MotorSports North East - Driving Schools
Members of the Motorsports NE Club are encouraged to participate at the driving schools (so called HPDE – High Performance Driving Education, or DE – Driver’s Education, or DS – Driving School events), administered by the affiliated club – PDA/NASA NE at the regional race tracks (Lime Rock Park, Watkins Glen and Pocono International).
There is no prior experience required to participate as well as no special car equipment needed, as long as the car technically sound and safe to be driven on the street (and if you don’t have the car – loaner cars are available with the prior arrangements). In order to participate drivers have to pre-register on-line through the PDA website at www.pdadrivingschool.com, where the personal log in account need to be created first, following simple steps as directed. All the Motorsports NE Club members are accepted on the PDA basis participation fees (as PDA members), with the proper applicable discount. To be eligible for member’s fee scale registrants need to identify themselves as “members” in the log in account and have the membership card available to present at the on-site registration in the morning of the event.
The typical day at the track starts with the on-site registration, opened at 7:30 am. To avoid rushing and the last minute car preparations it’s always advised to arrive early. It is also advised to pre-tech the car ahead of time following the form available at the PDA site, with your mechanic. There is no requirement to go to a particular location – any certified technician can assist you in that – still remember, that it is still the driver’s responsibility – to have the safe and functioning car at the track, and the club just observes the “spot check” policy of confirming the adhesion to the standards of main components. The on-site teching is also available at the track, but it will take the additional time off your already hectic morning.
Around 8:30 am all the participants will be called to the mandatory driver’s meeting, where the rules of conduct, flags, schedule and other administrative issues of the day addressed. Immediately, after the driver’s meeting, the first group (traditionally – “red” - advanced drivers) starts the first session at the track. In regards to the driving groups – all participants are divided into 5 level groups – novices (green), intermediate (white), intermediate plus (blue), advanced (red) and instructors (black) based on the previous experience of driving at the track and participating in similar events with PDA or other groups.
All the first time participants are placed in the novice group, which is scheduled for the mandatory classroom session immediately after the driver’s meeting, before the very first outing to the track. All novice drivers have assigned instructors for a whole day. All groups are typically scheduled for four, 25-minutes sessions during the day, following the event schedule. At times, the flow of the day might be adjusted (sessions shortened, or otherwise, groups combined, lunch brake time or length changed, etc.) depending on the circumstances (accidents, oil spills) or bad weather conditions (rain, fog, etc.)
In most cases, it will take a couple of days at the given track / configuration to progress from the novice to the intermediate group, based on the given evaluation of the instructor, by signing the driver off to drive solo. Further progression from one level to another is mostly self guided, offering participants the opportunity to decide, when to move to a higher group, but the performance is closely watched by the club officials, reserving the right to re-assign the driver to the different level, if the performance, speed and skills are not matching the selected group.
There is no particular standard or requirement of completing specific number of events in order to move up, considering the difference in background and personal abilities of participants, but there is very specific expectation of performing safe, predictable driving skills. Instructors are also available by request for drivers in other than novice groups.
Each group has certain assign passing zones, with the tendency to become more open at higher levels. But all groups are subjected to the “point by” passing in the designated zones, and no open passing allowed even in the highest group level. PDA is well known in the region as one of the oldest (35+ years) and the best-run organizations emphasizing the learning of high performance driving under the maximum safety conditions. Remember, this is the driving school, not the race, and any unsafe driving will not be tolerated. Drivers required to maintain safe distance, perform clear, predictable maneuvers, respecting others and the speed of motion.
Safety gear required – SNELL 2000 (SA rated) or later helmet (few loaners available at the track), advised to purchase your own for better comfort and fit, especially, if planning to come back for more events in the future. Long sleeved T-shirt, long pans as well as closed toe footwear required.
The 3 tracks are located in a relative proximity to NYC – Pocono and Lime Rock – about 2 hours drive (100 miles) away from the George Washington Bridge, and Watkins Glen – a little further – about 4 hours or 245 miles Northwest from the NYC. Most tracks have food stands at locations, offering lunch, snacks, soft drinks, but it may not be available at all times. It is also advisable to arrive with a full tank of gas, unless you don’t mind to leave the track in a middle of the day for refueling at a nearby station.
For many other details, explanations and orientation please refer to the PDA Novice Instructions Manual available at our site, as well as the sample of the given Day schedule (which may not be the same at a particular event, but still should give an idea about the typical flow of the day). For more information on the schedule, registrations, fees, accommodations, maps of courses, etc., please refer to the PDA/NASA NE site at www.pdadrivingschool.com.
After acquiring NASA NE by PDA during the winter of 2006, the competition events were introduced under the PDA/NASA NE banner. Those dates are listed as NASA Competition events, when HPDE groups are sharing the day with one or more sessions of race groups competing in wheel-to-wheel pro races. During those days (listed on the NASA NE website – www.nasanortheast.org) the composition of the HPDE groups will be changed (3 or 4 levels instead of 5) with the open passing allowed in the HPDE IV (advanced/instructors) group to accommodate NASA’s TT (Time Trial) competition format.
For more details on those programs, please refer to the NASA NE site mentioned above.
We wish you a good luck and a very happy motoring, but also warn, that the excursions to the track may become a very serious addiction in no time! Many good souls were lost to this intoxicating activity, turning it into the life long and very strong attachment.
Motorsports North East Club