How to go RACING – 4 Popular paths to earning a competition racing license.

Fulfilling your dream of RACING is not as hard (or expensive) as you may think

Two common questions I get are “How do I get sponsors?(which I answered HERE) and “How can I get a license and go RACING“. If you’re interested in competitive racing, or just want to know more about it, you’re in the right place… In this post we’ll touch on a few of the common ways to get a Racing License: Including what you get, what you pay, and what you need to bring. 

Before we start, I’d like to start with a review of basic terminology. Anyone with a driver’s license is able to show up at a track and participate in a “HPDE” HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVER EDUCATION event. This is what you would often call a “track day”, and while these days are categorized and generally run as non-competitive educational events, they are far from a boring drivers-ed class in high school. Beginner groups pepper in brief classroom sessions between gratuitous on-track sessions with an in-car instructor. There are no speed limits and you drive at the level that you and your instructor feels is safe. HPDE Groups for Advanced drivers are usually totally open, maybe running an occasional structured drill but otherwise “open track” for their sessions. Most drivers are out for fun lapping and use the time to improve their skills on their own. Many people are perfectly happy here and choose to stay at this level of non-competitive performance driving for the duration of their time in this hobby. But not everyone.

For those who want both track time AND sanctioned competition, you need to look to Time Trial and Racing. TT and Racing include actively competing against other drivers, either by driving the quickest lap or door slamming to get over the finish line first. For the purpose of this article (and 95% of this website) “Racing” refers to wheel-to-wheel road course racing. However, with racing comes increased risks and responsibility; Time Trial and Racing typically require a specific, advanced license. Below we will discuss a few of the many popular avenues to earning a Racing Competition license. 

Note: “Budget Enduros” (LeMons, Champcar) are another popular avenue for wheel to wheel racing. They may be the one example where experience and a competition license are not required to go racing. Because of this, events see a very wide range of driver skill: From world-class professional racers and teams to “somebody’s cousin” who has never once driven a car in anger. These events can have some great racing, but are a very different environment from your typical licensed race organization like BMW CCA, NASA, SCCA, etc.

You don’t need to “go pro” to participate in fantastic wheel to wheel racing competition. There is excellent competition that happens all over: From entry level endurance racing, to club level racing, to semi-professional series.

I spoke with a few organizations – BMW CCA Club Racing, NASA, SCCA, and Skip Barber Racing School. These organizations cover a range of the licensing options around, but there are many more. The cool part is that each organization below has a unique aspect of their licensing program. Different regions have their own flavors, you may have a slightly different experience in your specific region, even if it is with the same overseeing body. Most major sanctioning body licenses are cross-honored or easily transferrable to other clubs, provided you have a full (non-provisional) license in good standing.

A final note before I start. It is truly incredible just how much Experience, Knowledge, and Passion exuded from everyone I spoke with in researching this post. Despite the differences between the different clubs putting on events and schools, it is clear we are all out here doing this for our passion and the fun of it all.

4) BimmerWorld BMW CCA Club Racing School

Scott Reiman and David Weaver were gracious enough to have a lengthy conversation with me about the BimmerWorld BMW CCA Club Racing School. I had a captive audience since our call took place while they were on their way to a competition school at Roebling Road. The BMW CCA is one of the larger marquis specific clubs, and they have their own unique licencing program for drivers joining the ranks of wheel-to-wheel racing. 

What type of Race License is earned (Where can you race with it?): 

Graduates are able to apply for a rookie BMW CCA license – After 4 clean races, their provisional becomes a full competition license. 

What is the general daily structure (Class Time/Seat Time/etc):.

A typical BMW CCA Comp school has 8 track sessions and 8 classroom sessions over two days. Often (though not always) the schools are Thurs-Fri of a race weekend and students who pass and have a Race-Tech capable car are able to jump right into a race the following day, as long as they registered to do so. 

Day 1 – Mostly regimented exercises – lead follow, leapfrog, late pass, pass on the exit etc. The primary goal is to get the student used to running in a non-pointby situation, and to be predictable on a racetrack. 

