From Beginner to Experienced/ADVANCED Drivers HOD has got you covered!
Learn to drive your car at it's full potential in a SAFE, FUN, and CONTROLLED environment.

Welcome to Hooked on Driving!  We are excited to help you get on track as soon as possible – we run nationally so there’s going to be a race track near you!  But first, let’s answer some common questions from both beginners and experienced drivers that have yet to run with us.  HOD is different from other organizations in its approach to safety and structure.  In our 20 year history, we’ve found that the most fun on track is when EVERYONE is on the same page and understands what is expected of them and what to expect of others.  HOD is NOT a racing organization.  We have amazingly fast drivers, but competition is not a focus or even condoned.  We want everyone to have an amazing experience and get home to share the fun with his or her friends and family after the event.

Quick access to Beginner or Experienced Driver Information Below:

The HOD community always has a blast on track and off but don’t take our word for it – listen to a few customers from an event last summer at PIR in Portland.

Want even more reviews - check out these HOD Reviews and Testimonials!

Never driven with Hooked on Driving - Start here!

Never driven with Hooked on Driving?
START HERE!

First Timers and Beginner Drivers (A)

Welcome to HOD!  In this intro video Founder David Ray gives an overview of the HOD HPDE experience.  This page is broken into sections for beginners through advanced drivers – feel free to scroll down and review the information provided.


What kind of car do I need?

You do NOT need a track-oriented car to drive in the HOD Beginner group. Any regular car, from a Honda Civic to a Porsche Cayenne can be driven in our program. Weight can be a problem on the track – so heavy SUV’s like Tahoes, or high center of gravity vehicles are not appropriate for what we do. There are restrictions on convertibles, but most European convertibles built after 1999 are ok. See our convertible policy HERE.

The key to what you bring is that is it in excellent condition – with a focus on good tires, brakes with good life left, and no leaks or squeaks that indicate wear. You will be asked to eSign an agreement that your car has been inspected by you if you are qualified to do so, or a qualified mechanic.

Do I need to make modifications to my car to run with HOD?

In almost all cases, (see answer above) the answer is no. Frequently we have drivers
that show up with a car that has had major horsepower upgrades, wings, race tires, and other mods. These are NOT NEEDED to get started! You will become an informed consumer after you see and experience a HOD day as a driver. You may discover that you love this activity, but really need to eventually change the type of vehicle you drive – in order to climb the skills ladder. Frequently, as drivers return for a second and third day, they will find they need to upgrade the brake pads and fluid – an fairly inexpensive upgrade. But again – bring a reasonable road car in good condition and have fun your first day!! We’ve even had drivers who own a track car (or their Mom or Dad does), but they do their first day in the Honda Accord just to get started!!

Is there equipment I need besides a car?

All you need is an auto racing helmet with an SA (Snell Safety Foundation) rating of
2015 – there will be a sticker hidden in the shell of the helmet, under the padding that will say SA2015, SA2020, or SA2025. These are good to go. Motorcycle helmets are NOT allowed for use in an automobile as they have a different shell, different padding, and they are not fireproof like an auto helmet.

You might bring a folding chair and a small water bottle – as HOD will have a hydration station, but there are not always places to sit in the driver’s paddock area.

Any Tips for a Successful First Day?

  • Watch for and read advance updates about your event.
  • Do NOT try to get up at 4:00 am and make a long drive to the track. Go the night before and stay nearby so you can arrive fresh. This will be a long and exhilarating day… we don’t want you napping after lunch!!
  • Wear sunscreen and bring apparel for any changes in conditions.
  • Be early to the meetings. Get to know the drivers next to you in the paddock.
    Experienced drivers will be super helpful to you – but only listen to our Driving Coaches for your introduction on track technique. Feel free to ask about other cars, or if you find one like yours, ask about what they’ve done to it for the track.
  • Join a new friend for lunch!
  • Be at all your group meetings and listen – “We know what we are doing!”

What do the participants have to say?

See and hear the reactions from the first-timers themselves!

Testimonials from happy drivers!

Dave,

Just wanted send you a note on how much Denny and I enjoyed the HOD event. Despite a couple little hick ups, the day was a lot of fun and we will definitely be back to Roebling. Looking forward to VIR and maybe even Atlanta. You put on excellent event and HOD is by far the premier diving school in the country.

Thanks again

Robbie Palmer
Performance Manager
Internet Manager
Capital Ford ROUSH of Rocky Mount

David,

Thanks for a wonderful weekend for myself and my Bugeye. I cannot remember having so much fun even with the challenging weather on Saturday. I look forward to future events with HOD. Absolutely professional and extremely well executed.

Regards, Bill Pierce

Rob,
Thanks for the wonderful time at Gingerman. I have waited 47 years to drive a Corvette on a track. It was the time of my life. Thanks too to Jim McKamey, a great instructor.

Sincerely,
Tom Wenstadt

Rob,
I won't be at Gingerman with HOD this Fri. I just ran this past Saturday again at Autobahn, this time with ______.

But I wanted to share my observations with you. Although the _______ experience was really very good, it served to illustrate how truly exceptional your HOD events are. Again, not knocking ______, but your events include better organization, better advanced materials, better reception set-up the morning of the event, a stronger focus on safety and learning, lots more coaches, lots more classroom opportunities, and the very nice buffet lunch.

In the _____ event, although they mentioned it's not a race and had similar safety rules to HOD, many of the attendees were constantly comparing lap times. And one of the advanced drivers had a major wreck, resulting in an ambulance, a wrecker, and 50 minutes of track closure. (I hope he's OK.)

The ________ folks were there and helpful if there were any questions, but I really appreciate the more pro-active approach that HOD brings to its events.

