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GVC Event: Derek Hanson Memorial Driving School at Watkins Glen

Derek Hanson Memorial Driving School at Watkins Glen
Friday, Oct 01, 2021
to Sunday, Oct 03, 2021

Watkins Glen International
2790 County Route 16
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Event Coordinator
Sean Grant
2021-Oct-01 00:002021-Oct-03 00:00America/New_YorkDerek Hanson Memorial Driving School at Watkins GlenThis event, honoring the late/great Derek Hanson, is a traditional GVC-style instructed driving school, with Solo, Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice run groups. Data coaching offered. Come and enjoy the early fall foliage in the Finger Lakes!  
Watkins Glen International - 2790 County Route 16 - Watkins Glen, NY 14891Genesee Valley BMW Car Club
BMW CCA driving schools offer personalized, high-quality in-car and classroom instruction on the theory and practice of high-performance driving to students at all skill levels.  The overall goal of our school is to improve your driving skills in a safe and friendly environment.  We emphasize skill development, not outright speed.  Pace improves naturally as your skills grow with practice and experience.

Students are divided into run groups based on skill level.  Student run groups at this school include Novice (Group 4), Intermediate (Group 3), Advanced (Group 2), and Group S/Independent Study Group (Group 1).  Drivers select a run group during registration.  The student registrar reviews your selection and makes a final assignment based primarily on experience and prior evaluations (if any).  Adjustments may also be made during the school to place you in the group best suited to your skill level and pace.  Track sessions for each group sequence on a rotating schedule.  Between track sessions and mandatory classroom meetings you'll have time to attend to your car and socialize with your fellow driving enthusiasts.

Drivers in Groups 2-4 are each assigned a personal in-car instructor for the weekend.  Classroom sessions taught by a senior instructor are scheduled separately for each run group and focused on topics relevant to the group's experience level. 

When, What, and Who:  Format of the Driving School Weekend

     Friday:  Open track for all EXCEPT Novice Track Day students
           Group S ("Friday add-on" or "Friday ONLY" options)
           Advanced (Group 2) with prior approval (see below); max.10 students
           Novice Track Day (Group 4);max. 20.  Four ~25 min. sessions

     Saturday and Sunday:  Rotating schedule of run groups
           Group 4:  Novice (Beginners: SLIP L0 – L1)
           Group 3:  Intermediate (SLIP L2 – L3)
           Group 2:  Advanced (SLIP L3 – L4)
           Group 1:  Group S (ISG/Solo; SLIP L4 and up)
           Group 0:  Instructors (Expert; SLIP L5 and up)
                 *SLIP (Skill Level Instruction Program) is a standardized system for evaluating and tracking a student's HP driving skills. More information about SLIP is available by downloading this document: SLIP Criteria 2016.pdf

Daily Schedule (subject to change)

     Gates open at 6 AM.
     Mandatory driver's meeting at 8 AM.
     Track goes “green” with cars out at 8:30 AM.  Final checker at 4:30 PM Friday and Sunday, 5:30 PM Saturday.
     Lunch break: 12 – 1 PM.

     Track time Saturday and Sunday (~25 min. each; Number and length of sessions may be affected by track conditions):
           Groups 2, 3, and 4:  Four sessions
           Group 1 (GS):  Five sessions, with option to pay for additional track time driving in Group 2 or instructor sessions ($50 per session, cash/check at event; space permitting). 
           Instructors:  Three sessions Sat. and Sun.; additional track time possible running with Group 1 (space permitting*).

           *Note:  Run groups may be combined on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to provide more track time than scheduled.

Run Group Exercises

Organized group driving exercises are done for the first ten minutes in one or more sessions each day, typically at somewhat reduced speeds for safety.  Exercises, such as close-quarters (side-by-side) lapping, pair-wise passing, trail-braking, and off-line passing in corners, are intended to improve passing skills, traffic awareness, and driving line flexibility.


