Performance is name of game

Pitt Meadows

Deanna Lee is attending her first Velocity Driving School program offered by the VCMC Motorsport Club.

A friend of hers talked her into coming.

She brought her daily driver, a 2007 VW Rabbit.

With the word “velocity” in the program’s title, you could easily associate it with high-performance driving, or exorbitant speeds.

But that’s not what it’s all about. Furthermore, it’s not about what kind of horsepower you’re packing under the hood.

Heck, you could have brought a Yugo as long as it had good tires, brakes, a working transmission and was still in one piece.

Deanna Lee takes her first VCMC Velocity Driving School in her VW Rabbit.

Deanna Lee takes her first VCMC Velocity Driving School in her VW Rabbit.
Photo: Alexandra Straub, Driving

It’s about putting the performance of your car to the edge — whatever make and model that may be — and learning how to work with it in that zone; whether you have 150 horsepower or five times that.

Deanna’s opinion?

“I think my biggest struggle is with learning the course,” she says.

The course she’s referring to is the autocross component.

There’s a track walk in the morning, where students familiarize themselves with the set-up. Then they take their cars through it.

The sea of cones can be overwhelming. But it makes sense in the grand scheme of things.

While individual elements of the course are taught throughout the day, like a slalom with a sweeping corner, or in the G circle, the challenge is putting it all together.

Deanna explains: “I think the individual elements are fun to learn … I had two clean runs at the end, and by then, it felt awesome!”

Alan Hemming takes his son's Miata autocrossing, and loves it!

Alan Hemming takes his son’s Miata autocrossing, and loves it!
Photo: Alexandra Straub, Driving

Alan Hemming drove his son’s Miata down from Vernon for the school.

“My son, Brian, and his friend Jim have been racing for 13-14 years. Brian’s car lives at my house.”

He continues, “I started travelling with him and just hanging out with him, and about six years ago, I decided, or I should say, they decided, that I should start taking some turns. And I got addicted and so here I am.”

What’s the draw of both autocross and the driving school?

Alan says: “I enjoy racing and I enjoy the event. It’s lots of fun.”

While it’s not his first go at the school (he took one about five years ago), he said it was time to brush up on his skills.

Yarko Petriw, VCMC’s driver development director, explains: “Road safety is a huge factor. It’s about learning vehicle dynamics, in your own vehicle, and the skill to be a better driver.”

He says that people from all across B.C. and Washington state come to the club activities and even the driving programs.

And it’s open to everyone. Not just enthusiasts.

Yarko pointed out that about 50 per cent of the attendees of the Velocity Driving School are enthusiasts, but the other half are new drivers, those who want to improve skills; or the course was a gift.

Making sure your car has good tires is one of the safety checks at the VCMC Velocity Driving School

Making sure your car has good tires is one of the safety checks at the VCMC Velocity Driving School
Photo: Alexandra Straub, Driving

Whatever the reason, it’s a great day to get out and learn a lot more about your car, but even more about yourself.

Speaking of which, I learned quite a lot about the VW Jetta Hybrid in a few short laps. The winter tires in June didn’t help its cause.

Nonetheless, I did a few runs through the slalom.

After that, I decided to swap cars.

Thankfully, Owen Kirby, VCMC’s vice-president, had his 2004 Honda S2000 on hand and generously let me take it out for the remainder of the day.

Needless to say, the S2000 was much more appropriately geared to the exercises.

And had much more appropriate tires.

Helping the students along the way are a host of instructors (with a 2:1 ratio for students to teachers.) That way, feedback is frequent and you can get the individual attention to help correct some (bad) habits you may have picked up along the road.

It was great to see such a diverse group of cars and people. Not to mention the smiles on their faces after a great run. Or even a bad one, too.

Everything from a Chevrolet Corvette, to a MazdaSpeed3, to a Mini and more is welcome.

At the end of the day, chances are you’ve learned a lot. Or maybe even just one thing.

The course is geared toward helping you better understand what both you and your car can do. And if you hit a couple of cones along the way, it’s not a big deal.

Better the cones than something else on the road.

For more info on VCMW Motorsport club, visit

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