April 8, 2024

Salem Employee-Owner Hits the Road (Course)

When he's not doing Digital Marketing for Salem, Scott Hinson can be spotted driving his Ford Mustang around a racetrack on the weekends.  We caught up to him and asked about it.

SALEM: How long have you been doing this?

SH: I've always been a fan of motorsports, even been to a couple of NASCAR races and local drag strips here and there, but this past March was my first time ever driving on a track. It's always been on the bucket list.

SALEM: How did this come about?

SH: Long story short, I found out about these car clubs that hold organized track days at various tracks around the country.

SALEM: So, you're racing the car?

SH: Yes and no.  High Performance Driver’s Education (HPDE) is an opportunity to drive your street car at high speed in the controlled environment of a private road course.  You’re pushing the car harder than you typically would on the street, but it's not a timed competition against others on the same track.

Driver's view on track.

It's about learning high performance driving techniques while also helping you understand how your car handles, which translates into making you a better driver on public roads. The learning comes from both classroom time and in-car instruction.

SALEM: "In-car instruction?"

SH: Yes, newbies have the added benefit of an experienced instructor riding along to help you navigate the course and advise you on basic proper high speed driving techniques and track etiquette.

Alternatively, some track events utilize a "lead-follow" session format where you follow behind the instructor in their car.

SALEM: Do you need a fast, high-performance car to participate?

SH: Not at all.  Any car (no SUVs or trucks) in good, mechanically road-worthy condition can be used.  In fact, they tell you that starting out in a slow car is better.  The idea is to first learn how to drive the track, then the speed will come later.

The caveat being that bringing your daily driven vehicle is not recommended.  HPDE sessions are thought to be safer than driving in public, but things still can and sometimes do happen.

SALEM: Is it expensive to try?

SH: Not compared to some performance driving schools.  All costs considered; a beginner can have an HPDE weekend for around $500.

SALEM: You said recently was your first time doing this.  How was it?

SH: I went to VIRginia International Raceway, a 3-mile road course with 18 turns.  For 5 laps, and what seemed like the longest 25 minutes I can remember, I shared the track with about thirty other cars.

Cars racing on a track

Between navigating the turns, the traffic around me and listening to my instructor, there was a lot to process in the moment.

While it was happening, I couldn't tell you where I was on the track or how many laps I’d run.  I had to watch the video footage later to get the full picture.

SALEM: Will you do it again?

SH: Absolutely!  They warned me it was addictive; I've got another track day scheduled for early April at a different track.  This time in Alabama.

See the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9VIuEaAqvU

Video footage of driving on a race track



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