Driver Advancement Guide

Introduction

So, you have a few DE’s behind you and you find you are completely hooked! You have seen drivers wearing different colored wrist bands denoting various levels of experience and have maybe a question or two about driving solo as well. The structure and advancement process outlined below allows for a very controlled and multi-tiered environment where the club can effectively manage everyone from a first time track driver to a very experienced individual. The Club normally has four levels of drivers, or run groups, Green, Yellow, Red and Black/Instructor. On occasion this varies due to scheduling requirements. Drivers are instructed until “signed-off” for solo in their run group but always have access to Instructors.

When you have gotten to a point where you are comfortable with the track environment and able to safely run in your group without an Instructor you will be encouraged to drive solo. This will be an exciting and memorable experience, a huge milestone recognizing the substantial accomplishments you have made as a driver. Instructors may recommend drivers for solo by making that request and recommendation to the Chief Instructor and Eventmaster and completing the solo sign-off form. A solo “signed-off” driver (Green or Yellow) may drive solo for the remaining runs for that day and the next day for two-day events, as dictated by their Instructor. Red drivers typically run solo but will be required to have an Instructor at some point in the season to re-certify that they can operate solo safely at this high level. A solo sign-off is for the event, a day or a session and varies according to each driver, when they are ready to solo and weather conditions. Driving solo, while a critical step in driver development, does not equate to automatic advancement to a higher run group. Advancement is a separate event and qualification. remain responsible for drivers they have signed off for solo driving, and are encouraged to touch base with these students repeatedly during the course of the event. Likewise, solo drivers are encouraged to remain in close contact with their instructors even if they have been signed off to solo.

A solo sign off expires at the end of the event, and it may also be rescinded at any time during the event. A driver may solo at one event and at a different track be instructed again until ready to solo. A wet track may dictate that solo’s ride with Instructors, particularly Green and Yellow drivers.

When a driver has become experienced enough to drive in a different group he or she may be “Advanced”. To do so he/she will need a sign-off from his/her Instructor. These processes can be explained by the Instructor and forms are available at the track. It would not be uncommon for a student to ride with another Instructor for verification on an advancement sign-off. When drivers advance from a solo level in one group to another higher group they will be instructed again until they demonstrate proficiency in the elevated group. On occasion a driver may be moved from one group to a lower group. This may be due to experience at that particular track, lack of recency, or a variety of other factors. The end goal is to manage the experience for that driver and all drivers to have balanced run group sizes.

Run Group Advancement

Green Group

New drivers will begin in the Green run group. In this group drivers will be exposed to classes, car handling exercises and then the track to develop the ability to understand and recognize both the car’s potential and the drivers own potential to explore it. The goal is to improve the driver’s ability to handle their car in a controlled environment. This helps to develop the driver such that they will be able to recognize situations where the car is approaching the edge or limit of its handling ability and be able to react appropriately. The real world transfer here is immediate and significant. Most drivers become much safer drivers after even one day in the Green group. This requires the blending of smooth control, anticipation, planning, understanding vehicle dynamics and honing driver reactions that will permit the student ultimately to become a much safer driver.

Advancement from Green to Yellow Run Groups

There is no standard number of days to be in Green before moving to Yellow. The actual number may vary from perhaps as few as five days at any one track to an individual who stays in green indefinitely. The progression is dependent on each driver’s ability and outside factors such as vehicle familiarity, or number of days at that particular track.

To be considered for advancement to the Yellow Run Group, the driver must demonstrate that they:

Know the line and drive it with consistency
Provide smooth inputs for car control (steering, braking, shifting)
Drive at an appropriate speed for the run group
Can identify minor mistakes and self-correct
Develop an awareness of flag stations and flag meanings
Show good anticipation of all “on track” situations
Look “through the corners” and well down track
Understand and can transition to a wet rain “line”
Keep a safe distance from other cars
Handle all aspects of passing, or being passed in a safe, courteous manner
Display full knowledge of NEQ safety procedures, flags, and driving terminology
Exhibit a positive and safe attitude which complies with NEQ’s DE philosophy

Advancement from Yellow to Red Run Groups

Drivers in Yellow are expected to polish their driving skills, increase their confidence and judgment and learn more advanced techniques as a pre-requisite to being promoted to Red. Again, while no hard time standard exists, under normal circumstances, a Yellow driver should expect at a minimum to spend five instructed days in Yellow, and an additional 10 solo days in Yellow before consideration for advancement to Red. The move to Red with NEQ denotes considerable responsibility and maturity hand in hand with ability. One should expect the promotion process to include perhaps multiple evaluation rides with senior NEQ instructors.

For a driver to be considered for advancement to the Red run group, the driver must demonstrate that they:

Drive the line consistently, effortlessly, using the full track
Brake and accelerate very smoothly
Trail braking, heel and toe and throttle steer are demonstrated where appropriate
Very smooth inputs at all speeds
Are no longer dependent on “turn in,” “apex,” or “track out” cones
Can alter their line when and where necessary
Demonstrate competent car control and recovery skills when needed
Automatically use proper signals and sound judgment during all passing situations, as well as courtesy to other drivers
Calmly deal with speed differentials within their run group
Have a driving record and attitude consistent with NEQ's DE Philosophy

Instructor Program

The Chief Instructor and senior NEQ Instructors continually evaluate advanced drivers with the potential to become DE Instructors based upon their personality on and off the track, their ability to communicate, and their driving skills. Candidates are observed and assessed by multiple means prior to being invited to become Instructor Candidates. As in other groups, the minimum driving experience requirements can vary but one could expect forty track days over 3-5 years, with at least ten track days in Red. Many will exceed this level considerably

Examples of the characteristics and abilities NEQ looks for in potential Instructors include:
Personality and Character traits

Excellent communications and interpersonal skills.
Treatment of all drivers as peers and with respect
Willingness to commit to a reasonable number of DE events each season
A recognition that people learn in different ways
A mature attitude within the “competitive” track environment
Acknowledge and accept responsibility to serve as positive role models
Act as Ambassadors for the Club

Instructor Driving Skills

Demonstrates continuous and total awareness of driving environment
Drives the line effortlessly and consistently with perfect turn-in, apex and trackout points lap, after lap
Demonstrates ability to effectively communicate while driving at Red and Instructor run group speeds
Knows the limitations of their car, consistently drives within that limit
Anticipates and recognizes potential problems with other drivers and cars
Reacts instantly to abnormal/undesirable car movements

Instructor Candidates attend classroom sessions augmented by track days of in-car role playing where they are trained by instructing seasoned NEQ Instructor Mentors. After successfully demonstrating his or her ability to instruct, each Candidate is elevated to Provisional Instructor status, and begins instructing students while continuing to be mentored. Mentors meet frequently with the Provisional Instructors during events to provide support and coaching as necessary. After successful completion of this process, expected to take the better part of one season, the Provisional Instructor is elevated to full NEQ Instructor status.

This document created with appreciation to fellow NEQ members and the considerable assistance of CVR Porsche Club member Hank Voegeli for providing content.

 

Events

Winter Driving School

Every winter, NEQ hosts winter driving schools on frozen lakes in Upstate NY. Dates and signup are available in January each year.