How we’ll instruct at Waterford Hills

We’ve had some questions about how we’ll be doing the track driving instruction at our upcoming Waterford Hills drivers school. BMW CCA has prohibited in-car instruction for the time being, and we agree that our instructors and students are probably more comfortable right now with no in-car instruction. So, how will we do instruction?

Well, we rethought how we’ll do classroom and run groups for this school. As to classroom, we’ll be sending out written materials ahead of the school, and we’ll rely on our students to read them. There will be classroom instruction at the school, but it will be outdoors, with social distancing. We think the small run groups we’ll have at the school will make this work.

As to the run groups themselves, we’ll have just three groups, and we’re limiting the number of students in each group. Here’s our thinking at the moment for the three run groups:

Taste of the Track. This group is for students who have little or no track experience, but who want to see what track driving is like. It will run only in the afternoon (from 1 pm on), but still have three sessions. We will run at moderate speeds, with a limit of 50 mph (but we guarantee that will seem fast through the turns!). The group is limited to 12 students and will run in three lead-follow groupings—each grouping will be an experienced instructor followed by four student cars. The classroom instruction will discuss the basics of track driving—how and where we brake, how we use all the track, where we turn-in and exit on the corners, etc. This group will use the same “line” around the track the advanced students use, just not at the same speed. Unlike the other two run groups, drivers in this group do not need helmets or tech inspections for their cars.

Intermediate. This group is intended for students who have a fair amount of experience, including at Waterford Hills, as determined by the Chief Instructor. The group is limited to just nine students, who will run in three lead-follow groupings—each grouping will be an experienced instructor followed by three student cars. Classroom will focus on more advanced driving techniques, including on the peculiarities of the Waterford Hills track.

Advanced/A Solo/Instructor. This group, as the name implies, is for instructors and for students our Chief Instructor has determined are capable of safe solo driving at speed. It is not lead-follow. Classroom will be a dialog about certain advanced driving techniques, especially as used at this track. Any student who wants to run in this group and is not already an instructor or pre-approved A Solo driver must contact our Chief Instructor, Ken Rutyna, at 586-909-2903 or

In the two groups with lead-follow instruction, the students will rotate their positions in the group every two laps, so each student will have some laps behind the instructor (and get an idea of what passing looks like at this track). And for each group, each session will be followed by a debrief, in which the lead-follow instructors and other instructors talk about what they saw during the session.

We are excited about the possibilities these new arrangements give us. First, with just three run groups, lots of track time. Second, lead-follow gives us the chance to try a new instructional technique that has certain advantages—great for visual learners, great for trying a new line on the track, and nice for those students who sometimes think their instructor is talking too much!

We’ll have more details in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

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