How Many of these DE-tails Do You Know?

Well, February was the third warmest on record and March came in like a lamb.  We can only hope the good weather continues. It’s time to get our cars back on the road- and for many of us, back on the track.  With a DE information session scheduled for March 11 and with the first track days on the calendar at the end of this month, we’re rerunning a piece on DE written by track chair, Chris de Graffenried.  Chris’ piece first ran in August of 2015.

Think you know HCP PCA’s High Performance Drivers Education Program?

A Look at DE by

Chris de Graffenried, HCP PCA Track Chair

If you have been to any of the region’s events you have undoubtedly talked with someone or overheard a conversation about our High Performance Driver’s Education (HPDE) program.  What’s not to talk about when you can drive your car onto the same tracks where Paul Newman, P.J. Jones, Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi worked their magic?


  • You don’t need to bring your Porsche.

Most people are surprised by this fact.  We only ask that you be a PCA member or affiliate member.  Whether you are more comfortable trying HPDE in your daily driver, or your 356 is in the middle of restoration, any car is eligible to participate.  To maximize visibility and ensure everyone’s safety we do not allow the following types of vehicles: SUV, Van, Pickup, Motorcycle or Crossover.


  • It’s not a boy’s club.

Many people’s impressions of HPDE are that it is a boy’s club, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Not only does PCA have many talented women drivers and instructors, but the events are family friendly.  I highly encourage you to bring your significant other, kids, or friends.  Each event offers time at the end of the day for some fun off track activities, whether it is sightseeing in Watkins Glen, or going wine tasting at the vineyards near Lime Rock Park.


  • You have access to a DE “Concierge” before and at each of our events.

HCP has a DE Mentor program which is our best way of helping you get on track and make the most of your experience.  Whether you need to know where to stay, what air pressure to run on track or if there are other members caravanning to the event, our mentor program, run by John Shafer is designed to get you information.  Find his contact info on the club’s webpage.


  • Your instructor is trained, experienced, and specifically selected for you.

HCP HPDE instructors go through extensive training both in local and national approved training.  They typically have a minimum of 5 years of HPDE driving and often have additional Motorsports experience (such as Autocross, PCA Club Racing, time trialing, or motorcycle racing).  Our Chief Instructor, Andy Dorman and Registrar, Nick Grizey choose a driver whose experience is most fitting to your existing skill set and who is likely familiar with vehicles like your own.


  • It’s not as expensive as you think.

To start, all you need is a free day, your tech inspected car, and about $275 bucks (for entry, gas, tolls).  HCP even has a few loaner helmets for new drivers.  However, once you see how much fun HPDE can be, this rule goes out the window.


  • Tech Inspections can be had for free.

Your car needs a brief, but comprehensive checkup before it can come on the track.  Many of the club’s supporting businesses offer the tech inspection for free.  Check the details on the club webpage for more information.  Expert tip – use the tech inspection as an opportunity to renew your NYS inspection at or get some maintenance done one of our club’s supporters.


  • You can insure your car against collision damage.

Incidents are extremely rare at HPDE events but if you are worried about protecting your car, insurance can be purchased for on track use.  Many regular car insurance companies do not cover use on a racetrack.  Find more information on the national PCA webpage under Driver Education.


Now that you are a DE expert, please consider joining us for our DE Class in 2016.   If you have any questions about HCP’s HPDE program please feel free to contact me (

This entry was posted in Autocross - Driver Education - Track. Bookmark the permalink.