Posted: September 22, 2023 Read time: 20 mins
Mark's journey into motorsport racing featured in CAT's 'How to Start Racing Guide.' To understand what is involved to start your own motor racing journey, click through to purchase the guide here.
I grew up with a dad who would regale me with passionate bedtime stories about his time in motorsport. Exciting accounts of being wheel-to-wheel with other Minis on track, developing his racecraft through years of dedication and learning in the heat of battle. Tales about how he used his engineering know-how to create race-winning cars with his team. If you’re lucky enough to know my dad, you may have heard some of these stories first hand. His name is Colin Hoad, and he is the owner of CAT Driver Training (CAT).
Despite, relishing my dad’s exciting racing tales, as a boy, I was more into football and fishing. The latter is a passion I have shared with my dad and my sons to this present day. My only experience with four wheels as a child, was playing with a pedal-kart with my brother in our cul-de-sac. This mostly consisted of me pushing him around as fast as I could. At one point dad hinted that he would build us a Go Kart to go racing in, but sadly this didn’t happen. Something I remind him of on a frequent basis!
As I grew up, my passion for football evolved into a respect for various elite level sports. The mental strength it takes to reach and perform at that level, fascinates me. My dad’s love of Formula 1 soon rubbed off on my brother and I. We would watch races together and shared the buzz with our families on a visit to Silverstone for the British GP.
Over the years, my dad was able to continue his passion for racing, also managing a team to compete in Fun Cup Endurance Championship and participating in the Silverlake C1 Endurance Series. My family and I would go and cheer him and the team on. My two sons subsequently, call my dad and step mum Jo: ‘Racecar Nini and Grandad’.
Watching my dad and the CAT C1 team during the 24 hour race at Silverstone a few years back, really sparked something in me. I never fully appreciated what goes into racing, even at what is for some, entry-level motorsport. Watching the adrenaline fuelled adventure my dad was sharing with the team, made me want to be part of that. However, with a young family, I couldn’t justify the financial investment.
Things changed during the pandemic. It was a great time to reflect on what was important to me - what did I want on my bucket list for the next few years? Family, friends, travel, work goals and making memories with my dad.
The bucket list was created and racing with my dad was high on the list - this was my 'Why'.
As soon as I hinted to my dad that I was ready to begin my racing journey, we both became consumed with ‘racing fever’.
I spent hours on the internet searching:
I was a complete novice with no experience, wanting to equip myself with as much information as possible, however, what was right? Wrong? Useful? I had no idea.
So, instead of endlessly searching the internet for clues I decided to focus on what I could control, my fitness and my weight. I started running 6 KM, three times a week, with a goal of losing 2 stone. ‘Light equals fast’ was my thought process and I wanted to give myself every chance. Over the six month period I lost almost two stone and ran my first ever 10 KM in 1 hour and 2 minutes which I was pretty happy with. Time for some training…
There was no way I wasn’t going to take advantage of what my dad does for a living. I have seen him in action and heard the many amazing things his clients have told me over the years. Training with CAT seemed like the only place to start.
My first in-car training with dad was in the CAT Clio for the Race Level 1 Performance course at UTAC Millbrook (formerly Millbrook Proving Ground). It was a surreal moment for both of us, getting in the car as client and coach. Very exciting.
We started with the Mile Straight, working on threshold braking techniques. The first of many lessons which would become invaluable on track. As I would come to learn, every corner in racing needs to be quick and braking is a vital aspect of this.
Moving on to the wet grip ABS facility provided yet another core skill. As we entered the pad we proceeded to drive at just 30 MPH and attempted to brake as soon as possible. However, the car’s ABS system kicked in and completely locked. As the brake pedal jammed, I completely froze, foot hard pressed on the pedal until we came to a stop (memory logged).
I needed to get off the brake pedal and back on it to release the ABS - a very counter intuitive notion: take your foot off the brake to stop faster.
This lesson would later come to life driving round Oggies at Snetterton on my first test day. The ABS completely locked up, and the muscle memory from the training kicked in. I released the brake pedal and negotiated the corner.
