Suncoast Region of the PCA is having their May Sebring HPDE this weekend, and I am headed that way in a couple of hours. I am teaching the Green (Novice) Group classroom sessions (three of them) for the event. I am excited.
Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to drive for the track sessions this time. Not a problem – I enjoy the classroom sessions and I’m proud to make my contribution to any of these events. HPDE is a lot of things, but one of the more important is that the lessons learned at any HPDE can and do make you a better, safer driver on the street. Yea, the same street you share with the rest of us.
Over the years I have heard that there are many reasons that HPDE has “classroom” sessions. Yes, safety briefings are needed, rules must be discussed and everyone has to be on the same procedural piece of paper. But I think that there is more to it.
My classroom sessions have always focused on not only the safety and procedural issues, but also car control, common terminology and the physics of driving at speed. As a retired professional instructor, it is important that students understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and the nuances associated with any skilled activity. This is especially true for new-new HPDE drivers.
HPDE also tries to take old habits that are not conducive to track/performance driving and change them. Hands at ten and two?” Not any more. Short shift? Maybe not. One handed palmed steering? Definitely not. And let’s not even start talking about braking technique. Anyway, old habits die hard, but they tend to die a little easier if the driver knows the reasoning behind the change. That is my job – help with the reasoning, knowledge and skill-building.
In the world of training we talk about three things – Skill, Knowledge and Ability. SKA as it’s known. To master anything, we need all three. You may have the knowledge, your skills may be good, but without seat time, ability may suffer. You know what to do, how to do it, but you haven’t quite worked it into your everyday routine. Ability suffers. HPDE allows you to practice, and that helps your ABILITY.
So when you go to your next HPDE, think about going to the classroom, whether it be basic or advanced. Pick up on the things that you may have let get away. Get back to the basics.
Oh, and have fun. Isn’t that why we do this?
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.