DRIVER ED

driversed

NNJR PCA offers members an opportunity to drive their Porsche at speed “on track” at a number of premier Motor Sports facilities throughout the northeast, and beyond. The purpose of these events is to teach high performance driving techniques in a safe, controlled environment. High Performance Drivers Ed events (HPDE) aren’t races or competition.

NNJR frequently refers to Driver’s Education as “Safe, Serious, Fun.” We take the safety and instructional aspects of the event very seriously, in order that it is safe for drivers and cars. As a result, everyone has a lot of fun!

2017 DE Schedule

NNJR track (DE) chair Tom Swift explains our DE program in this DE video:

Driver Ed FAQs

What is a Driver's Ed event?

Simply put, a “DE” or “HPDE” event is the opportunity to drive your Porsche at speed on a track in a very safe environment. NNJR often refers to DE as “Safe, Serious, Fun.” NNJR tracks include many you have heard of including Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, Pocono, MidOhio, VIR and Mosport.

The Safety aspects include a complete pre-event Technical Inspection of your Porsche and a daily track-side Technical Inspection (otherwise referred to as “Tech”). All drivers wear helmets and seat belts (NNJR has a limited number of loaner helmets available to new drivers). The track itself is carefully inspected and supervised by our Chief Instructors. While on the track, drivers rely on Flags and Flaggers for advance knowledge about what is around the next corner. And passing is only allowed on straight sections, with a signal from the car being overtaken. New drivers have an instructor assigned for each event.

Serious means that we approach driving at speed with all due respect. A drivers meeting starts each day at the track. Track conditions are described along with any other factors that may affect that day’s driving. Student drivers meet their instructor and discuss the area(s) they will focus on for each run. Classroom sessions introduce and reinforce a variety of topics including car behavior such as understeer and oversteer as well as driving techniques such as trail braking.

The Fun part is driving on track for at least 4 sessions each day! Students drive at a pace they are comfortable with, knowing that their instructor will keep them safe. Virtually every new driver has a big smile when they step out of their car after every session. As a bonus, you will meet many other driving enthusiasts and have many opportunities to socialize.

One final note: Drivers Education is NOT racing! We do not teach racing techniques and our events are not intended to be practice for racing. Racers can sign up for PCA Club Race events.

You will find that attending DE events improves your street driving through improved awareness of your Porsche’s abilities, and your own.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now for your first event!

How do I register?

To register for an event, follow the procedure for on-line registration at “motorsport reg”. The website is nnjr-pca.motorsportreg.com. Setting up an account is easy, then it is just a few clicks to register. As a reminder, be sure to include any driving events you’ve attended in the past and include your PCA Membership Number.

Here is the rub! Many NNJR Drivers Education events are oversubscribed: i.e. some applicants cannot be accepted. Your position on the list is determined by the time and date you complete the on-line registration. This means you should register on the first day that an event opens (see 2017 DE Schedule). New driver applications are accepted based on the number of Instructors available. Drivers who are not immediately accepted may be placed on a waiting list but are almost always accepted closer to the actual event.

The good news: almost all drivers who apply on the Open Date get in. And it is the events close to New Jersey that sell out: Lime Rock, Pocono, NJMP and Watkins Glen. Students can almost always get in to the other events, even after the Open Date. The bottom line: put the Open Dates on your calendar and make sure you register on that date!

Once accepted, you will get an email directing you to the Acceptance Package on this website.
It contains:

  • A welcome letter with all of the Event requirements and regulations
  • The NNJR Sponsored Tech location, date / time and directions
  • A blank tech form
  • Tentative Run Group List with your car number.
  • Directions to the track
  • A list of motels in the vicinity of the track: be sure to make reservations as soon as you receive the Acceptance package.

Just prior to the event, you will get an email with a link to the Track Pack.  Print these documents and bring them with you to the track.  The Track Pack contains:

  • A letter outlining the rules and regulations for the event, flag information, a track map and the event officials.
  • The final Run Group Assignments and car numbers
  • The Event Schedule: one page for each day. Be sure to print it out as copies will NOT be available at the track
  • The final Work Assignments – Some drivers have a work assignment during part of the event (you can volunteer during the registration process.)  Work assignments do not interfere with driving time.

