Originally Posted by GreenFrog
Isn't the HPDE pretty expensive to attend? Something like 2.5 grand? I'd think that that would weed out a lot of the douches (including myself
I do want to take my car to the track though and see how far I can push the car. I believe track days are a lot more affordable but you're typically driving in a large empty lot with cones, which I find less appealing quite frankly.
Aren't you on the West Coast? The BMW CCA schools out here are some of the safest, best-run driving schools available, and for not that much money ($300-$600, depending on the track). You will get an instructor with you in the car for the whole day (or weekend) until they think you're safe enough on your own. And not being signed off is not a bad thing either as having an instructor in the car will keep your learning curve steep, and students often keep instructors in the car with them even after being signed off for that day.
I imagine that BMW CCA instruction throughout the US is pretty uniform, so no matter which region you're in, they're usually a great first school.
If a track school is too big of a first step, the Golden Gate Chapter has car control clinics where they teach you the basics of car dynamics, and they're much cheaper (about $100) than track schools. The GGC requires all its 1st time track students to take a car control clinic. Chapters also have autocrosses where instruction is often available.
Both autoX and CCCs are held in large parking lots (GGC does them at Candlestick Park and the Marina airport) so it's a safe environment. HPDEs are held at racetracks.
Whichever one you go to, you will usually find that you, the driver, are by far the biggest limiting factor in your car's performance. The performance envelope of any reasonably sporty car (and that includes BMWs without sport packages) is so far beyond the capabilities of almost every driver on the road, and any of those schools will let you incrementally and progressively explore that envelope.
The only thing about BMW CCA HPDEs is that you cannot take a convertible to the track unless you have an SCCA-equivalent rollcage and all of its associated safety equipment (harnesses, arm restraints for both driver and passenger).