Day 2 – Begins with time for slightly less regimented sessions, giving the instructors some flexibility to focus in areas they think the group could benefit best from. Day 2 then continues to include drills for race starts, and finally a simulated race exercise.

Experience Requirement: (Are Rookies welcome, Do you need track experience?):

This school is geared for Advanced HPDE students – Potential students are vetted: BMW CCA regulars have driver evaluation logs that follow them through their HPDE experience. For drivers who haven’t frequented BMW CCA, references are asked for to verify advanced driving experience and skill.

Is there an age minimum, maximum?:

18 year old minimum. The school’s oldest student was in their mid late 70’s (It’s never too late!)

Equipment Required: (what does someone need to bring?… car/gear):

Here is the major difference with BMW CCA School: Any car that can pass HPDE Technical Inspection is allowed. A cage or other race prep is certainly allowed, but not required.

Driver gear also follows the same HPDE guidelines- A helmet is the minimum requirement. If a car is modified, then requirements rise accordingly (Like If a car has racing belts then a HANS device is also required). I highly recommend reaching out ahead of time with your specific car and any modifications to see if the region you are running with has any specific requirements.

While BMW CCA is a single marquis club by name, all cars are welcome. There is an exhibition class, open to cars from any manufacturer. They have seen such unique participants as a 65 mustang and a Mercedes 190e. 

Who are the teachers/coaches?:

Students are paired up and assigned a “coach” who is a licensed BMW CCA Race Driver. These coaches are active racers in the club, so not only do they know the most important skills needed… they also will be sharing the racetrack with students in the future, so they know a good education is key.  

 There is also a senior “Coach Overseer” who oversees and coordinates among the groups. They also give additional feedback to the students, beyond what just their individual coaches share. The program is designed around all of the coaches working together to best meet the individual needs within the group. 

What can someone expect on a day/weekend?:

The BMW CCA School is structured in a very unique way. Since it does not require a full kit of safety gear and car prep, they get some people just there for experience but don’t plan to race.  There are some that join who are on the fence, and some that are all ready to go racing that same weekend. Participants often say “it was very intense” and usually say “it is meaningful and I really enjoyed it”  The BMW CCA Club Racing website says, “The learning is accelerated, the driving is fast, and the experience is unforgettable!” Post school survey responses back that up.

What is a time that someone was happily surprised by learning/experiencing something unexpected at a school? 

People generally don’t like the 3 wide exercise. They’ll often reply with “That was hard, not really enjoyable” and in the post-school surveys it usually ranks as the bottom exercise. However, as students make it through the rest of the weekend and gain experience going door to door with other drivers, they recognize the importance and value the experience. Many drivers may still not enjoy it at the time, but they understand that the exercise is included to teach that “close is safe” – a fundamental skill that adds needed experience for later exercises and ultimately, racing. 

A brief history of the school/biggest accomplishments/success stories:

James Clay and BimmerWorld are two names you certainly know if you follow even a shred of road racing. James Clay added his company’s name as headline sponsor to support both BMW CCA and the growth of his business as he built his company, BimmerWorld into a successful BMW race shop and a pro racing program. James Clay has been an instrumental part in the current program, actively participating with the school having provided foundational and ongoing curriculum development. 

BMW CCA Club Racing has launched the start for a large contingent of both racers and even race teams in professional motorsports – this is in large measure due to the race license enabling BimmerWorld BMW CCA Club Racing School program, and the foundational excellence in on-track instruction provided by the BMW CCA HPDE program.

What are the most exciting things happening now at BMW CCA? 

The club saw a 10% increase in racers from 2019 to 2020, despite COVID. They hope to continue to build on this momentum to grow their market, their program, and the on track competition. 

BMW CCA Club Racing just celebrated its 25th year anniversary in 2020.. Or as they said “Just started their second 25 year stint” Congrats and here’s to continued success!

Approximate cost for School/Weekend:

Cost varies per track, but in general they are close to the cost of a regular HPDE weekend.  Typically around $650. 

Annual BMW CCA club membership is $58, and initial license rookie (or provisional from other series) application is $125, with renewal at $100/yr

How does the value stack up?

