Welcome to The HPDE. Use this manual to get an idea of what happens when you show up at the track, and what you need to know to participate in this event. Officials and instructors will be on-site to answer any questions and guide you through the day.
Remember, always listen to the officials and track workers, be safe, keep your eyes and ears open, and most of all HAVE FUN!
1) Welcome & Intro
2) How to prepare & What to bring
3) Run Groups Overview
4) Run Group Schedule
5) The HPDE Rules & Track Safety
6) Track Flags
Shift up, shift down, turn-in points nailed, apexes clipped, downshifts rev-matched, trail brake mastered, the perfect lap is a never forgotten, lifelong experience.
Our Method, your perfect lap
Since 1972, at places such as Daytona, Le Mans, and Sebring, The High Performance Driving Experience coaches have developed a very specific method of training, effective for teens to professional drivers. Our method aims to safely push your abilities and discover that your own limits, and the car’s, are higher than you’d imagined.
You’ll be driving your car at speed on a track, learning to better control your car and understand how it responds to your inputs. You will learn, or refresh your memory of, the basics of driving at speed and techniques that will help you improve on those basics. This will help prepare you for emergencies, both on the track and on the street. While you will explore both your and your car’s capabilities, you won’t be pushed or encouraged to go any faster than is comfortable for you.
*You are not attending a racing school – outright racing is strictly prohibited. This is not practice for any racing or speed competition*
At your first High Performance Driver’s Education event you’ll learn skills that you can use in your everyday driving. You’re probably excited and maybe anxious. As you study this guide, remember that everyone at the track was new once and probably felt just as you do now. This is not a racing school. Your instructor will help you learn at a comfortable and enjoyable pace.
What you need to bring:
When you arrive:
Group 1 - Advanced Solo / Licensed Racers Experienced drivers who have completed multiple high performance driving events at the solo level (documentation of experience is required) or drivers with current competition licenses.
Expected to know the basics and advanced techniques of car handling, driving in traffic, track awareness including flags and worker stations. Experienced in safely handling unexpected situations. Possess the required professionalism of driving at the limit with safety as the number one priority. Drivers must be experienced in unrestricted passing zones. A “point by” is required so drivers are aware of all passing situations. This is the ideal group for racers who need practice, additional seat time, testing, shake-downs, or the advanced HPDE driver that is ready to move to the next level!
Group 2 - Intermediate Solo Participants that have driven many track-day or HPDE events, or drivers that have been approved to advance from Novice to Intermediate Solo group.
Group 2 drivers are expected to know the basic techniques of car handling, handling traffic, track protocol, track awareness, including flags and worker stations. Drivers must exhibit the ability drive at or near the limits of their car in a safe and controlled manner. Passing is restricted to designated straights with “point by” only.
Group 3 – Novice Participants that have never driven on a road course, or drivers with limited experience at track events.
Group 3 drivers will learn the basic techniques of:
Novice drivers will be assigned an instructor at each event. When an instructor feels that a novice is ready to drive alone, they will recommend an evaluation by a Senior Instructor. Classroom instruction will be provided by one of our Chief Instructors, and is a requirement for all Group 3 drivers. Passing is restricted to designated straights with “point by” only.
The day will be divided in 25-minute sessions. Each run group will alternate throughout the day, with one break for lunch.
***EVENT TIME TABLES WILL BE DISTRIBUTED PRIOR & DAY OF EACH EVENT***
The HPDE is a provider of weekend track days where drivers get the opportunity to bring their cars and drive at high speeds legally in a predictable controlled environment.
Overall SAFETY and SAFE DRIVING is the paramount priority for The HPDE, its officials and staff, and all safety and track personnel. Anyone driving in an unsafe manner as deemed so by The HPDE officials, staff, safety and track personnel will be removed from the track.
ALWAYS DRIVE WITHIN YOUR ABILITIES AND EXERCISE GOOD JUDGEMENT
REMEMBER - SLOW IN, FAST OUT
Green Flag – The GREEN FLAG indicates the track is open, clear to run
Yellow Flag - The YELLOW FLAG indicates trouble on the track, either on-track incidents or other
conditions that threaten the safety of the event. No passing and slow down in the area in which the yellow flag is displayed.
A WAVING YELLOW FLAG indicates immediate danger – the more vigorously waved, the greater the danger. No passing. Be prepared to stop. The waving yellow flag is the first and immediate response by corner workers to any incident.
A STANDING YELLOW FLAG may also used to indicate no passing on the warm-up and cool-down laps.
Red Flag - The RED FLAG is waved to indicate serious trouble on the track. All cars must promptly
come to a controlled stop. It will be displayed at all flag stations simultaneously. Do not slam on the brakes, but rather first check your mirrors for cars following closely behind you and bring your car smoothly to a stop offline and within sight of a flagging station.
Black Flag - The BLACK FLAG is used as a warning to a particular driver. Upon direction from Control, certain designated flagging stations will display the black flag and point it at the offending car. If you receive the black flag, acknowledge with a hand wave, proceed to Pit Road and report directly to Control. The black flag may indicate either mechanical trouble or incorrect driving. Extremely careless, unsafe behavior or failure to respond to a black flag may result in ejection from the event. Flag stations must report all safety problems to Control.
A STANDING BLACK FLAG is also used to indicate that all cars must smoothly and safely exit the track, usually to clear an incident.
