While you will learn driving mechanics (i.e., how to brake, corner, and accelerate effectively and precisely) on the track, your skidpad sessions allow us to teach car control (i.e., how to correct for loss of adhesion between your car's tires and the pavement). The goal of our drivers' schools is to produce highly skilled drivers, and the skidpad is crucial to our ability to impart car control skills to our students in a safe and effective manner. To ensure maximal use of the limited time we have, we have established a specific skidpad curriculum with dedicated instructors. We view skidpad training as an ongoing part of our students' education, one at which students can never become "too good."Our skidpad program is designed to teach the types of recovery skills that all drivers will need at some time in their life. No matter how cautious or reserved, at some point you will encounter on the track or on the highway a potentially dangerous situation caused by dropped oil, antifreeze, water, or debris, if not by misjudgment. Our measure of success is the number of students who survive these situations unscathed by drawing on the skills we have provided.
The safest and most effective way to acquire the skills needed for recovery is by practice on the skidpad. As your car will behave the same way as it does on the track (albeit at a lower speed), the skidpad provides a venue for safe, controlled exercises to instill these skills. To reduce the speeds involved and the wear on your tires, we operate with the skidpad surface wet. A wet pad also hones your skills to a finer degree, as the breakaway characteristics of your tires are much sharper. On a dry surface, the difference between a speed where you can maintain solid adhesion and a speed where you completely lose control might be 10 MPH, whereas on a wet surface that difference might drop to 3 MPH. Controlling your car successfully within these much narrower constraints requires substantially better skills.
We have developed a series of exercises to expose you to incipient loss of control and to allow you to learn proper recovery methods, as well as to build your confidence in your abilities. These exercises, progressing from control of understeer to control of oversteer, are designed to supplement your on-track instruction and require progressively more skill. Exposure to and mastery of these exercises gives you increasingly sophisticated skills. Ultimately, a student completing our program should be able to handle nearly anything that can go wrong at high speeds on the track or on the highway.
Contrary to most initial student impressions, losing control of your car, i.e., "spinning" your car, is not our goal and is not part of our program. A spin is the result of a driving mistake, and our goal is to give you the skills needed to rectify mistakes. While such errors are a normal part of learning, and it is certainly safe to lose control at the skidpad, given the controlled conditions, we have achieved our goal when you successfully prevent a spin by drawing on your car control skills.
A good driver has mastered both driving mechanics and car control. As with driving mechanics, acquiring car control skills takes time and practice, far more than we can possibly give at any single school. However, mastery of these skills will make you a far more confident, far safer driver.