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Read the Manifesto and take MSF Level 1. This single certification will open doors for you to get your feet wet instructing.
Are you a DE driver that is thinking "one day I'm going to ask the Chief Instructor about Instructing"? Do it now. Having lots of time before your ITS/Instructor Clinic/Instructor school gives you time to learn and work w the Instructor staff. Communicate your interest to the C.I. and follow their lead. When you arrive to the actual instructor school you'll be well prepared and ready to crush it.
The best way to support your student is to support what he/she is learning in class. Think about it. If A, B and C are talked about in detail in class, why would you as an instructor want to talk about C and D? "Alignment" is the word that pulls everything together and catapults student learning. Go to class. Take notes. Be open. The best instructors are the ones that are seen in the classroom from time to time. Be one of them!
Attending the morning Instructors meeting (if your schedule allows) is a great way to understand what goes down on game day. You'll also see and meet other instructors and they will see and meet you. When a rookie future instructor attends the morning meeting the senior mentor instructors take mental notes as "that guy is going to be a good instructor b/c he's learning NOW and not a year from now". They will then have more respect for you and help you learn. This is an easy 10-15 effort twice a weekend.
Look into the Tire Rack BMW Street Survival Program. It's a GREAT way to get formal experience, it's fun and there are tons of opportunities to get involved. You don't have to wait for you organization to grant you Instructor school status. Try several events. The SCCA track night in America is a great place too. They need people as well.
The number one thing observed in our industry is the infrequent instructor who sloooooowly drifts back into a track day driver. Only instructing 1 or 2 days a year allows for rust to set in quickly. Do that for a couple years and the rust becomes permanent. Plan at least two days a year to read or go to an event or do some kind of learning or certification to stay sharp. Education is your best rust prevention. Ask your Chief Instructor or other instructors for ideas. The Facebook HPDE Instructor Page is a great resource as well as Ross Bentley's podcasts and newsletter service.
All organizations require you to prioritize your student over your own track time. Plan to have zero time to yourself to change your brakes, rotate your tires or work on your car. Often you'll have to miss one or more of your own driving sessions to support your customer. You MUST arrive at the track early with a 100% ready car to enjoy your weekend. Plan for this by having fueled gas jugs, arrive the night before to unload and prepare your car and plan for success. Your Saturday morning will be the busiest time of your weekend with required organizational morning meetings, instructor meetings but most importantly---investing time with your student! Remember, they are likely to have zero experience, a high anxiety level and are overwhelmed trying to learn all the things you take for granted. Invest extra time in them Saturday morning and don't hesitate to miss your first on-track session to help them get comfortable.
HPDE organizations instructor fees range from no cost to low cost. There is normally a discount and an easy way to register on-line. A $250-$500 savings per event is common. This could save you $1,000-2,000 a year if you LOVE to go to the track. Some clubs pay you to instruct but you often are not allowed to drive nor have time to drive. Plan at least one event a year where you come to the track and don't drive. This will give you incredible insight into what transpires during a track day---plus you have free time to ride right seat to instruct and make new friends. Spend time in the classroom and invest the extra time with your student---he/she will appreciate it and you'll discover how much farther you can take them with your extra time commitment to them.
For any instructor industry the number one way instructors learn is from stories told and experiences earned and learned by fellow instructors, chief instructors and experienced drivers. Strike up conversations that promote the instructing subject and listen more than you talk. If you are around an instructor that is talking all the time --- run! Often the most talkative instructor is the one who knows the least. Learn the socratic method and achieve mastery by asking questions. One of the best tricks a Chief Instructor uses to keep his team stay sharp is to hold instructor training get-togethers and organized learning events. The commerical airline industry has required scheduled training using this exact small group learning method.
5. The more you enjoy this sport the more tracks you'll want to drive and many of them are not next door. Since many events have instructor driving days on Friday you'll have to take that day off of work. If the track is far away you may have to take off Thursday to get there. Possibly you might need to drive all night Sunday evening to make it home and to work Monday morning. Budget your vacation days wisely and make time for your spouse and family. Instructors who race or run time-trails can have up to 9 events per season over an 8 month period. Plan your spouse and family events and enjoy your off-track life!
The best drivers out there use data. Full stop. Why are they the best? Because data identified sub-optimum driving skills and allows you to work on and improve them. No data = you have no idea if you're driving optimally or even driving well at all. Get yourself an APEX Pro and tap into the quickstart program and your skills will go up and your lap times go down. But more importantly your better driving will make you a better instructor. Instructors teach what they think is correct. If you are a less than optimum driver, you are teaching less than optimum techniques. You owe it to your student. Get better. Be a student to your craft. Learn and use data or get someone to help you. APEX Pro is the fastest and easiest way to learn data.
Anything you teach makes you better at your craft. Riding right seat DOUBLES your track time and not having to focus on driving allows you to see so much more. When you leave your student's car and jump in for your own laps, the track will come to you more quickly and more easily. You'll be faster and safer and that in turn will allow you to have a better instruction exchange with your student.
The BEST thing you can do is to give your student a ride. More than once. The light bulbs always go off and your teachings register for them and they get better now. Make sure you have a second seat and proper belts for your passengers. Studies show that 60% of the most common new student driving errors are reduced when you give your student a ride-a-long. Once is good. Twice is better!.
All student's remember their first instructor. You will be a legend and they will never forget you. Learn to be a good steward of this sport and go out of your way to bring a new driver into DE driving by going the extra mile. All student's never forget their first instructor. Be a great role model and represent your organization as best you can.
If people skills are not your gift, get good at them. You are required to relate to someone who is busy driving and has no time or energy to adapt to you and your communication style. YOU must adapt. Some people can't do this very well. Learning to adapt and relate will allow you to connect with drivers that other instructors have challenges with. Learn great people skills and be more effective with your students.
The textbook of road course driving. Any question your student has can be answered in this larger, info-packed reference guide. If you were to read only one driving book this is the one. For eager students wanting to learn asap, get them on this program immediately. Pro tip: buy 2 From $20 on Amazon.
I really, really like the ApexPro. Not only can you use it to get better but this is THE introductory data acquisition device for your student to execute and measure the concepts you are teaching in the car. Great YouTube support. Quick start. iPhone compatible and low price point ($459). Couple this with a suction cup mount for the ability to place it in a willing and inquisitive advance student's car.
Trac-Com is a lightweight, modular COM system running on 9V batt and fully expandable. Learn more here: https://youtu.be/xex70y_0bSc
The HPDE Instructors guide.
As you help your student discover the joys of driving more quickly they will undoubtedly place more burden on the tires and increase heat therefore increase pressure. I carry a little guy like this to help my students see what is actually happening after a session. $15 Amazon
More and more Instructors are opting for an in-car 3 point seat belt head and neck restraint. The Simpson Hybrid series is the Industry standard for HPDE Instructors.
Everything you wanted to know about suspension tuning for your own personal reference and to help your student easily understand simple, introductory concepts. Use this as a reference and look like a pro. $22 on Amazon. Pro tip: buy 2
Students who take notes in class learn faster, become better drivers and are more safe. If you are an advocate of track notes then make sure your student sees how you document your track weekend. This is THE #1 one-on-one training tool that can accelerate a driver's career. Start them early. $7 amazon. Pro-tip: buy 2 and give one to your student loaded with track maps and your contact info.
2020 has brought unique challenges and changes to the sport we all love. With limited options for in car instruction this past year, the Lead/Follow model has taken its place for high performance driving events. The Trac-Com Chaser is an affordable bluetooth communication link for those looking to receive driving feedback without having someone in the passenger seat.
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