Time Trial Drivers' Handbook
Porsche Club of America - Golden Gate Region
2003 Edition
Henry Watts and Brad Maker
2003 Henry Watts & Brad Maker
This material may only be used for personal use, and not sold or distributed as part of an event without prior permission.
Instructional Program Overview
This section provides an overview of the Time Trial instructional program. The GGR instructional program is perhaps the strongest aspect of our track events. Every student is provided with free in-car instruction as often as desired. This personal, one-on-one communication ensures that each student understands and abides by the rules and safety standards of the club, and ultimately protects all of the drivers. Instruction is a very enjoyable process for most people.
Who is a student?
Essentially all people new to GGR time trialing begin as students. Waivers may be granted by the chief instructor in exceptional cases. The student fee (a line item on the registration form) is paid only once, when registering for the first event.
Ground school
The first step in the Time Trial instructional program is the required ground school. This may be held in a home or at a public meeting place such as a room in a pizza parlor. It is normally scheduled for Saturday two weeks before each Time Trial and runs roughly 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Food and refreshments are provided. This is a classroom activity, not a driving activity. Cars are not teched at the ground school.
New time trialers must attend the ground school before their first event (no more than one year in advance). Drivers who wish may re-attend the ground school at any point. The ground school covers an introduction to time trialing and performance driving. It will normally include some video footage to illustrate various techniques and to orient the students to the upcoming track. It is required because, in the interests of safety and enjoyment, we need all beginning time trialers to hear and understand all of the vehicle, safety and behavioral requirements. Driver�s education carries with it certain risks which we all want to minimize.
Because the main focus of the ground school is on how the events run and what is expected of rookies and all drivers, certificates or licenses from other driving organizations are not a substitute for attending the ground school. Waivers are issued only in very special circumstances.
Instructors Saturday
Included in the registration packet is a listing of student/instructor pairings. On the first day of the student�s first event - typically Saturday - each new student will normally drive with two instructors. The morning instructor will drive at least part of the orientation session then ride for the first two practice sessions. A different instructor will be assigned for the afternoon practice sessions to provide a fresh perspective. The registration material will indicate the instructor�s car numbers and run groups. If possible, track down your instructor and introduce yourself before your session. Otherwise, your instructor will meet you in your car on the starting grid before your session begins.
Instructors will often offer to take students with them as passengers during their practice sessions. This valuable opportunity should not be missed, as it provides a first-hand demonstration of driving technique, as well as doubled track time.
Note that expectations may be higher in the afternoon practice sessions than in the morning, as your instructor begins the process of deciding whether it is safe and proper for you to drive alone on Sunday.
Communicator headsets
All GGR instructors use amplified communicators. The student will be provided with a headset that slips between the face and helmet. These allow instruction at normal voice volumes. Though the fit may be tight, it is almost always possible to slide the headset into place. Removal is easy: simply take off your helmet. The communicator headset will fall into the removed helmet.
Instructors on Sunday
Once a student has developed sufficient confidence and driving skill, he or she will be authorized to drive alone. This is normally done Sunday morning but in some cases may require several days of track experience. The decision is made by the chief instructor with input from all instructors. The guiding principle is that students are instructed until the instructional staff is satisfied that they are safe to run alone. Having an extended period before soloing does not mean that the student is a bad driver. Any driver who is trying to operate extremely near his/her personal limits is likely to receive continued instruction.
If the student is authorized to drive alone, the instructor may sign his/her name across the orange "student" sticker marking each student�s car to indicate to the Chief Steward on the starting grid that the student may drive alone. Optionally, a list of signed-off drivers may be given to the Grid Chief early Sunday morning.
Instructors after the first event
At each new time trialer�s second event he or she normally will have an instructor assigned. This is both a checkout for the track and a checkout for issuing certification. If certification is not achieved the driver will continue to receive at least Saturday morning instruction until a certificate is issued. Instructors are also automatically assigned to each certified time trialer who is running a track with GGR for the first time. "First time" in this context includes running the same track in a different direction.