The BMW CCA Program is especially unique since you can participate in (nearly) any HPDE capable street car and don’t yet need to pony up for expensive safety gear. Because of this, it can be the lowest cost-to-enter school. For someone who hasn’t decided if they actually want to race, or are not sure if they are ready to race, this program could be a great way for them to try without first spending ~$10,000 on a full racing car and gear. As long as you complete your 4 races within two years, your rookie license becomes complete.

Because of the unique nature of the program, a relatively low percentage of drivers go directly to racing that same weekend (Usually around 10-20%) though many do eventually go on to race all over the industry. With this mix of participants, all of your classmates may not be serious aspiring racers. However, the program is still designed to teach the tools to be successful as a race rookie, whether you choose to follow that path or not. 

Photos and video provided by BMW CCA Club Racing.

3) NASA – National Auto Sport Association

It’s no secret that the majority of my time on track has been with NASA. NASA Northeast was my entry to HPDE and their very generous volunteer reward program made it possible for me to make it through the HPDE ranks on my especially tight budget (As a fresh college grad at the time trying desperately to pay down a mountain of student debt). I am a graduate of NASA Northeast’s Competition School, I have since returned to help as a mentor at a few schools. Brian Casella was kind enough to sit down with me (virtually) and answer my questions:

What type of Race License is earned: 

Graduates earn a NASA Provisional Race License, good for 4 races. After 4 clean races drivers earn a full NASA Competition license but retain “Rookie” status until they complete 8 races… Rookie Status means displaying a bright “R” decal so everyone in the race knows you’re new to this. 

General daily structure:

The NASA Competition school is a single day school, typically held on the Friday of a race weekend. Graduates then participate in their first two races later that weekend. Because the school is open only for advanced drivers ready to race, the entire focus is on racecraft and sharing the track in close proximity with other cars.

The specific programs vary a bit between regions but a typical NASA Northeast competitions school includes a mix of on-track sessions and classroom learning. Morning sessions consist of a series of drills covering passing, driving 2 and 3 cars wide, etc. Timed emergency exit drills are always entertaining if you are around to watch. The Afternoon sessions focus primarily race starts with an added emphasis on watching flagging all over the track. A written test caps the classroom sessions followed by a “Fun” race for students and all other licensed racers present. 

Experience Requirement:

Competition School candidates should be advanced level drivers. Every applicant is screened for their experience, whether it is HPDE, Karting, Open Wheel Racing, Enduros, etc.

Is there an age minimum?:

Drivers as young as 13 (With extensive karting resumes) have come through the NASA Competition School. NASA also encourages young drivers to take part in the “Teen Mazda Challenge” – a sub series of Spec Miata and Spec MX5. 

Equipment Required: (what does someone need to bring?… car/gear):

For the NASA competition school, you will need full racing gear and a completely race-prepped car to participate. If your car does not have a current annual racing tech inspection, It will get one that morning.

Renting a car and gear is possible, but NASA strongly suggests you participate in a car you have experience with… so your focus can be racecraft, not on getting comfortable in a new car.

Because of the intense, busy schedule of the day, you do not have downtime to do much work to your car during the day. If you are planning on participating in a freshly completed car it is a VERY good idea to get the car fully Race Teched and logbooked BEFORE the event. With a very packed schedule you will not have time to fix big issues or make repairs, so make sure your stuff is totally sorted or you have help.

Who is(are) the teacher(s)/instructor(s), What is their experience?:

The NASA Northeast Competition school is run by the Race Director, Brian Casella. He is assisted by senior racers from within the organization. Many of these senior racers have decades of experience and multiple national championships under their belts. With NASA’s HPDE to Racing ladder system, these senior racers are often already familiar with competition school candidates (As they have already been at the same track days) and many already have some form of mentor relationship. 

What is a time that someone was happily surprised by learning/experiencing something unexpected at a school?

Comp School drivers commonly say they were very surprised about race starts. From rounding the final turn in formation, to the green flag, to funneling into turn 1: Starts are even more exciting than they expected. 

