HOD - First Timers Section - Welcome!

Hooked On Driving - First Timers

Who We Are & What We Do

Hooked On Driving (HOD) is a community of individuals who share a passion for driving their cars. Founded in 2004, HOD has the goal of being the first true, trusted national brand of performance driving programs, and is well on the way to accomplishing this goal. Hooked On Driving currently operates in 6 key regions of the U.S. including: Northern California/Reno, Northeast U.S., Florida, Great Lakes, Southern States, and the Pacific Northwest. Drivers are welcome to travel from one region to another and participate with their own cars, or contact the Region owner to arrange an "arrive and drive" rental. HOD is primarily focused on providing high performance driver training for those with capable cars, in the controlled environment of a race course with NO competition or training for competition. All that is needed to participate is a safe, well maintained and reliable car, and an auto racing helmet with a Snell Foundation SA rating that is within 10 years of the event date. There are some restrictions on driving convertibles click HERE for the HOD policy on convertibles. Most regions have resources for cars to rent for the program. With a focus on safety, coaching, learning and fun, HOD drivers are able to experience their cars at a higher level on a track than would be safe or prudent on the public highways. As a result, drivers gain a new appreciation of their car its capabilities, strengths and weaknesses; as well as their own skills as a driver and the need to develop those skills.
Oh, and by the way, they have a TON OF FUN!


What is Hooked on Driving?

Founder David Ray gives you the inside story in this video! Share this video HERE>>

Getting ready for your first day with Hooked on Driving

This is a brief video that will help you get the most out of your first day on track with Hooked on Driving>>

Customer Testimonials

Listen to what our customers have to say about Hooked on Driving.

Read more Customer Testimonials>> >>

Your First Day with Hooked On Driving

Download this article in PDF format here

First of all, congratulations on taking the first step in enjoying your car at a higher level than is prudent on the streets and highways. Having seen hundreds of men and women take this first step, we can safely speculate that this will be one of the best moves of your hobby life. Most participants with Hooked on Driving come away from their first day with us invigorated, somewhat humbled, challenged to improve, and downright giddy. This is fun stuff. That having been said, this is also a step that you should not take lightly. While we have an excellent safety record at Hooked on Driving, taking your street car onto a race track is not without inherent risks. You will do so on your own responsibility and liability. There is no insurance coverage for property damage or bodily harm through Hooked on Driving.

View these two segments from the Hooked On Driving latest "Getting On Track" DVD. BEFORE YOU GO!!


Technical Inspection and Car Preparation

Steve Dinan takes you through what you should know about your car before you get on track.

Flags, The Key to Your Safety

This covers the signal flags that the driver will encounter during a track day high performance driving event while driving their car on a race track.

Enough with the warnings. You've decided to join us now what's next? Here is a list of items that you are accountable to tend to before you arrive at the track: Inspect (or have a qualified technician) inspect your car.

Items to check include:

  • Wheel bearings, for excess play or wear
  • Brake pad/shoe depth a minimum of 50% remaining
  • Brake fluid we highly recommend a flush and replacement with high temperature synthetic fluid
  • Tires pressures should be increased 2-3 lbs. from standard pressures (see your expert for more precise guidance on this and you really should buy a high quality air gauge with dial readout) tread should have 50% remaining
  • Wheels snap on parts should be removed and lug nuts should be tightened to recommended torque (usually in the 85 lb range, but check manufacturer recommendation)
  • Belts and safety equipment is all the factory equipment in good shape?
  • Fuel its best to arrive with a full, but not topped off tank You'll use fuel quickly on the track and your car is probably engineered to handle properly with a reasonably full load fuel is available at the track, but it's a bit pricey
  • Coolant/fluids (OK air-cooled guys, you're off the hook on coolant) check all appropriate fluids oil should be topped off (except dry sump Porsche engines, which should be at the low end of gauge/indicator)

  • Next, its time to clean out the car. Believe it or not, I recently drove a participants car for a lap to find that there was a Maxfli rattling around under the pedals! Garage door openers, child seats, junk in the trunk, all need to be stowed safely. We all end up with a pile of stuff that we store by the car at the track. No one has ever had a problem with theft.