The Autobahn folks were very efficient and professional, as always.

Fyi, I sometimes see comments on the local car enthusiast websites noting that HOD prices are a bit higher than some other track event organizers, but my experience is that it's well worth it considering the content and execution.

Good luck at Gingerman. I am hoping to join you at RA.

John

Information for Experienced HPDE Drivers new to HOD

Overview of the Intermediate Run Group (B) with HOD

Intermediate drivers are an important part of the HOD culture.  Many drivers who do not want to modify their cars substantially find themselves having a great time in the “Speedy B’s” and feel no need to change groups.  Some drivers in B will also be on the ladder, working on skills and adding pace to move up to more advanced groups.  Regardless, HOD priorities of Safety, Fun and Learning apply to B just as much as any group.

Passing Protocols:  While there may be minor variations from track to track, most HOD B groups will be “Point-by is required to pass, generally on the left side, ONLY on designated straight sections of the track.”

The side on which to pass may vary based on whether it is a clockwise or counter-clockwise track.  In all cases, the B group is a medium + paced group of cars – many in stock configurations – having fun, enjoying the track they’re on while working on skills improvement and/or becoming more consistently on the driving line.  There will be a mix of cars as with every group, but the driver is the key to the group selection.  The B group also tends to be a very loyal group of “regulars” that enjoy running with each other and learning from that process. There will be one or two mandatory meetings for the B’s.  However, there will be a Group Leader watching over the Group, who is able to give tips on the line, answer basic questions about tires and pressures, and discuss skills like trail braking, visual references, left foot braking, and threshold braking.

Overview of the Advanced Run Group (C,D) with HOD

We welcome advanced drivers as a key part of our program and culture.  Having run events that have covered an estimated 19 million miles since 2004, we’ve seen everything and have a clear focus of how we handle the faster/advanced drivers.  We’ve had a number of pro racing teams practice at HOD.  They have found that our drivers are “heads up” and work with faster and slower cars very well.  We work hard to communicate our protocol,s so everyone on track is on the same page – leading to a GREAT time by all. 

HOD Advanced Groups usually includes a mix of those who have worked up the skill ladder and may even include drivers with competition licenses.  We do not want to see competitive driving at HOD.  Aggressive, late passes, dropping two tires regularly, pouncing on a slower car’s rear bumper, blocking or being unpredictable are all unacceptable.  The key to the HOD Advanced Group is COOPERATIVE DRIVING.  You will see our group running very quickly, and working amongst each other smoothly.  Slower cars hold their line, and sometimes will lift a bit early on corner entry to make the pass easy for the passer.  We don’t fight for entries or apexes.  

Point-bys:  

Rules on point-bys will vary by track, size of run group, and number of run groups.  The most common passing protocol for the C Group is:  One point-by per car, on either side, where it is deemed safe to make a pass.   Be sure to attend the Drivers meeting to be fully informed on the protocol for your run group.  We’ll add this as a guide.  Even in an Open/Cooperative passing group without required point-bys, we still think that there are times a good point-by makes sense.  If I’m in a momentum car with a much faster car catching me as we approach a braking zone, it’s not too much to ask to do a point assuring the approaching driver that he is seen and he can have the entry/apex.  This is SO much better than blocking the entry under braking and forcing the faster car to wait for the exit to then drag race out of the turn.

Black Flag: 

We use the black flag with a number posted to bring in a driver who has gone off or spun.  We’ll check you and your car to be sure all is ok.  If all is good, and you take a breath and listen to what the Group Leader/Black Flag attendant tells you…you will be released back on track.  

Tech Inspection:

HOD does not know your car as well as you do.  So our policy is that you electronically sign an agreement in our registration process that binds you to be responsible for your own inspection – whether done by you or a professional mechanic.  This eliminates the early morning lineup, and expedites your prep time as you arrive at the track.  

Group Leader

We assign a group leader to watch the group carefully from the beginning.  Are there bad apples?  Someone not watching their mirrors?  Someone in the wrong run group?  Is there someone driving too aggressively, showing signs of a future issue?  If any of this is discovered, our Group Leader will manage the situation promptly, with respect to the driver, and warn or discipline as appropriate. 

How many sessions are on track, and how long are they?  

HOD Regions run either 3 or 4 run groups, with between 5-6 sessions per group.  Sessions will range from 20-25 minutes. This is heavily affected by the track day being either 7 or 8 hours.  The average track time per driver is between 100-120 minutes.  We work hard to efficiently exchange groups in a “feed on, feed off” format with no lost time between sessions.  HOD pre-grid is carefully managed to allow an efficient flow onto the track, and we work to always be on time – except in extenuating circumstances.

Does HOD run in the rain?  

Yes, of course!!  We have a blast running in the rain!  We hope that everyone has a “rain setup” with tires, RainX, and wipers.  We also know that some don’t.  Here’s the scoop on rain days – Almost all days that start out with a forecast or appearance of rain, end up with a fair amount of dry during the day.  The tracks require us to show up, regardless of the forecast. Thus we require you to show up too.  Again – many more times than not, the day ends up a good experience, even if it is a mix of dry and wet driving.  We will NEVER drive if it is truly unsafe, with sheeting and standing water – or if it is unsafe for workers and participants to be in the elements.  Having said that, we frequently receive surprise compliments telling us they really loved a rainy day on track.

OK, I'm ready. Let's go! - Preparing for your first day - Start 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!!

Tech 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.

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.

What am I responsible to do BEFORE I arrive at the track?

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 are 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, it's time to clean out the car. Believe it or not, I recently drove a participant's 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 a large eye port is a good idea. Lastly, it's 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!

Frequently Asked Questions