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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have owned my 05 Elise for almost a year, and think it's time to show its real power. Before I blindly bring it to track and jepodize its (and my) life, it is probably a good idea to learn some track or autocross basics.

I was about to take a one-day class at ProFormance driving school ($535), before a friend jumped out and informed me that BMW club members can take a similar class for $125 (same track, Pacific Raceways in Kent). So I checked it out, and there are actually many courses for BMW, Porsche or Alfa club members for much less. Unfortunately, most of these activities are open to their club members only. I also took a look at clubs on this forum and none of them seems to mention any driving classes.

Can anyone recommend a club that offers this kind of classes for a reasonable price ($200 or so), or something that does not require special membership? I'd like to do my Elise justice, but would rather save the money for some work on the car itself. I heard that Evolution driving school are going to have some classes in July, but the location is too far (Packwood WA, while I am around Seattle). Any advice is appreciated.
 

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Perhaps out of your geographic and price range, but the best for Lotus Elise owners:

Lotus Cars USA | Performance Driving School

You might want to save up for it. It's an absolutely outstanding class and specifically designed for your car by instructors with detailed expert knowledge of the Lotus Elise.

If you under invest in your own training, you'll probably get what you pay for. Saying you only want to spend $200 for training that is so critical to your safety and enjoyment of your vehicle investment is like saying 'I want to find the cheapest brain surgeon I can..." - do you really?
 

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Can anyone recommend a club that offers this kind of classes for a reasonable price ($200 or so), or something that does not require special membership?
"You get what you pay for," is a true statement here. While you may be able to find good instruction for "$200 or so," it will be a crap shoot. Not all driving instructors are created equal.

I'd look at known quality programs (Skip Barber, Bondurant, et. al.).
 

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You can never go wrong with Skip Barber. You get a lot of the basics on car control from trail braking, load dynamics, corner techniques, etc.
 

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Skippy

I just completed the three day Skip Barber Racing School (MX-5's) at Sebring, and can say without a doubt it's the most important thing I've ever done regarding my motirsports hobby. I'd already done two one- day Barber open- wheel schools in years past, but this was something of a completely different order.

No amount of modifications to your car or patched together training can compare to what you get there. No, it's not cheap, and does not fit your target budget. But if you can scrape together enough to do a comprehensive, name brand driving or racing school, you will never regret it.
 

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I'll hop on the Skippy bandwagon. I did the three-day racing school, and without it, I would have been a danger to myself and others on the track. It's VERY expensive, but well worth it.
 

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Join BMW CCA and you can participate in the BMW CCA, PCA, Alfa and other club events. Best car control clinic is PCA at Bremerton. Do this before you go on the full track. There are four good tracks within easy distance, Pacific Raceways in Kent, Portland International Raceway in Portland, Spokane Raceway Park in Spokane and Oregon Raceway Park in Grass Valley. There are a few people that instruct with BMW and PCA that currently drive or have owned Elise/Exiges.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Join BMW CCA and you can participate in the BMW CCA, PCA, Alfa and other club events. Best car control clinic is PCA at Bremerton. Do this before you go on the full track. There are four good tracks within easy distance, Pacific Raceways in Kent, Portland International Raceway in Portland, Spokane Raceway Park in Spokane and Oregon Raceway Park in Grass Valley. There are a few people that instruct with BMW and PCA that currently drive or have owned Elise/Exiges.
Thanks a lot!

Do I have to own a BMW to join BMW CCA? It seems to me that BMW CCA has the largest selection of programs, from driving schools to track evens. Given that many BMWs have FR layout, perhaps the instructions are better suited for their weight distribution. Isn't PCA a better choice, since the cars are either MR (just like Elise) or RR (with a similar weight distribution, 38/62 for 911 Carrera)?

I think I will probably go this way if I can join BMWCCA or PCA.
 

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You can join BMW CCA without a BMW. Membership allows participation at PCA and other days. Pretty much the same instructor cadre for the NW clubs (Puget Sound, Eastern WA and OR). You won't need car specific instruction for at least a year. Start with the PCA car control clinic and if you like it move to high performance drivers education (HPDE).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone, especially pfanning. I am starting with control clinic (Bremerton) and then driver education (pacific raceway). If lucky, I should be able to finish both by the end of May. Then I will get some real track fun.

Hope to meet you guys soon on the track (or on the street) rotfl
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Maybe at the track, but please don't meet anyone on it. That's called a crash -poke- :D.

I hope you have a great time.
I do not mind meeting anyone ON the track, by ourselves. Of course, it is very likely that I will lose in the collision, because of my mass. Hitting another car is definitely unacceptable, unless I skipped my classes :panic:

Thanks for the wish.
 

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I do not mind meeting anyone ON the track, by ourselves. Of course, it is very likely that I will lose in the collision, because of my mass. Hitting another car is definitely unacceptable, unless I skipped my classes :panic:
:huh:

Everyone stay off the track if abraham skips any classes :shrug:
 

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For those of you who gone to Skippy schools, do you think the formula or MX-5 schools translate better to the Elise?
The formula cars. Both the Elise and their formula car have the same balance and handling characteristics (fwiw - I did the 3 day and 2 day advanced schools).
 

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My two cents, but I think the cost-benefits of driving schools don't pencil out for someone just starting out in this sport unless you've got a lot of money to spend. To my mind, skill development takes seat-time, and you can get in a LOT of seat-time at club-level events for the cost of a formal school.

Others have pointed out that the quality of instruction at club-events varies, but (as an instructor who's also done driving schools) I can tell you that the good club-level instructors teach the same topics with the same level of professionalism. You might do a bit of homework (in advance) of an event to be sure you get paired with an instructor with a good reputation.

Once you've gotten in some seat-time, then it probably makes sense to spend the money on an advanced driving school where the more formalized programs are likely to help you make more progress quickly. But at your level, I think the costs of such schools are pretty high relative to the benefits.

Again, my two cents, and others may see this differently.
Twin
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
My two cents, but I think the cost-benefits of driving schools don't pencil out for someone just starting out in this sport unless you've got a lot of money to spend. To my mind, skill development takes seat-time, and you can get in a LOT of seat-time at club-level events for the cost of a formal school.

Others have pointed out that the quality of instruction at club-events varies, but (as an instructor who's also done driving schools) I can tell you that the good club-level instructors teach the same topics with the same level of professionalism. You might do a bit of homework (in advance) of an event to be sure you get paired with an instructor with a good reputation.

Once you've gotten in some seat-time, then it probably makes sense to spend the money on an advanced driving school where the more formalized programs are likely to help you make more progress quickly. But at your level, I think the costs of such schools are pretty high relative to the benefits.

Again, my two cents, and others may see this differently.
Twin
I agree. I can save money to take the Skip Barber or whatever expensive school available, but I quite doubt how much I can learn as a total newcomer.

The right way is probably to get some basic training, then get my hands dirty with some track experience. When it becomes hard to improve skills by myself, it is time to take the quality courses. Plus, those courses may be overwhelming for newbies like me, who knows.
 
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