    You'll need a helmet. If this is your first time, and you're not sure if you'll like what we do, you can rent a helmet from the track. This may be a good option rather than borrowing an old motorcycle helmet that doesn't fit. If you are already hooked on driving, we suggest buying an SA Snell certified auto racing helmet. This type of helmet is quite different than a motorcycle helmet, for good reasons. We'll not expound on this here, but feel free to ask if you're ready to buy. Also, a full face, with large eye port is a good idea. Lastly, its more expensive, but Kevlar makes for a much lighter and thus, safer helmet.

    Do I need special Insurance? HOD has an amazing track record for safety for both drivers and their cars. Some standard auto policies may cover you while you are driving with HOD, but HOD cannot guarantee this and recommends a review of the exclusions on your policies. If at all in doubt we recommend our partner OpenTrack HPDE Insurance .

    Last but most important, have yourself ready. If you have more than a 90 minute drive one way to the track, we highly recommend checking in to the local motel the night before. We have information on motels near most of our tracks under the "Trip Planner" section of the website, found here: https://www.hookedondriving.com/trip-planner

    See you soon!

    Our Sponsors

    HOD Sponsors

    Self-Tech Car Inspection Checklist

    Here is a self-tech sheet, fill it out after inspecting your car, and bring it with you to the event!

    Tech Document: Car Inspection Checklist

    Map of HOD HPDE Events

    Our Venue Map View a map of HOD venues

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Click on the questions to find out answers.
    • Explain the coaching that goes on how does it work?

    • Whenever possible there will be a Coach assigned to first-time Drivers in A Group. Some drivers, with prior experience, may not have a Coach for every session but we strive to get a Coach in every A Group car at some point during the day. B Group and above Drivers may request and get Coaching, based upon Coach availability. Your Coach will usually ride in the passenger seat, but in some situations they may lead you on the track from another car, known as Lead/follow Coaching. As you gain confidence on the track, ask your coach if you're ready to be signed off for solo. Even if you are ok to drive solo, we encourage you to take advantage of further Coaching upon request.
      Scheduling the exact number of coaches with students is a challenge, so we cannot always guarantee a coach for every beginner driver, every time on track. However, the A Group leader will see to it that every student has guidance and coaching during the day. In all cases, students are encouraged to speak up and let HOD know how their day is going and if there is anything we can do to improve your experience. As you will learn, SAFETY is our number one goal. If your Coach refuses to ride in your car, indicating they do not feel safe riding with you, it is likely your day is done. It is critical that you listen and respond to your Coach, as they are trusting you to follow instructions to be safe, above all else.
    • Who are the coaches?

    • Many coaches have competition background, but we don't see this as essential for sharing our skill and enthusiasm for the sport. We know every coach, trust their own driving on track, and they have a clear understanding of what techniques we teach at what time. They are volunteers with many days of track driving experience and they have shown themselves capable to communicate their input effectively from the passenger seat not an easy task when at speed!! NOTE: As we use volunteers to coach, we cannot always guarantee a coach for every beginner driver, every time on track. Rest assured though, that you will have guidance and coaching during the day whether by a lead and follow coach driving ahead of you, or by taking turns with a coach every other session.
    • HOD Policy on Convertibles and High Center of Gravity (HCG) vehicles.

    • HOD does not allow vehicles without rollover protection to be driven at our High Performance Driving Events (HPDE).

      This includes all convertibles with soft tops and detachable “hard” tops, except European convertibles with pop-up “factory rollover” protection systems, which are approved for use with HOD. 

      Cars with cosmetic hoops (not structurally supported) behind the front seats are not allowed. 

      The Honda 2000 has been shown to have rollover hoops with structural contact points and are allowed.

      The only Mazda Miata/MX5 that is allowed without the addition of an approved rollover system is the Mazda Miata RF.  Approved rollover systems for the Miata include:

      • Hard Dog Rollbars designated as “Approved for use with SCCA/NASA”
      • Autopower: Street Roll Bar, Street-Sport Roll Bar, Race Roll Bar
      • Blackbird Fabworx: SD (NA/NB Miata), RZ (NC/ND), GT3 (NA/NB/NC/ND)

      Corvettes: C1-C7 Convertibles are not allowed unless structural rollover protection has been added.  Contact your HOD Region to discuss appropriate/approved systems.  C3-7 Coupes and T-Tops with removeable roof sections are allowed.  Sample aftermarket roll bars can be found here: http://rpmrollbar.com/

      C8 Corvettes - Coupes and Convertibles are allowed.

