High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) for Smart Girls

 

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“Ooh! I know what brake pad knock back is!”

When I started doing HPDE events, I brought the same overachiever, goody-two-shoes attitude with me that had made me so successful in school. Even though it had been ten years since I graduated from college, that “Smart Girl” in me just can’t help but come out any time I’m in any kind of class.

But HPDE isn’t wasn’t like the other classes I’d taken. HPDE is first and foremost about making sure everyone is safe on track. That means instruction is often geared toward keeping overconfident drivers safe from themselves and others, while information on how to improve driving performance is deprioritized. That’s understandable, because drivers who overestimate their skill level and drive over their head are objectively more dangerous than rule-following drivers who politely lift and point faster cars by, but may never reach their full potential as a driver.  Continue reading

How racing simulators make me a better driver even though I suck at racing simulators.

When I was in the beginner HPDE group (where I spent what felt like an eternity before getting promoted up), I noticed that there were these guys (and they were always guys) who would show up for their first HPDE event, spend a couple of events in the beginner group, and then get quickly promoted to the intermediate group. When I talked to them, they’d all say, “Yeah, this is my first track day, but I’ve played a lot of racing games.”

This was a strong enough pattern that I had to investigate. I hated video games, but I discovered that you don’t have to like video games, or even be good at them, to use them to your advantage as a racer.

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This is me learning something in iRacing that I won’t have to learn on the real track now!

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Making it official – NASA-SE Competition License School

Many large racing organizations require you to have a competition license to race with them. NASA competition licenses are earned by attending a “competition license school” event, which is really more of a “prove yourself worthy” event than a “school.” The full day event is designed to stress and exhaust comp school students and concludes with a “mock race.”  The idea is to demonstrate that not only are the students safe and competent racers, but that they’re safe and competent races when they’re so hot and exhausted they can barely remember their own names.

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