You should also get an email from your instructor introducing him or herself and offering to answer any questions you may have. You and he/she should also agree on a place to meet.

Your car MUST pass a complete Safety Inspection prior to arriving at the track. NNJR sponsors a free Tech Inspection for each of our Driver’s Education Events, generally about 10 days before the event. If you are unable to attend the NNJR safety inspection:

You are responsible for having your car tech’d at an NNJR-approved site and paying for the cost of the inspection (if any).

Bring the completed and signed Tech Form to the track and give it to the Tech Coordinator at the first daily Track-Side tech.

Plan your trip to the track. Some tracks (Pocono and Lime Rock) are close enough that (really) early risers may wish to drive up in the morning. However, most people prefer to drive up the day or evening before. Note the time that you have to be at the track: 6:30 AM is a good target. And be sure to fill up your gas tank and make sure the tires are at or above factory pressures before you get to the track!

What should I bring?

If you are new to Driver’s Education, this list provides a list of “stuff” that you may want to consider bringing. The quantity of “stuff” seems to vary with the experience of the participant and the degree of modification to the Porsche. The following list of “stuff” (plagiarized from a list put together by Fred Zetterberg of CVR and Bob Michaelson of NNJR) is a good starting point.

Required Stuff

Helmet: Snell 2015 or Snell 2010. If you have to buy one, get a 2015. And do yourself a favor and buy one that is SA rated. Note: NNJR does accept M (motorcycle) rated helmets, if you happen to have one. M-rated helmets are designed for motorcycles, SA for motor sports.

PCA membership card and driver’s license.

Tech Sticker from the NNJR Pre-Event Tech or Safety Inspection Form completed by an authorized shop.

Long pants and long sleeved shirt (natural fiber, no synthetics, cotton highly recommended).

Rubber soled, tie-on shoes (sneakers work for most people).

Fire extinguisher: Fire extinguishers are recommended, but not required, for all groups.  If you install an extinguisher, it must be mounted metal to metal and must pass the safety tech.  See the tech form for more information.

Suggested Stuff

Rain gear (poncho, shoes, umbrella, etc.) not yellow or red (on the off chance that it rains). Warm clothes unless you know it will be over 90 degrees!

Garbage bags: good for protecting gear from rain and dust.

Plastic Tarp: good for keeping luggage, etc. clean and dry.

White shoe polish or painters tape to put numbers on car (also good for keeping above-mentioned sneakers looking spiffy). Magnetic or window cling numbers also work (neater than shoe polish, but will do nothing for your shoes).

Windex and paper towels (lots of bugs).

Tire pressure gauge.

Large Plastic boxes: to hold the stuff you have to take out of your car (look at other drivers with your model Porsche to find the optimum size and shape. Then you can bring even more “stuff”).

Plenty of fluids (water) to drink (alcoholic for apres-track only).

Portable air pump. If you have one. Most tracks have air readily available.

Hat, sun block, bug spray, sunglasses, etc. Warm coat if it is early or late in the season.

Spare oil, brake fluid, etc.

More Stuff

The next level of “stuff” would include things like brake pads, wheel bearings, extra tires, fan belts, torque wrench, etc. Starting out, however, you can get by quite nicely with the above list.

Other Things to Remember

  1. Before you leave home, as you are packing your Porsche with all of the above items, be sure to unload and leave in the garage all loose items not needed for the track. It’s also a good idea to check tire pressures: anywhere from factory settings up to 4-6 pounds over.
  2. Remember that, as soon as you park in the pits, you will need to empty everything loose out of the car before you can proceed to tech. This includes your toolbox, air pump, sunglasses, radar detector, driver’s side floor mat, etc. etc…. (Now you see where those plastic bags, boxes and tarp come in handy). Your spare tire, jack, and anything else securely mounted to the car does not have to be removed (nor should you; in many models it is part of the safety design).
  3. Just remember that, no matter what you need, you will have forgotten to bring it. Fortunately, someone else will have it!
  4. Have fun!
What should I expect when I show up at the track?

