Getting Started

“How do I get started?”

That is the most common asked question when someone new learns about our organization. The answer is, “it is easy”. In fact it is far easier than most people realize. Here are the high level requirements:

  • 18+ years old (16 w/parental consent)
  • Valid state driver’s license
  • ANY car deemed to be in a safe operating condition
    NOTE: Convertibles require factory rollover protection or aftermarket rollbar
  • A helmet with an “SA” (<– Special Application) and “Snell” rating / NOTE:  Snell helmets with an “M” (<– Motorcycle) rating is also acceptable for HPDE
  • Good attitude, Patience, willingness to listen, learn and have fun
  • NASA membership

If you didn’t notice, you don’t need a “race car” and you don’t have to know anything about car classing. You also don’t need a major sponsor or *deep* pockets. In fact, you don’t even need to be a *dare devil* or thrill seeker. Our beginner program focuses on safety, driver education and fun! Students are encouraged by our certified and professional instructors to only drive as fast as they feel comfortable going. If that means they simply want to experience driving on a race track at typical freeway speeds, that’s okay. On the flip side, if someone has dreamed about driving triple digits speeds around a turn as well as down the main straight, that’s okay too! As long as discipline and car control is displayed, there are no speed limits as a beginner.

 

Nice *sales pitch*! This sounds fun and all but it might be too dangerous for my liking.

There is no doubt that driving fast can be dangerous.  NASA understands that there is always risk with driving on track, but here are some considerations:

  • There is no oncoming traffic or intersections
  • All drivers are alert/aware
  • All cars on track have been inspected and have been signed off to be in excellent mechanical condition
  • No drivers are “under the influence” or falling asleep at the wheel
  • No drivers are using their cell phones, smoking or multitasking in other regards
  • The chances of animals, kids, or general pedestrians jumping out on track in front of you have been severely reduced
  • The chances of coming around a turn and finding a piece of household furniture in the middle of the track is highly unlikely, however should debris or a slippy liquid ever make it’s way on track, the corner workers will do everything possible to provide advance notice before you even get there!
  • Classroom instruction is provided to everyone that will be on the track with you at the same time
  • Certified/professional 1×1 instructor will be assigned to you at all times to help guide the way and ensure your experience is a safe, controlled and FUN!

 

“Okay great! I meet the requirements and it seems safe enough to give it a try, what class will I be in?”

When you first start out, there are no classes. We have found over the years that is works out much better to separate the *drivers* by experience level instead of the different types of *cars*. Drivers naturally become faster as they become more confident. This confidence only comes with experience and seat time at the track. All beginners will start out in High Performance Driver Education level 1 (i.e. HPDE1).

NOTE:  Drivers who have had previous on track driving experience with a similar organization might be eligible to skip NASA’s HPDE1 program.  This will be decided on a case by case basis and is at the discretion of the “Chief Driving Instructor” or the “Regional Director”.

 

“How do I sign up to give this a try?”

  • Register online for the upcoming event you want – View the schedule here and click on the “Register” button/link to take you to the online NASA National registration website
  • Membership: When you register for your first event it will automatically add a 1 year membership to your order. A NASA membership is only $45 and it includes a subscription to “NASA SpeedNews Magazine” and several other benefits!

 

Social Media / “How do I stay connected?”

  • Forum: Sign up as user and introduce yourself! We’re just a bunch of regular guys/gals that have a passion for cars and high performance driving and love to help out new people just getting into the sport.  NOTE:  Due to the amount of spammers we get, everyone has to request a login and then someone has to manually approve that request which could take upwards of 24-48 hours depending on volume and if we’re at the track!  Additionally, if your username or email looks suspect of being “spam” please don’t get offended if you get rejected on your first request.  Most legit requests go through right away though.  Thanks in advance for your understanding.
  • Mailing ListForum: Sign up here for our mailing list so you’ll always get the latest updates about the club and upcoming events.  NOTE: We also receive a large number of failed email sent messages to the (e)mailing list due to spam blockage. If you sign up for the mailing list, please make sure to add Tage@nasaaz.com to your address book or trusted list so it does not get spam/junk blocked.
  • Official NASA AZ page on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/NASAAZ
  • Official NASA AZ group on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/NASAAZ/
  • Official NASA AZ on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/NASA_AZ
  • Official NASA AZ on Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/nasa_az/

Once I get signed up, what do I need to do before the event?

