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So you want to instruct?

Top 20 Instructor Habits

An Instructor:

  1. Sincerely enjoys helping new drivers learn the art and science of road course driving.
  2. Never stops learning about driving and instruction.  Never.  Ever.  Data is becoming a great tool for instructors to address their own driving skills and to continuously work on them.
  3. Puts his/her own track time secondary to his student.  The instructor arrives to the track early with his/her car in proper working order and is well prepared to meet and support the student.
  4. Knows that safety is always #1 and fun is #2  New drivers want to have fun.  Learning can be fun.  Speed can be fun.  Meeting new people can be fun.  It's up to you to figure out what is "fun" for your student.
  5. Is a great source of information learned through experience.  The more experiences you have under your belt the more you can help a student.  Do not talk about things you know nothing or very little about.  
  6. The best resource you can suggest to new students is anything from Ross Bentley.  Get them plugged into Ross and they will be headed down the right path.
  7. Knows that riding w a student is likely the start of a life-long relationship.  Make a great first impression and keep it going.  Most drivers see each other again and again.  Be the instructor that people like to be around and come to for answers.  Think "Long-Term" right from your very first meeting with your student.
  8. Will learn that you don't need to spend a ton of money to have fun.  A good instructor will help new students understand this.  Intercept early and get your modification message across successfully. 
  9. Helps calm a new driver when they are nervous and encourages a driver when they are uncertain.
  10. Is a role model with the safety equipment they wear, the cleanliness and professionalism they project and the preventative maintenance they perform on their car.  Student's look to you as the role model.  Be a good role model.  Be the benchmark.
  11. Safety is always #1.  When in doubt, always turn to the safer option.
  12. You are a representative of the club or organization you instruct for.  Be a great extension of your club and make friends with those in the organization:  the registrar, the Chief Instructor, the people in Tech, the Grid steward and other instructors.  Help make the club enjoyable and fun and it will be enjoyable and fun
  13. Make an effort to meet other instructors.  Sit with them at lunch.  Ask them about the track or their car.  Take genuine interest in your fellow instructors and you will learn more than you possibly can imagine.  The #1 way an instructor learns is by talking to other instructors.  Meet as many as you can and strike up a conversation.
  14. Is happy to loan out a tool or tire pressure gauge.  Bring items to the track that your student might have forgotten to bring:  water, sunscreen, track maps, an extra schedule.  Your student is going to forget something.  Bring an extra and you'll appear professional.
  15. Don't use the word "racing".  Driving is not racing.  DE is not racing.  Don't get the two confused.
  16. Learn to shut up and ask questions.  This is our industries #1 problem.  The best instructors ask questions and listen.  They are the best listeners.  If you know the answer, ask it first.
  17. Is well informed.  They understand about tires, data, conservative vs aggressive personality types and how to relate to each.  They know people who know answers and can introduce their students to the person who is the expert.  Always refer to the expert.
  18. Helps those who have broken or crashed their cars.  Everyone needs a friend when their car breaks.  Help a stranger put their car on a trailer or offer to give someone a ride home if they've crashed their car.
  19. Goes to the classroom once a weekend or more.  Show your student that you value the classroom material and they will be more open to learning and listening to your guidance.  
  20. Ask the Chief Instructor if you can help in any way.  Sometimes your customer goes home early and you have free time.  Ask your Chief Instructor is there is anything you can do.  He will remember and think highly of you.

Learn More

Turbocharge your learning journey by earning Instructor Summit certifications.

Future instructor checklist

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1. Read Ross Bentley's Instructor Manifesto

The best written DE Instructor resource on the market and it's FREE!

2. Take the MSF Level 1 Instructor Certification

Read the Manifesto and take MSF Level 1.  This single certification will open doors for you to get your feet wet instructing.

3. Communicate your instruction interest to your Chief Instructor

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.

4. Attend many DE classrooms and read the classroom curriculum

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!

5. Attend the morning Instructors meetings

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.

6. BMW Street Survival

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.

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7. Instructor Data Acq exam

TBD

8. SkidPad Testing

In Progress

9. Instructor Summit Exam

In Progress

10. TBD

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11. Training Video Exam

In Progress

12. Sign up for a quality ITS program(s)

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10 things a new instructor needs to know

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1. Equipment Cost

You need a current snell rated helmet, head and neck restraint, a good communicator (SpeedCom and the in-helmet noise cancelling headset is fantastic) plus driving shoes.  Avoid the cheap communicators b/c if you can't hear your student and they can't hear you it's all over.  Budget for $1,000 not including helmet.  Be a role model to your student with proper and well kept safety gear.

