AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
1. The perfect day at the track is wet early and dry late
Not a minute into the drive to the track and the drops of rain started to appear.
Sitting for our classroom session at the newly renovated pavilion at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly Mosport) east of Toronto, Canada and the ominous clouds didn’t hold back on the drama, soaking the 2.5 miles of asphalt in what our chief instructor Danny Kok calls “liquid excitement.”
I’m here to participate in the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy’s Mastering Performance program along with another journalist and a selection of paying customers.
The group of us depart the facilities just as the track is beginning its long drying process… something we were about to aid with a caravan of shiny new Benzes.
The ideal thing about a wet track in the morning is that it teaches you to be cautious. With reduced grip it also amplifies the car’s behavior. And when practicing trail braking with an emphasis on gradual modulation of the pedal, you couldn’t ask for a better (but also more frustrating) learning experience.
With another mid-morning sprinkle, we took an early lunch in the hopes the track would try out again. And it did, leaving us with excellent grip and an afternoon of lapping the full circuit at significantly faster speeds with a little new-found (or recently practiced) skill under our belts.
It’s no secret that Mercedes-Benz makes performance vehicles; some being serious performance vehicles. With many ‘Benzes eclipsing the 500 hp mark, Mercedes wants to ensure its customers can handle these monsters and keep them shiny side up. To achieve this, it offers a smorgasbord of driving courses, and, good news for those like me who can’t afford to purchase a $145,000 SL 63 AMG; you don’t have to be a Mercedes owner to partake.
Potential customers are no good to an automaker if they’re dead so Mercedes-Benz is taking steps to help improve the chances that teens practice safe driving in the spirit of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“Teens are now faced with more distractions behind the wheel, compared to previous generations of new drivers,” said Marc Hemsworth, senior driving coach at Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and former LAPD officer and chief driving instructor. “Reinforcing the dangers of distracted driving and being a good role model are a few ways parents can help improve driver safety for their teens and everyone on the road.”
Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, a California State certified driving school, will kick off the awareness month by offering free programs including a distracted driving demo, Parent and Teen Workshops and driving assessments.
The seminars begin April 2 and will be held at Calabasas High School in Calabasas, Calif. and mark the third year that April has been designated with the awareness campaign.
Distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is more likely among teens over any other age group. Additionally, in the first half of 2011, the number of teen driving deaths increased by 11 percent after an eight-year consecutive decline.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as the name would suggest, is observed throughout the country, but California runs an additional “Teen Safe Driving Week,” which begins this Sunday.