We are frequently asked what it takes to be a Track Junkies instructor. Being an instructor has some great perks, like free track time and great clothing … sometimes you even get paid to spend a day at the track. But being an instructor also carries with it responsibility for the safety of your student and everyone your student shares the track with. Instructors need to be able to anticipate driver errors before they happen; intervene promptly and firmly, but also diplomatically; and control the vehicle and the situation from the right seat without actually holding the wheel. Being able to exert control from the passenger seat takes experience, insight, judgement, a calm demeanour, and great interpersonal skills. Just being a great driver is a start, but being a great instructor requires much more. Here’s what you need to get started:
Driving Experience Requirements
- Minimum of 10 recent track driving events with zero behavioural incidents or sanctions. “Recent” means that you are a regular track driver whose skills and knowledge are current.
- Comfortable among the most aggressive drivers running in our fastest run groups (being RED or Time Attack).
- Ability to drive a consistent line, at speed, while simultaneously explaining to your passenger what you are doing and why.
- Ability to drive through distractions without losing focus.
- Considerable experience at Castrol Raceway, combined with the ability to explain the nuances of this track such as elevation and camber changes, areas of the track where grip changes.
- You are a known entity … that is, you have participated in several Track Junkies events, or are known to us personally through the motorsport community. We will consider experienced instructors who have moved here from afar, but our preference is to promote drivers from within because we get to know their personality and suitability (more on that below).
- Bonus points if you
- have experience as a professional educator or have coached other sports.
- hold a current racing license from a known sanctioning body (such as local FIA affiliate WCMA, NASA, or SCCA).
- have completed a program at a track school such as Bondurant or Skip Barber.
- have track driving experience in multiple different vehicle types including rear wheel drive, front wheel drive, and all wheel drive.
- have track driving experience at multiple tracks.
Communication Skill Requirements
You must be able to clearly and concisely articulate your knowledgable about track driving techniques, the physics of motorsport, and other information your student needs to become proficient at track driving.
The above sentence conveys two very important things: 1) that you have the basic motorsport knowledge to draw upon (this is self-explanatory); and, 2) that you have a very good command of conversational English. At the risk of sounding like we discriminate against instructors with marginal English, the fact is that we have no choice but to do exactly that. In this part of Canada, English is the dominant language, understood by virtually all students taking our program. We cannot risk an instructor with poor command of English being unable to find the words to exert virtual control from the passenger seat when safety is concerned.
The following is excerpted from an article written by Mark Hicks, General Manager and Partner of Chin Motorsports, and published in Speed Secrets Weekly, explaining the roles and personality traits of an instructor:
- The instructor must be a motivator, able to reward achievement, and encourage continuing success. Going faster as a result of successful performance provides a powerful incentive. The instructor inspires the driver to go faster, and at the same time, avoids encouraging him to chase the car ahead. “Continue to do as well in the next few corners, and you’ll erase the gap to the car ahead.”
- The instructor must set a good example by following the rules of behaviour, and respecting others on and off the track. For example, communicating to your student that “You can’t pass here, no need to follow so closely, wait for the point-by.”
- The instructor must be able to clarify terminology and set clear objectives for what both student and teacher expect to happen on the track, and define a progressive path to success. For example, “What are you supposed to be working on in this session?” “Let’s learn the line before you overtake anyone.”
- The instructor must be able to exert control from the passenger seat DIPLOMATICALLY. This is for everyone’s safety, not only for the instructor and student, but for other drivers as well. There can be only one of you in command in the car, and without being able to establish authority, both instructor and student are doomed. This doesn’t mean commanding authority from the student; instead, the instructor must be able to persuade the student to recognize that he is a trusted expert who will prioritize the student’s best interests.
- The instructor must be able to refocus priorities as needed. For example, when the student is overcome with “red mist” and chases the car ahead, it’s prudent to instantly refocus the driver’s attention. “Slow down enough to be able to touch every apex.” “Drive in one gear for a lap.” For an advanced driver, it may be a new challenge: “Enter all corners off line for one lap.” These are tactical moves aimed at refocussing the student’s attention.
- The instructor must be comfortable interacting with high-achieving individuals, accustomed to succeeding in their professional lives. They often begin their first track event with some confidence that they are already a good driver, and assume that they will quickly excel at track driving. But, driving well is not inherent, nor natural. The learning curve can be surprisingly frustrating for the track neophyte. The instructor must be able to nurture the student as they attempt to perform unfamiliar and challenging tasks in a stressful environment. Positive reinforcement works wonders.
- A good instructor is also a good student, open to new ideas and techniques to use and pass on to others. Every instructor has an opportunity to improve whenever they are in the company of a student: “Tell me if what I say isn’t clear.” “Do you have any suggestions for me?” “Is this too much or too little information?”
- Above all, the instructor must be professional, remaining calm in stressful and dynamic situations without losing sight of the fundamental need to maintain a safe environment for all participants.
Getting on our RADAR
We are always looking for additional instructors to strengthen our organization and improve the quality of our events. If you read the above and it sounds like you, you should get in touch with us. Getting in touch means sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org outlining your track driving experience and why you think you would be a good instructor.