What are the most exciting things happening now at NASA?:

NASA has some big developments currently in the works with series sponsors and live event broadcasting, with more information to be released soon. Also, the second generation of the NP01 (The Evo) has officially re-launched and the budget-prototype series is taking shape.

Approximate cost for School/Weekend:

Competition school entry fee covers the Friday school and racing costs for Saturday and Sunday. It generally costs about the same as a typical 3 day racing registration. (In the $5-600 range)

Annual NASA membership is currently $50 and competition License addition is an additional $105.

How does the value Stack up?

Because this program is open only to advanced level drivers with immediate intent to race, the school focuses purely on the race-specific aspects of driving that aren’t often (or ever) practiced in HPDE Sessions. On competition school weekends, all racers are made aware of the rookies and how to identify them (“R” decals prominently displayed on their cars) so the experienced racers can both be aware of the new drivers and give important feedback, if necessary. 

NASA is a “ladder system” organization. Their standard weekend has run groups from total beginner to Racing, so new members are part of a weekend where they can see the whole range of high performance driving. This had a personal effect on me: When I began doing HPDE days, I had no intentions of actually racing. Being part of the events and my natural progression up the ladder made me realize that my daydreams of racing were absolutely attainable.

The school costs about what you would pay for a normal HPDE or Race weekend. You will need to cover significant costs for driver safety gear and car before you attend the school, but if you intend to continue racing, these costs are unavoidable anyway. You will need to have built up an extensive driving resume before attending, so those are also related costs. 

2) SCCA – Sports Car Club of America

The Sports Car Club of America is the original auto racing club in America. Founded in 1944, they have been around for everything: sanctioning events from your local autocross to hill climbs, road rallies, and professional racing. Especially in the world of road racing, they have been around the longest and have the most influence. 

Lately, the upper echelons of SCCA seem to be trying to make unique, significant changes to remain relevant during a time of very quick changes in the industry, with things like Track Night in America, Their new Time Trial program, and the Alternative Driver School. At the Local region level, many are banding together to create combined racing series (Like the MARRS) that bridge multiple regions and tracks. For Licensing, there are now three primary paths towards earning a SCCA Competition License:

1) Professional School: (Like Skip Barber, mentioned next in this post). Depending on which professional school program you participate in you can graduate either with a provisional or a full SCCA competition license. 

2) Traditional Region Weekend Competition School: Over time, and with fresh competition this traditional path has dwindled down in popularity, and is offered in just a few regions across the country. This is your traditional school, similar to the BMW CCA and NASA programs mentioned earlier. Those that are still running are run by very experienced individuals and are attended by drivers from various regions. 

3) ADS – “Alternative Driver School”: Despite the “Alternative” in its name, the ADS seems to be the new primary path for many regions… Also, it’s not always a school. Maybe “Mysterious Drivers School” would be a more fitting title, as I was not able to find any written literature and each of the several people I spoke with explained it differently. My current understanding is: You create a resume of advanced HPDE experience with your preferred track day club. If a senior instructor at your club will sign off on your skills, you are a Rules & Flag test away from getting a novice permit. However, if it is decided that your experience is insufficient, they may also have you do simulated race drills at a test day (Which just sounds like an informal competition school to me). To sum it up: The ADS process seems like one where each region has full discretion with the process to license drivers as they see fit. Check out your local region website for contact info if you are interested.

A big thank you to the SCCA staff and members who helped me out and answered my incessant questions. Andie Wolfe at SCCA National, Bob Crawford – Director of Road Racing for the WDCR region, Brandon Fetch, and a few others.

What type of Race License is earned:

Drivers graduate most programs with a SCCA Novice Permit. After 3 incident free weekends, they graduate to a full license. A traditional weekend has a (shorter) heat race on Saturday and a feature race on Sunday, so a full license is earned after 6 races. 

General daily structure:

The standard Washington DC Region competition school path is a two day standalone weekend school. The school begins with an introductory classroom session the night before (usually Friday Night). Over the course of the next two days students begin with wheel-to-wheel sessions on track and evaluations of skills and technique. Before long they are on to practice starts for the different scenarios drivers will typically see (initial starts, restarts, etc) and they end on the final afternoon with a 5 lap practice race. 