In both these cases the instructional assignment is normally for Saturday morning and may include optional instruction in the afternoon. Saturday morning instruction for certificate checkout or track orientation always includes the first-session driveraround with the instructor driving the car.
Time trialers may request instruction at any event. As GGR Time Trials are primarily driver education events, drivers are encouraged to seek instruction as often as they wish and believe they can benefit. Instruction is normally requested on the event application, but drivers may contact the chief instructor at the event to see if unscheduled instruction is available.
After completing two time trial events students are eligible to receive a GGR Driving Certificate. These are normally issued mid-day Sunday of the second event. This certificate entitles the student to participate in future driving events without instruction, and generally welcomes the student as a new member of the GGR time trial crew.
To receive a certificate the driver must complete two events within a 12-month period, drive in a safe manner (this means, among other things, that the student is expected to stay on the track), exhibit good car control, respond correctly to course conditions and flags, follow all rules and secure the recommendation of his or her instructor. One key test is whether the instructors would be comfortable if the student were running in the instructor�s rungroup.
Student evaluations
To provide feedback to the first-time student, instructors fill out an evaluation sheet at the end of the event which is returned to the student in the mail. These evaluations are honest impressions by each instructor of the student�s driving ability. They should not be regarded as negative or critical, but are intended to help each student honestly assess and improve their driving skills.
The back side of the sheet is used for instructor text comments and has areas for the instructor to take notes on track to help in filling out the form later
Instructor evaluations
Similarly, all drivers who receive instruction are required to fill out brief written evaluations of each instructor. The instructor corps is composed of excellent drivers who are eager to improve their own skills, both in driving and in teaching. Take the time to recall particularly positive and negative aspects of each instructor�s performance. They will appreciate your feedback.
Instructor Selection
There must be a need for additional instructors. People are not made instructors simply because they have reached a certain level of driving ability.
An instructor should be an expert driver. Indications of driving expertise include relatively quick laptimes (close to the reasonable limits of the instructor�s car), smoothness and consistency, a high level of car control (tending to remain on the track and pointed forwards at all times) and a generally safe approach to time trialing. People who understand the theories of fast driving but do not actually drive fast will have a difficult time safely and effectively instructing the intermediate students.
An instructor must be personally mature and responsible, able to keep a clear perspective on the needs of the time trialing activity as a whole; able to maintain an even emotional approach in the midst of highly charged activities; able to interact constructively with a wide variety of people; and willing to assist the smooth functioning of the events by following all rules.
An instructor must be able to instruct a wide range of people in a wide range of car types and levels of preparation. While being able to speak effectively is widely understood as a necessary instructor skill, the ability to carefully and accurately perceive what is happening to the car and within the driver are more important skills.
Because there is a learning curve to sitting in the passenger seat while students drive the car aggressively, prior driving instruction experience (such as instructing at autocrosses) is helpful for time trial instructors. Additionally, to be properly familiar with the instruction program, the ideal instructor candidate will have taken a great deal of time trial instruction.
Because continued effort and practice is required to continue learning and developing as instructors and as an instructional team, instructors must be at essentially all events. Prior instructors who now show up less frequently may be used as alternate instructors.
Anyone may apply to be an instructor. If the applicant is not selected, feedback and, where appropriate, guidance on a useful path of skill improvement, will be provided.
Instructor applicants will be evaluated on their driving skill by providing an on-track riding session for the chief instructor and/or his delegate. Instructor applicants will also normally be evaluated on their instructional skill by being provided an opportunity to instruct, on track, one or more instructors who will play the role of student.
Instructors who conduct the on-track instructional sessions are selected to be able to drive as students drive while maintaining the utmost in safety. Their cars are, during these sessions, marked as student cars. The sessions occur mostly in the White and Green groups, with occasional use of the Blue group. That such sessions are being conducted is stated in the drivers� meeting (with cautions that no one should follow another car in an attempt to replicate its lines, most especially a car marked as student-driven).
All instructor selections are contingent on the approval of the chief instructor.
