NASA Great Lakes promoted nine drivers from HPDE1 to HPDE2 at its Mid-Ohio event in April.

A record-breaking number of drivers graduated from HPDE1 to HPDE2 at the NASA Great Lakes April Mid-Ohio event. A total of nine drivers completed the requirements for advancing to the next level. Nine is a big deal, folks. These drivers and their instructors worked hard to get there.

To understand why this is no small feat, you have to understand the Great Lakes program. The region uses a three-part advancement process, which begins with a six-page student self-assessment form. Drivers review their knowledge of safety procedures as well as a detailed breakout of their skills across four key performance areas: braking, cornering, throttle use and passing. Once their in-car instructor agrees that their self-evaluation is accurate and complete, they move on to a written test with the HPDE 1 group leader.

The group leader then schedules the third phase in the process, the check-off ride. Preparing their student for success in the check-off ride is the job of the in-car instructor, but they do not advance their own student. The check-off ride itself is taken with a dedicated check-off ride instructor, who ensures a uniform standard of competence is met. The system is designed with a series of checks and balances to place the focus on driver development. Great Lakes HPDE1 drivers average three events before they are ready to graduate.

Getting nine drivers through this process is a testament to the hard work put in. Many of these folks were with NASA Great Lakes last year, some showed up earlier this year, and some had extensive background prior to Mid-Ohio. All were eager to start the year off moving their HPDE careers forward. These drivers are future rock stars!

Drivers who rush the process or who think having a fast car means they should be in a higher run group, they tend to fail their check-off ride. Not these drivers. This was just a consistent stream of high-quality drivers who earned their advancement this weekend. Great Lakes is proud of them and proud of their dedicated in-car instructors. These drivers will continue to be supported with advanced instruction as they move through the ranks of HPDE 2, 3, and 4. But for now, a little celebration is in order.

Image courtesy of Downforce Media


  1. As one of the instructors having a student graduate from HPDE1 on their first day having never been to Mid-Ohio I am very proud of their accomplishment.

    But I think the credit needs to go to the thorough training of me and my fellow instructors by the chief instructors, instructor mentors who helped us hone our instruction skills and the HPDE1 group leaders for their excellent in-class training of our students who were well prepared to receive the in-car instruction.

    I have experienced several “track day” groups and observed many classroom sessions. There is nothing quite like the NASA driver education “progressive” program.

    I am proud to be a NASA instructor and I think NASA can be very proud of the Great Lakes program.

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