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Old 09-07-2014, 08:11 AM   #1
skimobile
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Default R&T Article - The unacceptable danger of modern track-day coaching

Thoughts on this topic?
I believe there should be standardized instruction/certification of driving instructors. Just because you can race doesn't mean you can instruct.

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Last edited by skimobile; 09-07-2014 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 09-08-2014, 01:10 PM   #2
kfoote
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The big issue is supply vs demand. There is much more demand for HPDE instructors than there is a supply of them. Without straight up paying qualified instructors to be there and turning the club into a Bondurant/Skip Barber type deal, you will never have the top level of instruction that this article is calling out for. It is correct that a good driver often does not make a good instructor, but you will never see a good instructor is not a good driver. The biggest point in the article that I want to emphasize is that it is now commonplace for a student to show up at a HPDE event with a car that can get them in WAY over their heads very quickly, where 20 years ago, the cars that people were showing up with had less power, and if a mistake was made, the consequences were usually much less. That said, my dad did end up with a broken arm instructing a student in a first gen NA Toyota MR2 a few years ago.

I would consider myself a slightly better than average HPDE instructor, with my strong points being that I am good with mid-upper level drivers, and that I am good at understanding what the car is doing and what is needed far enough in advance of what the student is that I can give proper instruction in a timely manner. My weakest point is that I often assume a basic level of understanding of vehicle dynamics and terminology that can cause issues if a new student doesn't have those. I am also good at the post session debrief. I have the ability to relay critical information when it is needed inside the car while filing other less critical information away that can be discussed after the session is over. There are a few people here on NASIOC that I have instructed, and heck, I even first learned about NASIOC from a HPDE student I had that that can back me up on this.

I have only instructed at 2 events since 2011, partially because of time, and partially because I have no reason to go to an event and instruct that I know I'm not going to be driving at. I would love to be able to drive and instruct more regularly, but with the current HPDE structure, that is not likely to happen. Though I agree that the current HPDE philosophical structure has room for improvement, I would like to ask what the real solution to that is. IMO, the HPDE clubs that would institute the entry fee increase that it would take to do this would lose favor and fall victim to those that inevitably would not. As a complete noob, if you were to see a HPDE event that was $250/day vs one that was $450/day for what looked from the outside to be the same exact thing except for the use of "professional instructors", which would you go for?
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Old 09-08-2014, 02:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
My weakest point is that I often assume a basic level of understanding of vehicle dynamics and terminology that can cause issues if a new student doesn't have those.
I remember instructing a guy and having to resort to telling him "my side" or "your side" as no other terminology worked to help show him the line.
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:33 PM   #4
mkvaron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfoote View Post
The big issue is supply vs demand. There is much more demand for HPDE instructors than there is a supply of them.

As a complete noob, if you were to see a HPDE event that was $250/day vs one that was $450/day for what looked from the outside to be the same exact thing except for the use of "professional instructors", which would you go for?
Those 2 statements right there sum it all up to me having just started doing routine HPDE driving events about 3 years ago. I was blown away that the only lesson given to me, a BRAND NEW person to performance driving, was a lead follow lap and basic explanations of flags, offline passing/point-bys, general track overview. Some drivers couldn't even follow directions correctly on lead/follow and were still allowed to drive unsupervised in the next session which then led to some questionable point-by passes being made. Luckily my brother has been doing HPDE/club racing and got me to sign up with a proper instructor (yes, it was more expensive cause it was a REAL instructor and not a fast driver in the event that volunteered to be an instructor). I felt so much more confident and well informed about how my car reacts during various turns/throttle/braking applications by watching someone else experienced demonstrate it and then try it myself with a watchful eye. After this I went to a few autocross events before even thinking about coming back to a full track event so that I could continue to build my knowledge of driving dynamics and how my car reacts in various situations.

I can't stress how much I appreciated parting with an additional $300 to get a proper instructor so that I learned correctly and safely at the right pace. I still want to attend Skip Barber school when time/money presents itself because of how experienced instructors there are and how much you can learn about driving dynamics in general when using different cars (not AWD subys).

