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2020 Evora GT in Formula Red, coordinated black+red interior, windowed engine hatch
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Discussion Starter #1
I've tried researching this but the threads all seem to date back many years, some of the websites no longer exist, etc.

I've always thought it would be fun, and a good idea, to attend a multiday performance driving school. Now that we have a Lotus, my wife and 18YO son are interested too. We're all "good" drivers but none of us have any of what I'd call "performance" driving experience.

What I'm looking for is learning how to judge a given vehicle's limits. How those limits change in differing conditions. How to choose the proper strategy for a given situation (in this corner, with this vehicle and road/weather condition, better to downshift one more gear or hold the throttle in the present gear or ???). Not looking to actually track or race (yet!) but to really understand and feel how to control the car in lots of different situations.

I get the impression that a lot of "schools" are really just fancy go kart companies, catering to middle aged folks who want a "Wow, that was cool!" Formula One experience as a distraction from their desk job. That's not what we want. We want a school that talks technical. That teaches heel-toe like you'll use it for a lifetime, not just for a weekend.

Given today's travel restrictions it probably needs to be stateside. West coast is closer but we're not afraid to fly across the country. Best of all would be a school that has and uses Lotus vehicles. We would probably NOT take our own Evora GT, I'd prefer to make my mistakes in SEC. {grin}

Any recommendations? Thanks!
 

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Skip Barber Racing schools have different programs. There are locations in CA, GA, NJ and CT. I haven't been but the school is recognized as one of the best.
 

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Also, check out Porsche Driving Experience at Barber Motorsports. They have several levels that will take you to qualifying for a SCCA competition license.
Later,
Eldon
 

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Tire Rack has a street survival driving school that does some situational driving lessons but just for new drivers and not as involved as you describe. If you're not going to race or track the car heel-toe is not a skill you need. It almost sounds like an autocross school might be better for you but if you are going to track/race then the schools mentioned above are good. Our local BMW group does some good schools as well, not sure about your area but worth looking into.
 

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He's on fire!
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I would say that you don't need professional racers teaching the basics, and thus understanding how much time you get on track to put these skills into practice is critical.

Alternative #1: Find a local karting track and see if they offer courses for novices. All the same concepts, likely much lower costs.

Alternative #2: identify a local track to you, and then see what groups rent that track out for drivers education days. Contact the organizations and ask what it will be like as a novice - many offer instructors AND classroom sessions for first time drivers. Now you'll need a car if you don't want to use your own-- I would try asking the track itself if they are aware of companies that offer rentals, or if they themselves offer rentals. If this works out, now you have a local option for practicing these skills.

To exemplify this, if it were me in the middle of the country.. I would see that Blackhawk Farms is a track near me, I would see that Porsche Club runs track days there. If I contacted PCA they would tell me they do in car instruction and classrooms for novice group. When I called Blackhawk, they would tell me an outfit called Advanced Autosport regularly rents miatas there.
 

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The only problem with HPDE instruction is that most groups are going to Lead-Follow because of the Covid-19. I believe BMW has mandated this across all of their regional groups. Not sure if PCA has but would not be surprised. There are still some HPDE groups offering right seat instuction but not many. I believe Chin Track Days is still doing right seat instruction.
Later,
Eldon
 

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Things are a little weird right now as a lot of of organizations are cancelling events and not allowing instructors to sit with drivers...but there are still a few that are operating. It all depends on local regulations and what not.

I would say go to motorsportreg.com and search for local events near you. You can start your search by narrowing down to car control clinic type stuff. It's a good place to start. My wife and I did it and she had a lot of fun. We did threshold braking to understand how to brake hard but not lock up...we did wet skidpad to understand throttle control and counter-steering....we did a slalom to work weight transfer dynamics and practicing to look ahead...and then some other stuff that I forget. Anyways, she loved it.

And then really autocross is a good way to find limits of your car without really messing up too bad. Worst case, you crush some cones and have some markings from cones to wipe off your car. Then build up to HPDE events with in seat instruction. A lot of what you've mentioned trying to learn is built through experience. Every car is different and every driver is different. An instructor can only tell you so much and the rest of it is on you and your own intuition.

A properly run hpde should be pretty safe and educational...and it's not as intimidating as you might think. There's really no better way to learn than to just go out there and experience it.
 

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I have gotten screwed from Covid. Got a new suspension setup and wanted to do an autocross event to find the new limits. So far the club I wanted to go through has been cancelling all their events this year. Right now, only the local SCCA chapter is doing anything and I have a bad taste in my mouth of the SCCA after how unfriendly the Milwaukee area SCCA guys were and how you only got about 5 minutes of seat time.
 

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I don’t know what you guys are talking about with cancellations - I’ve done more this summer than I’ve ever done.

Mid-Ohio has a driver’s school that is supposedly really good.https://midohio.com/school

I’ve done several track days with www.Autointerests.Com. Highly recommended, but you have to use your own car.
 

