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Twickenham Auto Club 2012 Performance Driving School
Calendar: Events Calendar
lcmsp3  
March 16th to March 18th 06:00 PM to 05:00 PM
*The times shown may change, depending on DST settings
Where: Friday--Huntsville Hospital-Dowdle Center/Corporate University, 109 Governors Drive Room 119, Huntsville, AL 35801. Saturday/Sunday--John Hunt Park, 2500 Johnson Rd, Huntsville, AL, 35802

Twickenham Auto Club will be putting on its annual Performance Driving School March 16-18. At the school you will learn car control, accident avoidance, performance driving, and emergency lane changes.



The cost is $50 for both days (Saturday and Sunday) and is open to anyone with a legal driver's license. Anyone younger than 19 will need a signed parental consent form. Younger drivers are highly encouraged to participate as these techniques will almost surely save them from a serious accident. Lunch will be provided for students on Saturday. So if you are interested in autocross or want to learn performance driving techniques please register and come on out.

Online registration and map info can be found here:
Link

Event Schedule
Friday, March 16 - Classroom Session - **FREE**
  • Date: March 16, 2012
  • Location: Huntsville Hospital-Dowdle Center/Corporate University
  • 109 Governors Drive
  • Huntsville, AL 35801
  • Room 119
  • Schedule
    - 6:00PM - Registration
    - 7:00PM - 8:30PM - Classroom Instruction
  • Parking Info: Link
Saturday, March 17 - Driving School
  • Date: March 17, 2012
  • Location: John Hunt Park
  • Lunch will be provided for students/instructors
  • Schedule
    -8:00 AM Registration Opens
    -9:00 AM Registration Closes
    -9:10 AM Mandatory Driver's Meeting
    -9:15AM -12:00PM Morning Session
    -12:00PM - 1:00PM Lunch
    -1:00PM - 4:00PM Afternoon Session
Sunday, March 18 - Driving School Autocross
  • Date: March 18, 2012
  • Location: John Hunt Park
  • Schedule
    -8:00 AM Registration Opens
    -8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Course Open for Walking
    -9:30 AM Registration Closes
    -9:45 AM Mandatory Driver's Meeting
    -10:00AM First car off

Click here to see the gallery. Buy photo prints and gifts!
All proceeds help pay Huntsville Car Scene bills.


If you hadn't been to the Dowdle center before, you might have missed it. Several people drove around a bit before finding it. Cheryl greeted students and helped direct them to parking, as the various lots became full and spots opened up. It's a busy place! No spot was open for more than 30 seconds in the main lot. I took some pictures of some of the very cool cars that we'd see throughout the weekend.

Once Alan arrived, claiming a perfect parking spot in the process, everyone started getting settled in for the classroom session. I shot a few video clips of Alan's stories this year since I got a lot of his presentation at last year's classroom session.

I had to leave early for the Nissan meet, but was planning to cover the school on Saturday after the parade downtown.


Click here to see the gallery. Buy photo prints and gifts!
All proceeds help pay Huntsville Car Scene bills.


After the parade, I headed to the old airport aka John Hunt Park to check out the performance driving school. Did you know that this piece of property belongs to the City of Huntsville because of the Twickenham Auto Club (TAC)? Back when it was no longer used as an airport, TAC went to the FAA to get the airport officially decommissioned and given to the City of Huntsville so that TAC could race there. Interesting factoid since the city is planning a greenspace development that will completely destroy the tarmac. A good thing to remember come voting time for this project.

There were several exercises being done simultaneously in different areas--skidpad, hand positioning, lane change/braking, kidney bean, and slalom. I started at the skidpad as it was actually using the Jaycees building parking lot outside the main airport strip. This exercise consisted of holding the steering wheel at a particular angle and learning to change the diameter of the circle being driven only using the throttle. This introduced the students to the concept of understeer and oversteer, and how to control it simply using the throttle and nothing else. Everyone was having a blast and learning a lot.


The next exercise I observed was the hand exercise. This is the most difficult in my opinion, especially if you have been driving a good number of years because you have to change the way you've been holding the steering wheel--not an easy habit to break. It's actually the slowest and most uneventful exercise of them all, but is just as important as the rest as proper hand placement can make all the difference.


Next I went to the lane change/braking exercise. This exercise combined hand positioning with braking. The purpose of this exercise was to teach absolute braking and also teaching to not steer and brake simultaneously. As students got the hang of it, the idea was to increase speed until they could successfully complete the exercise at 40mph.


When I was at the braking exercise, I learned that this was the last session for everyone. So I tried to get some pictures of the slalom practice and kidney bean.



Next year, I'm going to shoot a lot more video. And now that I think about it, I think I said this the last time I was able to cover the school on a Saturday.

At the end of the day, I had an hour or so before the next event so I stuck around a bit and photographed some of the cars as they were leaving as well as nine3shoof's daughter who kept repeating that she's not photogenic--yeah right.



Click here to see the gallery. Buy photo prints and gifts!
All proceeds help pay Huntsville Car Scene bills.


Sunday was a completely perfect day for an autocross--not too hot, not too cold, and none of the forecasted rain. And a lot of people thought so with over 90 registered participants. The fastest times dipped into the low 40s, but the course was nice and long, giving everyone plenty of seat time. Due to the large number of participants, there were three run groups. And this messed up my plans of arriving just after lunch to get all the cars and drivers captured since there was actually no lunch break. Still, I did what I could with the remaining groups and even got some during the fun runs.