The afternoon moved to the Handling Circuit where we started to drive at speed. No timing, no stopwatch, just focus on technique, cornering, threshold & trail braking plus the introduction of ‘tease the turn’ - not shocking the tyres prior to entry to a corner - yet another nugget banked for racing (not that I knew it at this stage).
I left the day with so many skills and lessons learnt, many of which I didn’t truly realise I had until I started driving on a race circuit. On a personal note, I also came away on a massive high after spending what was one of the best days of my life with my dad. We were like a couple of children, full of excitement and non-stop laughing. A special experience.
Having completed my first training session, it was time to apply for my Motorsport UK racing pack and submit my membership application. The pack includes a video which covers things like what to expect on the day of your ARDS test, a brief overview of car handling and a section on racing flags - the ARDS theory test has a section focused on understanding the race flag signals.
I watched the video at least 50 times, studying the flags, even practising with my kids as they played cars. Then a quick trip to the opticians for an eye test, followed by a photo booth (harder to find these days), and I was ready for my ARDS test day.
Race equipment was next. A tip I was given, was to try all the equipment on first, rather than buying it online - I needed to make sure everything fitted perfectly. This was to ensure I wasn’t distracted, by an ill-fitting helmet or uncomfortable race suit that squeezed me, when I sat in the race seat. A top tip as once I started racing, my kit fit like a glove and was so comfortable.
Having completed my first training session at UTAC Millbrook, and knowing my first race was booked, I needed to get my ARDS Licence. Living just outside Derby meant that Mallory Park in Leicestershire was my closest test venue. Date confirmed - 6th May 2021.
Being unsure of the process I called the Motorsport School to confirm what to expect. My experience from the first moment was excellent. An extremely helpful team member gave me knowledge about what to expect, how the day would run and confirmed everything I would require on the day, as well as some supportive words of encouragement - all of which left me feeling much more relaxed about the experience to come.
Arriving for my ARDS was still nerve racking. The day started with a welcome briefing and 20 minutes watching the Motorsport UK video I had received in my pack, this covered the basics and the flags.
Once complete we moved on to the theory test - 20 or so questions on motorsport basics, followed by a section on the flags (something I was fully aware I needed to get 100% correct).
Next step - the practical. Driving around Mallory Park at a good speed, sticking to racing lines, without being a hero. After four to five laps on circuit, the practical was over in a flash and we headed back to the office. Thankfully I had passed both theory and practical - I had a stamp on my licence application and I received my black cross. I was now officially a 'novice race driver'.
Race Optimisation was next on the agenda. After some key technique recaps on the Mile Straight like threshold braking, my coach (dad) and I moved onto the Alpine Loops where we introduced a whole host of new elements:
The warm up cycle for me and the car was introduced - and my three-step racing was born:
This simple process would become invaluable during my first racing weekend. It would get me in the correct mind set, ensuring both myself and the car, were ready to rock.
In the afternoon we moved back to the Handling Circuit where I started to piece all the elements from the morning’s session into place - however, this didn’t go to plan.
I started thinking - ‘I want to drive fast, really fast’. I felt with my newly formed skills, I could blast around the circuit - I was now an official race driver after all. How wrong I was! The technique I’d learned, went completely out of my mind and out of the window. Smooth and fast become rough and slow, which in turn became very frustrating!
We pulled over, and with dad’s coaching hat firmly on, he asked: “Did you notice any mood changes in that session?” I did. I started the lap, feeling like I needed to be aggressive to attack the circuit and get around at speed. That didn’t work well.
And so, another absolutely key lesson was learnt - my emotions needed to stay in check. From this experience, the 'happy place' was born. This was a place I could go to in my mind, where I could calm my emotions, allowing me to focus on technique, then follow my simple process. This would help me put it all together. We went back out and instantly it was like being a different driver - smooth, safe, fast and fun - my 'happy place'.
Prior to my first planned track day at Donington, I did extra homework with dad via Zoom. We’d study hours of in-car VBOX recordings and racing videos. Even my youngest son got involved. Together we watched old C1 endurance racing videos on YouTube. He used a Wii steering wheel with a wooden spoon for the gear stick. We had hours of fun whilst I’d talk him through gear changes and corner entries. All of this massively helped to embed the training.
My first ever track day. And one of the best things I’ve ever done! My mission for the day - to stay in my 'happy place'. The aim was in traffic, to drive fast and in control.
