Driving can be far more than something you do because you need to. Aside from having to drive for basic transportation learning to really drive a car can be an exhilarating experience. Even the most placid drivers have a hard time not smiling on a wide open road with some sweeping curves on a clear day. Inevitably in those situations or equally on busy days on highways at 70mph your mind goes to the movies – for example, Fast and Furious movies, Ronin, The Italian Job, C’était un Rendez-Vous and similar car genre films. It’s easy to start fantasizing about driving around like a racecar driver but how would you go about learning how to safely execute such maneuvers?
Learning Performance Driving
In terms of getting started, the way you should not learn it is by trying it yourself on impulse with a car full of friends. (Youtube can show you plenty of bad drivers doing this btw.) This would be like not knowing how to swim and jumping from a boat while 2 miles from shore- far more likely to end badly than not.
Many different people are taught performance driving for a variety of reasons. The most common being police officers, whose driving skills are severely underrated by most until they see an actual police chase on TV, Youtube, or on the streets. Ambulance drivers also learn to truly control cars so they can get to an injured person quickly and safely. Something you need to keep in mind is that performance driving is not all about speed, but gaining the ability to avoid accidents.
Schools and Available Performance Driving Programs
There are a lot of different driving schools where you can go to learn and practice car control and learn some fun driving skills in the process. Some insurance companies may even offer discounts as advanced driver training reduces the likelihood your will be in an accident.
- Emergency Driving Programs are generally run by AAA or other driver organizations. Typically learning skid control is involved in these couses (the fun part is you need to do skidding/drifting to learn how to control it, it’s not something you can learn in the classroom) in closed open lots and pylons instead of having trees and cars to avoid. Many of these courses are affordable since they cater to the general public and the knowledge of car control and how to gauge a vehicle’s momentum, level of grip, getting used to the G-forces that are exerted are all things that are usually taught and gone over.
- Police Driving Programs usually involve becoming acquainted with pursuit methods, stopping a pursued vehicle, advanced braking and acceleration control, and accident avoidance. Look for a class that is modeled after the NAPD program for actual police officers in order to gain maximum benefit. These type of course is probably most ideal if you want to be stunt driver! 🙂
- High Performance Driving Schools are normally geared toward racing enthusiasts and will typically take place at racetracks. Instructors are usually retired racecar drivers and get to use high performance and sports cars. These range from 1 day affairs to week long camps. There are several nationally known Race Schools around the country that should fit the needs or budget of anyone looking to learn to “race.” Just do some Googling to find the closest one in your area.
- NASCAR Driving – Much like the race schools but specific to NASCAR style racing. These programs and schools usually include actual NASCAR drivers as instructors or for at least a visit. There is one in Orlando that’s impressive, currently sponsored by NASCAR legend Richard Petty. Admittedly these are rather expensive schools to take part in.
While looking at performance driving schools consider a defensive driver course as well for a break on insurance and reality check of your driving skills. In addition to Performance driver education programs and schools there are a lot of very good programs for teen drivers, inexperienced drivers and driving theory such as those at sites like Book Your Theory Online. Remember to keep your performance driving skills (well if you have any, which you probably don't) on a track, under safe and supervised conditions and not on the street where you could hurt yourself or worse someone else.