Experience Requirement:

There is a path in the SCCA program for drivers of every skill level. In general: To attend a regional racing school, experience is highly suggested but not required. While the program initially began full of students with no previous experience, today over 90% of students enter the competition school with at least some previous HPDE experience. Those who attend a school without previous on-track driving experience do have a tough time learning both performance driving and race craft and have a much lower pass rate. If you are planning this path, it is certainly best to get some experience first. 

For a “Professional School” the experience level requirement may vary, but most schools accept students of all skill levels. 

For the ADS route, drivers must be advanced HPDE or Time Trial drivers. 

Is there an age minimum, maximum?:

Drivers as young as 14 are allowed to compete in the SCCA (unless prohibited by local track rules).

Equipment Required: (what does someone need to bring?… car/gear):

For the traditional SCCA competition school path you will need full racing gear and a completely race-prepped car to participate. While it is possible to find a Racecar (And even gear) to rent for any club’s Comp School, SCCA events seem to have the most listed options for race car rentals. Bob mentioned that it is common for more than half of the cars in a competition school to be rented or prepped by one of the shops/race rental companies. Several are listed on regional websites, and if you ask around you’ll likely hear of some more. Renting a car for competition school is certainly an “Easy button” but be ready for sticker shock. You are paying for a prepped, running car and the help to maintain it at the track… but you may end up paying near as much to rent as you would to buy a cheap car. The nice thing is the popularity of renting at an SCCA event may very well help bring the rental costs down for everyone.

The “Professional School” options (Skip Barber, Bondourant, Bertil Roos, etc) provide cars and gear for you in nearly all cases. 

Who is(are) the teacher(s)/instructor(s), What is their experience?:

This obviously varies greatly per the path you choose. For the competition School, the instructors are regional racers hand selected by the chief instructor. Rest assured, SCCA is full of dedicated drivers and stewards with decades of experience who will watch over and guide you through the process. 

What are the most exciting things happening now at SCCA?:

Regionally, the MARRS (Mid Atlantic Road Racing Series) has started a “Sprint-Bracket IT” Racing series. If you are familiar with the laptime class brackets of AER or NASA’s TREC, this is a similar classing system with the big exception of being applied to a sprint racing instead of an enduro. This approach is especially exciting because it allows anyone to “run what they brung” (provided their car meets safety rules). Without building to a specific ruleset, every car can have a competitive place and you can run within your desired budget (Want to run on street tires? Great!… Junkyard engine? Sure!). This new class is already their 3rd most popular behind only the mighty SSM and SRF.

Aside from that, Track Night in America continues, the new Time Trial program is gaining more traction, and there is a mysterious announcement of something “Brand New” coming soon. 

Approximate cost for School/Weekend:

As there are multiple paths, there are multiple answers for the costs. 

Local (WDCR) school is around $200. The professional school options are often several thousand dollars, but are usually all-inclusive experiences. The ADS route can be anywhere from free to the cost of a full track weekend.

An annual SCCA membership costs $70 and regional fees are an additional $5-20. Initial provisional license is $135, with renewal at $110/yr

How does the value Stack up?

SCCA core staffers have been working hard on modernizing their model over the past few years, attempting to shake the reputation of being the wise but gray haired dinosaur in the corner. Across the country there are 116(!) individual regions and a national leadership. For the casual observer, this complicated web does lead to some confusion and inconsistencies, so be sure to ask around and speak with your own region to get the most pertinent information. The good news is, everyone I’ve spoken to at any level in the org has a very genuine interest of putting on the best events possible, and it shows in the work they do.

Plans like the ADS (Alternative Driving School) allow drivers to gain experience and skills in their favorite HPDE club and join SCCA racing when they feel they are ready. Traditional schools provide an in-car education for race-specific skills like 3-wide drills and race starts. The potential lack of in-car racecraft education in ADS does give me some pause… but if it didn’t work, I’m sure they wouldn’t be offering it. In reality, the landscape is changing quickly, and many people are cutting their teeth and getting comfortable with Wheel to Wheel in budget endurance racing. The ADS may be a convenient option for many, but if I was getting started with the SCCA I would certainly be leaning towards a traditional school even if that meant driving to a school a few regions away.