This was a historical day for me since it was the first time in a very, very long time that I saw both John and Greg at an event with me. I met John and Greg one Saturday morning after I saw something in the newspaper about autocross and came out to see what it was. It was my first foray into the formal car scene, and it was nice to see them back out again. It felt like a reunion of sorts since 6spd_hayes was also here. He was the first person I met in the local car scene back in 2001 at a Maxima.org/Altimas.net meet in Nashville of all places. My how time flies--I keep getting older, and the cars still stay just as fun.

Speaking of fun, a couple of drivers tried their hand at drifting parts of the course during the fun runs. Some nailed it, others didn't. We had almost 30 minutes of fun runs since we finished up earlier than expected. Since they were fun runs, the fun factor was the most important.

This was a full weekend of fun and life-saving education for those that went to the school. Not only did participants learn to control their car in ways they probably didn't know of before, but they also got an introduction to the cheapest form of racing available to anyone with a car. See everyone next time! -- Samir
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Old February 13th   #2
sohcanddohc
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Another day another set of rims!
 

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Old February 14th   #3
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Thank you for the posts guys!
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Old February 14th   #4
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Hopefully I'll be able to do this. Normally there is always something conflicting with the date but for once I think I'm good!
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Old February 14th   #5
Wilson!
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i really wish this wasn't being done at John Hunt. i really want to do this, but i will not subject my car or tires to that abuse.
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Old February 14th   #6
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i really wish this wasn't being done at John Hunt. i really want to do this, but i will not subject my car or tires to that abuse.
Crap I didn't notice that...........I'm guessing all the events will be done there this year?
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Old February 14th   #7
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Does anybody know if a 15 year old with a permit can take this class?
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Old February 14th   #8
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I would think they could take the classroom part. But I do know that they have to be 16 to drive or even ride in the driving part.
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Old February 14th   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilZ View Post
Crap I didn't notice that...........I'm guessing all the events will be done there this year?
At the moment yes. TAC and TVR have combined this year to put on a joint slalom series with 13 events and all are at John Hunt Park. The city has told us for the past few months that we cannot rent out MFS anymore and have been giving us the runaround treatment. However we do have some people currently working on trying to get MFS back.
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Old February 14th   #10
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Originally Posted by dmcmahan12 View Post
Does anybody know if a 15 year old with a permit can take this class?
What EvilZ has posted is correct. You have to have a valid Driver's License to participate and do ride-a-longs. TAC's insurance provider requires it be this way.

Last edited by lcmsp3; February 14th at 10:40 AM.
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Old February 14th   #11
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At the moment yes. TAC and TVR have combined this year to put on a joint slalom series with 13 events and all are at John Hunt Park. The city has told us for the past few months that we cannot rent out MFS anymore and have been giving us the runaround treatment. However we do have some people currently working on trying to get MFS back.
I hope you guys get a chance to get a few event's back at MFS. I just do not like John Hunt but it is better then nothing.

Best of luck with the up coming season.
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Old February 14th   #12
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The school system athletic director wants to curtail auto events at MFS. City is clueless about any and all car activities. School system laid off 137 people in support and maintenance this past spring, but have enough funds to spend 1.2 million on upgrades to MFS. The $7k they collect for rental fees in a year from the car clubs, they don't need as they are overflowing with $ to spend on a facility with shrinking usage. Something is not right with that system.
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Old February 14th   #13
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Originally Posted by Wilson! View Post
i really wish this wasn't being done at John Hunt. i really want to do this, but i will not subject my car or tires to that abuse.
The driving school doesn't do anything like this to your tires. Most exercises are well under 20mph, and some will not even exceed 5mph (like the hand postion exercise). You'll be fine if all you plan to do is attend the school. However, I can understand your viewpoint for the autocross day.

Come check out the classroom session videos that are on here from previous years and see what you think. You'll be learning all of this hands-on by some of the best drivers in the area.
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Old February 14th   #14
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Samir the Saturday part of the event does wear your tires because you are doing the skid pad, quick lane change and how to take apex's. A couple of times around the skid pad last year and I could already see wear. Then if you do the Sunday part you really wear them out
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Old February 14th   #15
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Originally Posted by lcmsp3 View Post
What EvilZ has posted is correct. You have to have a valid Driver's License to participate and do ride-a-longs. TAC's insurance provider requires it be this way.
Thank you for this information. I will make my son take it next year.
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Old February 14th   #16
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I will try to get me and the wife in on this! I hope it all works out that we can make it .
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Old February 14th   #17
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Originally Posted by dmcmahan12 View Post
Samir the Saturday part of the event does wear your tires because you are doing the skid pad, quick lane change and how to take apex's. A couple of times around the skid pad last year and I could already see wear. Then if you do the Sunday part you really wear them out
I agree, but because most drivers are just pushing their car for the first time and still very, very cautious, it's a minimal amount of wear compared to a regular autocross day.
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Old February 14th   #18
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If my car operates safely I want to do this. I will mark myself as it gets closer and I have a better idea.
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Old February 14th   #19
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Do you help at all in teaching how to drive a 5 speed? I say this cause my wife still doesn't fully know how and the car we would be using is a 5 speed lol.
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Old February 14th   #20
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Do you help at all in teaching how to drive a 5 speed? I say this cause my wife still doesn't fully know how and the car we would be using is a 5 speed lol.
I wouldn't throw in something like that at a school like this. The prerequisites for the school are the ability to drive on a car on public roads proficiently. If she's not comfortable on the streets driving a manual, then the school is not the time to try to change that.
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