Instructor Responsibilities
Primary instructors are expected to be at essentially all time trials and to inform the chief instructor if they will not be at a time trial. Alternate instructors should confirm when they are planning on attending a time trial.
All instructors are expected to attend the annual instructor meeting.
Complete the probationary period.
Have and use an amplified communicator.
Handle a normal instructor�s load: one student each Saturday a.m. & p.m (2 sessions with each student plus the Drive-Around with the morning student), occasional instruction on Sunday, various requests you will get directly to ride with someone and requests to take someone for a ride in your session. Be on time for instruction assignments and stay with the student long enough to complete the instruction.
Drive student�s car during Saturday a.m. drivearound.
Know clearly the approved student line for all tracks and teach it.
Let the students learn at their own pace, but keep them safe insofar as possible. This means, among other things, that, at the limit, you must maintain absolute control of the situation. Bring students back into the pits if they are not capable of adjusting their driving and/or attitude enough to be safe.
Instructors are called on to decide when a student may safely drive a track alone. The basic criteria relate to safety -- will the student and those around the student be safe if this person drives alone � but there are additional considerations. There are no minimum lap times for being able to solo. The following issues should be considered:
Can drive a reasonable line with reasonable precision and consistency.
Is aware of local traffic
Allows other to pass when appropriate and passes safely when appropriate
Maintains (at all times) focus � does not become distracted or emotional
Maintains appropriate car-to-car separation
Knows event procedures and flags
Use your best judgement in this; consult with the chief instructor if and as needed.
Consult with the chief instructor before allowing a student to go solo before the scheduled instruction has been completed
Determine the safety of each car you get in. The adequacy of the car�s safety equipment is your call.
Be diligent about following all event rules.
Fill out student evaluations for first-time students , when requested and as you deem needed. A blank form will be in the packet of the morning instructor of all first-time students. The morning instructor will hand it along to the afternoon instructor when he/she introduces the student to the afternoon instructor. The afternoon instructor will review the form with the student, then hand it in to the chief instructor at the instructors� meeting. A form may be used for any other instruction session, either because the instructor feels it would be worthwhile or at the student�s request. Note that the standards on the student evaluation form are intended as absolutes, not relative to being a newcomer. Students marked as expert should be as good as or better than the instructor for that skill. Also note, and clarify for the students, that standards might be higher in the afternoon; in the morning we are generally providing a lot of instruction. In the afternoon we are becoming quieter, seeing what the student does with less guidance and preparing to decide whether the student is safe to be on the track driving solo.
Help students talk to other drivers when there are potential conflicts. The appropriate response, when there has been an incident such as a failure to allow a car to pass or some series of moves that brought cars too close together, is to accompany the student in finding the other driver(s). This presumes the instructor has had the presence of mind to remember the car number(s) of the other car(s) involved. The appropriate start to such conversations is extremely non-confrontational, something like, "Gee, that really surprised us when you passed us at the apex of turn 3," or, "Was there something more we could have done to let you know we would have liked to pass?" By demonstrating proper interpersonal approaches in the pits the instructor will help the student learn an important aspect of time trialing.
Where Time Trial drivers (students or not) are exhibiting on-track behavior that is insufficiently skillful or otherwise outside of the bounds of what we expect, report this to the Chief Instructor. This is a matter of safety. As appropriate, the Chief Instructor will confer with the Chairman and/or Track Steward.
Guide students in appropriate event behavior and in attending to adequate personal care, especially hydration.
Use extremely late apexes for 930s (as the proper way to train in the car and the proper way to drive the car).
Attend instructors� meeting on time. This is normally 10 minutes after the end of the last run session.
As needed, recommend student rungroup switches to the chief instructor.
Understand this guide entirely.
Continue to improve your driving and instructional skills.
Instructor priviledges
You may ride in any car and take as a passenger any registered entrant.
If you're instructing but have not entered a car in the event, you may use any entered car to take each student on one brief track demonstration ride.
You may commandeer the right-side mirror to monitor traffic behind.
The Time Trial / Driver's Ed Instructor Application is available as a PDF here
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