Why Do You Want To Instruct HPDE?


What I hear most often about the 'motivation' to instruct HPDE is 'free track days' (or greatly discounted). That's a very real thing, we all have budgets, and track days cost money.

What I really hadn't factored in is the 'multiplier' effect. Once you start instructing, you're on track roughly twice as much. By 'on track', I'm counting the time you spend in the right seat teaching. While this isn't maybe quite as 'instructive' as being behind the wheel, it's basic exposure to the track, just more time being out there. For myself, this has been more like 3-4 times as much time on track as I have been able to instruct with multiple clubs.

...and there's an odd leverage to teaching. If you've ever attempted to teach any sort of 'formal' skill to anybody, you quickly realize that it tends to sharpen your own knowledge of the subject. You have to take this odd 'intuition / gut feeling' and articulate it in a way that takes a little effort at first. That effort tends to cement your understanding of the subject a bit more. Not all of it translates perfectly up and down the knowledge base (I still struggle with whether or not to teach trail braking at the 'driver skills' level).

If you're arriving at the "why" of trying to become an instructor, I encourage you to check out Ross Bentley's HPDE Instructor Manifesto. There's an implied responsibility to "be an ambassador for your sport / club" that many may not have thought through.

There *is* a very real pressure to close down road courses around the country. Many are built out in 'neighborhoods' that have since become more populated (Laguna Seca comes to mind), and the neighbors complain about 'the noise' as though the noise wasn't there before their house. Maintenance costs money; people who say 'pavement is forever' have never spent any time in a 3rd world country or maintained their own pavement for decades. Put bluntly, if you want road courses and HPDE to survive, you have to be part of keeping the ecosystem sustainable. You have to be willing to nurture 'new blood' in a way that keeps a steady stream of newcomers in the pipeline.

There's also the reward of just being part of the "light bulb moment" when the student gets it. That probably happens in most education fields, but lets face it, performance driving is visceral and fun. I've had lots of "big grins", "hand claps", and "Woo-hoo's!"

If you're coming at the "why" of being an instructor and you're just stuck at "free track time", it may take you a while to successfully make the transition. It really is about making sure the student / customer is safe, has fun, and keeps coming back.

* notes on the photos: These were all my student rides in 2016. I'm in the habit of taking a smartphone photo of their car, and I add it to my collection. If it's an individual car, that was my student for a day, or sometimes part of a day. If it's mass of cars, it was probably a Driver Skills group I was instructing.

One more note: Audi Club is a registered 501c3. When I'm instructing for them, many of my expenses are tax deductible. BMW and Porsche clubs are 501c7's, so no luck there.


Back to the HPDE Instructor Page

Send e-mail to: Todd Peach