Make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape. If there is a mechanical problem with your vehicle, you don’t want to wait until the day of the event to address it. If there is any general maintenance items you’ve been putting off, take care of them now. Here’s some examples your or your mechanic can check:

  • Tires: Make sure they have plenty of tread and fill them up with the max recommended air pressure (you can always bleed some air out at the track if needed) – rotate if needed
  • Lug nuts/studs: Make sure all lug nuts/studs are present and are torqued to factory spec
  • Wheel bearings/bushings:  Lift your vehicle off the ground and firmly move each wheel/tire checking for any “play”.  If there is replace worn parts as needed
  • Brakes: Make sure your brake pads and rotors have plenty of life, pedal is firm and fluid is fresh/clean
  • Brake lights: Make sure all brake lights are working as designed – NOTE: You will not pass tech if they are not working
  • Seat belts: Good working order (if non-stock belts are used it must be at least a 5 point harness and properly installed per our CCRs (@ https://nasaproracing.com/rules/ccr.pdf).  When in doubt, ask on one of our social media outlets.
  • Fluids: Make sure all vital fluids are topped off and/or changed (if needed) – There also should be no leaks.
  • Battery: This MUST be anchored down securely with solid materials such as a metal bracket and J-bolts. No bungee cords, straps or rope will be accepted. The battery must be enclosed in a proper battery case/box if it is located inside the cockpit area.
  • Windshield: Minor chips and cracks are okay as long as they do not impair driving visibility and the tech inspector does not deem it as a safety hazard (<– this is 100% subjective to the Tech Officials. If in doubt, have the windshield replaced)

NOTE: The official HPDE tech form can be downloaded here

 

What do I need to bring on the day of the event?

  • Helmet: The club does has several loaner helmets but to ensure a proper fit, it is always best to own your own
  • Print out the online map and/or instructions on where to park, where to register, where to tech, etc.
  • Something to write with and take notes.
  • Sunglasses / Sunblock
  • Water / Drinks / Snacks
  • Patience, Respect and willingness to learn – You don’t know what you don’t know yet, but we will teach you!

What do I need to do on the day of the event?

  • Dress appropriately – we always recommend pants and long sleeves but it is equally as important to be comfortable so you can more easily remain focused when on track
  • Show up EARLY! – It is recommended to show up between 60-90 mins before the “Mandatory Drivers Meeting” to allow enough time to complete registration, tech and answer any questions you might have without feeling rushed.
  • Find a paddock space and empty everything out of the car (floormats, spare tire, loose items, etc.)
  • Check in with registration
  • Take your vehicle through tech Inspection
  • Attend the *Mandatory* Drivers Meeting
  • Ask questions and have FUN!

High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE)

Have you ever wanted to drive your car beyond the legal limits? Have you ever dreamed of driving your car on a *real* race track? Did you realize that you can do both in a safe, controlled and affordable environment? NASA makes it easy for anyone wanting to make this dream become a reality. No cops, no oncoming traffic, no pedestrians (or animals) and no tickets! The best part is you don’t even need a “race car”, you can do it in your own (street) car. Our HPDE program regularly sees vehicles ranging from a basic commuter cars to some of the most exotic cars on the planet and of course everything in between.

Beginner students are hand matched with our certified professional instructors who provide 1×1 attention to each and every student. Maximum attention towards safety is the focus of the HPDE program. However, there are no speed limits or car modification limitations in any of the groups. Speed is only limited by the personal comfort level of the student.