Debris/Slippery Flag - The DEBRIS FLAG indicates that there is an obstacle on the track you
should avoid, such as slippery fluids, a cone, car parts, dirt, or an animal. No Passing. Slow Down. Reduce speed until you understand the obstacle. This flag may be pulled in after you’ve seen it, yet the obstacle remains. If you see the debris flag again, it may be a different obstacle.
Passing Flag – The PASSING FLAG (Blue with Diagonal Yellow Stripe) indicates that there is faster
traffic behind you and you should consider letting them pass. This is not a mandate to let the car behind you pass, as the ultimate decision regarding safety rests with you. If you decide to let the car behind you pass, begin to execute a safe passing maneuver, including appropriate point-by, at the next safe opportunity in a designated passing zone. Use a distinct point-by for each individual car you want to let pass. Stay on line and lift if necessary to help faster vehicles pass safely.
Checkered Flag – The CHECKERED FLAG will be displayed at designated flagging stations at the
conclusion of the Run Group’s track session. After receiving the checkered flag, you may see a standing yellow flag at every flag station you reach. Do not pass other cars and do not try to squeeze in an extra lap. Proceed around the track at reduced speed to cool your brakes and report to the pit area.
APEX (Early / Late) The point during the corner where the car comes closest to the inside edge of the turn. This can occur early or late depending on the specific turn or series of turns, driver style, conditions, and track configuration. Usually an early apex is not desired, with late apexing being a commonly employed method to gain speed.
BALANCE The vehicle dynamics of front vs. rear end grip. In cornering, the aim is to get a balance of front and rear cornering traction. In braking, it is a matter of having the front and rear ends of the car do their appropriate share of braking in proportion to their different downloads.
Proper balancing of the car is essential in high performance road course driving. It is a main factor in obtaining higher speeds in a safe and controlled environment.
UNDERSTEER AND OVERSTEER The tendency of either the front or rear of the car to lose grip before the other in a turn. The tendency of a car to do one or the other in a given turn will affect how it turns-in, corners (rotates), and tracks out. If the front loses traction first, its understeer (aka. “push”); if the rear goes first, its oversteer (or “gets loose”)
“BLIP” (the throttle) In order to perform a proper downshift at higher speeds, a throttle “blip” enables an increased engine RPM to allow the engine speed to match the driveline speed for smooth engagement of the next lower gear. This is usually done while braking which means; you are using the brake and the gas pedals at the same time. This is NOT something you learn at the track. You should practice this technique, often called "heel & toe" downshifting at lower speeds on a clear highway. You perfect it at the track, but learn it elsewhere. Missing a throttle blip and downshifting while turning can cause you to spin.
BRAKE POINT This is a specific point prior to corners where you must be on the brakes, slowing the car for the turn. If you go past your brake point at a high rate of speed, you will not make the turn. It is in your best interest, and will be MUCH safer to begin your laps by braking EARLY into a turn and then slowly gaining the skill and confidence to brake later. You also have more to gain by working on your exit speed.
CORNER ENTRY This is the area where you are decelerating while making your turn into the corner. Once you begin the corner, you will then slowly begin to apply throttle, all the way through the turn. You may also hear your instructor refer to this as your "Turn in Point".
GOING DEEP INTO A CORNER This is where you delay your corner entry "turn in" as long as possible. This allows for several things, one of which is a "late apex". Keep in mind however, very little time is gained by braking too late. Usually the fraction or two of a second you may gain is offset by the loss in speed you carry through the turn and subsequent exit speed.
EXIT SPEED The speed a car can attain at the "track out" point of the corner and consequently the speed carried onto the following straight.This is one of the most important parts of high performance road course driving, working on obtaining higher exit speeds. This is where you can greatly decrease your lap times.
HEEL and TOE DOWNSHIFTING This is where you "blip" the throttle in order to synchronize gears while downshifting, and at the same time continuing to have constant pressure on the brake pedal. This is not something you will learn quickly. In fact, it could take a very long time to master it, but if you never start practicing it, you won’t get proficient at it.
LIFT This occurs when you lift off the gas pedal, even if a small amount.
Be cautioned, lifting while in a corner can be very dangerous. It can cause the rear of the car to get light and spin around to the front. Knowing “when to lift” will prevent you from carrying too much speed into a corner.
LINE This is the "best" path around the course. The "line" can vary with track conditions and the type of car you are driving as well as the type of tires you are using. You are looking to find the "fast line" around the track.
REFERENCE POINT This would be a point on the track that you can visualize in order to know when to turn in, brake, downshift, etc…
TRACK CAMBER Camber is synonymous with "Banking." Negative camber is when the track "leans" away from the inside of the corner. Positive camber is when the track "leans" into the inside of the corner. Negative camber works against you and Positive camber works with you.
TURN IN This is the point at the start of a corner where the driver begins to turn the steering wheel into the turn.
TRACK OUT This is the point of exiting the turn where the you begin to turn the wheel to steer the car out of the corner after the apex. You usually want to track out in a smooth arc until car gets as close as it can to the outside of the track to set yourself up for the next corner.
TRAIL BRAKING Caution: You will hear this term at the track. It is NOT for beginners.
Trail braking is the technique of continuing your braking while turning into the corner. If not done correctly, it can cause you to spin. Do not use this technique until you get more experience!
WEIGHT TRANSFER Whenever you accelerate, brake or turn you transfer weight around each of the four corners, front-to-back and side-to-side. Managing weight transfer is central to understanding how to effectively and efficiently negotiate the track.