Photo credit: MSV Photography by Lee Marshall
The day started with a cup of tea and a briefing about my targets for the sessions - what I wanted to achieve and how I would cement my learning on track, for the first time.
Once on track, after four or five 20-minute sessions we were flying (at least that’s how it felt). This brings me onto what was yet another very important lesson along the way - ‘The Feel’.
We had covered so much ground during my training. However, little did I realise how much could be gained from reading subtle responses from the car. Understanding what the car is telling you through your body, your feet, the steering wheel and responding accordingly.
When hooking up a corner, the car was talking to me - telling me whether I’d approached it well, or not. When I got a corner right, the car would reward me by staying balanced and exiting smoothly. A very eye-opening element to the training and again a massive lesson for me.
The track day was over too fast, to be honest - I didn’t want to leave. However, the day assured me that I could be comfortable on track, with other cars and drive with consistency.
This was it! The weekend had finally come. I was joining CAT team 467 for the last endurance race of the season. The mantra for the weekend - 100% safety, 100% finish or, as some of the other drivers would say… ‘don’t bin it’!
I would be racing with seasoned CAT C1 team drivers David Alstadter, Phil Marsh and not forgetting the man that inspired this whole journey - my dad, Colin Hoad.
Despite watching hours and hours of C1s on YouTube trying to mind map the circuit - this was my first experience of Snetterton. It may sound daft but the time with my son and the Wii steering wheel had at least helped me understand the corner names, likely gear selections and most importantly if the track went left or right!
I used the CAT Clio on my first stint. Remembering the three-step process we had agreed on in my training:
Having spent the first few laps on my own getting to grips with the track, I felt consistent. Hitting my braking points and turning references, which in turn felt quick - remembering my 'happy place'.
Bearing in mind that we needed to drive the Clio home and not being able to wait for my first stint in the CAT C1,- I parked up the Clio ready to meet my first racing car. This was the first time I had seen my name on a race car - very cool!
First step - ‘the homework’ as the team called it - scrubbing in the tyres, brakes and fuel burn - a topic I would become well versed in over the weekend.
Five laps driving at road pace to scrub in the tyres gave me a good understanding of the car, the handling and general balance, without trying to go crazy.
After all the drivers had completed their initial sessions, disaster hit! A complete engine failure brought an abrupt end to our day. This left me a little deflated at the time, as I was hoping to get much more seat time in the afternoon, getting to grips with the track and car - but as I was told… this is motor racing.
As the drivers went back to the hotel, Track Toys Racing, our amazing support team, worked tirelessly through the night, sourcing and installing the new engine, ready for testing in the morning.
Leaving the hotel early to get to the track at 07.30am ready for an 09.00am start, we were greeted by our fully race-prepared, ready-to-go C1.
This is where things started to get serious for me! I had a fierce personal desire to be consistent, safe and of course, fast! Being under the clock for the first time, added a different level of pressure I wasn’t expecting on the day.
My first laps were steady - 70% to 80% of what I felt was race pace - a chance to understand the car, the basics:
The three-step racing process we had identified in the training was now an essential part of my mental preparation, and the car was now ready to be driven at grip limit - and I was in the right mind-set.
After three of four laps getting my eye in, I felt ready to push on to race pace and see what I could do.
My first three quick laps:
Only 1 second behind our team’s fastest driver - a time I simply couldn’t believe! I was even shouting to myself in the car: “Have I just done a 2.43?!”
There was a full race calendar at Snetterton that weekend, so we only had four 30-minute sessions between all four drivers - limited seat time. Again, something I wasn’t expecting - you have to make every second count.
My final lap of the session nearly resulted in me coming off the circuit - losing concentration by staring at the timer - moaning at it for showing I was 0.50 seconds behind my previous lap, instead of focusing on the exit of the corner. Another lesson banked.
Up another gear (excuse the pun)!
A big difference now was the weather; wet, very wet!
Having never driven a race car in the wet, it was a daunting prospect. Some of the thoughts going through my mind were:
The team aspect to motor racing added a whole new element. I did not want to let anyone down and/or be the cause of them missing out on race time.
