I recently took the SoloPro driving school, (intro and comp) with Tim Aro and Neal Tovsen. They do a great job zeroing in on the specific areas you as an individual need to work on, and helping you improve as a driver.
Here are the things the class helped me with:
*Car control skills are supposed to be plan “B”.
At the end of my first run, on the first day, the instructor in the passenger seat (Neal) says, “You have amazing car control skills!” As my ego began to swell and I started to thank him for the compliment, he politely said (paraphrase here) “If you were doing what you were supposed to do, I never would have known that.” (Ouch!)
I was driving just on the “overdriving” side of the sweet spot and using car control to “get away with it”. My times were decent, but my approach required way too much effort, and sometimes, even luck.
*Just because there is no drama, doesn’t mean you’re going slow.
Taking care to avoid the need for little “bail-outs” throughout my runs, things felt a little too calm. -Too easy. But my times were not suffering.
*Position first,then speed.
It's not like I didn't know position is important, but I was not giving car placement enough priority. Put the car where it’s supposed to be and speed comes with relative ease. If you fail to position the car properly, everything else will be an up-hill battle, if not a losing one. And when you are trying to get that last 5%, "close enough" isn't
This is not news to any veteran driver, including me. But it is considerably easier to do when you aren’t busy making corrections. Looking ahead >helps you place the car >helps you avoid drama> helps you look ahead > and so on.
The most helpful thing for me to get my head around.... (I made up a new phrase just for this.)
*Fast is the end of the equation. After my first run on the second day, I knew my head wasn’t in the game yet. It felt a little messy and more difficult than the day before. The instructor turned to me and said, "That wasn’t a bad time but it seemed like you were just trying to go fast." I was thinking, “Duh, isn’t that why we are all here?” Luckily, I took a moment to think before speaking. (A rare occurrence for me) That’s when I realized the point he was making. “Fast” is the result of doing the things you’re supposed to do. Do the things you know you’re supposed to do and it will equal “fast”.
I have had the benefit of autocrossing with national trophy winners on a regular basis so I have had good
references to compare my skills to. My times have been pretty good, but I could tell by watching the top-tier guys (sometimes from the passenger seat of my own car) that I was often doing things the hard way.
This school made me a little faster. But it made the sport a lot easier for me.