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The Audi Driving Experience at Road Atlanta

Story by Steve Giordano

The Audi Driving Experience at Road Atlanta, a branch of Panoz Racing School, gives drivers a kick-start in their ability to handle dangerous street situations. The purpose is to learn to use 100% of a vehicle’s potential to avoid accidents through smooth steering and braking, skid correction, emergency braking and lane change maneuvers.

To take the course, either one or two days, you need only a driver’s permit or a license. Audi Driving Experience provides the cars, which, naturally, are Audis – A4s. Graduates of the program often qualify for a discount on their car insurance. Bonus: students are not liable for damage to vehicles in any of the Advanced Handling programs.

Class size is normally twenty people, two students to a vehicle.. Only one-fifth of the time is spent in the classroom; the rest is outside on the closed course and in the cars. Students do not drive on the Road Atlanta race course, which surrounds the training area. The main parts of the training area are a wet skid pad, autocross course and wide-open exercise areas.

The first proof in the pudding is the tight cone course, which can only be driven at a slow speed while using the proper hand position and steering method. If you don’t do things right, the cones go flying.

The wet, circular skid pad is a real challenge too. You actually demonstrate to yourself that your car tends to steer in the direction you’re looking. So the point is to focus in the direction you need to recover, then use your hands and feet to regain control of the car.

The emergency lane change lesson gives you more confidence than you thought possible. Imagine gunning the car all out, constantly accelerating toward three green traffic lights, one for each lane of cones. Quicker than a blink, at the last possible second, two of the lights turn red and your job is to get into the green lane and stop as quick as you can at the no-cone “intersection.” It requires an aggressive maneuver, finding the “out” to the situation, and you feel your success after about 3-6 attempts.

There are many other skills to learn; these are just a few, leading toward the “final exam.” This is a team competition on the autocross course, where you apply everything you’ve learned abaout braking, turning and skid control. The course is a scaled-down racetrack lined with cones, and you push yourself and your car to the limit through every turn and straightaway.

Road Atlanta Raceway
Braselton, GA (Atlanta)
To get to the track from Atlanta, take I-85 north to exit 129 ("Hwy 53 - Braselton/Hoschton".) Turn left after taking the exit and look for Road Atlanta on the left after about 5.5 miles.

For a stayover, the nearby luxurious Chateau Elan Winery and Resort offers a fine country experience. Phone 678-425-0900 or visit http://www.chateauelanatlanta.com/.

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