- High Performance Drivers Education
The High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) refers to driving schools held on dedicated race tracks designed to teach drivers proper high speed driving techniques. HPDE events are held by various automobile enthusiasts' clubs at some of the most renowned road-course tracks around the world. Participants include both students and instructors. Students are grouped according to their ability and experience, with "Novice Group" students being the least experienced,"Intermediate Group" being more experienced and "Advanced Group" drivers being the most experienced and capable of driving the racetrack without a ride-along instructor. Mandatory classroom instruction contributes to the overall learning experience and allows peer-group discussions of on-track performance and analysis of track characteristics.
HPDE events are not racing. Cars on-track operate under strict "rules of engagement" which minimize the likelihood of dangerous encounters with other cars. Occasional off-track excursions into the grass are normally controlled stops, with track personnel and on-board instructors supervising a safe re-entry onto the track. Passing among participants is facilitated only within defined "passing zones", and then only with clear hand signals and instructor confirmation.
HPDEs encourage participants to drive within their ability and improve their car-control skills with each event. Instructors and staff evaluate each student's progress throughout the weekend, and make recommendations on the student's advancement through successively higher driver groups.
Although the majority of participants utilize a performance vehicle - BMW, Mazda Miata or RX-7, Alfa-Romeo, NSX, Porsche, Corvette, Viper, 350z, WRX Sti, etc., students are allowed to drive virtually any vehicle that has been deemed safe by a qualified mechanic and is known to have adequate handling characteristics for track use. Most schools require convertibles to have an approved rollbar. Some factory installed rollbars are not approved for track use. Factory-installed 3-point seat belts and approved helmets are the minimum safety restraint system allowed. Safety Helmets with a Snell rating of "M" (motorcycle - not fire retardant) are required for some schools but most will require "SA" (specialty application - fire retardant) ratings, with the helmet specification being no older than 10 years (example: Rating SA-2000 helmets would normally be valid for HPDE events through the year 2010). The Snell Foundation normally releases upgraded helmet standards every five years.
Some HPDE events also include a "Time Trial" segment, usually conducted at the end of the day, where advanced students who have been "signed off" to drive without an instructor compete for fastest lap times. Time Trials are also conducted under strict rules which maximize track safety.
There are a variety of entities/organizations which put on HPDE events at tracks all across the United States and Canada. Examples include SeatTime (http://www.getseattime.com) Speed Ventures (http://www.speedventures.net), NASA (http://www.nasaproracing.com), and Performance Drivers Club (http://www.performancedriversclub.org). You may also want to take a look at some (HPDE/Track Event) online communities such as trackHQ (http://www.trackHQ.com), OpenTrackAction (http://www.opentrackaction.com), TimeTrials.Net (http://www.thscc.com/timetrial/), CarGuys (http://carguysinc.com) and others. You can find a fairly comprehensive list of organizations and HPDE event schedule and information for the US and Canada at MyTrackSchedule.com (http://www.MyTrackSchedule.com).
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhYz2obY-bg HPDE Driving Video]
* [http://www.1010thsmotorsports.com 1010ths Motorsports Web Site]
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