     Groups 2 - 4 attend three 30-45 minute-long classroom sessions each day.
     Group 1 drivers meet in the classroom usually twice each day.  Presentations are facilitated by the Group 1 coaches and/or invited special guests.  Topics may include group debriefing after a track session, the application of advanced driving techniques, use of data acquisition and analysis for skill improvement, and other topics of interest to the group.

Bonus Features (complimentary unless otherwise noted)

     GVC Driver’s Resource Center:  Helpful advice and assistance for all participants at the track.

     Event shirts complimentary for all drivers and instructors.  

     After-hours Party: 4:30 - 7:00 PM Friday at the Jack Daniels (Glen) Club, and 4:30 - 6:00 Saturday in the Kendall Garage .  Open to all participants and guests
     Tire and performance parts auctions offered by our generous sponsors.

     Technical and mechanical services available from The Little Speed Shop (parts and repairs at owner’s expense).

     Friendly and helpful staff to make this truly the “Ultimate Driving School”.

Group S/Independent Study Group

Group S (aka Independent Study Group, A-Solo, etc.) is a special program for expert, experienced drivers at many BMW CCA driving schools.  Participation in this program requires approval of the Chief Instructor after passing a rigorous evaluation, or "checkout", by the Group S coaching staff. GS drivers in good standing are able to register for future GV or Boston chapter HPDE’s without further approval or checkout.  

If you are interested in joining Group S or ISG, you MUST register using the "Group S checkout" option. This three-day registration option is for BMW CCA members only, and is limited to 5-6 qualified drivers.  Checkout is normally done Friday morning. Checkout drivers are initially assigned by default to Group 2 (Advanced) to ensure that they will be assigned an instructor for the weekend should checkout not be successful.  If checkout is successful, the driver is immediately promoted to Group 1 for the remainder of the weekend, and is automatically pre-approved to register for Group S at future events.  Those who do not pass checkout drive in Group 2 on Saturday and Sunday.

Group S/ISG registration options:

     Two-day school:  Saturday and Sunday only

     Friday add-on option: For those looking for a 3-day weekend with open track on Friday. Must first register for Sat-Sun option.

     Two-day school: Friday and Saturday only

     One-day school: Friday only

Please visit the GVC website for complete details about our HP driving schools, including the Group S application procedure:

Special Opportunity for Group 2 drivers

This option is for Advanced drivers (SLIP L3-L4) routinely signed-off at previous GVC or Boston Chapter events.  Maximum of 10 drivers.  Requires pre-approval of the Registrar.

There are two registration options for Advanced students:
     Big Weekend: Add Friday to your Sat.-Sun. registration, to make it a three-day event.

     Friday ONLY (i.e. a one-day event).  Great for those of you not able to get away for the weekend, or a bit tight on your track budget this late in the driving season.

Registration and Fees:  

Members: GVC chapter members are afforded highest priority for slots at this event, followed by BMW CCA members from other chapters.

Non-Members:  Non-members are charged an additional $100 above member fees, and are last to be accepted from a waiting list.  GVC will apply $48 of the non-member fee to pay for a one-year new (or renewed) membership in BMW CCA.  Join the club today to avoid the $100 non-member surcharge!

Registration after the deadline is only possible by special arrangement, and only if there are still slots available (email the Registrar:  


     Fees are refundable before the deadline.
     Fees may be credited toward a future GVC Driving School.
     No refund or credit after the registration deadline.


The host hotel is the historic Seneca Lodge ( located at the upper entrance to beautiful Watkins Glen State Park off NY 329.  The Lodge is famous for its food and racing heritage.  The bar is notable for its collection of over 60 years of racing memorabliia, as well as an extensive selection of fine beverages.  Another favorite place to stay very close to the track is the Falls Motel in nearby Montour Falls.  These lodgings fill quickly, so make reservations early.

Many other accommodations are available in Watkins Glen, from cozy bed-and-breakfasts to the luxurious Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.  

Camping at the track:  Not available.  

Off-site camping:  Available at nearby Watkins Glen State Park and at other private campgrounds.