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High Performance Driving Education: Bondurant and Dodge SRT Team Up

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author photo by Jason Fogelson May 2016

If you've just purchased a new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, you want to get the most out of it -- but let's face it, you may be a little concerned that you won't know how to handle the 707-horsepower beast.

Well, you're in luck: Dodge has partnered with the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving to give you the skills you need. Each Dodge SRT buyer is entitled to one full-day session of instruction at the famous school in Chandler, Arizona.

A Perfect Match

So what makes the SRT-Bondurant partnership so ideal?

SRT, short for Street and Racing Technology, is a brand within the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles family of vehicles. The SRT moniker is currently applied to the highest-performance variants in the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger models, the SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat. It's also applied to every Viper variant, including SRT, GT, GTC, GTS, TA 2.0 and ACR. Jeep's Grand Cherokee is also available with an SRT package and badge.

Bob Bondurant is the 83-year-old legend behind the school that bears his name. A highly successful racer with wins at Le Mans and many other tracks, Bondurant turned to driving instruction 48 years ago to share his insights into how drivers can combine speed and safety. His school now trains professional racing drivers, club racers, law enforcement officers, executive security drivers and regular enthusiasts. Bondurant is a daily presence at the school, overseeing instructors and students with energetic engagement.

The Bondurant-SRT partnership represents a switch for the driving school, which had previously purchased General Motors vehicles to use in its courses. The new arrangement supplies Charger, Challenger and Viper cars for the school's use. And suffice it to say, the pairing of this premiere driving school with these classic muscle cars is pretty exciting for any performance-driving enthusiast.

How It Works

The 1-day course offered to Dodge SRT buyers begins with classroom sessions, then drive time is broken down into five parts: accident avoidance, skid car, auto cross, lead/follow and hot laps.

Accident Avoidance

Accident avoidance is a simple but essential exercise. An instructor controls traffic lights over three lanes, which are delineated by cones. As you begin to drive toward the lanes, each lane displays a green light. When you get close, the instructor changes two of the lights to red, then you must react instantly to select the green lane and avoid the accident.

The exercise emphasizes the essentials of safety, including car control and the visual connection between the car's direction and the driver's gaze. Looking at the safe escape route (the green light) rather than at the accident or the object you're trying to avoid (the red light) makes you a much safer driver.

Skid Car

For the skid car exercise, a Challenger SRT Hellcat is mounted on a complex hydraulic rig that allows an instructor to raise or lower the front or rear wheels from the pavement, creating a low-traction condition. Students get a chance to experience skids, understeer and oversteer in a controlled situation, which is a remarkable opportunity -- not to mention a whole lot of fun. Drivers learn how to control the car when it begins to skid and how to steer with the throttle.

Auto Cross

Auto cross is a timed exercise that takes place on a flat piece of pavement. A 3-quarter-mile course is defined by traffic cones, and the task is to drive it as quickly as possible without losing control or knocking over any cones. That skid car experience comes in handy, as faster runs may require some throttle steer to compensate for loss of traction. This is the session that tends to bring out the competitor in every driver.

Lead/Follow

Lead/follow is a high-speed experience on the race track. Bondurant himself designed the road-racing course to provide multiple challenges for drivers and cars, inspired by some of the best tracks in the world. The instructor, a professional driver, sets the pace in a lead car, and groups of three or four students follow closely in individual vehicles.

This is not a racing situation -- there's no passing. The point is to track the instructor's line, emulate the braking points and match acceleration around the track.

Hot Laps

Hot laps offer an opportunity to ride in the passenger seat beside a genuine pro driver on the Bondurant track. If you think you're a fast driver, you have another thing coming. Pro drivers accelerate harder, brake deeper, corner harder and drive better than you can even imagine, and sitting in the right seat lets you experience the g-forces and sheer exhilaration that a pro driver gets to feel.

It gives you a whole new respect for the great drivers and the cars that can withstand such assertive handling. But it can also scare you more than any roller coaster or thrill ride ever has. There are no rails here -- just the skills, reflexes and sharp brains of the pro driver behind the wheel.

Expanding Your Education

The 1-day high performance driving class at Bondurant has a value of $1,225-$1,650. This includes the use of Dodge SRT vehicles -- no need to bring your own car. Dodge SRT owners who want to extend their education get a $1,000 credit toward a second and third day of instruction.

You're also welcome at Bondurant if you're not a Dodge SRT owner, but you'll have to pay full price, of course. Even if you don't have a Hellcat or a Viper, there's a lot to learn at this racing school. And what you learn will make you a better, safer driver every single day, no matter your vehicle of choice.

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High Performance Driving Education: Bondurant and Dodge SRT Team Up - Autotrader