Evildoers, you've been warned. We will happily punt you into the nearest ditch at the slightest provocation, and we can now do it without spilling a drop of our precious morning Americano, thanks to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. We're about to reveal one of the biggest secrets that performance driving school shoppers don't know: Protection driving classes offer the greatest bang for the buck of any driving program currently available. If you are convinced you have the potential to go pro or you have your heart set on driving an open-wheel car, take the five-day Grand Prix class. Otherwise, we strongly recommend the Executive Protection class. In it, you will still be exposed to 90 percent of the technique taught in the Grand Prix class, but you'll gain 100 percent of the instructor-encouraged sliding, spinning, tire-shredding fun the race car guys are encouraged to avoid.
Here's another big plus: Because the racing and performance driving classes are so popular, they are full of students. The Executive Protection classes are much less populated and therefore are only offered a few times a year. That is good because you get more one-on-one interaction with the instructors. Including your humble writer, there were a total of three Executive Protection students in the session we attended last June. We had lots of track time, lots of skid car practice, and a ton of personalized coaching from Bondurant instructor Danny Bullock.
Bondurant's Executive Protection class spans four days and includes loads of pretty intense action. In the spirit of the event, we will present this summary of our time there as a daily brief to our commander in chief.
Daily account of the activities of an individual that sources say is an automotive journalist. Subject is attending an Executive Protection driving course at The Bob Bondurant School of Performance Driving in Phoenix.
14, June 2010
1. Subject arrived at the Bondurant facility early, signed in, and received his credentials. Students from all newly starting classes assembled in a single room and were greeted by Assistant Chief Driving Instructor Craig Meintzer. Meintzer led the students on a tour of the facility and upon its completion, the students were divided into two groups and directed to board two fullsize Chevrolet vans, one driven by instructor Jesse Dunham, followed by one driven by instructor Danny Bullock.
2. Subject boarded the van driven by Bullock. Bullock followed Dunham's van on a tour of the grounds, beginning with the paved lot on the north side of the property, referred to as "the pad" by school personnel. We believe this is short for paddock. Bullock informed the passengers that most of the school's low-speed exercises are practiced in this area. Next, the vans navigated to the south side of the property, entering the 1.6-mile Bondurant Road Course through the pit entrance. Following a brief discussion of the track layout, the vans proceeded clockwise around the track at a high rate of speed for two laps, travelling within inches of each other and exhibiting high degrees of rear-wheel slip angle. Inside sources tell us this practice is meant primarily to demonstrate that sound car control technique works in any vehicle, and secondarily, to identify less-enthusiastic individuals who may be targeted for dismissal or who may self-dismiss upon exiting the van.
3. With the van ride completed, the students were split up into their assigned classes. Subject joined two other Executive Protection students (hereafter referred to as the team) and accompanied instructor Bullock in his vehicle to the pad. Bullock demonstrated the friction circle theory on how braking and cornering forces affect the tires' adhesion to the pavement. As seen in the accompanying photo, the vehicle is exhibiting understeer.
4. The team practiced reverse 180 maneuvers in a patrol car. Bullock demonstrated this technique to the team, stating the following steps: Roll into full-throttle from a stop, accelerating in reverse for approximately 3 seconds. Lift abruptly off the accelerator, shifting the vehicle's weight and momentum to the rear wheels. Rapidly turn the steering wheel 180 degrees from straight ahead; the vehicle will begin to rotate in a circular motion with the rear axle as the center. As the front of the vehicle rotates past 90 degrees from the original heading, return the steering wheel to the straight-ahead position while simultaneously placing the shift lever into a forward gear. Go to full-throttle and make any steering adjustments needed to settle the vehicle.