Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

For the rest of the details on the Skip Barber High Performance Driving School, visit part one and part two of this review. We pick up with the last two elements, the slalom and the road course.

Slalom
The slalom might be the simplest of vehicle dynamics tests, but it's also one of the most engaging: you'll have to control not just your hands, feet, and eyes, but also judge the maximum speed at which the car can execute transitions from maximal grip in one direction to the other.

The instructors again offer feedback after each run. You'll get multiple passes down the slalom and back, working hard to balance the car through the 45-50 mph transitions without spinning, inducing understeer, or otherwise toppling a cone. Smoothness and planning are the keys here, and you'll need both when you move on to the full road course, so paying attention on the slalom can reap huge benefits quickly.

This element is also only done on the second day, after you've gotten a feel for driving at the limit.

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Road course
Now you finally get to tie it all together with two 20-minute sessions on the full road course. Our school was at Road Atlanta, but Skip Barber also offers schools at TK.

Whichever track you're at, you'll head out on course with a handful of students at the wheel of the cars you've been using for the lane-change, slalom, braking, and autocross exercsises. For us, that included the M3 Coupes, the IS F, the Evora, and the Porsche 911.

Before you attack the track in earnest, you'll go on a van ride through the course, stopping at each corner to discuss visual cues, braking points, apexes, throttle application, and the peculiarities of the surface. You'll learn the ideal racing line up close, then you'll make a second, higher-speed lap with the instructor tying it all together in fluid sequence.

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

As you ease out on track on your own in one of the cars, with the instructor at the lead, you'll ramp up gradually from a rather moderate pace to something approaching seven-tenths toward the end of the second session. On a course like Road Atlanta, seven-tenths can feel a lot like the very limit--and it can actually exceed the limit if you're not careful in applying all you've learned over the past two days.

Each of the drivers get a chance to follow directly behind the instructor to better learn the exact racing line, as you'll cycle from the front to the rear of the group over the course of the session. You'll have to incorporate everything you've learned so far, including trail braking, throttle modulation, eye placement, car placement (line), and how to approach the grip limit in a smooth and controlled fashion. It's the capstone that brings all of your newfound skills into use, and lets you know just how much you've learned.

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School


Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Skip Barber 2-Day High Performance Driving School

Putting it all together
You'll have noticed by now that the instruction, while broken down into several core elements, is focused on bringing it all together to improve your package of skills and techniques.

At the end of the two days, drivers of any skill level, but particularly those new to high performance driving, will have seen measurable improvement in their abilities. The Skip Barber instructors help facilitate this all along the way through a constant feedback loop of instruction-execution-critique-repetition, helping to keep it from becoming an information overload situation, seeking every opportunity to correct flaws and add new knowledge.

If you're on the fence as to whether you might benefit from such a school, ask yourself: Do you feel like you could improve if you just had some help? Have you found yourself in a scary situation or even a wreck on the street where you didn't know how to react? Do you already have some experience, but would like to move your driving to the next level? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this school will be an excellent next step.

If, on the other hand, you are already highly experienced in car control, have some race experience, or are an avid autocrosser, you might want to look beyond the fundamentals taught in the High Performance Driving School to one of the more advanced car control clinics or even a full multi-day racing school--though it's never a bad idea to brush up on the basics, particularly if you have a few bad habits you can't seem to shake. The high-quality instruction, instant feedback, and ample seat time of the two-day high performance school will help iron out those kinks.