1) Skip Barber Racing School:

350,000. That is the number of people Skip Barber Racing School says have participated in some form of their school over the course of their 45 years. Skip Barber is not the only professional racing school specific organization (To name a few others: Bondurant, Lucas Oil, Allen Berg, BIR). However, when you think of Motorsports and school, Skip Barber is the first name that comes to mind, from the Indy starting line to Jerry Seinfeld’s fridge. The program has seen some big changes over the last few years, but the leadership team is confident they are using change as an opportunity to take the best parts of the legendary Skip Barber program and run with it. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dan DeMonte, Joe Monitto, and Kirk Dooley from Skip Barber Racing School. They were able to answer my questions and give some great insights to their program, its history, and their vision going forward. 

What type of Race License is earned: 

A successful graduate of the 3 day racing school receives a SCCA novice permit. 

Successful graduates of the 2 day advanced racing school earn a full SCCA racing license. The advanced school license is also accepted with World Challenge and SVRA.  

General daily structure:

In our discussion, we spoke about their premier school school path: The 3 day racing school followed by the 2 day advanced racing school. Students are able to stick around and do all 5 days together. 

The program is foundational, Skip Barber focuses first on developing good car control and an ability to properly “read” a track. Days are a mix of classroom discussion and exercises on the track as well as skid pad.

Day 1- Classroom – Skidpad and autox – Teaching vehicle dynamics. Afternoon is focusing on brakes, finding the line.

Day 2- Classroom – “Stop Box” drills. The “Stop Box” is SBRS’s primary driving feedback system, where drivers do most a lap then stop “in the box” for immediate feedback on the lap. Stopping the car helps let them focus on and apply the feedback on the next lap.  More classroom discussion on fine points of braking: then on track for various braking exercises. 

Day 3- Final day of Race School: Begins with passing exercises – More “Stop Box”. Afternoon is race starts and flag drills (Don’t miss the flags!)

Day 4 (Advanced Race School 1/2)- Build on and improve foundations of driving and car control, morning is spent on skid pad and “skid cars”. Stop Box and lapping in the afternoon.

Day 5 (Advanced Race School 2/2)- Racecraft day. Work with an instructor on track, filling mirrors, “dicing it up” getting comfortable and competitive in race situations. 

Experience Requirement:

No experience required for the 3 day race school. You can take the 2 day advanced race school immediately after the 3 day (Making a 5 day program).

If you already have a valid race license or advanced HPDE experience (WITH race start experience) you are eligible to jump right into the two day advanced racing school. 

Is there an age minimum, maximum?:

Age minimum generally depends on the venue. Certain tracks (and states) may restrict entrants under 18, but upcoming drivers with extensive karting resumes may be able to take the program as young as 13 years old. 

There’s no maximum: One of their more notable students was a Lady in her 80’s who did a one day course at Lime Rock Park in 2018. Anything is possible! 

Equipment Required: (what does someone need to bring?… car/gear):

The Skip Barber program is all-inclusive. From meals to gear, and obviously the cars… you just need to get yourself to the track and they’ll take care of the rest. They do have a deal with HMS motorsports, that students can also get a discount off gear if they wish to bring their own. 

SBRS runs programs with a range of cars, a very unique spread quite representative of the racing world:  mid 2000’s Mustang GT’s, Roush Mustangs, TCA & TCR Civics, even F4 Formula Cars.

Who is(are) the teacher(s)/instructor(s), What is their experience?:

From the top down, Skip Barber has some seriously knowledgeable people sharing their expertise. Chief Instructor Terry Earwood has a resume in motorsports and driver training that dwarves some small novels. Most High level instructors have some sort of national championship under their belt, and even their team of junior instructors have impressive resumes. 

The program works just as hard to train their instructors, staff, and mechanics as they do their students. They understand that a fast driver does not necessarily make a good instructor. The program specifically looks for drivers who have the right observational and communication skills, and works to improve them the whole time. 