      High Center of Gravity, (HCG) are not allowed at HOD HPDE events.  This includes SUV’s, 4X4 Trucks, CJ Jeep-type vehicles, cars and trucks with lift-kits, and Minivans.  If you are uncertain about the eligibility of your vehicle, contact your HOD Region.

      EYE PROTECTION NOTE: If driving or riding in an approved convertible with the top down, eye-protection, including sunglasses is required.

    • Does my car insurance cover me for this event?

    • This is for you to research with your insurance agent. Because we are not a wheel to wheel or speed competition, many policies MAY cover you but do NOT rely on this information. Some companies have begun to put exclusions for any event at a racing facility which would exclude us.
    • What is your safety record as an organization?

    • We have had three damaged cars in 6 years of track events, and no injuries. While there is liability for things happening on track, we consider ourselves conservative in the management of these events. And, as a result, we believe that we can significantly reduce the threat of incidents by readily warning aggressive behavior, and occasionally asking an argumentative driver to pack it up and head home. The one thing we cannot control is the liability of a mechanical issue creating a problem. A blown engine, putting oil on the track, or this kind of situation is something that we have very little or no control over on the other hand, this would be true of driving on the public highways as well.
    • Is there a membership fee?

    • Yes, there is fee for the required annual family Team HOD membership. Team HOD membership provides special programs (such as enthusiast and spectator motorsports events), discounts (including Wine Country Motorsports, Bell Helmets, and Porterfield Enterprises brake products), conveniences to our customers which streamline the event check-in process (such as an on-line e Signed Annual Waiver and Release of Liability, and an on-line e Signed Annual Car Inspection for each Driver, and many more benefits. Click HERE and join TODAY!
    • How do I contact one of my coaches?

    • Let us know at info@hookedondriving.com and we can forward your contact information to the coach who will certainly welcome the dialogue.
    • What run group should I sign up for?

    • First timer in a track day?
      Group A - Beginniner:. Even if you have track experience, we want you to start out in Group A (in most cases) just to get familiar with the facility and course. We have made a commitment to the intermediate Group B drivers that we won't have anyone in their group who is just learning about that blind over the hill turn, or the really slow kink so when in doubt, Group A its always easier to move you up, than to demote you to a lower group after having had a tough run with faster cars.

      Group B Intermediate: They know the track, manage traffic without issues, and are driving consistently and on a safe driving line. This driver is predictable and starting to show some speed and confidence. While you don't have to be driving really fast to be in Group B, you do have to be watching your mirrors, flag stations and handling the course as if you're invisible blending in to the group.

      Group C Advanced: These folks have turned up the pace while showing a safe and consistent line. They are exhibiting more advanced skills such as left-foot braking, heel and toe, and alternate lines to match the capabilities of their cars. Some may have upgraded brakes and/or suspension and tires, which can create a mismatch of pace if they stay in Group B. Speed differentials can be larger in Group C, so the skills learned in A and B become more important in C. While the C pace is definitely quicker, we stress with this group that this is NOT a competition, and that patience must be exercised in circulating the track, or they will be black flagged to discuss corrective measures.

      Group D: Race prepped cars: This includes cars with structural, four point (or more) roll hoops, five point harnesses and a fire bottle. Basically, this is a time trial car setup for most clubs like SCCA, PCA or BMWCCA. We do not allow a beginner driver in a race-prepped car into D. The driver must be at an advanced level. In Group D, we allow open passing, with MANDATORY wave-bys. AND passing is NOT to be accomplished in hard braking zones. While Group D runs race prepped cars, we remind all that this is NOT a competition of ANY kind!!

    • Can I bring my wife/son/daughter to ride with me?

    • Passengers may ride with HOD drivers who are intermediate, advanced, or solo-signed off. The minimum age to be a passenger is 16, and legal ID confirming this will be required. If the passenger is 16 or 17 then they will need a minor waiver signed by both parents or guardians. If the parent or guardian will not be attending the event, the parent or guardian's signatures must be notarized on the minor waiver form. If the parent or guardian will be attending the event, we do not require the notarization, only the forms to be signed in front of an HOD staff member as the witness. Any questions, please contact Teri Barrett at TeriB@HookedOnDriving.com.
    • I have done track days. Can I coach my buddy/son/etc?

