From coast to coast, there are plenty of excellent racing schools in the country

Just because you think you can drive, that doesn’t mean you can really drive. See, there’s a difference between casually going to your local market in a Honda Civic and blasting along a race track at speeds in excess of 200 mph. The latter takes time to learn and even then, only a small population of drivers can really be adept at driving race cars to their full potential. Everyone can try it, though, to see how far they can go. And for them to find out, the best way is signing up for any one of the many racing schools populating the great ‘ol U.S. of A.

Obviously, we’re not here to list down each and every racing school in America. That would likely end in the thousands when talking about them quantitatively. Rather, we’re lining up some of the best racing schools in the country. Each of the schools on this list is either run by high-end automakers or drivers with racing pedigrees. Regardless of who or where it is, these schools all have something unique to offer with a catalog of classes and racing opportunities all at the table. So, with the summer season fast approaching, now may be as good a time to compare the best racing schools in the U.S.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Richard Petty Racing Experience

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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When a racing school and its program is created by the man referred to as “The King,” you know it has something special to offer to drivers and NASCAR aficionados alike. That’s what the Richard Petty Racing Experience is all about. Available at more than 15 race tracks all over the country, the Petty Racing Experience provides customers the opportunity to either ride shotgun on a two-seat NASCAR with a professional racing instructor or go all-out behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car for 30(!) laps. Obviously, you’re going to need to learn the intricacies of NASCAR driving before you start dreaming of running those 30 laps. It just so happens that when it comes to learning about NASCAR, the programs available in the Petty Racing Experience are as good as they’re going to get.

Bondurant Racing School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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When it comes to all-purpose race car driving and learning the lessons that come in excelling at all of these disciplines, very few racing schools offer as many comprehensive programs as the Bondurant Racing School. It’s located in Chandler, Arizona, so unlike the Richard Petty Racing Experience, students and customers will have to go to the location to get their racing education. There are a myriad of choices available in this school, including an Open-Wheel Formula Mazda Racing course, a High-Performance Driving course, and the always-intriguing Executive Protection and Tactical Mobility course for those interested in learning to drive under extreme conditions. The school even has a Women’s Driving Academy and Advanced Teen Driving course, proving itself to be the all-purpose driving school. So if you’re up to take any of these courses, make the trip to Arizona and sign up at the Bondurant Racing School.

BMW Performance School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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Fans of BMW should be tripping over themselves trying to sign up for courses in BMW’s Motoring School. There are two locations where the German automaker’s performance center can be found. A private track in Palm Spring, California is where customers can try out just about every model in BMW and Mini’s respective ranges. That includes cars ranging from the Mini Cooper to the BMW M6. If Palm Springs is a little too far for the sensibilities, there’s also another performance center in Grenville, South Carolina that’s ready to cater to the needs of customers looking to learn the craft of driving BMW models.

Frank Hawley Drag Racing School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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If drag racing happens to be your thing, take a deep breath and prepare yourselves before signing up at the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School in Gainesville, Florida. Courses like the Dragster Adventure make it possible for intrepid customers to get a feel for the power of drag racing without having to get an actual professional race car drive license. It’s a half-day’s worth of track runs and quarter mile sprints for newbies and neophytes alike. In the event that a customer does want to get a license, the school offers a separate program for that opportunity. It’s going to take a lot more commitment, but there are competition classes available in Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Dragster, Nostalgia FC, and Top Alcohol. Even better, the school has classes and programs across the country so customers don’t have to make the trip to Gainesville to get their drag racing fix on.

Bridgestone Winter Driving School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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Proving there’s really a driving school for every occasion here in the U.S., the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Spring, Colorado is a good way to learn about the art of driving in less than ideal winter road conditions like, say, icy and snowy roads. This particular school actually has an everyday-importance attached to it, largely because it offers courses that drivers, especially those who live in areas with debilitating winters, can use. There are safety classes, as well as performance classes, both held on some of the best snow- and ice-covered courses anywhere in the world. The school even has a course set on a frozen lake, so that’s something that’s worth keeping an eye out for.

Team O’Neill Rally School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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At this point, we’ve already talked about course dedicated to NASCAR, drag racing, performance racing, and even winter driving. Now let’s turn our attention to the world of rallying where the Team O’Neill Rally School in Dalton, New Hampshire counts itself as one of the best in this type of racing discipline. The location may be a little harder to get to than most, but it’s largely a rally school, so don’t expect it to be set in a bustling metropolis. There are a number of courses and classes to choose from, including off-road driving, specialty courses, and of course, the world-famous rally school. And since the school is located in New Hampshire, certain times of the year also opens up a winter driving school for customers. There’s definitely a lot to do over at the Team O’Neill Rally School.


The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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Should the Northeast be too far out of your reach, there is another rally school on the other side of the country that’s as capable of giving you a masterclass in rally racing. The school is Dirtfish and it’s located in Snoqualmie, Washington. It’s another destination spot, but if customers are looking to learn about rally racing, it’s a good place to go to. Dirtfish offers plenty of courses and programs, but its real attraction are the rally courses that vary depending on how long a customer wants to be part of it. The shortest course is just two hours, but if the desire is there to truly learn the craft of rally racing, the school is offering an advanced three-day program and a private program altogether.

Porsche Driving Experience

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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BMW isn’t the only automaker that has a dedicated driving school/performance center in the U.S. Audi has the Driving Experience in Sonoma County, California. Ford has the Performance Racing School in Grantsville, Utah. Then there’s Porsche and its Driving Experience school in Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia. For what it’s worth, this is the school for true Porsche enthusiasts and it enjoys the status as one of the best driving schools in the country. The Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, in particular, caters to all guests who are looking to experience the rush of driving Porsche models on a track designed by the company itself. The automaker even has eight different driving modules designed to simulate everyday driving conditions and simulated environments to help give students the full spectacle of driving a Porsche sports car.

Exotics Racing

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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If you’re not settled on driving just a Porsche sports car and you might something a little bit more on the exotic side, there are a number of driving schools that offer classes using some of the finest exotics in the land. You name it: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren. One that stands out is Las Vegas-based Exotics Racing, which has among other exotic beauties, a Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracán, Mercedes-AMG GT, Aston Martin Vantage, and a McLaren 570S. The supercars may be the hook here, but the customers will only get to have fun with them if they take up any of the school’s courses, including the Supercar Driving Experience where the objective is to learn how to drive six-figure exotics to their absolute limit.

Skip Barber Racing School

The Best Driving And Racing Schools In America
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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Skip Barber Racing School, even with its current problems. It’s been around longer than most racing schools, having been founded in 1975. As it stands, the school is mired in bankruptcy woes that could end up with the school closing its doors for good. It’s a shame, really, and I hope it can find a way to remain open. For what it’s worth, the Skip Barber Racing School is considered a pioneer among racing schools in the U.S. Even if it goes belly-up, it still deserves a place on this list.

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