“What’s the Difference between Skip Barber Racing School and Hooked On Driving?” I get this question all the time (substitute Jim Russell School, Bondurant, etc for a slightly different question.)
This is a great question and here’s the “cut to the chase answer”: we all teach skills you’ll use when driving on a race track, skills that will also help you drive safer on the public roads. Its then up to you to decide who’s performance driving school or racing school to attend. Given a large budget you should do all of the above, there’s no substitute for quality seat time—driving under the guidance of an experienced coach, be he amateur or professional.
One major difference between the Barbers and Bondurants is you drive their equipment; with Hooked On Driving you drive your own car. Yes, Jim Russell School does offer a high performance driving experience where you do drive your own car.
Another major difference is Barber, Bondurant, Russel, etc pay all their instructors, with Hooked we trade track time for coaching students and buy our coaching staff lunch.
You may be tempted to ague that the quality of the experience is higher with a business that pays their staff directly; my response is “try both, you be the judge”. I will say that a very experienced track driver will require a driver coach with high proficiency; this is one reason at Hooked On Driving that we request a brief driver bio during registration. We do also offer a “pro-coach” option at many of our events, for an additional fee you’ll receive guidance from a professional driver coach who’s likely also taught at a Bondurant or Barber once upon a time in their career.
At Hooked On Driving we strive for a one-to-one coach-to-student ratio for Beginners/ Novice drivers; we may on occasion have two-to-one for lead-follow sessions; we market to experienced coaching staff almost as much as we do for paying participants and sometimes have lower coach staffing levels, it happens. With businesses that pay their staff you’ll almost always be in a lead-follow exercise, perhaps your coach will be observing and communicating via radio; their business model won’t support paying enough staff for one-to-one coaching; they won’t make enough profit (the ultimate m.o. for operating the school in the first place, right?)
If you’re a more experienced Intermediate or Advanced driver you may request a coach for any specific session or opt for the pro-coach option for the entire Hooked On Driving event.
I hope this information helps you make a driver school decision which works best for you! Please let me know your thoughts/ questions…