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Intensive driving instruction

My 23-year-old son graduates from college soon (yay!). For a graduation gift, I would like to send him to some sort of performance driving school. Most of what I have found on-line is either oriented toward race training, or security-type career training. I’m not really interested in him learning how to go 150 mph in an oval or playing anti-terrorist superhero, more like emergency braking, skid control, real-life techniques with maybe some fun adrenaline thrown in.

Anybody have any suggestions? Something in the midwest (indiana, michigan, illinois, or ohio) would be best.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic Rider’s Course is fun. Check out

Try BMW’s performance driving school, its in Spartanburg or Greer, South Carolina, so not quite the midwest, but not California. I did it last year for a christmas present and the one day course sounds exactly like what you are looking for. There is skid control, ABS practice, handling course, wet surface control, avoidance maneuvers, etc. All fun, all while in 2 great cars, and with a bit of sportiness thrown in, but you probably never get above 60mph.

Most car enthusiast magazines have listings for multiple driver training schools. Most of them are race-oriented, but the things they teach are applicable to everyday driving.

Performance driving is performance driving. A friend of owns a low-budget racing team. He sent both of his kids (one male, one female) to a high-performance driving school that was race-oriented. Both kids say it was very educational, and they feel like they are better, safer drivers for the experience.

Don’t be afraid. The skills taught at these schools really do come in handy in everyday driving. Send your son to a good driving school. He’ll appreciate it for the rest of his life.

It’s in Greer, SC. That’s about half way between Greenville and Spartanburg. The factory and race track are about a mile from the airport. Hotel rates should not be too high, but flying to Greenville-Spartanburg can be expensive. A better choice might be to fly to Charlotte, NC and get a ride down. Maybe BMW can accomodate that.

Michigan State Police runs a program. When I ran a search on advanced driving course, it is the first one that popped up. It is not intended for police work, but more for every day situations like you describe.

As others have said, Performance driving is basically what you are describing. I did a 3 day Skip Barber class at VIR. It’s an absolute blast, and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

I had training to drive a tractor-trailer and a school bus. Both of these courses were centered around the “Smith system”, which is a defensive driving method stressing awareness of what is happening around you and how to react appropriately. Proper mirror use is another biggie in truck/bus training and it helps when driving a car, also (my backing skills are 10 times better than before).

I think that this training helped me to become a much better driver. It is a lot more applicable to driving on public roads than performance-type training. I see a lot of NASCAR wannabes on the road. A VERY large percentage of drivers follow too closely with their eyes glued to the car in front of them, and they have no clue what is happening ahead of the car that they are tailgating, let alone what is going on beside and behind them.

That’s a good point. An old fashioned defensive driving course can work wonders, but won’t make a very well-received gift. It might get you a discount on your insurance though, but don’t count on it if your insurance is already heavily discounted.

There are SportsCarClubOfAmerica SCCA regional clubs all over the MidWest. You can have him join a local club and try his hand at autocross, which teaches emergency manuvering, and from there go on to Performance schools at higher speeds on track. The main thing is that he will be around folks who share the interest of getting much better at car control in general.