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Hi Folks,

I'm considering taking a performance driving course once I get my Qdrfgl, whenever it arrives. I'm looking at the offerings at the Sonoma Raceway:

https://simracewaydrivingschool.com/programs-experiences/performance-driving-courses/

I'm just wondering if others have taken similar courses, and whether or not they found them worth while. I'm kind of balking at the prices, so I'm looking for some reassurances that this would be money well spent.

Thanks!
 

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Hi Folks,

I'm considering taking a performance driving course once I get my Qdrfgl, whenever it arrives. I'm looking at the offerings at the Sonoma Raceway:

https://simracewaydrivingschool.com/programs-experiences/performance-driving-courses/

I'm just wondering if others have taken similar courses, and whether or not they found them worth while. I'm kind of balking at the prices, so I'm looking for some reassurances that this would be money well spent.

Thanks!
My experience is limited. 10 years ago I did the 4-day course in Phoenix at Bondurant. Started in Cadillac CTS, then Corvette, and finally formula 4 open wheel cars for last 2 days. The course was a perfect blend of classroom discussion, parking lot maneuvers, and finally full speed racetrack work. It was eye-opening, and I didn't stop smiling for weeks after. 2 years ago a friend and I did the Audi R8 experience through simracewaydrivingschool- it was also fun, but I was glad I had the Bondurant foundation, as this was more driving and less theory. It was their first time at Laguna Seca, and there were a few glitches. They were running their open wheel formula classes simultaneously, and the rubber build up on track lead to some of the R8's overheating, cutting the second day short. While both were great, the Bondurant experience was far more educational and useful to me. My sense of car control improved exponentially. I will say that getting to drive Laguna Seca in an R8 was awesome. I had read much about the corkscrew, and getting to both drive it, and ride with a skilled instructor through it was a thrill. The instructors at both schools were exceptional. Whichever you choose, do one! You will love it.
Chris
 

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Hi Folks,

I'm considering taking a performance driving course once I get my Qdrfgl, whenever it arrives. I'm looking at the offerings at the Sonoma Raceway:

https://simracewaydrivingschool.com/programs-experiences/performance-driving-courses/

I'm just wondering if others have taken similar courses, and whether or not they found them worth while. I'm kind of balking at the prices, so I'm looking for some reassurances that this would be money well spent.

Thanks!
The Simraceway courses at Sonoma are pretty good, and fun. If you are new to track driving though and you find those prices a little high then I would suggest you look into High Performance Driver's Education (HPDE) events at Thunderhill or Laguna Seca, preferably Thunderhill (less walls to hit). A typical HPDE event will be $100 to $200 cheaper than Simraceway and you will be assigned a volunteer in-car coach for the day. The reason I don't recommend Sonoma for HPDE events as a beginner is because Simraceway has exclusive coaching rights to that track, meaning no HPDE organization/school is allowed to provide coaching for events there without permission (i.e. payment). So HPDE events at Sonoma do not usually offer novice/beginner groups. I recommend the Simraceway school if Sonoma is the track you want to learn, it's closest to you, or ... because going through Simraceway is the only way that you will get instruction on that track.

When it comes to performance driving courses or HPDE events with your own car you should be aware of the potential for extra costs. For example, you may find that after one or two days in your new Alfa that your tires are worn out, or your windshield is cracked or the paint chipped from flying rocks from other cars, or some electrical or mechanical problem comes up. For these reasons I personally prefer to drive a school provided car for performance driving courses, but then you are talking thousands of dollars for multi-day events. You will learn a lot more about performance driving though at schools like Bondurant (Dodge), Ford Racing School, Ron Fellows Driving School (Corvette), Porsche Sport Driving School, AMG Driving Academy, etc.

For more information on HPDE events check out the links below:

TrackMasters Racing
Hooked on Driving
 

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I'd recommend doing a handful of autocrosses first, before you bring your personal car to a HPDE.
Otherwise, do a proper school, where they provide the vehicle.

