By Carl W. Irving
(50%) Driving Events Coordinator, Houston Chapter BMW CCA
Note: This page pertains to the 1997 High-Speed Driver's Ed. "BMW Special" event. Although there is no 1998 event, some of the information presented here may still be of general value to the reader. Please contact the TWS Motorsports Club directly if you would like to participate in a (non BMW-specific) event this year.
Texas World Speedway
Getting to TWS:
Please see our online road map to see how to get from Houston to Texas World Speedway.
For more information on the layout of the Texas World Speedway course and a typical line for driving it, see our online course map page.
We would like to extend our thanks to Bavarian Machine
Specialties and German Autohaus for providing technical
assistance to our participants before and during the
What to do:
What to expect as a "first timer:"
Since going to a Porsche Club high-speed drivers education school at Texas World Speedway in February, I have definitely become a believer in the benefits of such events. Not only do they allow drivers to learn to learn a lot about themselves and their car -- making them better (hence, safer) drivers, it also is an incredible amount of fun! Not only is it a fun and a valuable, experience -- it is safe, too.
In case you didnt catch the previous installments of this column, high-speed drivers education is not a racing school, it is a school designed to expand the students driving skill through supervised practice and close instruction. All competitive aspects and most variables present in racing are removed from these events. Students are not timed, as lap times are irrelevant to the desired result (driving skill), passing is limited to specific portions of the track and requires the explicit consent of both passer and passee (the passee gives an hand signal to indicate when and where he wishes to be passed). Also, the schools are run in a format that revolves around "run groups" -- where drivers of similar skill drive on the track at the same time for periods of approximately twenty to thirty minutes, thus making sure that skill levels and vehicle speeds are closely matched.
Needless to say that Robert Buttweiler and I have been investigating means to organize a similar event for the Houston Chapter BMW CCA. The aspects that we especially wanted to emphasize were:
Quality individual instruction -- Since this would be the first event of its kind for Houston Chapter BMW drivers, it is fair to assume that this would be the first high-speed drivers education experience for most drivers taking part. It is thus crucial to provide a one-on-one student-instructor match. The instructors are thus able to tailor their advice to the experience, kind of vehicle and interests of their student. They coach the student (in and out of the car) through the course, the techniques to use and the rationale behind them -- while making sure that the experience remains entirely safe.
Uniform run groups -- Although returning drivers ed. students love to tell their friends the "big boys" (e.g., Vipers, Ferraris, Turbo Porsches, and so forth) at the track, the truth is that you dont want to be learning the track with cars and drivers of vastly different speed and experience. For instance, you would not want to be learning the track while also having to keep your eyes peeled on the rear-view mirror for experienced racers blasting around the track -- nor would you want to find Yugos ("mobile chicanes") cluttering the track, either.
Lots of track space -- In order to fully experience the track and have the opportunity to learn without distractions, you need to have as much of the track to yourself as possible. So, the fewer cars in a run group, the better.
Affordable -- Although track time is never "cheap," we would like to make the event as affordable as possible. Obviously, affordability and smaller run groups are somewhat at odds with each other, but we did think that wed be able to find a compromise that is still on the inexpensive side.
To these ends, we were able to strike a deal with the Texas World Speedway Motorsports Club that allows BMW CCA club members to take part in a quality drivers education event at an excellent price. In effect, we have made arrangements to fill one fifteen car run group at their October 4 & 5 event with BMW CCA members, driving BMWs. In return, they extended us special pricing ($175 for a two-day entry -- a $50 discount off the regular price of $225) and will arrange for a suitable number of qualified instructors to ensure the level of educational value we expect. This fifteen car run group will be reserved for BMW drivers with limited or no high-speed (i.e., on-track) training -- thus ensuring that the learning environment is as homogenous as possible.
Additionally, we will be able to place more experienced drivers (still BMW CCA members, driving BMWs) within the regular TWS Motorsports Club run groups, as required -- still at the same low price. So, if you are at all interested in high-speed drivers education -- whatever your skill level -- this is an incredible deal!
This will be a TWS Motorsports Club event, but with specific tailoring to meet our needs and desires, so although we will be "hanging out" with the Ferrari, Viper and some race car drivers in the paddock, the BMW run group will not be sharing the track with them at any time. This group will be paced for the beginner to intermediate level, free of pressure and on-track distractions. "Piggy-backing," so to speak on a TWS Motorsports Club event also means that the course will be manned by the full safety crews that work the professional races at the track -- an added safety benefit.
So, you are interested and would like to know what you need to participate? All that is required is to fill out the application form found with this newsletter issue, a valid drivers license, a safe and sound car (see below), paid-up BMW CCA membership, a Snell-90 or later rated helmet, a filled-out application form and a $175 payment (by check or credit card). Furthermore, safety being the primary concern, long-sleeved 100% natural-fiber clothing will be required while driving on the course. Of course, because the instruction may not only involve on-track and classroom work, but also observation of the advanced run groups from spectator or corner-worker positions, suitable clothing for an outdoors event in sunny Texas October is a good idea.
Since driving on a race track is obviously more demanding than the average daily commute, all cars admitted on the track will have to undergo a technical inspection. Upon acceptance to the school, you will receive a welcome packed detailing the steps to take to get your car inspected before the event.
I am very excited that we are able to offer this deal to our members, especially so that we have found an event structure that is extremely friendly to beginner, intermediate and advanced drivers -- while remaining fun for all!