Porsche sports cars are made for the track. Their supreme handling and braking make them fantastic to drive at speed on a road course. A closed road course is really the only place you can legally experience these cars capabilities. Many larger PCA regions regularly hold what they call Drivers Education (DE of HPDE) events. This blog post is intended to introduce people who have never attended a DE to what these are all about.
Here is a video of PCA Zone 2 DE.
Here is some in-car video from a DE
Here is a video with a novice driver at Putnam Park. You can hear some of the conversation with the instructor.
Now that you are interested, what next? There is one piece of safety equipment you must have before going to a DE: A Snell SA helmet with one of the last 2 ratings. This is not a motorcycle helmet, and there is a big difference. Snell SA helmets are made for in-car use and contain fire retardants that motorcycle helmets do not have, as well as several other differences. SNELL is a standards organization, not a manufacturer. Helmets with their ratings are made by many helmet manufacturers. This year (2018) you can enter all DE’s with a Snell SA2015 helmet. Most events will also accept SA2010 helmets as well. These helmets are available from many distributors such as Hoerr Racing (near Peoria), Summit Racing, Jegs, and many others. You can get them from around $250 and up but if you are buying one now, get the SA2015. Some are still trying to sell the SA2010 helmets so be careful. Some events do offer helmet rentals as well.
There are many DE events at the various tracks near us. Here is a map of those tracks. For us the Chicago, Central Indiana, and St. Louis regions of the PCA have some great nearby events. One of the best tracks and events for beginners is the CIRPCA Spring Break at Putnam Park. This track is particularly well suited to getting started as it tends to be more forgiving than most. CIRPCA has this website of great info on DEs. Chicago region also holds a DE at Blackhawk that is often focused on novice DE drivers. Most PCA regions, as well as many other car clubs, use Clubregistration.net or MotorsportsReg.com for their events. You can search there to find events.
There are some great resources on the web to learn high performance driving skills. Racer360 is a website with many small learning sessions, many for free. Driver61 has instruction videos from a racing pro. While it is more racing focused, the techniques they teach mostly apply to HPDE as well. You can go right to their YouTube playlist here. Driver61 also has a page dedicated to HPDE first timers.
Your normal car insurance will likely not cover you at the track. There is special insurance available for these events though. The PCA recommends Lockton Motorsports and there are others.
Here is what to expect from your first track day. Before the event you will need to have your car inspected and an inspection sheet filled out and signed. Basically your car must be in good condition with no leaks, good brakes and tires, seat belts in good condition, battery properly mounted and terminals protected, etc. You must also flush your brake fluid with high performance brake fluid within 30 days of each event. When you check in to the event, they will often do a quick check as well. The morning of the track day will begin with a mandatory drivers meeting. You will have a schedule for the day which includes both classroom instruction and 25 minute driving sessions with an instructor. Generally you will get 4 sessions per day. The in-car instructor at a PCA DE is a person who is an advanced driver and has passed the PCA instructors program.
A HPDE weekend is not cheap but it is worth it in my opinion. The helmet was discussed above but that will last you up to 10 years. The entry fees usually run between about $350 to over $500 for a 2-day event depending on the track and the club running it. There are many 3-day events as well. Most events will also have rates for 1 day or 2 days as well. I have done some low-cost single day events for less than $150. Unless you happen to live without about an hour of the track, you will need a hotel. In a typical 300hp car plan to burn at least 15 gallons of gas each day at the track. The higher the power, the more gas you will burn. Expect to consume tires and brakes at a much faster rate too. In a Cayman S doing 2 track weekends a year and daily driving, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires last about 3 years. Brakes last about 2 years and they should be changed when there is less than 6mm as thin pads transfer more heat into the rotors and the pads can wear fast so you need enough to ensure proper stopping. These can vary significantly. I also know people that can wear out slicks in 2 days. I recommend Motul 600 or 660 brake fluid and it takes about $30 worth to change it for each event if you do it yourself. If you can’t do these things find a shop to do the inspection and flush the brake fluid with high-performance brake fluid such as Motul 600. As mentioned above, you may want track insurance as your normal car insurance almost never covers this. It is agreed value insurance with a large deductible For example, $27,000 of coverage for 1 weekend runs about $170.
DEs are a great way to experience your Porsche in its natural habitat doing what it was made to do. Its not for everyone but it is very fun for those who want to experience their Porsche doing what it does best. You drive at a pace you are in control and comfortable with.
2 replies on “High Performance Drivers Education (a.k.a. track days, HPDE, DE)”
I attended my first track day in 2017, at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan. So much fun! Will be doing that at least once or twice a year!
Patrick Roesler – Lincoln PCA Member
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