Attending a Performance Driving School Could Save Your Butt This Winter and Turn You Into Lewis Hamilton

  • Performance driving teaches you car control that can help in slick conditions
  • For the inspiring racing driver, a driving school is a must
  • Those looking for a budget option ought to try their local kart track

The art of driving fast isn’t just for the likes of Formula 1 royalty like Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Ayrton Senna. Sometimes, knowing how to “make car go fast” can be the difference between you and a snowbank. Or, learning how to go fast at a performance driving school could make you the next Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, or Ayrton Senna.

What is performance driving school?

Lewis Hamilton celebrates with a champagne bath on the podium of the British Grand Prix
Racing school can lead to many a champagne-soaked celebration | Adrian Dennis via Getty Image

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There is nowhere else on the planet that will teach you more about driving cars. Frankly, the potentially useless driver’s ed. program you went to when you were 16 didn’t teach you enough. So, what the hell is it? Effectively, performance driving school is like driver’s ed. for gearheads. It’s where people like Robb Holland, Lewis Hamilton, and many a racing driver go for tutelage in the ways of speed.

At a racing school, the most important thing you learn is how to go fast safely. Without that, the entire exercise is pointless, as you’ll likely end up in a tree or off a cliff otherwise. As an added bonus, many OEMs that sell fast cars now offer driving schools. BMW puts on a driving school, but high-end supercar makers like McLaren, Lamborghini, and Ferrari also offer driving schools of their own.

Is racing school expensive?

An instructor at the BMW Performance Driving School directs cars through a series of cones
BMW and other OEMs put on driving schools regularly | BMW

There’s a saying about racing. “If you want to be a millionaire in racing, start as a billionaire.” It’s an expensive sport, to put it lightly. So, naturally, it would make sense that performance driving school is going to be expensive too. Thankfully, it’s often not. For example, BMW dealers often put on events where prospective customers are allowed to go out on an autocross course, get some instruction, and drive a new BMW. I did so with a BMW M440i, and it was totally free.

Of course, not all of these programs are free. Some can span multiple days and cost several thousand dollars. Dirtfish rally school is one such example. Then, there’s the ever-present Skip Barber racing school, held at tracks across America. Of the “higher-end” schools, this one is one of the more affordable options, with a single day costing around $1,000. If you need to learn to wheel on the cheap, spending time at your local go-kart attraction will teach you significantly more than you think.

Performance driving school can save your life

A driver at a performance driving school practices a controlled slide in a BMW M2
A driver at the BMW Performance Driving School slides an M2 | BMW

Racing schools, and performance driving on the whole, teach you car control. Like the probably-terrified driver in the image above, you’ll learn how to drive when things go south (or sideways). On loose surfaces, be they rain or snow, knowing what to do in these instances is one of the best winter driving tips we can impart on anyone. As for being the next Lewis Hamilton, well, you’ll probably need more than just a driving academy.

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