Driver Schools (HPDE)
by NJ BMW CCA
What is a Driver School?
A Driver School, sometimes called High Performance Driver Education (HPDE), is an event with a primary goal to teach you to be a better driver. Driver Schools are not timed events – we are prohibited from comparing lap times among participants. Similarly, Driver Schools are not racing schools (Club Racing School is described in a separate section on this website) and we do not teach “race-craft”. So, having described what they are not, here is what they are. A Driver School is a chance to have tremendous fun with your car, driving in a controlled environment while becoming a better, smarter and safer driver.
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All Driver Schools are structured in a similar fashion:
- Students are grouped according to skill and experience so that when you are on the track, you will be driving with other students that are traveling at similar speeds. This promotes safety and avoids frustration.
- Every student is assigned an experienced instructor who will work with you for the entire event. For new students, the instructor will ride with you for every session on the track. As your skill level increases, you may be “signed off” to drive solo.
- Classroom instruction is provided for each student run group and is tailored to the skills and needs of each group. Classroom attendance is mandatory.
- At no time will you be pushed to drive at a speed that is not comfortable for you.
Each of the tracks at which we hold Driver Schools is an interesting road racing circuit where you can establish a rhythm, work on a variety of skills and easily gauge your progress. Our instructors are all superb and if you listen to what he or she is saying, you will become a better driver. Most importantly, all of the skills taught in a Driver School are applicable to everyday driving on the street. Your improved driving skill, coupled with the increased awareness you will gain for your car and the situations around you, may provide the ultimate safety benefit: the ability to avoid an accident. Important Notes concerning Driving Schools:
- Per requirements from BMW CCA National, all STUDENT participants must be a BMW CCA member. Please be sure to include your membership number in your Profile on Motorsportreg.
- Participants must be at least 18 years old and must possess a valid driver’s license.
- NJ BMW CCA does not accept open-top vehicles, convertibles of any kind (soft or hard top) nor SUV/SAVs for on-track events. BMW X1 and Mini Countryman vehicles are acceptable.
- Any damage caused to the paddock or track, including safety barriers, is the responsibility of the participant. Note that the track may collect payment on-site.
- ALL AFTER-MARKET GLASS TINTING MUST BE PRE-APPROVED BY THE CHIEF OF TECH. FAILURE TO DO SO MAY RESULT IN A FAILED TECH INSPECTION AND FORFEITURE OF THE REGISTRATION FEE
Forms needed for Driving Schools
- Tech Form 2020 Fillable
- NJBMWCCA Adult Waiver 2018
- NJBMWCCA Minor Waiver 2016
- Tint Photo Request
Here is our list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning Driver Schools that may be beneficial to understand what Driver Schools are all about.
- How fast will I go? This is the most common question that is asked and will be the question your friends ask when you tell them you’ve been to a Driver School. The answer is that as a beginner you rarely go any faster in a Driver School than you do in everyday driving. The purpose of a Driver School is to make you a better driver, not see how fast you go in a straight line. As your skills improve, your speeds will rise but this is the consequence of what you learn in a School not the purpose of the School.
- Do I need any special equipment for my car? No, as a beginning student you will be far from the limits of your vehicle and so every car is suitable. What you will need is a good set of tires, a good set of brake pads and a completed Tech Inspection that includes a flush of your brake system with fresh brake fluid. For beginning students we recommend that you use your street tires because they will “talk” to you before they lose grip and you start to skid. We also require that your car undergo a Tech Inspection prior to the event to be sure that it is in sound mechanical condition. You can download the Tech Inspection form on top of this section to see what is required.
- Do I need any special equipment for me? Yes, we require that you have a properly fitting helmet with a Snell2010 (or newer) rating. (Snell2010 helmets are still valid for the 2021 season)
You may use a motorcycle helmet, provided it has the appropriate Snell rating. Per NJ State regulations, we also require that your helmet be a full-face helmet. You should also have a pair of well-fitting shoes that lace-up so they are secure on your feet and that do not have thick or large soles. This allows for better control and “feel” for your pedals.
- What if I do not yet have a helmet and am not sure about making the investment for my first school? We are continuing our Loaner Helmet program for this year. This program is designed for students who are coming to one of our schools as a “First-timer” (you’ve never been to the track before) and have concerns about the costs involved. If you don’t have a helmet to use, we may be able to help! We have helmets that we can loan to you for the event (limited number and sizes), so sign-up early by contacting Jamie Kavalieros at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take the plunge and come on out – you’ll never forget it.
- Why are Driver Schools held at a racetrack? The track provides a controlled environment so that all of your focus can be on driving. Everyone is driving in the same direction, passing is only allowed on specific sections of the track and only when the driver being passed gives permission to the overtaking car, there is no oncoming traffic, no traffic signals and no cross-traffic to worry about. We have professional flaggers for each event to provide you additional information about potential problems on the track in front of you. Finally, if you do drive off the track there is usually the room to do so in a manner that is safe for you and your car.
- Are Driver Schools safe? Any activity that involves driving an automobile carries a certain degree of risk, including just backing your car out of the driveway. It is important to understand that the primary concern of our schools is to promote safety. The NJ Chapter of BMW CCA has been conducting Driver Schools since 1974. We were the first chapter to do so. All the rules that we impose and the rigor of our Instructor Training School are direct products of the experiences of these past schools and the knowledge we have gained. Mishaps can and do happen which is why we work hard to make those instances rare and to minimize the consequences. Importantly, the majority of our events are completed with no problems whatsoever.
