In order to be eligible for performance driving, which includes non-competitive lapping, Time Attack and Road Racing, the regulations require all participants to have a Regional High Performance Drivers License. In this post I share my experience of going through the process to get one, and also what I’ve observed with others, who followed a different path to licensing.
There are 3 flavours of licenses:
- Lapping license. This license makes the holder eligible for participating in non-competitive solo lapping days. At AMP there are a number of clubs that host such events: ARMS hosts 3-4 days combined with Time Attack. The most up-to-date information is available on the www.atlantictimeattack.ca website or its Facebook group.
- Time Attack license. This license is awarded to applicants who have exhibited the ability to consistently set safe laps and are ready (at ARMS instructor’s discretion) to push the car more aggressively.
- Road Racing license. This is the ultimate license that allows wheel-to-wheel racing across all regional club races in Canada.
So how does one get one of these HPDE licenses?
For starters, to get a license, you must have a certified ARMS instructor sign-off (grant) you the license; and there are a number of ways to do this.
- Annual ASCC Solosport HPDE school. The most straight forward way to get your track license for driving at Atlantic Motorsport Park is the annual ASCC HPDE school (HPDE stands for High Performance Driver Education). This school is offered to a limited number of participants each year on Victoria Day weekend in May.
- Annual ARMS Road Racing HPDE school. This is the other most straight forward way to get licensed for road racing. This school is typically held the weekend that follows the Solosport HPDE school, which is around the last weekend of May or first weekend of June. There is no prerequisite here, despite some saying that a lapping or time attack license is first required – they are not required to get this. The earliest age that someone can get this license is 15 years old, but they must have 2 prior years of karting experience with an ARMS affiliated club.
- What if you missed the annual school… You can either wait a year until the next one, or be proactive about requesting a special arrangement and custom coaching programme with an ARMS club and an ARMS instructor. This is done by getting in touch with an organizer, stating your intent, and making a friend or/two in the community. You’ll be dealing with volunteers, so don’t be a dick. If you don’t get an immediate or clear answer, lower your expectations and be proactive in making friends in the community. We all want to see more participants join, so if you show that you’re serious, people will take their time to help.
The way this approach works is by showing that you’re 100% serious/committed and that you didn’t flake off the annual May school. It requires you to be persistent, meaning following up. The end result will be that on a lapping day, an instructor will be paired up with you, who will give you an off-track lecture (classroom session), then a portion of a lapping day will be dedicated to training sessions with the instructor, and slowly roll into lapping sessions with others. I’ve seen several people get their license this way, but it’s not the easiest method because there is not fixed process here.
Hence, start by reaching out on FB Messenger to the folks in charge of Atlantic Time Attack or ASCC or ARMS.
- Custom coaching programme with Maritime High Performance Driving Club (MHPDC). These guys are a private club with driving instructors more readily available than any other club. It costs more than the volunteer-run clubs, but you’ll be given VIP level attention and support. They might not sign-off on giving your a license on the first day, but will coach you over several lapping days until they’re confident with your driving abilities – safety being the number one priority. The other caveat is that most of their events are held on weekdays, tailored to the entrepreneurs and folks who don’t have regular 9-5 jobs. So give them a ring and they’ll be happy to help.
- Road racing licenses by special request. ARMS’ intent is to increase the number of cars on the grid. Therefore, if a serious competitor comes forth, has a car or a seat on an established racing team, they will never be turned away (from what I’ve seen before). Same process as #2 above, except there is a lot more motivation to help get you racing. My friend, Ryan, unfortunately missed the annual school, but we reached out to the series’ organizers, had a couple of meetings in planning out the classroom session and the times and approach to on-track instruction to meet his skill level as a driver. He got sign-off on his rookie license and had a great season. One last thing to mention here is that you need to quickly grasp high performance driving physics, technique and safety rules. If you’re very new to performance driving, first try a season or two of solosport..
References and Getting in Touch
Note, in my experience, Facebook is the best way to get in touch. I’ve found that email isn’t as quickly responded to as the FB – or attending the club meeting.
Facebook pages and groups
Atlantic Time Attack page: https://www.facebook.com/atlantictimeattack
Trac Series page: https://www.facebook.com/tracracing
AMP Member Clubs General Discussion: https://www.facebook.com/groups/253271865524528
Atlantic Region Motorsports page: https://www.facebook.com/ARMSInc
And if you’d like to get in touch with me personally with any questions, I’m on Instagram @nroussakov.