Many vintage racing clubs offer driving schools, but few, if any, are as comprehensive as the two-day school conducted by VRG’s Driver Development Program. Our first emphasis – unique in the vintage racing community and rare elsewhere – is on skills training. The importance of car control skills is known to every successful pro driver, and quickly appreciated by those who attend our schools. In fact, at any given school there are several participants who have already attended a number of our schools and a few who attend every year in preparation for the coming season. Repeat customers are rare at drivers schools conducted by racing clubs, so we take this trend as a testament to the efficacy or our program and the value of the exercises we provide. We recommend all of the following programs not only to new members and drivers, but also to experienced racers looking for improved performance.
Level 1 is designed for those with little or no racing experience, or those who have never had skills training, and provides the skills necessary to become truly safe drivers. The first day of the program consists of time-tested training utilizing skid pad, braking and turning exercises. The lectures provide clear and practical insight into vehicle dynamics, basic driving techniques and the appropriate strategies associated with various handling and platform characteristics. At the end of the day, everything learned in the exercises is put to the test in a very fast and challenging autocross that more closely resembles a small race track.
On the second day, students are guided through the logistics of vintage racing and are provided with detailed lectures covering line, braking, passing, flags, rules of conduct and general strategy. Their first exposure to the track is a lead-follow exercise where experienced instructors show them the driving line. Next, students pair up and drive the entire track side-by-side, giving them the invaluable experience of driving off line while looking in two places at once. Last, student-only mock starts allow them to practice the discipline of the pace lap and taste the potential mayhem created by the waving of the green flag. When the mock starts are finished, students continue in a student-only practice session that allows them to begin applying what they’ve learned over the previous day and half, but without a crowd of seasoned racers buzzing around their ears. Toward the end of the second day students join their normal run groups.
Level 2 shares the same skills exercises as Level 1, but the emphasis is shifted to proactive driving. Here the students learn about creating and maintaining slip angles, initiating rotation, using eyes, hands and feet more effectively and applying methods for evaluating and improving performance lap by lap on a real-time basis. The Level 2 program is populated mainly by those who have completed Level 1, and many return year after year to further practice and hone their skills. On the second day, Level 2 students are offered coaching by instructors observing from corners chosen by the Level 2 students themselves. Lap times are invariably lowered (in one case at NHMS by an impressive 4 second per lap).
Level 3 utilizes Data Acquisition (DA) and offers a depth of instruction usually found only in private coaching sessions. With DA, speculation is removed from the equation and the strategy that may feel right is subordinated to the strategy that is actually faster. Consistency in speed, cornering and braking levels are measured quantifiably and the “theoretical best lap” generated by the computer – usually a couple of seconds faster than the recorded best lap – shows what each driver is capable of achieving.