We're not talking about ride-alongs, pace laps, or simply "experiences" with little instruction; we kept our roundup to just those programs that are designed around molding inexperienced students into knowledgeable drivers ready to handle a multitude of driving situations, as well as advance toward autocross and open-track racing. Are you ready to learn how to really drive your hot rod? Here are our top 23 schools in alphabetical order.
BIR Performance Driving School
Track: Brainerd International Speedway, Brainerd, MN
Cars: Spec Ford, Formula Enterprise racer
Programs and Pricing: Race your own vehicle, $265; Combination Racing, yours plus spec racer, $795; spec race car sessions, $295-1,395; Elite Driving Experience, $1,195-$2,495
Competition Licensing: Satisfies partial requirements for NASA competition license
Factoid: The Elite Driving Experience offers one-on-one instructor-to-student ratio in BIR's new Formula E racers for a fast learning curve.
BMW Performance Driving School
Track: Private facility, Greer, SC; Virginia International Raceway (VIR), VA; Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), NC
Cars: A sampling of new Bimmers, including M3, M5, and M6 in the M Schools.
Programs and Pricing: 1-day Car Control School, $650; 2-day Car Control School, $1,095; 1-day M School, $1,295; 2-day M School, $3,295; Advanced M School, $4,200 at VIR; $4,600 at CMS.
Competition Licensing: Advanced M school satisfies requirements for BMW CCA
Factoid: Although SCCA and NASA are the most known competition licenses, a BMW CCA certification is just as legit.
Track: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY; Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, NC; Virginia International Raceway, Alton, VA; Summit Point Motorsports Park, Summit Point, WV
Cars: Students provide their own cars, which must pass a thorough safety inspection. A checklist is available on the website.
Programs and Pricing: Decisive Driving Program
Factoid: Car Guys claim that their school is based on the pattern of Porsche Club of America (PCA) and BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) schools. Editor Hunkins has attended this several times, and gives it a strong thumb's up.
Faasst Performance Driving School
Tracks: Pueblo Motorsports Park, Pueblo, CO; High Plains Raceway, Byers, CO; Roebling Road Raceway, GA; Thunderhill Raceway Park, Willows, CA; MotorSport Ranch, Cresson, TX; Mid-America Motorplex, Sandia Motor Speedway, Albuquerque, NM; Virginia International Raceway, Alton, VA; European Rally School & Motorsport Park, FL; Circuit at Grand Bayou, Belle Rose, LA; Palm Beach International Raceway, Jupiter, FL; Harris Hill Road, San Marcos, TX; Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, WI; Arroyo Seco Raceway, Deming, NM
Cars: Students generally provide their own cars which must pass a safety inspection, though Faasst can set drivers up with rentals. The SCCA/NASA Accredited Racing School requires a race-prepared car with a log book and annual tech sticker, or proof of a recent tech inspection recorded in the log book.
Programs and Pricing: Bronze High Performance Driving Package, $425-$525; Silver High Performance Driving Package, $695-$895; Gold SCCA/NASA Accredited Racing Package, $795-$995
Competition Licensing: Faasst is an SCCA and NASA accredited racing school, so the one-day racing school counts as one school requirement toward an SCCA racing license or as a full completion requirement of a NASA provisional race license.
Factoid: The underlying theme of the Faasst Performance Driving School is derived from a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."