We all suffered through some form of Driver’s Ed before we got our license. And while those courses do a good job of teaching you the basic rules of the road, they can leave a lot of learning on the table. You should consider enrolling in one of many performance driving schools if you’re looking to learn how to control a vehicle at high speed, in slippery conditions such as snow or rain, or simply to satisfy your inner Michael Schumacher. The costs associated with these courses vary based on the duration and type of class, but you may be surprised at just how affordable they can be. So grab your keys, crank up the tunes, and come along with us while we road trip around the country looking at the top performance driving schools!
Pick Your Poison
|You want to drive REALLY fast and walk away with some great memories (instead of a horrifying speeding ticket).|
|You want to participate in motorsports racing on a regular basis and need to work toward obtaining your race license.|
|You want to sharpen your driving skills in dangerous or slippery conditions such as snow, ice, off road, etc.|
For those seeking the “Experience” category, Exotics Racing in Las Vegas, NV and Fontana, CA has to be one of the first places to consider. Let’s face it, most of us can’t afford to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But the opportunity to rent one and tear up a race track may be too good to pass up!
Exotics Racing will put you in the driver’s seat of a six-figure supercar next to a pro driver for some one-on-one instruction. This unique experience allows any car enthusiast the opportunity to drive an exceptional performance car at the limit, without worrying about the cost of maintenance. With a little digging you may even find group discount rates or Groupon deals to help make this memorable experience even more within your budget.
Porsche Experience Center
The Porsche Experience Center is just as special as any of the automaker’s unique vehicles. Upon arrival at either the Atlanta, GA or Los Angeles, CA facilities you will be immersed in the culture, heritage, and history of Porsche. Next you will find yourself choosing from a fleet of 75+ brand new Porsches to take around the track with a Porsche Drive Coach.
This coach will work with you during your time behind the wheel on everything from honing your driving skills, to getting the most out of a Porsche, as well as having a truck load of fun while you’re at it! This school fits snugly into both the “Experience” and “Education” categories.
Porsche Track Experience
For those seeking a more track-focused experience, the Porsche Track Experience is another fantastic offering from the world renowned carmaker. The Porsche Track Experience is the only official Porsche performance driving school in the US.
It offers the opportunity to drive a Porsche (even if you don’t own one) around the world-class Barber Motorsports Park Grand Prix road course in Birmingham, AL. Several courses are available to choose from, but all are guaranteed to provide the experience of a lifetime.
BMW M School
The BMW M-badge has long stood for power, performance, and prestige. And the BMW M School offers you the opportunity to learn the true capabilities of the automaker’s performance vehicle lineup. This means lessons in high speed acceleration, braking, cornering, and drifting—all taking place in a brand new BMW M model.
Candidates choose from a one or two-day course that teaches the basics of dynamic driving. The two-day course is more comprehensive, with additional lessons on driving on the edge of control, maximizing your speed around the track, and minimizing the time spent controlling the vehicle when the road surface gets slippery or uneven. Each lesson builds upon the last until you have the skills and knowledge to rip around the race track for a single blistering hot lap!
These lessons will stick with you forever. And not only will they provide some serious fun, but they might just save you from a potential crash someday. Just like the Porsche performance driving schools, these courses can fit the needs of anyone looking in the “Experience” and “Education” categories.
Bridgestone Winter Driving School
This performance driving school manages to satisfy the needs of drivers looking in any of the three categories. Whether you want to hone your winter driving skills, work toward a career in racing, or are looking for a unique and wild experience to tell your friends about, the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, CO has you covered (not literally covered of course, unless you want to be covered in snow).
There is no other driving school like this one anywhere else in the US, and it is well worth the price of admission! Check out course selection to see the entire range of safety and performance classes. There’s easily something to fit every type of driver at this school. Past attendees have ranged from teenagers about to get their driver’s license all the way up to pro drivers and law enforcement. Trained staff will have you grinning ear to ear sliding around on the ice, and you’re sure to leave feeling far more confident in your winter driving abilities than you’ve ever imagined possible.
Bondurant Racing School
Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, AZ is the first school which fits into the “Race Car” category, but they definitely have courses which can appeal to all drivers. The instructors at this school teach every driver something called the Bondurant Method, a proven teaching technique which helps you to overcome some of your driving habits and have fun while you’re at it!
You can choose from courses which include Advanced Teen Driving, High Performance Driving, various racing disciplines, all the way to Executive Protection & Tactical Mobility. Bondurant is a true one-stop-shop for any drivers who want to sharpen their skills, or even learn something new and unexpected.
Team O’Neill Rally School
With 583 acres of property and over six miles of rally road courses, Team O’Neill Rally School in Dalton, NH is a truly unique destination. You can choose from a fleet of over 70 AWD, FWD, and RWD vehicles to use in classes which range from one to five days teaching winter driving, off-road driving, and security driving. You will be exposed to every type and combination of rolling roads, surface textures, corners and blind crests, and you’ll even experience elevation changes of up to 500 feet while ripping around the competition quality road courses.
The instructors at Team O’Neill have also recently started taking reservations for their Drift School. Taking their 20 years of experience teaching drivers how to handle loose road surfaces, they apply those techniques to paved roads instead. If you’ve ever had any interest at all in off-roading or drifting, this is definitely a place to check out!
DirtFish Rally School
If the northeastern US is too far to trek, DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, WA is another fantastic option for any driver who would like to experience off-road driving first hand. Driving programs here range from two hours to three days, so there’s something for every driver and every budget.
Dirtfish has several unique offerings which sets them apart from the other performance driving schools on this list. First up are “Thrill Rides,” which place you in a fully set up rally car with a professional driver for the ride of your life! You can also partake in the Subaru Winter Experience which helps hone driving skills in snow and ice. Or you can select one of the Rally Driving Programs to experience high speed off-road driving for yourself! What’s more, DirtFish even offers vehicles with automatic transmissions and hand controls for customers with paralysis or other conditions which limit their mobility. Check this school out and get behind the wheel of a high-performance rally car!
Skip Barber Racing School
Skip Barber Racing School is legendary in the racing world. It boasts a long lineage of students who have gone on to have wildly successful careers in motorsports. Courses include Driving School, Racing School, Track Days, and even Corporate Events. In business since 1975, this performance driving school opened its doors with just a pair of borrowed race cars and a strong belief that racing was something which could be taught.
These days, it offers courses at legendary race tracks including WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Monterey County, California), Lime Rock Park (Lakeville, Connecticut), NJ Motorsports Park (Millville, New Jersey), Road Atlanta (Braselton, Georgia), and Sebring Raceway (Sebring, Florida). No matter what course or track you choose, rest assured that when you finish, you’ll be a safer and more skilled driver than when you started.
All of the performance driving schools on this list are serious contenders that offer unique experiences. No matter which one you choose, you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life!