Driver Training Day - FAQ's

What is a Driver Training Day?

A BASIC SKILLS Driver Training Day strives to improve your fundamental driving skills. Our Basic Skills days are held at the Oran Park South circuit. The day begins with a safety briefing that discusses vehicle dynamics and driver behaviour. The morning session comprises driving skills exercises to teach balance between steering and throttle inputs, cornering skills, braking skills and typical vehicle behaviour in emergency situations. The afternoon sessions are conducted using the full circuit and strive to build on the mornings lessons to improve smoothness, confidence and an enhanced understanding of both driver and vehicle ability. More than that, Basic Skills Driver Training Days allow us to have a lot of FUN with our cars, in a controlled environment.

COMPETITION SKILLS Driver Training Days are directed at the enthusiastic driver who is contemplating participation in entry level speed event competition (supersprints), or is already a supersprint competitor wanting to lift performance, or is an established supersprinter who wants to learn more about the next step up in competition. Additionally, drivers who have completed at least three Basic Skills driver training days are eligible to participate in a Competition Skills day.

The Competition Skills day is also held at Oran Park south, and concentrates on the higher levels of finesse required in competition. In the morning an extensive scrutineering check is conducted on all entered vehicles, followed by a detailed drivers' briefing. A circuit walk-around is held with the instructors before lapping sessions over the remainder of the day.

Do I need to be a member of AROCA to enter a Driver Training Day?

Absolutely YES, with no exceptions. AROCA is affiliated club of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) and our Driver Training Days are conducted as CAMS approved activities, with the benefit of the CAMS insurance protection. Only members may participate in such events.

Do I have to drive an Alfa?

No. We will be very happy for you to drive other cars (the more exotic the better!), but there is real value in bringing your "daily driver" so that you can learn how you and it can work together better.

Can I use an unregistered car?

BASIC SKILLS: Sorry, no. As we will not be conducting our own safety inspections we rely on the legal requirement that registered cars be maintained in a roadworthy condition. Although we are fully aware that many unregistered cars (i.e. race cars) are more than merely "roadworthy", we will not be making that assumption. Also, these Driver Training Days are not racer days in disguise!

COMPETITION SKILLS: Yes. A complete scrutineering check to speed event standards, including fire extinguishers, will be conducted on all vehicles entered into a Competition Skills Driver Training Day. All vehicles must be fitted with a passenger seat and minimum 3-point seat belt (i.e lap-sash). Vehicles without a passenger seat and seat belt will not be permitted access to the circuit. All vehicle modifications must comply with the relevant sections of the 2005 CAMS Manual. Participants' attention is particularly drawn to seat mounts and seatbelt attachment in this regard.

Can Learners / P-platers participate?

If you have a Driver's Licence - provisional or otherwise - you may definitely participate. Learner's Permit holders will be allowed to participate on a case-by-case basis. The AROCA Driver Training Director will need to speak to the parent/s or other normal driving supervisor to assess an individual's level of basic competence before deciding whether they can enter the day. As a rough indicator, if the Learner is able to drive from home to Oran Park on the day they will probably have enough basic skill to enjoy and benefit from a Basic Skills day. Additionally, an AROCA Instructor (not the parent or other supervisor) will be in the car with the Learner at all times during the day.

It is unlikely that a Learner's Permit holder will have sufficient experience to participate in a Competition Skills day. However, the CAMS licencing structure does allow drivers as young as 14 to hold the required L2S licence, so applicants will be considered as above.

What's the minimum age?

If you have a Learner's Permit you are old enough, but the case-by-case assessment of Learners will apply.

Do I need a special licence?

BASIC SKILLS: CAMS requires that all participants hold a minimum CAMS L1S licence. This licence costs $20, and is valid for one day only. The annual fee for a CAMS L2S licence, required for super-sprints, is $80. If you are considering super-sprinting or expect to complete multiple driver training events each year, the L2S licence may be a more economical choice.

COMPETITION SKILLS: Cams requires that all participants hold a minimum CAMS L2S licence.

Must I want to be a race-driver?

NO! AROCA Basic Skills Driver Training Days are about improving our general driving skill, not training race-drivers. A very large percentage of AROCA members who do race have developed and expanded their skills at AROCA Driver Training Days in the past, but that is a secondary benefit not the prime objective.
It is very important that all Driver Training Day participants understand that the day is structured for a wide range of skill, confidence and experience levels and that everyone must remain comfortable with the activities they are undertaking.

Why should I do this?

It will be FUN. You will LEARN NEW SKILLS and PRACTICE them, as well as practice manoeuvres that you cannot rehearse in normal traffic. You will have the chance to EXPERIMENT with your car and your own skill in a safe and controlled environment, and you will be able to LEARN by DOING. As well as all of those things, you will also get a chance to HAVE GOOD FANG!! (and who wouldn't mind a chance to do that without having to worry about kids, dogs, balls, traffic coming the other way and the occasional cop?)

Do I need to wear special clothes? What preparation will my car need?

BASIC SKILLS: Both of these questions are answered in the Information Sheet. In short, jeans, a sweatshirt and leather shoes to cover from neck to wrist to ankles. A speed restriction of 80km/h in the morning session and 110km/h in the afternoon will be enforced by officials/instructors. Your car should be in roadworthy condition and you Should particularly check wheel nuts, brake pads, tyres and fluid levels. You should also make sure you have at least 40psi in your front tyres, with the normal difference between front and rear. Instructors will be happy to advise you and check tyre pressures on the day.

