The car is accelerating toward a blind curve. The man in the passenger’s seat waves his hand down, down, down, mimicking the motion of a foot on the gas pedal. If he could be heard, he would be saying “GAS, GAS, GAS, GAS, GAS,” but instead he’s pantomiming for the three people in the car, including himself. The ancient Audi Quattro, roaring like an outraged camel, hogs the conversation.
Ah, the life of a supercar. Take a look around high-roller enclaves like Miami Beach or Malibu and you’ll surely see plenty of brightly colored mid-engine lust buckets idling their way through traffic en route to the restaurant valet stand. It’s a shame, but the cars most capable of astounding feats of speed are the ones most likely to spend their days in traffic purgatory, 95 percent of their performance left in the envelope. I like to sneak the keys to cars like that and break them out of jail, put them to the glorious use that their engineers intended.
The Team O’Neil Rally School is the coolest place in New England that you probably don’t know about. Founded in 1997 by champion rally driver Tim O’Neil, the school is based at a 600-acre campus of gravel roads, carved into the craggy White Mountains not too far from where the Old Man’s face fell off. O’Neil maintains its own fleet of cars—mostly Ford Fiestas, Audi 4000s and the most abused BMWs you’ve ever seen—but today I’m upping the ante with something a little different.
Winter driving presents a unique set of challenges, but it also gives drivers opportunities to discover areas where they need improvement. We often hear students here at the driving school make comments like “I’m a great driver in the summer, but I have a lot of problems in the winter.” That should be a huge red flag for any driver; it means that your skills are not really up to par and that you are getting away with a lot of bad habits that will bite you sooner or later… especially when data suggests that most fatal crashes occur in the summer time.
Never confuse confidence with competence. Our Winter Safety Schools have been developed with over 20 years of experience in skid control education, and will give you the skills and proper instincts necessary to deal with changing road conditions and harsh winter driving.
These days, there are plenty of ways to get an education behind the wheel. There are performance driving schools of every ilk tucked into just about every corner of the country. Team Oneil Rally School remains one of the best if you want help figuring out how to go fast on uncertain surfaces.
With winter comes a whole new range of driving hazards — darkness sets in much earlier, wind and snow reduce visibility, and ice makes roads slippery and treacherous. Annually, there are over 100,000 injuries that occur from car accidents on snowy or icy pavement. If you live in an area where snow is a winter reality (roughly 70% of the U.S. population lives in areas that average at least 5 inches of annual snow), then it’s vital to have the skills necessary for driving safely in inclement conditions. One of those skills is how to recover from a skid. The feeling of losing control of one’s vehicle can be quite scary, and it’s easy to panic and make the wrong moves if you don’t know what to do.
Driver education in this country is a joke. There’s a place where you can learn to do better, and it kicks ass. Let me explain why you and everyone you know should go to rally school.