If you’re looking for instruction, you can find high-performance driving schools and classes at racetracks all across the country, ranging from short, introductory courses to more intensive, week-long programs. Below is just a small sampling of schools, but check out Autoweek’s article for a more comprehensive list.
Multi-day motor racing school offered at Pocono International Raceway, Roebling Road Raceway, Dominion Raceway, Palm Beach International Raceway, Lime Rock Park and New Jersey Motorsports Park; fully certified as an Authorized Competition Licensing School by the Club.
Courses for anyone who wants to be a better, safer and more confident driver; programs include teen drivers, high-performance driving 1 and 2, and winter driving.
Check 3 GPS Readiness Quotient
If you plan to participate in SCCA-sanctioned races and events, stay ahead of the curve and consider the following questions your supervisor or first echelon commander may ask to ascertain your level of readiness.
Y / N 1. Is the race you are participating in a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)-sanctioned event?
Y / N 2. Has your car been inspected by the proper authority prior to racing?
Y / N 3. Are you currently a member of the SCCA or have you previously raced with the SCCA?
Y / N 4. Have you familiarized yourself with the General Competition Rules (commonly referred to as the GCR), which provide the requirements placed on all
competitors of the SCCA??
Y / N 5. Do you have the required battery tie down installed in the vehicle you will be racing?
Y / N 6. Does the seat belt or harness in your car meet the SCCA requirements for your event?
Y / N 7. If required for your event, does your car have a roll bar or cage?
Y / N 8. Will you be wearing a Snell-approved helmet while you are racing?
Y / N 9. If required for your event, will you be wearing fire-resistant clothing?
Y / N 10. If you are racing a “prepared car” that is not street legal, have you thought about how you will tow it to the event?
Y / N 11. Are you familiar with the track you will be racing on (e.g., terrain, conditions, etc.)?
Good to Go (10 "Yes" Answers)
Progress Underway (6-9 "Yes" Answers)
Seriously Unprepared (1-5 "Yes" Answers)
Check 3 GPS Minimum 'Must-Haves'
Motorsports include a wide variety of auto racing categories, each with its own governing body that sets standards for gear and equipment. The list of “must-haves” below includes safety items mandated for at least one type of auto racing, but not necessarily all of them. As a driver, it is your responsibility to know and adhere to the regulations set forth by the sanctioning body for the type of event in which you will be participating.
Helmet with face shield
Head and neck restraint system*
Gloves made of Nomex and covered with leather or other protective material
Fire-retardant race suit, which must fit properly to be effective**
Fire-retardant underwear, preferably Nomex
Fire-retardant head sock
Roll bar or cage, secured to or part of frame
Safety fuel cell (foam-filled tank designed to prevent fuel leakage and flash-back explosions
Five- or six-point, 16.1 SFI-rated body harness***
*Head and neck restraint systems anchor the helmet to the shoulder belts of the safety harness, transferring the force of the helmet to the belts rather than through the driver’s neck
** Double-layer suits cost more than single-layer ones, but protect against second-degree burn penetration three times longer
*** Stock car racing requires harnesses with six or seven points and SFI ratings of 16.5
In addition to the minimum must-haves listed above, it is highly recommended that drivers complete a racing school prior to racing a vehicle, starting at the lowest level of racing and progressing to more advanced training. Most sanctioning bodies require demonstration of proficiency at each level prior to graduating to racing a faster car.
Top Hazards to Mitigate
1. Inadequate safety equipment/personal protective equipment (PPE)
Mitigate: For most types of high-performance driving, be sure to have a Snell-approved helmet, head-and-neck support system, racing shoes, and fire-retardant race suit, gloves, head sock and underwear. A “cool” shirt and helmet-ventilation system will help prevent overheating and oxygen deprivation.
2. Unknown vehicle discrepancies
Mitigate: Know the specifications set by the governing body for your type of car; identify and fix all defects before you race.
3. Racing on unfamiliar tracks or in adverse/unfamiliar conditions
Mitigate: Always adjust your speed to the conditions and to your level of familiarity with the course. Recognize and accept when the conditions are so bad that it’s time to call it a day.
4. Racing while fatigued
Mitigate: High cockpit temperatures, extended hours of intense concentration, and wearing fire-retardant garments all contribute to driver fatigue while racing, which, in turn, can cause slowed reactions and driving error. Carry convenient and portable snacks, and consider purchasing an in-car hydration system and a “cool” shirt that contains tubing to cover much of your skin’s surface with cool water.
5. Vehicle fires
Mitigate: If mandated by the governing body, ensure that your car is equipped with a fire-suppression system and safety fuel cell. It’s also a good idea to invest in a double-layer race suit.
6. High-speed collisions
Mitigate: Understand when to remain in your vehicle vs. when to exit after a crash and wear all required personal protective gear. Complete high-performance driving courses before you take to the track.
7. Peer pressure
Mitigate: Anticipate peer pressure before it happens, and have a plan for not giving into it. Resist the temptation to show off to your peers by driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
American motorsports association dedicated to organizing and promoting road racing and high-performance driving events for both aspiring and accomplished racers; programs include High-Performance Driving Events (HPDE), Rally Sport, Time Trial, NASA-X (autocross) and Competition Racing (wheel-to-wheel) programs.