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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Right Seat: Confessions of an on-track driving instructor

She shifts the 911 from third gear to fourth just as the rev limiter kicks in, and we shoot past 100 mph headed down the main straight at Carolina Motorsports Park. I look over at the woman holding the steering wheel and ponder Turn 1 as it rushes toward us.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorsports/right-seat-confessions-of-an-on-track-driving-instructor/
4 REPLIES 4
TalkingPie
Pit Crew

Track instructing is definitely an exercise in trust. An instructor needs to trust that the total stranger beside them is going to show at least a modicum of judgement and skill despite limited track experience, while riding in an unknown car whose track worthiness usually hasn't been very thoroughly checked. I definitely appreciate the few hours of instruction I received, by instructors who were in it only for love of being on the track.

The trust thing goes the other way, too. The student is being asked to do things which often feel unnatural and dangerous with their car in an environment where there is little time for reflection or clarification. I admit that on occasion I had trouble fully following instructions which were given to me, surely to the frustration of my instructors. I found it difficult, for example, to hold off on turning in when every fiber of my being was screaming that we were too quickly approaching the outside of the track.

Checking egos at the door is definitely key to a positive instructor-student experience. One of my more humbling moments was when my instructor got behind the wheel of my car in which I had just tried my hardest to go as fast as I could, and casually outpaced me without even leaving third gear. Lesson learned: focusing too much energy on heel-toeing is a bad idea when you haven't even learned what line to follow yet.
hyperv6
Racer

I was able to do sone off road training with the daughter of one of the top racer/engineers. 

She thanked me for not being stupid after our training. She told me of the stupid thing other have done. It is not so much trust but as a student showing respect to the teacher. 

If you show respect and humility toward the teacher you will lear more and gain their trust. I have found once they trust you they will work extra to get more out of you because they do not fear you over stepping things. 

Same when I did some testing in a stock car. I was chose by the owner as in his words said I want you to drive because I know you won’t do anything stupid. He is the one who taught me to not try to be a hero to save a spin. He said turn in and just spin to the infield. You can get back on the track then. If you try to be a hero you will hit the wall. I never had to spin but he later had a guy who was a hero and knocked the back clip off the car. 

MeJ
Advanced Driver

Just a side note: That black Bmw in pic #3 is beautiful.
audiobycarmine
Technician

All fine and good... now, try instructing on open roadways with absolute beginners.

Yes, the under-appreciated Driving Instructor, the one who you entrust your children's lives to, (and he to them.)
I know — I was one for about four years. Sure, I had some harrowing experiences and great stories to tell, but it was an extremely satisfying experience overall.

One particular day, a "regular" teacher made some casual condescending remark about the job, and I told him that "trigonometry may serve a couple of students in their futures — I only teach them how to keep themselves and others from being killed."

As a side benefit, after any school vacations, the students would relate whatever exciting things they'd done, such as visiting theme parks like Great Adventure, etc.
When they finished, I would say "Hey, when I go to work I get a thrill ride every day, and get paid too!"