There are a lot of track events run by people or companies that fit in the $250 category, but what someone needs the first time (or first couple times) is a real instructor and not a fast driver and I think recognizing that difference is the best thing people can do who participate in these events to get everyone educated. I watched 2 cars get in an accident at the last track day I went to because one of them drove into a dust cloud after a car in front of him had clearly gone off and threw up dust everywhere so you couldn't see. Despite it happening after a corner station, common sense would dictate not to drive through that cloud with ANY kind of serious speed and make sure the car behind you isn't gona be shocked with your braking so you don't get rear ended. It was one of the stupidest things I have ever seen, because it was entirely preventable. Ignorance on a race track is a safety issue under any circumstances.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:24 AM   #5
WRX-LI
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As a HPDE for 11 years I have come to the conclusion that there is a huge difference in the amount of instruction given to driver school students between the various clubs. That is why I limit my instructing to BMWCCA events. The Northeast region has had an excellent instructor training school (ITS) in place for a decade now and instructors are vetted prior to be invited to the school based on their knowledge, temperment and ability to communicate. Once at the school instructor candidates go thru 3 days of extensive classroom training learning best practices on how to communicate effectively to the wide variety of students they are likely to encounter.

In addition they are tested in multiple daily track sessions with veteran instructors driving and simulating a host of different student driving styles and experience levels. The veteran instructors then provide feedback to the ITS candidate immediately after the session. When I took the course 12 years ago the percentage of candidates that passed on the first round was ~75%. All the ITS candidates were serious about learning the art of HPDE instructing and the veteran instructors running the program were all business.

I have heard many students talk about the lack of instruction and classroom training at other non-BMWCCA events (and some who complain about CCA events being to strick too). I've heard from novices who intimidated and even frightened by having been sent out on track in the same session as experience drivers. Some only getting and instructor for one session when they are clearly not ready to solo.

For the most part the students I've had really appreciate the level of classroom and in car instruction at BMW events. Even guys (and a few gals) that I had to rein in and call into the pits for a chat realized that I was doing it for their safety (plus mine and the other students on track).

The bottom line is that I agree, there are too many 'run what you brung' HPDE programs out there that don't offer enough instruction to students or instructors. There also is a lack of understanding by some students on the importance of quality instructing.

BMWCCA has done a great job creating a pool of talented, caring instructors in an all volunteer model with an excellent safety record. As an instructor I wouldn't feel comfortable going out on track with an organization that did less for the students and their instructors.

Last edited by WRX-LI; 09-11-2014 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 09-11-2014, 12:28 PM   #6
skimobile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRX-LI View Post
As a HPDE for 11 years I have come to the conclusion that there is a huge difference in the amount of instruction given to driver school students between the various clubs. That is why I limit my instructing to BMWCCA events. The Northeast region has had an excellent instructor training school (ITS) in place for a decade now and instructors are vetted prior to be invited to the school based on their knowledge, temperment and ability to communicate. Once at the school instructor candidates go thru 3 days of extensive classroom training learning best practices on how to communicate effectively to the wide variety of students they are likely to encounter.

In addition they are tested in multiple daily track sessions with veteran instructors driving and simulating a host of different student driving styles and experience levels. The veteran instructors then provide feedback to the ITS candidate immediately after the session. When I took the course 12 years ago the percentage of candidates that passed on the first round was ~75%. All the ITS candidates were serious about learning the art of HPDE instructing and the veteran instructors running the program were all business.

I have heard many students talk about the lack of instruction and classroom training at other non-BMWCCA events (and some who complain about CCA events being to strick too). I've heard from novices who intimidated and even frightened by having been sent out on track in the same session as experience drivers. Some only getting and instructor for one session when they are clearly not ready to solo.

For the most part the students I've had really appreciate the level of classroom and in car instruction at BMW events. Even guys (and a few gals) that I had to rein in and call into the pits for a chat realized that I was doing it for their safety (plus mine and the other students on track).

The bottom line is that I agree, there are too many 'run what you brung' HPDE programs out there that don't offer enough instruction to students or instructors. There also is a lack of understanding by some students on the importance of quality instructing.

BMWCCA has done a great job creating a pool of talented, caring instructors in an all volunteer model with an excellent safety record. As an instructor I wouldn't feel comfortable going out on track with an organization that did less for the students and their instructors.
Totally agree. With HPDE participation up and a disparity in instructor training between organizations it seems like organizations are just waiting before serious accidents start routinely happening at events before this get addressed (the only ones to profit from that would be the Lawyers). Also, I would imagine some Newby's to this would assume that "a HPDE is a HPDE" and that instruction would be consistent between organizations..... Sadly this is not the case.
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