2. Free Time

All organizations require you to prioritize your student over your own track time.  Plan to have zero time to yourself to change your brakes or work on your car.  Often you'll have to miss your own driving session 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 gas jugs, arrive the night before to unload and prepare your car and plan for success.

3. Track time cost

Organizations 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.

4. Instructor Insurance

A well run organization has plenty of coverage for their instructor staff.  Anything you want to know about track insurance can be had by sending me an e-mail.  I have several connections in the industry.   Eric@InstructorSummit.com

5. Vacation Time

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!

6. Crashing

Crashing.  Plan for it.  Crashing is less about taking a risk and more about bad luck or just a pure accident that wasn't your fault.  I've seen nice new cars blow motors or have a tiny, tiny spin out that leads to a big crash.  It's not rare and it does happen.  Make sure you can handle the cost if your car is seriously damaged or even totaled.  Cheap track cars can be super fun.  Statistics show that the MAJORITY OF ACCIDENTS HAPPEN IN THE ADVANCED RUN GROUPS .  Get a track car and get some great track day insurance.   Haggerty Motorsports has many incredible options.  They are the best.  Angelic Hathaway is your DE track day insurance guru.  ahathaway@HAGERTY.com

7. Plan time for learning and growth

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 events 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.  Education is your best rust prevention. Ask your Chief Instructor or other instructors for ideas.  The Facebook HPDE Instructor Page is a great resource.

8. Think about your consumable costs

Lots of seat time and smiles and fun = brakes and tires and wear and tear.  Maintenance cost on a fast V8 w a big tire and hp is 3-4X higher than a momentum car.  If you drive hard this equates to THOUSANDS of dollars a year.  A momentum car can be just as fun and with all the money you can save (free or near free entry fees as an instructor) you can drive once or twice a month for 1/2 a year on pennies.  Or you could spend thousands.  Think about what you want to get out of the sport before you invest in a car.


9. Get yourself a data device, learn it and use it!

The best drivers out there use data.  Why are they the best?  Because data flushes out the poor techniques and allows you to work on and improve them.  No data = you have no idea if you're any good.  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 good.  Learn and use data or get someone to help you.

10. Instructors learn from Instructors

For any instructor industry the number one way instructors learn is from stories told and experiences earned  and learned by fellow instructors.  Strike up conversations that promote this subject and listen more than you talk.  If you are around an instructor that is talking all the time --- run!  Often the most talking 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 sharp is to hold get togethers and organizations conversations and stories of this student and that student.  Lots of learn from the old guard.

 

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7. Instructing makes you a better driver

Anything you have to teach makes you better.  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.

8. Always give your students a ride

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.

9. You'll be a role model

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

10. Instructing requires people skills

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.  Learning to adapt and relate will allow you to connect with drivers that other instructors have challenges with.  Learn great people skills.

tools to consider

Engineer In your Pocket

Engineer In your Pocket

Engineer In your Pocket

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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

Ultimate Speed Secrets

Engineer In your Pocket

Engineer In your Pocket

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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.  

ApexPro

Engineer In your Pocket

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

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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.

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

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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

SPEEDCOM in car com system

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

SPEEDCOM in car com system

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Buy the best in-car com system you can afford.  I like the SPEEDCOM for it's individual volume controls and audio out RCA port to record conversations.  When mated to a GoPro video you can replay your in-car instruction session and analyze your in car methods.  Get the in-helmet system and you can hear your student even when they are running open headers/no mufflers.  Pro tip:  Avoid the low cost chatterbox.  

Track Notes binder

Pocket Tire Pressure Gauge

SPEEDCOM in car com system

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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.

Trac-com in car com system

Trac-com in car com system

Trac-com in car com system

Trac-Com Instructor/Student communication system.  Robust.  Modular.  Light Weight.  https://youtu.b

Trac-Com is a lightweight, modular COM system running on 9V batt and fully expandable.  Learn more here:  https://youtu.be/xex70y_0bSc

FREE Track Attack account

Trac-com in car com system

Trac-com in car com system

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The data sharing feature in Track Attack allows you to look at your student's data a few days after an event and allows for a very powerful post event download.  https://trackattack.io

Instructor Manifesto

Trac-com in car com system

Instructor Manifesto

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The HPDE Instructors guide.

Simpson Logo, Hans Device, Hybrid
Motorpsports Safety Foundation, Level 1 certification, MSF Level 2
APEX Pro Logo, Andrew Rains, APEX Score
Hagerty Motorsports
MotorsportReg logo

Our Partners

Speed Secrets logo, Ross Bentley
RaceCraft1, Kelly Jones
Track Attack Logo, Data acquisition
Toyo Tires Logo, RA1, R compound
RaceCom in-car communicator