- Do I have to drive a BMW or be a BMW CCA member to participate? You do not need to drive a BMW to participate; we welcome all marques to our events. While we are focused on BMWs, and believe that they are the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, we recognize that your BMW may not be the best car for the track. We do not allow convertibles to participate in our events nor do we allow trucks, SUVs or purpose-built race cars. Per requirements of BMW CCA national office, all student participants in driving events must be members of BMW CCA. If you are not yet a member and want to participate, we have a promotion to make it easy.
- I just want to come to a School so I can drive my car fast. As mentioned above, in a Driver School you may drive your car at elevated speeds. However, high speed is the outcome of what you do at a school not the primary goal. The students who get the most out of Driver Schools, and who move up in run groups, are the ones who arrive at the track with an open mind ready to learn. The emphasis of our instruction is on smoothness, consistency and awareness, with speed secondary although following naturally. If you insist on flogging your car around the track at the beginning of the event, you will find yourself doing the same thing at the end. The only difference is that you will be waving everyone else by.
- Can I come to a Driver School as a spectator? Yes, we always welcome spectators, particularly if you are curious about joining us at a future event. As a spectator you can watch what happens on the track and sit in on the classroom sessions if you wish. If you want to go out on the track, we will find someone to loan you a helmet, make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing, sign the waiver and find an Instructor who can give you a ride in her/his car (you’re not allowed to drive unless you are registered as a student).
- I’m a bit nervous about not knowing anyone and not knowing my way around. Not a problem. For new students we have a Mentor program in which experienced students or instructors contact new students prior to the event and are available to answer questions and be a friendly face once you arrive at the track. We also provide a Driver School Handbook for each new student that provides background reading to get you prepared. The other thing you will discover is that everyone at the track is very friendly and ready to help. The great thing about Driver Schools is that everyone is having fun with a real spirit of camaraderie.
- How is the day organized? You will need to arrive at the track early (before 7 am), find a place to park in the paddock and unload your car completely. The next step is to go through Tech Inspection where we confirm that your car has been inspected to be safe to operate on the track. After Tech you receive your registration packet with numbers for your car, a schedule for the day and a colored wristband denoting the run group you are assigned to. We have a Driver’s meeting shortly after 8 am to review the rules of the school, passing zones, flags and any late information that is important for safety. The first cars are on the track generally about 9 am. The day is broken up into a set of run group sessions (usually about 25 minutes long) so that you will alternate between classroom, track and free sessions. In the free sessions you will need to stay hydrated, check your car to be sure the lugs bolts are tight and your tire pressures are correct, grab some lunch and a little rest. You will be busy all day.
- I see some events are listed as a Combined Driver School/Club Race. How does that work? You can think of these events as two different club events run in parallel. The first thing to understand is that Driver School participants and Club Racers are NEVER on the track at the same time. We accommodate both groups by eliminating one of our usual student run groups from the school and giving that time over to the Club Race. Thus, during some sessions Driver School participants will be on the track then during other sessions Club Racers will be on the track. Because we eliminate one of the Driver School student groups, these events have fewer total students and the run groups often have a somewhat broader range of student skill levels than a stand-alone school. Of course, both Driver School and Club Race participants share the same paddock and enjoy lunch and the evening banquet/BBQ together. If you want to learn more about Club Racing, check out the relevant section on this website.
- What about insurance? Am I covered if something happens to my car on the track? There are significant variations in coverage from policy to policy and carrier to carrier and so the best advice we can give you is to read your policy carefully. If you wish to purchase additional coverage, BMW CCA is now offering “per event” primary coverage through Lockton Affinity Group. A more complete description is given here.
- How do I sign up? Registering for our events is simple! We now use Motorsportreg to manage our registrations and payments. Just go here to create an account, read about all our events and register. Once we receive your payment, you will receive an email from the Registrar with important information and links to forms that must be completed before the event. We will also arrange for your Mentor to contact you to answer any questions you might have. We look forward to seeing you at the track.
How to Register for NJBMWCCA Driver School Event?
Please register at: MotorsportReg.com Driver School Cancellation Policy CANCELLATION POLICY – Cancellations will be accepted until two weeks prior to the start date of an event. Any cancellation received on or prior to the respective cancellation date will be charged a $25.00 handling fee. Any cancellation request following the cancellation date is subject to forfeiture of the entire entry fee if the Registrar is unable to fill your slot. If your slot is filled, only the $25 handling fee will apply. If you are a “no show” at the event, no refund will be given. All cancellations must be communicated in writing via e-mail or letter through the Registrar. If NJ BMW CCA must cancel an event for any reason, registrants will be provided a full refund; however, NJ BMW CCA will not be liable for any charges or costs registrants may incur other than the registration fee. Refunds will be issued following the event. What about my driving school history? If you are a previous NJBMWCCA Driver School student or instructor, your driver school history is available to us from the Motorsportreg.com history. Thank you for participating in the on-line registration system. We’ll see you at the track! Official Websites of our favorite venues: Summit Point, WV New Jersey Motorsports Park, NJ