Some notes:
- Autocross is a low risk motorsport that will teach you low speed handling and terminal grip. It'll teach you how to look ahead and where to look. Those events are far cheaper than a full HPDE and offer less seat time, but the seat time is extremely valuable. Autocrosses are also low impact on cars, so you won't need higher temp fluid, "race" brake pads, etc.

- If you don't do an autocross, a proper school allows you to learn the basics, using one of their vehicles. Much higher cost than a HPDE, but as a new driver, the chances of you having going off course, spinning, and/or hitting something is much greater.

- If you don't want to do either of those two, do a Porsche Club of America event or any organization that has a student program. NASA has a good one too. They have instructors that ride with you throughout the day, provide theory and apply those theories. Some groups have skidpads and braking exercises that you do before you get on track... all very valuable.

- At the very least, hire a coach to join you at a track day.


Good luck, it's an addictive sport.
 

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Hooked on driving and Chin Motorsports would be 2 good venues for a beginner..... after you get the basics you can sign up for any racing school....... Bob Durant, Skip Barber, Bertil Roos etc...... in no particular order.....
Good luck!
 

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I'm just wondering if others have taken similar courses, and whether or not they found them worth while. I'm kind of balking at the prices, so I'm looking for some reassurances that this would be money well spent.
If you're balking at the price of the school, wait until you have to buy brakes and tires :laugh:

But seriously, my wife took the Hooked on Driving Novice class and I got to sit in and "audit' the class. I recommend it. You get a paid professional coach ride-along driver, some car handling skills exercises (figure eights), along with the on-track sessions, and very good classroom as well.
 

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As others have stated, it would benefit anyone to do as many autocrosses as they can before heading to the track. Learning some of the basics at a slower speed (but high intensity) will pay off in easing the transition to track driving. Try to take an instructor with you whenever you can.

When you do make it to the track, just make sure you go with a reputable organization that provides you with an instructor for EVERY SESSION. Don't make your goal to be "signed off to run solo". Make your goal to learn 1 or 2 specific new things every session you go out, and communicate this with your instructor.

You will very likely become addicted :)
 
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@babola I was thinking of taking the same course, since its my "local" track. Good info in this thread may cause me to reconsider. I've only been on a track once before (in a 1-day Skip Barber course at Road Atlanta, which was a blast), and liked the idea of taking my QV out on the track not so much to start a serious racing addiction (though that could happen) but more to really understand what it can do and when to push it (or not!). Using a course-provided car (like the 911s at the Barber school) has less appeal than taking my QV out, but perhaps one of the autocross or HOD courses would be a better place to start ...
 

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Second on Chin Motorsports. BMW offers a full day at $750.00 - just got a mailer in the mail this week. I did the AMG Challenge a few years back at Homestead - great time. Remember - "OPT" - other people's tires. Usually a fresh set is shredded by the end of the first day, if not definitely the second.
 

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@TiSpdDmn Hey Anthony, silly question for you.
Many track days require windows down. Do you know what is better to reduce drag, to have only the front windows open or to have all 4 of them down?
Windows up will DEFINITELY create less drag. However, shattering glass is generally a bad thing, as well as that you need to have your windows open to hear your tires and the cars around you when you're learning. Faster? Yes. "Better"? No.
 

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@TiSpdDmn Hey Anthony, silly question for you.
Many track days require windows down. Do you know what is better to reduce drag, to have only the front windows open or to have all 4 of them down?
Windows up will DEFINITELY create less drag. However, shattering glass is generally a bad thing, as well as that you need to have your windows open to hear your tires and the cars around you when you're learning. Faster? Yes. "Better"? No.
Also some HPDE events I have gone to do not allow passing unless the driver you want to pass moves over to the right and points out his/her window.
 

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Looks like you are in California. You might consider an event or two with the Southern California Alfa Romeo Club, They put on about a half dozen events a year up and down the state, and sometimes further. They also do two schools each year. Both the schools and the track events (time trials) have multiple skill levels from novice up to a full racing class with several levels of track work in between. I believe their next event is June 2-3 at Buttonwillow.
 
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