Sunday, March 23, 2008

Take a Course in MINI Motoring

Once you’ve read the manual thoroughly, and become an expert on your own car (just try not to bore your MINI-less friends with your new-found knowledge and enthusiasm) and you’ve been around the block a few times with the car, it’s time to get serious about really learning to drive.

First, we want you to go back to school. Yes, we know you’ve been through that driver training school before you got your license, and some of you might even have already had the experience of taking one of those state-administered driving schools that are offered with the first traffic ticket. Trust us; they didn’t even scratch the surface.

When you were driving that little driving school car around your town, did you ever stomp on the brakes hard enough to make the anti-lock braking system kick in? Did you ever take a turn fast enough to make the tires squeal? Did you ever get the car to skid? Intentionally? If you haven’t done all of these things, you haven’t begun to learn to really drive.

When you’ve had the chance to learn these things and practice them, the difference will be that when things do go wrong, you’ll be able to be a real driver, not just another potential crash dummy or organ donor behind the steering wheel.

What we’re talking about is a real driving school, like professional race drivers take when they first start to learn to drive fast. We’re talking about taking the car out on a driving course or race track so you can find out what happens when something unexpected happens. We’re talking about learning what you should do when things do go wrong, so you can make them go right again.

Lest you assume that you only need to go to an advanced driving school if you’re thinking about racing, let us be very clear. Participating in one of these schools will return every penny it costs and every minute it takes will make you a better, safer driver even if you never put a wheel on a track or autocross course again in your life.

In several studies comparing high school students who have taken advanced driving courses to a random sample of those who didn’t, the rate of accidents was shown to be significantly reduced. Most insurance companies even give a discount to young drivers who have completed one of these schools. And if these penny-pinchers see the dollars and sense value of advanced driving schools, then you can make up your mind that value exists.

Mini Cooper Forum

There are lots of different opportunities to learn to drive better. Start by checking with your MINI dealer, since some of them sponsor MINI driving schools, or will be aware of courses in the local area. Check with the websites listed in the back of this book for driving schools sponsored by or in conjunction with the suppliers of aftermarket parts for the MINI.

If there is a auto-racing track near you, check with them as well, since most race tracks host driving schools. The best situation is one where you can drive your own car in the course. One basic driving courses where you can use your own car is available at Thunderhill Park near Willows in north-central California (

At least one driving course has been designed specifically for BMW MINI drivers, developed and presented by the Phil Wicks Driving Academy. Information is available at

In this book, we’ll be passing on many of the tips that these courses offer their students, but nothing substitutes for the experience of taking a good driving course in your own MINI to put those tips into practice.

No comments: