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GVC Ultimate Driving Schools - What is a High Performance Driving School

GVC’s Ultimate Driving School teaches advanced driving techniques, and is the main component of our High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE) program. Our school integrates in-car instruction with classroom learning, and often includes extras such as infield paddock exercises, and guided “track walks”. Our schools are currently conducted at Watkins Glen International, and are run in compliance with the strict minimum driving school standards established by the BMW Car Club of America.

We are very proud that our HPDE program is nationally recognized for innovative approaches and teaching perspectives encompassing all aspects of high-performance driving. We strive to provide excellent instruction in a supportive, low-key, and safe learning environment.

Driving School Organization

Drivers are grouped according to ability and experience into separate “run groups”. Each run group typically has four 25-30 minute sessions a day. Driving techniques during these sessions are learned under the guidance of a trained, experienced in-car instructor. Between sessions, run groups attend classroom sessions taught by a highly-experienced instructor that are tailored to the experience level of each group. The classroom teaches the theory and practice of car control, including such topics as car preparation, vehicle dynamics, cornering, and braking techniques, and is a forum for peer group discussion. At the recommendation of the instructor, and with permission of the chief instructor, drivers may be “signed-off” to drive “solo” (i.e. without an instructor) for one or more sessions. In order to teach and refine certain more advanced skills, on-track exercises, such as “late” passing into corners or driving side-by-side at reduced speeds, are incorporated into one or more run-group sessions.

Traffic management and situational awareness are skills critically important in everyday driving, and are particularly important on the track. Overtaking is strictly regulated using protocols taught in the classroom and the in-car instructor. All passes are controlled by driver of the car being overtaken, who must give a “point-bye” to the overtaking car to initiate the pass. Passing emphasizes courtesy and cooperation to ensure safety and smooth traffic flow. Fostering a community of like-minded individuals who share a common experience and learn from each other’s mistakes is a primary goal of our driving schools.

Vehicle Preparation

It is critically important that vehicles be carefully prepared ahead of time for the rigors of a driving school. All cars must undergo pre-event technical inspection within the month prior to the event to ensure that they are safe and in good condition. This technical inspection provides awareness of important maintenance items and known mechanical problems specific to many of the makes and models attending our events, as well as the equipment necessary to enhance your learning experience. All vehicles are inspected at check-in for each school to verify the condition of the vehicle as indicated on the pre-event tech form. This service is supplied free-of-charge by many cooperating dealers and repair shops in the region (see "Forms" page to download the most current tech form and a list of qualified inspection facilities)

Run Group Definitions

Participants select their preferred run group when registering for a school. The DS Chief Instructor and Registrar review all self-selected skill classifications, as well as evaluations from previous schools, to determine final run group assignments. Our run groups are determined by ability and experience, as defined below.

Novices are drivers who have very limited HPDE track experience (typically less than 3 events), and beginners who have never before participated and are just starting the journey to driving excellence.

Intermediate drivers are those with a minimum of 3-6 events’ experience. This group is very diverse with drivers spanning the broadest range of skills, and it is not uncommon to have two separate intermediate run groups (lower- and upper-level) at an event.

Advanced drivers have many days of track experience and significantly elevated skill sets, and are able to routinely adapt their driving to traffic and track conditions.

Group S (GVC’s version of Solo, formerly A-Solo) is for very advanced drivers. This group does not have personally-assigned instructors like drivers in all other groups, but is instead under the tutelage of 5-6 Group S coaches. Admission to Group S requires 1) an extensive resume of track experience; 2) excellent evaluations; 3) a rigorous on-site checkout ride conducted by the Group S coaches; and 4) very importantly, consensus of the existing Group S drivers. After admission, Group S drivers may freely sign up for Group S at subsequent events as long as they remain in good standing with the Group S drivers and coaches, as well as the GVC Chief Instructor. Complete details of Group S can be found on a separate webpage.

Novice Orientation

To make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful for newcomers, our Driver’s Resource Center offers a one hour presentation and Q&A session on the night before the school in the Kendall garage classroom at the track. At this meeting we go over how the school schedule is organized, what is taught in the classroom, the layout of the track and its amenities, where to go for help (answer: the Driver’s Resource Center), and how to prepare oneself physically and mentally for the experience. It is strongly recommended that new drivers download our “Rookie Chronicles” publication, the link for which is available in “Recommended Reading” below.

Free Stuff

Event Shirt: To commemorate the event and give you bragging rights back home, you will receive a complimentary, limited-edition "Ultimate Driving School" shirt to go along with the event tech sticker placed on your car’s windshield.

Recommended Reading

By Jeff Gabel - Local Genesee Valley Chapter member and Driving School Instructor, Jeff Gable, shares advice he received during his first year of Performance Driving Schools at Watkins Glen, Mosport, and Batavia International Motorsports Park. This is a fantastic read for everyone, especially Novice students who want to know what to expect as a first time driver.
By Ross Bentley - Ross Bentley is currently one of the most sought after and respected race and performance driver coaches in North America, if not the world. He expands traditional instructional method by focusing on what is really driving the car…the driver’s mind. With detailed drills and comprehensive instructions, Bentley covers everything you need to know: choosing lines; adapting to different cars, tracks, and racing conditions; setting up controls; and understanding car adjustments and mental preparation. Whether you are racing an Indy car or simply interested in becoming a more complete driver on the street, Ultimate Speed Secrets will give you the information you need to succeed!