Following is a detailed list of what you should expect when you get to your first Driver Education event. While this may seem like a lot of steps, you will quickly find that everything is organized to maximize the amount of time spent driving. This means that everyone arrives early, in order to unload their cars, get through tech, attend the drivers meeting and be ready to drive by 8:30 AM! (sooner at some tracks). Plus, there are always lots of experienced drivers more than willing to answer questions, and to lend a hand.

  1. Get to the track early! A general target is 6:30 AM; each Acceptance Package will list the time that the track opens. Arriving after 7:00 AM will make the morning feel very rushed. The driver’s meeting starts by 8:00 AM, sometimes sooner.
  2. At the front entrance of the track, you will sign a track waiver, and then proceed to the NNJR “front gate”. Each person (drivers and non-drivers) must sign the NNJR waiver and will receive a wristband. The wristband must be worn for the entire event (2 or 3 days)! Driver’s wristbands will be checked in staging, and you will miss track time without it.
  3. Drive into the paddock area and find a place to park. Garages are available at Pocono on a first-come, first-served basis. Garages at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio are reserved in advance as part of registration. One garage is available to offload the contents of your car, if you wish to do put it inside. Empty your car of all loose items. Put your assigned numbers on both sides of your car and on the front and back. You can use shoe polish, magnetic numbers or tape. Please make sure the numbers are large and visible.
  4. Proceed to the Track-Side Tech inspection (often there is the option to do the track side tech the evening before). If you did not attend the NNJR Safety Inspection, you must bring your completed tech form to the Track-Side tech. NOTE: your car must be tech’d EACH day. This tech inspection does NOT substitute for the pre-event Safety Inspection.
  5. The Drivers’ meeting will be called over the PA (the time is also listed on the schedule). All event officials will be introduced, including the Chief Instructors and the Stewards responsible for each aspect of the event: Gate, Tech, Staging, and Tower. General and specific safety matters will be covered, plus administrative items (hours for gas pumps, track dinner, etc.). Drivers are encouraged to ask questions if anything is unclear.
  6. A Novice Meeting will be held immediately after the Drivers’ Meeting. This provides an opportunity for you to ask additional questions. The day’s schedule will be reviewed and you can ask any questions you wish.
  7. Meet your Instructor! This often happens before the drivers meeting or after the Novice meeting. The email exchange with your instructor before the event will agree on a place to meet.
  8. Driving! Drivers are assigned to run groups according to their ability and experience. (Green, Yellow or Blue for students. White for Intermediate drivers. Black for Advanced and Red for Instructors). Normally, each driver will be on the track 4 times a day for 25 to 30 minute sessions. Each novice driver is assigned an Instructor. Announcements will be made when each group is to come to Staging. However, PA systems are not always easy to hear, so drivers need to monitor the time and the schedule to assure that they do not miss a run. Staging is normally in the Pit area. Your instructor will meet you in the Staging area unless you’ve made different arrangments. Sometimes, your Instructor will be driving or instructing in the group on track immediately prior to your group. In this case, the Instructor will find you as soon as he or she can.
  9. The Instructor will drive the first two laps of the first run in order to point out the proper line, flag stations and track conditions. Then you will switch seats and the Instructor will assist from the passenger seat.

Hopefully, this detailed accounting of an event hasn’t scared anyone! We have tried to give you a complete picture of what to expect. Of course, there are plenty of people around to answer any and all questions. You will quickly find that one of the most enjoyable aspects of Driver’s Education is meeting other drivers. After all, you will want to share your experience!

Will I (and my car) be safe?

One of the first questions from potential Driver’s Education participants is: will I be safe? (Actually, the first question usually is, “will it hurt my Porsche?”). NNJR events are designed and run with a “safety first” attitude. Therefore:

Each Porsche undergoes a complete Technical Inspection (Tech) before each event. The NNJR Tech Form is a 2-page checklist of safety-related items, many of which require the car to be on a lift. Examples include tire tread depth and condition, wheel bearings, oil leaks, etc. NNJR tech inspectors know the idiosyncrasies of each model (e.g. where they tend to rust!) and make sure that your Porsche is in top-notch condition. Any well-maintained Porsche should pass this inspection. However, drivers are frequently surprised to find that their brake pads are worn, wheel bearings are loose, or that a tire has a nail!

