Want to learn how to handle a car like Ken Block? Well why don’t you take a trip up to the same New Hampshire rally school he first attended? Team O’Neil rally school is located in Dalton New Hampshire and it is where the King of the Hoons learned the ropes and started his journey to international stardom in the rally world.

The school was started by Tim O’Neil, a factory rally driver who drove for both Volkswagen and Mitsubishi during the late 1980s and early 90s. During his time driving professionally, he racked up five U.S. and North American Rally Championships and became one of the very few American drivers to compete on the international circuit.

After working for a few years with manufacturers to train drivers, Tim decided to open his own school. He designed and constructed the skid pad, slalom, and multiple miles of the road courses that surround the school. Since the school opened in 1997 Tim has personally developed and shaped the curriculum, trains all the instructors and to this day he oversees operations to constantly learn from and improve the school.

Click past the jump to read more about the Tim O’Neil Rally School.

Location

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The course is tucked into the foothills of the New Hampshire mountains just a few miles from the White Mountain National Forest. There is densely wooded for that true rally experience, and despite being out the wonderful wilderness of New England, just outside the school is a full collection of wonderful resorts, restaurants and activities to keep you busy when you aren’t attending driving class.

178 Miller Road
Dalton, NH 03598
Phone (603) 444-4488

The Cars

The cars for the various classes range from cheap and affordable front wheel drive hatches like the standard Ford Fiesta to full-bore rally cars like the Audi Quattro with a healthy dose of variation in between.

Ford Fiesta

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The main car used in many of the classes, the Ford Fiesta is the perfect choice for learning the basics of car control. The car’s used are as close as possible to production machines with the only changes being roll cages, heavy-duty suspension components, four-point harnesses and higher-performance brake pads. By using a stock-level car, it is easier to transfer newly learned skills on safe driving to a personal production car.

Ford Fiesta ST

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The Ford Fiesta ST is used later in the courses when students become more skilled. The cars are used on days four and five of the longer courses and they are great on the technical handling courses. With 197 horsepower, this little turbocharged hatch is plenty fast to push the limits of students skills on loose surfaces. Like the base level Fiesta, the STs at the school are all equipped with a full suite of enhanced safety systems like roll cages and seatbelt harnesses.

Subaru Impreza

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You can’t talk about rally racing without acknowledging the impact all-wheel drive has had on the sport. The cars used in the school program are all older generation Imprezas that have been modified to handle the rigors of rally racing. Full roll cages, harnesses, upgraded suspensions, better brakes and a full complement of skid plates ensure the cars can take a beating and keep on going. These cars are used in the longer courses of instruction for the beginning AWD instruction.

Subaru Impreza WRX

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Once students get comfortable with the handling changes and challenges associated with AWD, they get to move up to the turbocharged Impreza WRX. Students will get a chance to push their skills even further thanks to the higher speeds attainable with the WRX. Just like the Impreza, each WRX has been fitted with all the upgraded brakes, suspension bits, skid plates and safety pieces needed to ensure that you can explore the limits without worrying too much about destroying a car or yourself.

BMW 325i

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To teach the fine art of rally racing with a rear-wheel rive car, Team O’Neil employs a collection of older BMW 325i models. Each car comes with the smooth power of an inline six-cylinder engine. All that power is pumped to the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential. Team ONeil describes them as “awesome rear wheel spinning gravel machines!” Once again, safety is paramount so each car comes with a full roll cage and other required safety equipment like harnesses.

Audi Quattro

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The Audi Quattro is the legendary machine that started the AWD revolution in the sport of rally racing and Team O’Neil Rally School is one of the only places in the world that will let you beat this piece of automotive history around a gravel track. The Quattro come with a five-cylinder engine and locked differential in the center and rear. These are the cars that you will be using to start learning AWD skid control techniques. Time to practice the Scandinavian Flick.

Courses

Like any good racing school, Team O’Neil offers a wide variety of different options for different students and needs. From instruction on winter driving, off-road crawling and full-on high speed rally racing, there is something for everyone. Pricing varies, so call the school at (603) 444-4488 for pricing and availability.

