If you’re a regular reader of Modified, chances are you know how to drive. It’s not very difficult for anyone over the age of 16 to hop in a car and drive down to the bookstore to pick up some new reading material, but that kind of driving isn’t what this story is about. The problem many people face when trying to drive fast is learning how to maintain control of a car under high-performance driving situations. Even though you may think your EVO X is the greatest canyon-carving tool in the world (not saying it isn’t), the likely reality is that you’re not going as fast or staying as safe as you could be if given the proper instruction. We’ve compiled a list of some of the premier driving schools in the U.S. and Canada, each of which caters to a wide variety of skill levels and driving styles. From rally, to road race, novice driver, to ace (and everything in between), these schools can help anyone improve their skills (and stay safer), which ultimately leads to a more rewarding experience behind the wheel.
Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
Firebird International Raceway: Chandler, AZ
Founded in 1990, the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving caters to the needs of many different types of drivers. Located next to Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, AZ, Bondurant is a full-service school experience, offering students the chance to drive on its 15-turn road course, as well as the other track configurations at Firebird for various types of racing and high-performance driving scenarios. Bondurant is fully equipped with more than 200 cars — from Corvettes to open-wheel, formula-style cars — all of which have been specially designed for Bondurant’s various classes and programs. Instructors at Bondurant are all highly trained and provide in-depth, one-on-one analysis for students to help improve driving skills across the board. Bondurant also offers a program for drivers looking to earn a SCCA regional license to go racing on their own.
Bridgestone Racing Academy
Mosport International Raceway: Toronto
Located at the famed Mosport International Raceway, Bridgestone Racing Academy gives students the chance to learn racing skills from some of the best instructors the industry has to offer. With several programs to chose from, using a one-seat, open-wheel, formula-style race car, Bridgestone has something for just about everyone — from the novice, to ace driver, Bridgestone has your bases covered. Another interesting training program offered at Bridgestone is the Mechanic’s Racing training program, where students get to immerse themselves with a real race team for four or eight months to experience what it’s like to maintain, repair and work in the hot pits for a racing team.
Simraceway Lancer Evolution Experience
Infineon Raceway: Sonoma, CA
The Lancer Evolution Experience from simraceway provides a unique opportunity for students to drive hard and fast in one of the most well-respected performance cars in production today: the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X. With two tiers of classes, students in the first level will learn basic car-control skills, gradually push the limits of the car (with help from skilled instructors) and eventually tackle the daunting 12-turn track layout of Infineon Raceway. Students in level two build off the skills learned in the first course and begin learning more advanced techniques geared toward time attack driving.
Ron Fellows Performance Driving School
Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch: Pahrump, NV
Utilizing Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch’s 2.2- and 2.4-mile, 10- and 12-turn road course configurations, students at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School learn to drive with speed, confidence and finesse, using the performance driving techniques that helped to make Ron Fellows one of North America’s most versatile and successful road racers. The most popular three-day program is open to the novice performance driver with limited or no experience driving and activities include car-control exercises, footwork and cornering techniques. Ron Fellows students log approximately 300 miles of lapping on the 2.2-mile, 10-turn Spring Mountain road course, and as the Official High Performance Driving School of Chevrolet, the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School exclusively uses current-model Corvette ZR1, ZO6 and Grand Sport models equipped with Michelin PS2 ZP tires.
The most popular three-day program is open to the novice performance driver with limited or no experience driving and activities include car-control exercises, footwork a
Team O’Neil Rally School and Car Control Center
Students of all skill and ability levels will learn a higher degree of driver performance and automotive awareness in a safe and realistic environment with Team O’Neil Rally School and Car Control Center. With a facility that spans more than 560 acres of alpine terrain, including more than 6 miles of loose-surface gravel roads, students will master rally style left-foot braking techniques, car dynamics and driver awareness by their world-class instruction. Team O’Neil uses the latest-generation Ford Fiesta as the weapon of choice, and all cars are fully race prepared for the harsh conditions associated with rally racing.
Simraceway School of Racing
Infineon Raceway: Sonoma, CA
Simraceway’s School of Racing is designed for drivers looking to learn serious racing techniques. With varying levels of instruction available, the school is run on a tier system that requires students to go through the gambit, start to finish, for the ultimate full-immersion racing experience. Throughout the programs, students will drive open-wheel, formula-style race cars, have one-on-one instruction and will qualify to earn a SCCA license upon completion of the program.
DirtFish Driving School
As the only permanently established rally school on the West Coast, DirtFish is a great program to look into if you want to get sideways in the dirt. The cars at DirtFish aren’t just street cars with sponsor stickers and driving lights, they’re true rally cars. Built by Vermont Sports Cars, they’re AWD Subaru rally cars with 280+hp engines — the same competition cars built for Travis Pastrana and Dave Mirra for their participation in the Rally America series. DirtFish offers a Rally 101 course designed to immerse students into the fun and crazy world of rally racing. It’s located at Washington State’s Old Mill Adventure Park, just 30 minutes from Seattle.
The cars at DirtFish aren’t just street cars with sponsor stickers and driving lights, they’re true rally cars. Built by Vermont Sports Cars, they’re AWD Subaru rally car
Skip Barber Racing School
Various U.S. locations
Skip Barber Racing School caters to many different types of instruction. From basic Mazda driving schools, to full race instruction courses, all you have to do is pick your skill level and goals, then Skip takes care of the rest. With locations across the East Coast, Southeast and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, you’re never too far from a great racing experience with Skip Barber. Racing Schools use a single-seat, open-wheel car while other programs use Mazda MX5 Miatas and other Mazda road cars. For the more serious racing enthusiast, completion of the three-day Racing School program makes students eligible to earn a regional SCCA license.
Various U.S. locations
Drift Association has been around for more than 10 years now, and the school has been hosting Drift 101 — a true intro class to drifting — since 2005. The idea started as a suggestion from a friend who saw the potential to host a one-on-one drifting class, and the biggest selling point of Drift 101 is that they offer rental cars built for anyone who wants to try drifting. Drift 101 offers a true drifting lesson that no other “drift” class can offer; this isn’t an “experience,” it’s a hands-on class behind the wheel of real drift cars. Drift 101 covers the basics (donuts and figure-eights) and has been a great stepping-stone for drivers to advance into the sport or simply understand the fundamentals of driving. If you feel that you want to learn more, they also offer Drift 102, which is an advanced class taught by Formula Drift driver Taka Aono.
Bertil Roos Racing School
Various U.S. locations
Founded in 1975 by Swedish F1 and Can Am driver Bertil Roos, the philosophy Bertil had is simple: have a school with different types of programs that are affordable and hold nothing back from the students so they get a full racing education and experience. With various driving schools and racing programs, Bertil Roos Racing School holds itself to a very high standard of teaching. Students who successfully complete the three-day Road Racing School and the two-day Advanced school are eligible to earn a SCCA regional license, which is a great incentive for a serious student looking to take the next step from your standard HPDE lapping days to the world of real racing competition.
Students who successfully complete the three-day Road Racing School and the two-day Advanced school are eligible to earn a SCCA regional license.