Yesterday I instructed at the Tire Rack Street Survival program co-sponsored by my BMW CCA chapter and the local SCCA chapter. It's a program for teens that focuses on driving skills and vehicle dynamics that goes above and beyond normal driver training. In fact, it's a lot more like an autocross.
The students drive whatever their normal car is - sometimes a nice new BMW, sometimes an old minivan. No matter what they bring, they leave the program with skills that might be life-saving in an emergency situation.
Most students are signed up by their parents. Here's a short video describing the program from the parents' perspective.
For more information, you can visit the Tire Rack Street Survival website.
This was my first time instructing for the program and I had an absolute blast. My student, a 17 year-old who received her license not long ago, was fantastically receptive to instruction. Before each exercise we went over what we'd do and how she should expect the car to react. She asked questions. We took it slow for each initial run so she could understand the course and then we added speed, more speed, quicker steering, more aggressive braking - whatever. All of it. She was a champ. We had her 2013 X1 (the xdrive 28i) 4-wheel sliding around the skid pad and punting cones as we pushed the limits of the slalom and emergency lane change exercises.
I'm 31 and I don't have any children yet, but man I wish this had been around when I was learning to drive. One student got his license last week and this was the first thing he really did in the car. Let me just say it: most ADULTS don't have this sort of driving experience, even if they've been on the road for 20 years. As a result of yesterday's program alone, there are now 32 additional skilled and aware young drivers on the road in PA and NJ. TRSS does over one hundred of these schools per year. Incredible.
Needless to say, I'll be volunteering to instruct again.
If you are a teen or you have a son or daughter who is new to driving and you're interested in this program I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have - please comment below!
In case you're curious, yes, they do a "combined exercise" after the end of the program/graduation ceremony and students can take their parents around. Instructors also get to run the course, and as you can imagine I was busy giving rides. Here's me taking my student's father around the course. I'm a race track guy, not an autocross guy, so this was my first cone course. Needless to say I could use some...refinement. Very weird not to have my harnesses, helmet, HANS, gloves, etc. Go easy on me, you cone killers out there!