy when you see the good drivers do it, but dang that can be a lot of things to be thinking about when you're driving as hard as you can!
The safety vest is said to keep away werewolves and automobiles, and it must work, because I've never been hit on a course by a car or seen a werewolf.
After the circle, we had a big braking event to make a near 180 degree turn, then a big sweeper turn, and finally a Chicago Box, which is just a 3 cone slalom on steroids with a bunch of other cones around it to make it look cool.
When an instructor drove my car, I learned a lot from that, plus he smoked my time without even trying, and posted a 31.421. Experience is the best teacher, so that was cool!
Along the way I managed to flatten a few cones, make plenty of mistakes, but the bottom line is that I learned a lot that should help me in the future, and absolutely had a lot of fun!