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Final Version

I know the role skill plays in driving. I also know my new STI is over my head in its capability. Who has the best, and most relevant, driving school to help me get the most out of my STI? I live in Southern California.

I checked out the SCCA autocross classes and found some expensive instruction out at Willow Springs. I also found a place north of Sacramento . . . a bit far.

I know I'm dreaming. But, is there a place that has its own fleet of STIs? Heck, I'd get on a plane for that!
 

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Upgraded Tire Size

I'm kinda in this boat too. I don't know that there would be a specific place to teach the STi itself. I think the best way to go would be to take a generic racing school of somekind and learn the overall dynamics of racing. Then, with some time on your own at a local track, you can try to tailor those skills and concepts to the way the STi drives.

This car most certainly doesn't like to be driven the way I'm used to driving. It's like it just keeps begging "GO AHEAD, TRY TO SPIN ME....I'LL GO FASTER!!"
 

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Dead horse

Yup, that is why I posted on another forum about how Subaru should be giving us some sort of training like they were sending the salemen to. I mean we are diving the cars not the salesmen. I have been on a few tracks on a number of occasions but have no idea what to expect from an AWD performance vehicle when pushed to the limits, especially one with an adjustable diff. I wish I knew an instructor that actually drove an AWD car. I know just goofing around, safely of course, on off and on ramps the STi behaves differently when coasting through them compared to being on the gas through them. When on the gas it seems to kind of pull itself through and it wants to go faster but no way do I want to test that out on public roads. After I switch to synthetic oil I will be attending an open track day where I can safely push it a little more. I heard one professional driver say that most people would be too scared to drive the STi like it should, as in being on the gas through a corner. He said something about the faster you go the better it handles.
 

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Absolutely true. The thing that spooks me about the "push me harder" behavior is that it kicks into that mode something just barely more push than under normal conditions. I don't know that that makes sense...but like the onramp scenario: if you push her pretty hard, planning to not be sliding, she'll do it. But give a little extra fling to that rear end, and she'll turn into a drifting monster!

That little difference is what kinda scares me about the car. The whole on gas/off gas thing in the middle of corners is strange at first, but easy to cope with. As you just said, if you just stay in the gas, it'll just keep clawing and pulling. But man....come off that gas, it's almost upsetting to the car. The nose tucks and the tail swings.

I almost want to set up my own high speed autox course for an afternoon just to feel the car out!
 

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The Evolution driving school is supposed to be one of the best performance driver training programs in the country. http://www.autocross.com/evolution/

I plan on going to a school as soon as I can fit it into my schedule.
 

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Ideas include autocrossing, an autocross test-n-tune day, Evolution (or other) autocross school, or a road course driving school / lapping day.

Autocrossing is great, but kind of slow since you only get a few runs in a full day. You don't get much opportunity to experiment, except by going to lots of them. Still, much better than not gong at all, and generally very cheap.

A test and tune day (aka practice day) is by far the cheapest, if it is available anywhere. In SoCal I doubt it since too many people would show up. In ours, a course is set up and we just run all day -- no timing (sometimes stopwatched), pick up your own cones (the course morphs a bit as the day goes on unless someone is ambitious and chalks them). Anyway, it is possible to get 20 to 50 runs in a day with this, often with a wait of 0-3 cars. Perfect for experimenting.

I attended 3 days of Evolution school a couple weeks ago. Highly recommended. The instructors usually differ since they get many from local people, but each typically has at least one national championship, and often multiple in different cars. The format involves you driving, them driving, you driving, etc. so you can watch what they do. Of the 6 or so that drove my car they are (1) excellent drivers period, (2) experienced with many car types. Someone who can hop between an STi, a turbo Miata with manual steering, an RX-8, a Mini Cooper, a prepared RX-7, an AWD Talon, a Boxster S, a Jaguar sedan with non-disableable traction control, etc. and drive them all typically faster than the owners, is really something. Now I admit not a single one seemed to follow the "drive super fast into the corner, scrub speed off with tires, then accelerate out using AWD to maximum" technique which seems so popular with local Subie drivers -- they drove them cleanly and smoothly, though with modifications to fit the car, e.g. with the STi you need to maximize your straights since the car has oodles of power and will not out-turn the light sports cars, adjust trail braking amount to fit car (which means a lot with the STi, though drivers differ on how much they like to use this). Anyway, to get back to your point, they will teach you to autocross effectively, but nothing specially unique about your car. If they have experience driving AWD cars, I'd trust what they have to say about driving them quickly.

Lastly, a driving school. You could do a generic driving school, a Skip Barber type school (very cool and I hear it recommended all the time, but expensive and not with your car), or something like a club school. I just did 2 days of BMW Club driving school, and I'd also recommend that. More expensive than autocross, but pretty cheap considering (mine was about $150/day for 2 hours of driving/day). Much higher speed than autocross, all about following the right line which typically does not vary too much by car type (unlike autocross, where it can differ a lot, and often does not follow the typical racing line), and all kinds of time to set up for corners. Similar but different. Unlike autocross, you definitely want to increase in small steps since you do not want to be panic lifting in an 80mph corner at the limit. It does give you lots of driving time, and plenty of chances to try slightly different things through the same set of corners. The instructors vary in their knowledge -- most should be quite good drivers but may or may not have AWD experience. At the one I went to, one instructor drives a WRX, one an Evo8 (which I rode in later), and my full day instructor for the second day drives a 911 turbo (which is AWD) and I got to ride for a session in that as well (talk about fast...).