Rally Schools

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This is the backbone of the school. With a series of classes lasting from single-day experiences to full five-day jaunts of speed and adrenaline, it is easy to get a class that will teach you exactly what you need to know. Each course is identical as it moves up in day count; i.e. the Three Day Rally Course is just the Two Day Rally Course with an extra day of instruction that features new skills.

The shortest class lasts just a single day and sees students learning the art of car control in a Ford Fiesta with a focus on left foot braking, braking in turns, skid control, racing line instruction, straight line braking, accident avoidance and a mechanical class.

A second day at Team O’Neil will see the introduction of all-wheel drive cars, the proper way to handle turns of varying speeds, how to link corners, and how to perform pendulum turns (the Scandinavian Flick.) Day two is also the day you get to power around in the Audi Quattros. Day two finishes with Rally America Licensing Class 1.

Day three increases the level of skill for the pendulum turn, introduces the art of trail braking and lets students deal with elevation changes on track. This class uses both FWD and AWD rally cars and also takes time to let students experience and practice turns of both increasing and decreasing radius. Day three ends with Rally America Licensing Class 2.

Day four is where things start to get serious and you begin applying all the skills you have learned so far. With training on jumps, handbrake turns, and how to handle turns and crests, this is where you really begin to feel like a real rally driver. Day four also introduces the rear-wheel-drive cars into the mix. Throughout the day there will time in a high-speed slalom and long-road loops. Students also get training in shifting and left foot braking.

Day five is the pinnacle of the class. You learn to put all your new abilities to the test by using all the vehicle types on long rally loops. There is also training on pacenotes, and rally navigation. Day five is also when students move to turbocharged cars for maximum speed and performance.

Winter Safe

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If you are not interested in becoming a rally driver, but you would like some training to help yourself handle cold weather and snow driving, Team O’Neil will be happy to help. This class is very unique as it allows students to use their own cars. I shouldn’t have to express how much better it is for driver’s to learn exactly how their own car will behave in adverse conditions. The class consists of time in a classroom followed by in-car experience in a safe and controlled environment on the skid pad and slalom. The class demonstrates exactly how each different car will react in differing situations, and they take time to focus on each car’s myriad of safety systems like ABS and traction control, how they help you and when they may hinder you.

This class also incorporates training for accident-avoidance maneuvers that apply in all weather conditions. The day ends with a road course that features varying elevations, turn types and road surface conditions to properly evaluate a student. If you feel that you would love to experience this, but you are worried of hurting your own car, Team O’Neil will rent you one of its Rally School cars.

Off-road

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This is a different course for the school, but with the right facilities there is no reason it shouldn’t offer the training. Rather than high-speed rally racing, the Off-Road School is built to cater to slow and methodical off-road driving and rock crawling. The course is offered in one- or two-day variations and students can bring their own vehicles or use a prepared Jeep Cherokee provide by Team O’Neil. The class covers basic 4x4 skills, vehicle capability levels, ascents, descents, side tiles, articulation and various terrains including logs, mud, water, snow, sand, rock and more.

As with every outing into the woods to crawl around there is a high chance that someone will get stuck, so Team O’Neil includes a course on winching and recovering as part of the program.

Specialty Courses

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With such a vast and varied collection of instructors, cars and surfaces, Team O’Neil also uses their facility to offer various specialized training courses. If you don’t want to go through the whole five-day program but really want to experience training in RWD car, you can select a special two day course that focuses purely on RWD training. You can also get classes on just AWD racing.

When racing rally there will inevitably be crashes, and so there will always need to be people trained to respond to those collisions. Currently Team O’Neil offers the first emergency responder training course that is catered to rally racing. This course covers not only the staples like basic life support (BLS/CPR) but the course trains responders how to handle the various and challenging situations that can be unique to rally racing.

Team O’Neil offers licensing seminars as part of its Rally School, but they can be taken separately if desired. These seminars cover the basics of how a rally works on a logistical level and it provides racers with everything they need to know about safety procedures, stage notes, time controls and more.

If there is still something you want to do, and it’s not listed here, just give Team O’Neil a call. They are always willing to work with you to set up a private training curriculum that is perfect for what you want to learn.

Video Gallery

Team O’Neil Advanced Courses


Rally Driving Explained


Recovering a car that is off the road


Audi Quattro Rally


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