A Track-walk Through the DE Levels

IT’S BEEN A GREAT SEASON, so before a new one begins I thought I would spend some time describing the program for those who have joined the club recently. There are many groups that call themselves High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE), but there are only a couple that actually take it seriously. We want everyone who joins us to have fun, but our first concern is always the safety of every participant. We aren’t safe if you aren’t safe. Any talk of a bunch of gear heads driving like mad men and women is just fiction. We all have a great deal of time and money invested in our Porsches, so no one is careless.

In order to give everyone the same basic understanding of how to control a car, we’ve developed an Introductory Driver Education (IDE) program that’s sole purpose is to educate and demonstrate. You can get into this prerequisite program by simply signing up for either the April or August events. If you have never driven with us in the past, you will automatically be placed in the novice school, providing we have the space. That consists of classroom sessions, where all the fundamentals of car control are covered, interspersed with practicing those skills around soft cones in the lower paddock. Both are managed by our Chief Instructor and the personal instructor who has been assigned to you for the weekend. That all takes place on Saturday with Sunday spent on the main track with your instructor. There you will have the thrill of your first on-track experience in the green run group.

There are details like vehicle inspections, the use of helmets on track (either yours or a rental), and radio headsets which we provide, so you and your instructor can share information without yelling at each other. It’s all very civilized and a lot of fun. Remember that your car was built for spirited driving, so nothing you do in DE will cause stress or damage to either you or the car. This isn’t racing or any kind of competition. It’s the lowest-cost advanced Driver Education you will ever have.

Once you’ve spent a few weekends in the green group and have achieved a measure of smooth confidence, you may advance to the yellow group. That decision is made between you and your instructor. The goal in DE isn’t to progress as quickly as possible, it’s to learn as much as possible. The only measure of success is driving better than you did last time, so never feel any pressure to move up. It’s a reward for skill, not a goal.

The yellow group moves faster due to the ability to place the car correctly and be more comfortable managing traffic. If you don’t want to be held up, then never hold anyone else up. Courtesy is an important part of good driving and any passing is an agreement between the two drivers. One offers the pass with a hand signal and the other chooses whether or not to accept it. Like I said, it’s all very civilized.

At some point your instructors will feel that you’ve demonstrated enough skill to drive solo on the track. It’s amazing how many people strive to drive alone and then miss their instructor’s input when they finally achieve it.

At some point your instructors will feel that you’ve demonstrated enough skill to drive solo on the track. It’s amazing how many people strive to drive alone and then miss their instructor’s input when they finally achieve it. The white group is the first “signed off” group and a great opportunity to start self teaching. By then, you have the fundamentals of track driving and the onus is now on you to respect the track and those around you. Your education is far from over and just because you can drive solo doesn’t mean Max Verstappen has anything to worry about. The white group probably has the largest mix of skill as it’s filled with those driving solo for the first time and those who are pretty advanced. Traffic management and courtesy become even more important, since there is no one in the other seat, but you are afforded more passing zones.

Just because you can navigate the track on your own doesn’t mean you should. If you had an issue with any corner that you couldn’t get just right, all you have to do is ask the chief instructor for some help. He will find an instructor who would be happy to support you. There is no shame in needing help as we all do from time to time. The other advantage of asking instructors to ride with you occasionally occurs when the instructor who is riding with you feels that you are ready to progress. Your minor tune-up may turn into a check-out ride and get you into the black run group.

The black run group is reserved for those who have a mastery of their cars. They move quickly, precisely and courteously. They have the most passing zones and spend more time off-line increasing their ability to drive safely on almost any part of the track. They practice passing, smooth entry and exits of corners, and display confidence behind the wheel. It’s from this group that our potential instructors are recruited. After a couple of check-out drives, an experienced black group driver may be invited to attend Instructor Day, where they are trained to teach their skills to others. It’s their turn to give back to the program that gave them the opportunity and training.

I’m not going to cover the red run group, who are all instructors, because I don’t want to give away the secret handshakes or ritual-filled meetings. I will say that we should all be grateful to those who join the instructor group and help everyone else experience the program that has given them so much enjoyment. Sometimes it’s not easy to climb into a stranger’s car with no idea of their skill level. These brave men and women do it at every event and are rewarded by the progress of their students. Without the track team and the instructors, there would be no program. We are also aware that if there were no students, it would all be pointless.

I encourage everyone who has an interest in high-performance driving to sign up for as many DE events as possible. You will learn a great deal about the handling dynamics of your Porsche, while having a great deal of fun. See you next season. </>

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  1. Good morning Puleen. There are no restrictions on age or model provided it’s a Porsche and mechanically sound. Our previous Chief Instructor drove one of the oldest 911s on the track. He may not have set any lap records but he is a brilliant driver and that’s what we strive for.

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