COMPETITION SKILLS: In addition to the above, helmets are mandatory for all students and instructors.

Who are the instructors, and what is their experience?

BASIC SKILLS: As a bare minimum all of our instructors must have completed at least 6 speed events (including AROCA Driver Training Days). The instructors are selected on demonstrated driving ability, maturity and experience, communication skills, sensitivity to student driver needs and team spirit. All of our instructors are AROCA members and while many have extensive racing experience some have learned their skills through consistent and enthusiastic participation in the Driver Training program. We have both male and female instructors, although the majority are male.

COMPETITION SKILLS: The answer above applies, but a number of highly experienced racing drivers including two Bathurst 1000 class winners are added to the Competition Skills team. Some of our regular Basic Skills instructors prefer to be students on these days.

What if I get bored / nervous / unsure?

It is very important to us that you have an enjoyable and productive day. It is pretty unlikely that you will get bored, but please tell an instructor or me if you are having a dull day. If, at any time, you are uncomfortable in the car or nervous or unsure about what you are doing or are supposed to do, speak up QUICKLY! There is no such thing as a dumb question and all of our instructors are keen to help you learn and become more confident and competent. No-one will be pressured to do anything beyond their individual comfort level, but you need to tell us if you are not happy. If we think you might be a bit over-confident, we will be working with you on that too!

Why does the day cost so much?

BASIC SKILLS: The cost for the day is currently set at $175. This is less than the cost for similar commercially run days, but not as low as we would like. The arithmetic is like this: Circuit hire is $3,050 and the CAMS permit fee is about $440. We also need to maintain our supply of witches hats, keep the safety equipment (fire extinguishers, flags, first aid kit) in good order and provide drinks for helpers on the day, so the total cost budget is estimated to be $3,700. The entry fee of $175 provides a break-even point for the event at about 21 entries, which is an acceptable budget level.

COMPETITION SKILLS: A competition Skills day requires the presence of an ambulance and crash rescue team and incurs a higher permit fee. The entry fee is accordingly a little higher, and the break-even entry level is also higher.

Can I share a car?

Yes, but no more than two participants per car. There is no reduction in the fee for a second person using the same car.

Can I give feedback?

Yes, please. We are keen to continue to improve our Driver Training Days, so your input is extremely valuable. At the end of the day there will be a few minutes for the instructors to share their observations with you and offer suggestions that you can continue to practice with safety on the road. We will also ask you to complete a feedback sheet, requesting your views on specific aspects and the day overall. Your candid views are important to us, so please tell us what you think - warts and all!

What will I eat / drink?

Catering facilities may not be open for our day, so you will need to BYO food and drink. You'll find the day goes quickly, and you will be surprised how tiring it can be having fun so please make sure you do bring plenty to drink and enough to keep you satisfied at lunchtime, plus maybe something to snack on if you need it.

What if my car is damaged?

There have been only a very few occasions over the 20 years or so that the Club has run Driver Training when a participant's car has been damaged, and while the Club carries public liability insurance for the day, your own vehicle is at your own risk. You should check your insurance policy to see if you are covered, and if still unclear you should call your insurance company. As the day is only about training and contains no competitive element, I know that many policies will still keep you covered. One member has recently asked his insurer, who needed some specific information, which is re-printed here:

What driving skills are trained?

General car control, evade and recover manoeuvres, understeer/oversteer exercises, smoothness, heel & toe brake/gear change technique, sightlines, anticipation

What is the length of course?

One day

Is there unsupervised time during the course?

No

What is the number of vehicles in each exercise at one time?

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Morning exercises:
One car at a time, rotating through a group of up to 12 cars in each of 4 exercises. Maximum course size is 35 trainees. Instructors are supervising trainees during the exercise, critiquing and correcting technique and giving demonstrations where required
Afternoon track sessions:
Split into 3 groups, with a maximum of 12 cars on the track at once. All trainees are directly supervised by an instructor in the car at all times.

What is the number of trainees per instructor?

Morning: Minimum 3 instructors per exercise, so not more than 4 trainees per instructor. Note that exercises are conducted one car at a time, so supervision is effectively 3 instructors per trainee.
Afternoon: one to one, in car at all times

What is the speed limit throughout the course?

Morning: 80km/h
Afternoon: CAMS requires a 110km/h maximum speed limit in the afternoon session.

Is there timing of course laps?

Timing and/or any other competitive activity is specifically prohibited.

What is the name and location of the company providing the course?

Alfa Romeo Owners' Club of Australia (NSW) Inc.
PO Box R23
Royal Exchange NSW 1225

It is extremely unlikely that your car will be damaged during the day, but you would be well advised to know where you stand should that occur.

Must I let the instructor drive my car?

It is not compulsory that you let an instructor drive your car, but it is often easier for an instructor to demonstrate than to explain. This will enable you to better understand what you are being asked to do, and in many cases also shows that your car is in fact capable of much more than you had realised!
However, the car is yours - or at least your responsibility - so you should not hesitate to say so if you would prefer that instructors not drive it. The car remains at your risk at all times, regardless of who might be driving. Your preference will be respected and understood, without any problem at all.

Alfa Romeo Owners' Club of NSW
PO Box R23 Royal Exchange NSW 1225
ACN ABN 74 337 297 312
Email secretary@alfaclubnsw.org.au
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