A track-side Tech is conducted each morning at the track. Here our inspectors make sure your Porsche is empty of loose items, has the correct numbers, that brake lights are working, gas caps and lug nuts are tight, etc.

In order to minimize speed differences, drivers are assigned to run groups based on their driving experience. This means that new drivers are on the track only with other new drivers.

Each inexperienced driver has an instructor assigned to him or her for the event (2 or 3 days). NNJR instructors have substantial driving experience coupled with an ability to communicate and teach. They have been Driver Education participants for many years. Their first priority is safety. Teaching emphasizes a smooth, consistent style with little risk for the car or the driver.

Track conditions are carefully inspected by our Chief Instructors. They update drivers at the Driver’s meeting, including a discussion of passing zones. The Chiefs also place cones on the track to mark the turn-in, apex, and track-out point for each corner (see the Driver’s Guide section of this website).

Flags are used to communicate track conditions, so that drivers always know what to expect around the next corner or over the next hill. Flags are always stressed at the Driver’s meeting, as they are the “eyes and ears” for all of us who drive on the track.

The event chairperson and the Chief Instructors always stress that NNJR Driver Education is “Safe, Serious, Fun”. We strive for a low-key, fun atmosphere. But we will not tolerate aggressive driving, or other behavior inconsistent with the spirit of the event.

What does the instruction cover?

Each driver in the Green, Yellow and Blue run groups has an Instructor assigned. Green includes all beginning drivers, typically with no experience or a limited number of events. Yellow includes drivers with several events’ experience. Drivers in Blue have significant experience and are about ready to move into the White (Intermediate) group.

Your instructor’s first priority is safety. Teaching emphasizes a smooth, consistent style with little risk for the car or the driver. This approach works because, as it happens, the safe line around a corner is also the best line for attaining speed (see the Driver’s Guide for an explanation).

This “instructional line” is the one which the Chief Instructors mark with cones at on the track: cones mark the turn-in point, apex, and track-out point for each corner. NNJR instructors use this consistent “teaching line”, even though there may be minor variations applicable to advanced drivers.

NNJR instructors have substantial driving experience coupled with an ability to communicate and teach. They have been Driver’s Education participants for many years. As they progressed in their own driving, and watched other drivers’ progress, they have learned communication and teaching techniques.

NNJR instructors have learned that new drivers are easily overwhelmed by the on-track driving experience. After all, the adrenaline associated with driving at speed on a famous track is not to be underestimated! Couple this with the new/strange aspects, such as wearing a helmet (and dealing with the restricted view that it seems to offer, at first), relying on flaggers for communication, and driving corners in a manner that is totally inconsistent with street driving. It is easy to see why most new drivers can only absorb a selected amount of information.

Another important aspect of the NNJR teaching method is that each new driver learns differently. Therefore, we do not stress classroom or other general approaches (though most events do have a classroom session run by one or more Chief Instructors). Rather, each instructor determines when to introduce a particular topic. For example, one driver may be receptive to a discussion of “ocular driving” during their first or second event. Another driver may not be ready, or other topics may be more important.

The general areas that Instructors cover include:

  • Safe driving technique
  • Flag station locations
  • The line
  • Turn-in, apex, track-out
  • Smoothness
  • Consistency
  • Concentration
  • Watching the mirrors (and dealing with traffic)
  • Ocular driving
  • Cockpit technique

Typically, after the first or second run, the instructor and student will determine which topics need to be emphasized. Students who are participating in their third or fourth event are likely to find their instructor asking, “What do you think you need to work on?”.

But the most important role the instructor has is to make sure that you (their student) has fun! After all, NNJR Driver’s Education is all about having a good time. Based on feedback from hundreds of students, we know that is exactly what will happen!