    • Let's talk about this one. No to the buddy question, but on the son, or immediate family (i.e. wife) contact info@hookedondriving.com and we'll review this on a case by case basis. Bottom line is, we have coached all of our coaches to be on the same page and use the same terminology. It can be confusing for Dad, capable as he may be, to take a different coaching approach than everyone else on track, so while we may occasionally make an exception, we'd rather not.
    • Can I use my lap timer?

    • As of this date, we have no prohibition of these devices, but we are on the cusp of banning them. If you operate with passing zones, which we do in A, B, and C groups, lap times will be meaningless. Sometimes you'll have an open lap, but we don't want the timing to indicate ANY competition, because there is NOT any competition going on. Also, we don't want you to be pressed into making a pass, just to keep up a hot lap. Bottom line it's your composure and willingness to operate by the rules that will keep you safe. If you happen to have a lap timer on the wall, but drive within our rules, for the time being, we're ok with it. But why? Ask your coach other objective ways to measure your progress there are plenty.
    • Can I wear my motorcycle helmet?

    • No. Motorcycle and motocross helmets are built differently than auto racing helmets and are not allowed. HOD requires auto racing helmets with a Snell Foundation SA rating that is within 10 years of the event date. To find the Snell sticker, look under the foam inside the back of the helmet. If it says M, it is a motorcycle helmet. A DOT rating does not qualify. This requirement is out of concern for the safety of our drivers and guests (any passengers included). SA rated helmets have outer shells, inner foam, and linings made specifically for use in an automobile. Also, if you are driving an open car such as a Boxster, you will be required to have some form of eye protection, so an enclosed helmet with a visor is highly recommended. HOD locations will endeavor to make rentals or loaners available. If you need an SA rated helmet, it is your responsibility to check for their availability at your event, and if not available, to purchase or source one otherwise.
    • How do I become a coach?

    • Get to know us and let us get to know you. Operate at a high B or C level of driving without incident and go to meetings to learn. Be a regular as we run a business an can't afford to graduate everyone into being coaches. But mostly, you must have a passion for what we do, how we operate, and how to communicate all of that. Talk to a group leader about your interest.
    • Can my son or daughter drive if he's between 16-18?

    • Yes, if they have a valid driver's license, and a minor waiver signed by both parents or guardians. If the parent or guardian will not be attending the event with the minor driver... the parent or guardian's signatures must be notarized on the minor waiver form. If the parent or guardian will be attending the event, we do not require the notarization, only the forms to be signed in front of an HOD staff member as the witness.
      Any questions, please contact Teri Barrett at TeriB@HookedOnDriving.com.

    • What is your Event Cancellation Policy?

    • Cancellation & Refund Policy

      If you have questions about the policy, please contact us prior to purchasing an event.

      When you cancel:
      • 46 days or more before an event, all event fees will be returned, upon request, as either an HOD event credit code* or a credit card refund**.
      • 15-45 days before an event, event fees, less a $50/event day cancellation fee (maximum of $100), will be returned, upon request, as either an HOD event credit code* or a credit card refund**.
      • 8-14 days before an event, event fees, less a 50% cancellation fee, will be returned, upon request, as an HOD event credit code*.
      • 7 days or less before the event, or are a no show at an event, all event fees will be forfeited.

      We are aware of the logistical requirements of our hobby and things don't always work out exactly as planned. Please understand that while we will attempt to work with you if there are unforeseen issues, we cannot take responsibility for something that is completely out of our control. Please contact us at info@hookedondriving.com with any questions.

      HOD is required by contract to arrive and prepare to hold our events regardless of the weather forecast. Therefore, our customers also need to arrive and be ready to drive. If track management deems it unsafe to drive due to track conditions or unsafe conditions for track workers, a date may be cancelled with appropriate credit given for the lost driving opportunity. Note: A high percentage of our events which had forecasts for bad weather or precipitation ended up having quality time on track during the day. Most drivers have discovered that it was a great deal of fun and very good experience to drive on track in wet conditions.

      *HOD credit codes issued for event registration cancellations will expire 12 months from the date of the original purchase, unless otherwise indicated.
      **All credit card refunds will be less the credit card charge fees, as well as any cancellation fees as noted above.

    • Why am I not getting emails from HOD?

    • Please be sure to set your spam blocker to accept emails from www.hookedondriving.com, and also do this in your browser. In some cases, your internet service provider is intervening and blocking group emails and we cannot help on this situation.

      Thank you.