Purchasing a real race car driving experience can be confusing. Where to start? How much to spend? What kind of "on-track" format is used? What kind of race cars are used? For most people buying a race car driving experience is difficult as most know very little about the many different options available to them.
Here's a quick guide that should help you make the right purchasing decisions:
How much do you want to spend?
Every school offers a myriad of driving experiences to choose from at different prices . Most half day programs are three hours in length and offer between 5 and 40 minutes of actual track time. Cost of a half day driving program ranges between $199 and $575. That's a big spread. Why such a big range? Track size, type of race car, actual time on track and classroom sizes all affect what you'll pay for your experience. Ultimately, the best common denominator to determine overall value is the number of actual track miles you'll be allowed to drive.
Example 1: You may get 10 laps on track for $199 on a half mile oval (a total of 5 miles of driving) or
Example 2: Pay $350 for 6 laps on a two mile oval (a total of twelve miles of driving). Which is the better deal?
If you break it down to cost per mile, it would cost you $39.80 a mile in the first example vs $29.16 per mile in our second example. The face value of the program may be higher in example 2 but the ultimate cost per mile is actually 25% lower.
Longer programs offer more track time and more instruction (in most cases). Price for a full day of driving (usually about 45-120 minutes of track time) ranges between $895 to $1,500. Multiple day programs can cost $2500 or more and up to $4000 for a three day racing school.
What do you want to drive?
Most major urban centers in the US are within an hour or so of a well known race track. Most populated states offer both oval and road racing circuits to choose from. Do you prefer NASCAR style stockcars or Formula One style race cars? You must know this before setting out to purchase a driving experience as not all tracks offer all programs.
Where do you want to drive?
Do you want to drive at your favorite race track or where the best driving school is offered? Discussing your needs and objectives with a motorsports entertainment specialist is the easiest way to identify the curriculum that best meets your entertainment goals. Visiting websites such as www.RacingSchools.com can also help you find the perfect option based on your specific parameters. Either way, it's worth noting that the big name schools don't always offer the best value or the best course options.
Aren't all race car driving experiences similar?
No, not at all. In fact, each operator is different. Some programs offer more liberal formats (passing allowed, no speed limits, etc.) while others are truly conservative. Some even misrepresent your top speed after your driving experience. Ask questions - get the facts.
What about crash damage liability?
Another interesting fact is that different operators have different policies when it comes to re-scheduling your program, refunds and crash damage. Ask about all these policies when contacting someone about purchasing a driving experience or racing school program.
Statistics tell us that over 50% of race car driving experience buyers are women buying this for the men in their lives. If this is your case, call the experts, the ones that sell programs for all the schools. This way, you are assured of receiving impartial program information.
If after all this, you are still not sure what program would be best to buy, set a maximum amount you are willing to spend and purchase an open date gift certificate that can be redeemed at many driving schools worldwide and make sure it conforms to your state's gift card expiration laws.
Enjoy the ride!