Requirements:

  • At least 18 years of age (16 w/parental consent)
  • Valid state driver’s license
  • NASA Membership
  • ANY car deemed to be in a safe operating condition.
    NOTE: Convertibles require factory rollover protection or adequate aftermarket rollover protection.
  • A “Snell” rated helmet with an “M” or “SA” rating
  • Close toed shoes (i.e. no sandals)
  • Good attitude and willingness to learn and have FUN!

HPDE participants are separated according to their experience level into four basic groups:

HPDE1 (Beginner)

This is where everyone starts. Personal 1×1 guidance is provided as part of the program from experienced racers. As your car control skills and confidence increases thoughout the day the instructor will allow you to drive closer to your personal limits. Basics of the class will address general track safety, the proper “line”, braking, turning, accelerating and having FUN! Passing is very limited in this group.

HPDE2 (Novice)

Your HPDE1 instructor has determined you have progressed enough that you can drive safely on track with less supervision. You apply what you learned in the HPDE1 sessions to get more practice. Instructors will continue to be available if requested.  Sometimes this group is combined with HPDE1 if participants do not warrant a separate group.

HPDE3 (Intermediate)

You have progressed past HPDE2.  In this group, passing rules are more relaxed but still restricted in some areas of the track.

HPDE4 (Advanced)

Congratulations! You have graduated to the world of high performance driving and have learned to share the track at high speeds with others. There are no passing restrictions as long as good judgment and proper track etiquette is utilized. You and your peers now have a safe, controlled environment to simply have fun with your car.  These drivers may also request to move into the “Time Trial” group and/or apply for a competition license (i.e. Race Group) if they are looking for even more competition.

FAQ

What class will I be in?

There are no “classes” in the HPDE program. Any car that will pass the HPDE tech inspection may participate. HPDE vehicles are only separated by the *drivers* experience level. The purpose of the HPDE program is simply to provide car enthusiasts an opportunity to have a great time with their car in a (relatively) safe and controlled environment.

Do a need a bunch of modifications to go fast and have fun?

Absolutely not! The HPDE program will be fun no matter what car you bring. You’ll also find that cars have far more performance than an inexperienced driver is able to extract of out it. No matter what car you bring or what modifications it has (or does not have), by the end of the program, you’ll be *driving* much faster than inexperienced drivers in higher performing vehicles.

Do women do this too?

You would be surprised at the number of woman at the track, in the HPDE program and even racing wheel to wheel with the guys. This is not strictly a “mans” sport. HPDE1 typically sees a handful of woman every event and the numbers keep growing. By the way ladies, the instructor feedback is fairly consistent that women make better students than men! So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and start out-driving your man tomorrow. 😉

Do parents actually let their kids do this? Are they crazy?

We were all teenagers at some point so we should all understand the urge that most teenagers have to drive fast to see what it’s like. Over the years we have found that many parents put their teenage or young adult through the program to teach them to be safe drivers and let them “get it out of their system”. The result is actually a safer driver with less urges to drive fast on the street. A win/win situation for ALL!
NOTE TO PARENTS: You’ll bag some major brownie points with your kid if you let them run with us. Score you!

I want to impress my friends and family, can I take them as a passenger?

With the strong focus on safety and driving within personal limits, we limit passengers. No passengers are allowed at all in HPDE1 (just the instructor). Passengers are only allowed with group leader authorization in HPDE2. Passengers are approved in HPDE3 but it’s always good to check with your group leader first.
Note: Additional information about passengers can be found in section 4.6 of the Club Codes and Regulations.

What happens if I crash or someone crashes into me?

Body damage in HPDE groups rarely occurs, however you are encouraged to check with your insurance company regarding coverage as anything is possible.  Some insurance companies cover damages to cars participating in the HPDE program.  There are also specialized insurance policies such as Lockton Affinity (locktonaffinity.com) designed to specifically cover vehicles participating in HPDE events.