You could get a copy of the book "Going Faster!" which is the Skip Barber course, basically. This would at least give you all sorts of technical info on how one drives faster. Nothing about AWD though.
 

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Evolution is a great school.....did phase 1 last year. Just amazing to have that many runs and to have back-to-back instruction. That's the only real way to learn autox.

Going Faster....great book. The Carrol Smith "Drive to..." series are excellent and very specific as well.
 
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Similar to what Mundi was saying, you could look into the Porsche club. They typically have a track event once every month or so, and for about $200 bucks, you get the whole weekend with an instructor, 4-5 runs per day, 30 minutes a run.

The only downside, will be that your instructor won't necessarily be AWD experienced. However, he will have a substantial knowledge of general driving theory and that will still help you tremendously.

ps: the Porsche club will let you join even if you don't own a Porsche, but you gotta be able to put up with all the rich fogeys and bratty teenagers who have 90k porsches, :)

mist
 

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I agree. I've done both the Evolution phase 1 autocross school and a Porsche Club of America driver's ed event. The two instructor's at Evolution had about 5 or 6 Solo national championships between them. You'll get lot's of seat time in a day (we started at dawn and ran until dusk) with lot's of good feedback and advice in a safe environment. Keep an open mind and you can learn a lot about your car and your driving. The PCA driver's ed event was fun too. It was on a real race course so the speeds were higher (with more opportunity to do something silly and hurt your car). I got lot's of seat time with a good instructor and I learned a lot. There were all kinds of cars, every thing from a full race Omni GLHS (!?!) to VWs to new Porsches. They generally give preference to their members and fill the rest of the open spots on a first come first served basis.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the great advice everyone! I'll share my experience when I get it. I just crossed the 1000 mi. mark and I'm even more convinced that I need some help ramping up my learning curve! This car is a crotch rocket in car clothing!!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Anyone else get the Subaru "Drive" magazine? It contains an article about a 2 day STI driving school for Subaru sales consultants. How much would you pay for the experience they describe? . . . . o.k. and what if they agree to leave out the Forester/Baja segment? OOhh! I just noticed the reference to the WRX STI Training Video . . . gotta go check it out at www.DriveSubaru.com
 

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I would also suggest the Audi HPDE. They know AWD and their events are usually better than that of Porsche club's, depending on the chapter.

Evo Phase 1-3 + Test and Tune is geared towards autoxing as all mentioned, and they teach really different things than learning how to drive better on the highway or at 8/10th, 9/10ths of its and your capabilities. Auto-x schools teach you how to drive your car in a totally unbalanced manner throughout the course. It is auto-x after all, who ever can drive the craziest and still keep it within cones wins :)

Any how, I think an HPDE would be more helpful at this time for you. I am lucky, my instructor is instructing in the Porsche, Audi, and Mazda clubs and his track car is an STi ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
yxan2 said:
did you hear anything more about the STi driving school?
I'll probably come back from the rally in Lake Superior armed with a little more information.
 

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Very rough idle

Driver school for STi would be nice. However, I've learned a LOT about mine and how it handles and breaks traction by going out with some guys to an old airstrip and running "free style." It's free, it's safe, it's fun. :) The STi is a donut monster and once I go out there again, I'll be able to pull 360s and 180s again, drift, etc. But definitely don't do it in a business's parking lot or something, or on public roads...

RN
 

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Subaru holds Subifest events throughout the year at various locations. Wonder if anyone can comment on if they offer track time/instructions/etc? I've spoken to the Subaru dealer here in Houston and they get 2 or 3 invites to "drive with the stars" where they test various Subaru vehicles (almost the entire lineup) on and off road...all with SOA supplied vehicles. I was disappointed because these salesmen are a whole bunch of goof-offs in these events (the manager was actually proud in giving wrong turning speed/info when he sat in the navigator seat next to a rally driver just to see if the car would spin around..etc).
However, the chief mechanic at the dealer has a heavily modified STI and he is a regular on the tracks...I'll talk with this guy and see what he suggests.
 

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Re: Very rough idle

Driver school for STi would be nice. However, I've learned a LOT about mine and how it handles and breaks traction by going out with some guys to an old airstrip and running "free style." It's free, it's safe, it's fun. :) The STi is a donut monster and once I go out there again, I'll be able to pull 360s and 180s again, drift, etc. But definitely don't do it in a business's parking lot or something, or on public roads...

RN
How exactly would one go about running around an airstrip? Did you call the airstrip and ask to use it? Did you know someone with an airstrip? (dumb question I know) I would definitely like to try my car on one.
 

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Sorry to post another right away - but I too have heard great things about Evolution driving school and actually planned on attending when it comes around.
 
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