What is a time that someone was happily surprised by learning/experiencing something unexpected at a school? 

“It’s every time” Students obviously expect to learn fundamentals of driving and racing, but are always surprised with how many other unexpected details they learn. In spending over 40 hours together, there’s just so much information shared. With 15-20 instructors, there are a lot of eyes on you. Beyond driving technique, the courses also teach extras like how to act like a true professional at the track, a small often overlooked detail that may be a big advantage to help land a prospective ride. 

Even with their other programs (like the Hagerty Driver Academy) students are always shocked with the amount they learn even in just one day. 

A Brief history of the school/biggest accomplishments/success stories:

I laughed when asking this question because there is no comparison. Being the premier driving school basically forever, there’s no shortage of pedigree with Skip Barber graduates. Half the indy 500 starting line last year were SBRS graduates. 

What are the most exciting things happening now at Skip Barber?:

The program has recently expanded to include new cars: With Formula 4 cars and the incoming Civic Touring Cars as very exciting recent additions. 

Skip Barber is beginning a 3rd year as the title sponsor TC America. More than a simple title sponsorship, Skip Barber is also offering cars for arrive-and-drive racing in the series. As part of their program, they offer a holistic approach to driver development. On top of being at the track making connections with pro drivers and teams, drivers work with a human performance coach (Covering workouts, sleep, nutrition, etc). 

Anything else you’d like to add?:

SBRS offers more programs than their traditional Racing School. They also work to put on corporate events with their experiential offering for groups. Events are open to be tailored to work best with the goals of a specific group. Sure sounds more exciting than a company bowling trip! 

The program sees a full range of students: During 2020’s season at COTA the youngest student was 14, and the oldest was 68. The 14 year old was a karting champion and the 68 year old had lifetimes of experience including racing the Daytona 24 Hour. One thing I’ve heard both from Skip Barber employees and from students, that people enjoy returning. Whether just for the fun of it, or to acclimate to more modern cars/new tracks. 

Approximate cost for School/Weekend:

If you are looking at the full zero-to-hero racer package, the full 5 day program: (Basic 3 day followed by the 2 day advanced racing) the cost is around $10,000. There are some optional programs whether you’d like to run in the Mustangs, Touring Cars, or F4 cars. 

How does the value Stack up?

Of the options in this article, the Skip Barber program is by far the biggest single check you would need to write for a competition licensing school, but that alone is not the whole story. Of all the schools mentioned, Skip Barber is the one option where there is no need for previous driving experience, gear, or even a car. 

SBRS is most “professional” option out there, and it shows through in every aspect. While there are several clubs who offer race schools aside from their primary focus on racing, Skip Barber’s primary function is driver education. At a Skip Barber school you get 45 years of experience and the weight that comes with the name. If you want to be properly trained and earn a license on a short timeline, the ability to do a full intense “boot camp” is a big plus. Many programs teach an introduction to race craft, while SBRS also teaches driving skills. Being able to use all of their equipment is also big, you get to “try on” their cars and gear to see if it’s a fit before you commit to buying your own. Without needing to focus on keeping your car running, you can focus more on the school. If this all sounds good, Skip Barber may be the right answer for you. 


Each one of these programs has their own unique set of requirements, methods, and goals. Frankly, I was surprised and impressed that the options fell so neatly into these individual niches that each work to serve a different part of the market. The cost between the 3 club routes may vary a bit, but by the time you actually go racing (Buy a car and gear), it all comes out about the same. Even Skip Barber which is significantly more expensive, costs more upfront but does not any require experience (and expense) in HPDE beforehand.

There is no single “right” path to earning a license that I can broadly suggest, instead review the options and merits of each school and see what works best for you. I hope to see you out there!

So now that you know HOW to go racing, stop waiting and start making moves towards doing it! My only regret with my own racing is that I waited so long to start.

4 thoughts on “How to go RACING – 4 Popular paths to earning a competition racing license.

    1. Haha, for real! I had my first club phone call for this and like 2 weeks later I saw your post, you got my phone lines tapped?

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