The Derek Daly Academy, located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, provides a variety of driver safety and performance driving courses. When some friends put together a "group buy" resulting in a 10% discount on the Four Day Formula Racing School, I jumped at the chance to attend. This site provides my review of the experience. For the record, I have no affiliation with the school or any of its sponsors.

This course is not cheap at $3295. It is a "racing" class as opposed to a "driving" class, which, if you haven't taken at least one, should be a prerequisite. If you're not interested in mastering skills like learning the proper race line, trail braking, heel and toe, and lapping a road course at faster and faster speeds until there is virtually no margin for error, this course is not for you. (Check out the Derek Daly web site, however - they offer many classes in their "Driving Program" curriculum as well.) If you are in fact looking for a racing class, this is a great one. If you're interested in competing, successful completion of the class qualifies you for an SCCA regional competition license.

"Car Guys" may appreciate that the LVMS complex is also home to a number of after-market racing equipment suppliers, as well as the Shelby showroom and factory, which is open for tours from 8-4PM. We went - we drooled.

My Background and Goals

I assume you're here because you are interested to learn more about the Daly program. I will tell you up front it was easily the best education I have had, but your experience depends upon your expectations. I figure you ought to know who I am, and why I went in order to determine whether this is relevant for you.

I guess you could say I am a "driving enthusiast." I have always had an attraction to just about anything with a motor in it, and I'm certainly crazy about cars. I was driving before I was old enough to be legal, and even before that I rode bicycles, mini-bikes, go-karts, even skate-wheeled coasters on the local hill. I've driven all kinds of cars, trucks, vans, boats, airplanes, forklifts, dump trucks.... you get the idea. I always enjoyed the sensation of speed, but I am not a dare-devil by any stretch. In fact I've always had a strong self-preservation instinct and I've never had a serious accident in 30 years of driving (knock wood.)

I enjoy driving well. I want to know what my car does at its limits, but that doesn't mean I intend to drive it there on the street. To me, driving well means understanding how a car works, knowing its limits, knowing mine, and knowing how to control the car under both normal and adverse conditions. I want to drive better, no matter how good I get. To that end I have sought education to validate and improve my skills. My early education came mostly from experimentation and observation, while more recently (and wisely) I've gained new insights and skills through reading and more formal education, which has included:

These schools were all valuable and fun, but I wanted a structured program specifically focused on the advanced skills required to drive around a race track quickly, and I didn't want to beat up my own cars to do it. Although I have learned from driving my own cars on the track, their incredible power also allowed me to get away with some bad habits, and impeded my understanding of some concepts the instructors kept talking about. I didn't really understand that until I took this course. Note that I have absolutely no interest in racing as anything but a spectator. I have immense respect for the talent and dedication of any competitive racer, and I know I have neither the physical abilities nor the desire to do what it takes to compete with them. My goals in taking this course were less lofty:

  • Improve my driving skills
  • Drive a true race car
  • Experience a racing transmission (straight cut gears, no synchros)
  • Have fun!

With that as a background, please read on!

Powering out of Turn 6 at Laguna Seca in my 996TT

Chasing another M5 in Turn 3 at Sears Point

All Material Copyright © 2002, 2003 - Greg Heumann. Photos by Greg Heumann, Andy Menard and Dennis Morrison

Questions? Email me! Sorry, you can't click here. You'll have to write this down. I did this to prevent SPAM. (Sorry, you can no longer click my email address. I've changed it to an image to reduce SPAM.)

Page Last Modified 7/17/03