Run Group Expected Skills
Published: August 14, 2013; updated: August 6, 2014
This page lists driving skills expected from drivers in each of the run groups. "Expected" means most drivers in the respective run group possess these skills, but a given organization may not require any particular skill. This is in contrast to the safety and awareness requirements which, as the title implies, are not optional.
Drivers start here. You should have an open mind, listen to your instructor, be courteous on the track and off. You are expected to ask questions if there is anything you do not understand. Sometimes you can disagree with your instructor, sometimes disagreeing ends poorly.
The first challenge for novices is unlearning bad habits they may have developed in street driving. You will be asked to do some things differently from how you may be used to doing them, and it is important that you "get with the program". Later, when you are an intermediate driver, you will work on developing your own driving style.
As a novice you should understand that one must learn to walk before trying to run, meaning not all intermediate and advanced techniques are appropriate for a novice driver. With time you will gain skills and experience to try the more advanced techniques, but as a novice you should drive as your instructor asks you to do rather than trying to emulate your instructor or other track day participants.
- Have a good seating position and be in solid control of the car.
- Be in the ballpark of the school line everywhere there is a school line. This generally means entering turns from the outside, being close to the apex and tracking out. Some tracks have tricky corners that do not have a school line; you only need to have a safe line through these.
- In a high horsepower car you must unwind steering before getting on power.
- Not hold up faster cars through more than one passing zone. You should understand what "trains" are and avoid creating or leading them.
- Have reasonably smooth steering, braking and throttle inputs.
- Leave sufficient margin. This most strongly applies in braking zones, but to a lesser extent everywhere else on the track as well.
- Have reasonable consistency.
- Generally remember what you have been doing earlier in the day/weekend.
At intermediate level you are expected to be able to know and consistently execute everything that is being taught to novice drivers. You should know the school line and be able to drive it consistently. You can begin to develop your own variations of the school line that are more appropriate for the car you are driving. You should have correct braking and shifting technique. You should recognize the importance of getting on throttle early coming out of corners and have confidence and correct lines to accelerate from apexes in the typical corners.
Intermediate level checkout ride is not where you set lap records. You will be expected to drive safely and consistently and demonstrate that you are ready to begin attempting lap records.
- Drive the school line very close to spot on, every lap in a session.
- Have reference points for braking and turn in in each corner.
- Use almost all if not all of the track width in all corners.
- Be reasonably hard on brakes.
- Be reasonably early on power coming out of corners.
- Give point by signals as soon as you enter a passing zone.
- See incidents and flags immediately.
- Recognize your mistakes and work on correcting them.
- Have goals for the event.
- Adjust your line for the characteristics of your car.
- Be comfortable passing off line in braking zones.
- Understand weight transfer and how your inputs affect it.
At advanced level you are expected to recognize that what is taught to novice and intermediate drivers is a starting point rather than the ultimate goal. You should be aware that there are different lines possible through most corners, and be able to drive several lines in your car. You should also have experimented with the lines to find the one that works best for your car and your driving style.
- Drive a line that is a good fit for your car spot on, every lap in a session.
- Recognize linked corners and drive them as a combination.
- Use entire track width in all corners, or have good reason(s) not to.
- Be hard on brakes.
- Be early on power coming out of corners, and not decrease throttle until braking zones.
- Have a plan for each corner before you get to it.
- Prioritize corners.
- Be comfortable passing in braking zones and corners, where allowed by the organization running the event.
- Understand weight transfer and account for it in your inputs.
- Recognize your mistakes and correct them immediately.
- Have goals for each session.