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lotuschamp014
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Bob Bonderant school in AZ, if still around. Other option hire a private coach. Go to track day weekends with
a coach and
begin to peel the onion. A Racecart shool is where I started same dynamics as a Lotus. Jim Hall Karting in
Camarillo CA. Still love it. Miss racing too, but not signing the checks. Cheers
 

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If you're in SoCal look into the Porsche driving experience center. That seems to be the closest to what you want, though last I checked they don't have any manuals available anymore. Instruction is lead follow with radio communication. Sub optimal for sure, but better than lead follow without radio communication.

The other options I know of in SoCal are basically what others already said - HPDE. You'd have to bring your own car or rent a car on your own. BMW CCA runs a great school, but don't have many HPDE events in SoCal (some years none). NASA is good too and have more events, not sure if they are doing radio communication now, a couple of months ago they were not.

You could also start practicing skills on your own. Things like heel toe shifting and left foot braking is best practiced, to begin with, in a slower environment anyway. I found the original Speed Secrets book by Ross Bentley to be a great resource. I believe a few of the books in the series got combined into a larger book and the originals are no longer published. Haven't read that so can't comment on it, though Ross is a great communicator so I can't see it being bad.

In my opinion HPDEs with in-car instruction are best bang for your buck. You'll have to provide the car, but I think that's better in the long run anyway. Costs less and you don't have to be adjusting to a different car every time, including when you practice techniques on a casual street drive. Look for an organization that includes free instruction for all and has levels they progress you through. BMW CCA and NASA are two of such organizations. There are plenty of others that are more loose and I think that's worse if your goal is learning.

Disclaimer: no affiliation with any of the resources I mentioned. I did a bunch of HPDEs in the North East mostly with BMW CCA and loved them, done some events in SoCal with a couple of different groups, and have track friends that have done NASA and Porsche driving experience center events.


Andrey
 

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2020 Evora GT in Formula Red, coordinated black+red interior, windowed engine hatch
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Discussion Starter #15
All very good ideas, thanks everyone. I totally agree that in-car instruction is the only way to go. Lead-follow, with or without radios, sort of misses the entire point. I'll dig into schools that still offer it.

Our own car vs. SEC... I'll have to think about that. That would reduce the number of school options by a lot, since I'm not willing to drive 4000 miles round trip just to bring our own car.

Finding a local instructor is something I had not considered at all. I might start there. I know we have a small but enthusiastic racing scene in this region. In fact one of its oldest members lived just a few doors from me and passed away in the last year. I've worked on my truck at his shop, in fact. That was one hard living, hard drinking son-of-a-gun but once you got to know him he was a kick to hang around and I always got along great with him, despite the comments about him from other neighbors.
 

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MSR Houston still has a Lotus driving experience school. I was out at the track 2 weeks ago on a weekday to get some work done and the Lotus instructors had two cars with several students watching.

I agree with the recommendation of using Autocross and HPDE are also good ideas. Different parts of Texas with different clubs have widely different schedules during this pandemic. In Houston, we have SCCA time trials, some clubs doing COTA events, and a fair amount of autocross events.
 

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lotuschamp014
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If you're in SoCal look into the Porsche driving experience center. That seems to be the closest to what you want, though last I checked they don't have any manuals available anymore. Instruction is lead follow with radio communication. Sub optimal for sure, but better than lead follow without radio communication.

The other options I know of in SoCal are basically what others already said - HPDE. You'd have to bring your own car or rent a car on your own. BMW CCA runs a great school, but don't have many HPDE events in SoCal (some years none). NASA is good too and have more events, not sure if they are doing radio communication now, a couple of months ago they were not.

You could also start practicing skills on your own. Things like heel toe shifting and left foot braking is best practiced, to begin with, in a slower environment anyway. I found the original Speed Secrets book by Ross Bentley to be a great resource. I believe a few of the books in the series got combined into a larger book and the originals are no longer published. Haven't read that so can't comment on it, though Ross is a great communicator so I can't see it being bad.

In my opinion HPDEs with in-car instruction are best bang for your buck. You'll have to provide the car, but I think that's better in the long run anyway. Costs less and you don't have to be adjusting to a different car every time, including when you practice techniques on a casual street drive. Look for an organization that includes free instruction for all and has levels they progress you through. BMW CCA and NASA are two of such organizations. There are plenty of others that are more loose and I think that's worse if your goal is learning.

Disclaimer: no affiliation with any of the resources I mentioned. I did a bunch of HPDEs in the North East mostly with BMW CCA and loved them, done some events in SoCal with a couple of different groups, and have track friends that have done NASA and Porsche driving experience center events.


Andrey
Porche don't allow Lotus or any other Marque to use their facility. Wanted to put a red line thru a few swastika's on t he side of my lotus
 

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2011 Lotus Evora
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I had to put my plans for HPDE on hold due to covid. I was looking forward to doing it for the first time ever after getting my Evora. I have a racetrack 30 minutes from my house that offers it regularly. I was signed up to do it in May. They offer it without someone in the car but decided to roll over my registration until next year as doesn’t seem worth the money for a beginner without it.
 
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