Chapter Driving School – Just Do It!

It’s that time of year again – time to think about signing up for Iowa Chapter’s “Longest Day Driving School”. Been there before? Then you know what a great experience it is. Never done one? You’ve just GOT to try it! Rarely is something that is so good for you also so much fun. We are not talking about a glass of fish oil, or diet potato chips here, folks! We are talking about a fun way to become a safer driver – a way to learn about the abilities of your car and yourself.

You’ve been in the club. Maybe you’ve attended some of the banquets, picnics, tours, or tech sessions. You’ve met some of the other great people in the club. Isn’t it time to try the ultimate club experience?

Some time in your life you have already had a little fun with a car. Maybe you stepped on the gas while on an Interstate on-ramp. Well, you will get plenty of chances to accelerate here. The thing about driving school is: the shoulders are safe, there is no loose gravel, the pavement is smooth, there is no oncoming traffic, the lane is wide, there are no poles or trees or pedestrians or deer, and you set the speed limit (low or high). All this with your personal instructor coaching you at your specific ability level.

What is it like? Well, first you need to study the information packet before arriving in western Iowa. You need a motel reservation. You need your forms filled out and your car inspection done. You will need a helmet. If you come in on Friday night, you will enjoy a light dinner and beverages (courtesy of the club) at the hotel – a chance to meet your instructor and to have a laid-back chat with fellow participants. You will leave your room and arrive early Saturday morning at the track. Your car will be looked over again, this time to make sure you didn’t leave something loose in it to surprise you later. You will receive several sessions of classroom instruction during the two days geared specifically to novices like yourself. (Other students at different levels have their own sessions.) The Iowa Chapter always gets good classroom instructors. I still remember my first one, Dave Johnson of Cedar Rapids, and how good a job he did.

Then it comes time for the real fun – track time. You will meet your individual instructor and get acquainted. The Iowa Chapter is known for their excellent in-car instructors as well. My first one, ten years ago, was Jim Simpson of Iowa City. We continue to be friends to this day. I had him drive the track once while I observed from the passenger seat. At the time, I thought it was a wild ride. Now I realize just how controlled it was. Believe me, I had no idea what the capabilities of a car really were, especially a BMW! (There will be other makes there too.)

When you get behind the wheel on the track, you will start out slow, like the rest of your novice group. You will gain skill, confidence, knowledge, and speed. You will learn the track. You will learn where and how track passing is allowed. You will learn the flag system. (Study that packet!) You will have tons of fun. And, you will be exhausted. Twenty-five minutes or so of 100% concentration each driving session is taxing, unless you routinely land airplanes for a living. After resting, the schedule will continue through many more cycles throughout that day and the next. Each level of drivers has their own schedule rotating through classroom, inspecting, driving, and resting. You may also ride along with an instructor in their car. You will spend time talking with other students. You are guaranteed to be amazed and to have fun. And at the end of track time on Saturday evening, the club will once again have the incomparable Don Van Lengen putting on a barbecue at the track for all hands. Then you get to come back on Sunday for more classes and track sessions – and now it will really start to feel natural.

If you are like I was at my first school, you will progress from: “this is nuts,” to “this is fun,” to “hey, I am getting better,” to “is it over already – when can I come again?” You will see that all the rules, procedures, and instruction are pointing toward one thing – safety. Safety at the school. Safety in your own driving back at home. Safety in how to meet problems caused by others. And when you think of it, can you put a price on that knowledge? How much time and money is your safety (and that of others) worth? Especially when you can acquire all that knowledge and have great fun doing it? So what are you waiting for? The “Longest Day Driving School” – just do it!

2011 Longest Day Driving School Information


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