The team were an amazing support. Some of their great tips included:
We had one 50-minute session when all of our four drivers had to qualify - meaning one out lap, one fast lap and an ‘in’ lap each - lots of pressure to make it happen in the limited time allowed.
Phil completed his laps and returned to the pits. A quick driver change and I was off. Ash from the Track Toys team had three reminders that stayed with me: “Seat, Tag and Rag” - click the seat one forward, tag the electronic driver tag, then drive!
No exaggeration - the track was like ice! All the lines I had mind mapped, had become almost undriveable (at least to me). New wet lines were needed to circulate the track at speed - which was a very strange feeling - driving almost round the outside of all corners.
Things started well with good speed down the straight - intense focus and concentration trying to remember my training - look, look, look; soft hands and fast feet; tease the turn and remember my 'happy place'! Coming into the last two corners - Coram and Murrays - I just didn’t want to make any mistakes. Driving on the edge of grip limit was exciting, nerve racking and strangely comforting - knowing where the grip was and wasn’t, gave me a surprising confidence.
As I passed the line 3.08 came up on the timer and I couldn’t believe it, just two seconds off our team’s fastest driver in the same conditions - I was over the moon and so excited.
My in lap was my first reality check. Coming round Palmers at 70% speed, I listened to my subconscious and moved on to the racing line. Within seconds, C1 racing had morphed into ice driving. Tank slapping from left to right and nearly collecting two cars who were following close behind. This was a great reminder - 100% focus all the time was required. The guilt of nearly letting my team down stayed with me.
My first taste of a race weekend was underway. A gamble on tyres saw us qualify in 43rd from 53 cars - not what we had hoped for, but the first race was ahead.
To quote the well known film, The Matrix,
"There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”
It's one of my favourites - and never has it been more relevant to me than during my first race.
I had completed a number of training sessions at UTAC Millbrook, enjoyed track days and felt ready for my first race. I had been told by my team that the first race would be a mental overload - and my goodness it was (even though I didn’t realise it at the time).
A perfect example of this, is the fact that I actually forgot the number of the team I was racing for! It took two whole laps to realise 467 was the number I was looking for on the pit wall. Having shared this with my team (after a lot of laughing), they quickly pointed out the number was splashed over every window in the car in huge text. I was staring at it in the rear-view mirror the whole way round the track.
A three hour race with 40 minutes driving and 12 laps completed - all of my training was coming to life. Everything we had covered at UTAC Millbrook and on track was suddenly 100% relevant.
The first few laps were a massive shift from track days. Cars three inches from my boot trying to force me into mistakes and me trying to drive three inches from the people in front. This was a heightened level of focus and concentration, so much so, that everything else around me went cloudy. Looking back, simple thoughts become complex maths equations.
After five or so laps we had a safety car, inevitably bunching the cars up. Once we were released, we were racing again! My mission was to keep up with a group of around ten cars. Whilst trying to keep up with the pack, I was simultaneously hunting individual cars down. The pure excitement of ‘racing’ was such a buzz, such a feeling I believe you can only feel, if you have done it!
When it was time for a driver change, I got out of the car on cloud nine and absolutely buzzing. I was hooked! How the bloody hell can you do that in a 68 BHP Citroen C1?! Simply unbelievable. A feeling that stayed with me for weeks after the event.
I will never look at a Citroen C1 in the same way again, it’s a race car!
That evening the team discussed the day’s events and a strategy for the second race ahead. It was a wonderful experience sharing these special moments with friends and family - memories I will cherish.
Off to bed that night, but waking up at 03:00 am dreaming of lines, corners, braking points and hoping the next race was dry. So much excitement.
Sounds crazy to say but, I actually started to feel like a race driver by race two. I reviewed the times, the teams board signals, the track penalty boards and focused on the training - looking, teasing the turn and the 'feel' of the car under my feet.
My hopes of a dry race were, yet again, dashed. By the time my session started, there was a downpour and we had a wet track to contend with. The track was wet, very wet. With one hour to drive, my session started slow as I was trying to find wet lines and any grip I could. After a few laps, the rain eased and the track began to gradually dry.
I completed sixteen laps in my stint starting at 3.23 per lap, eventually shaving it down to 2.45 on my final lap. The track seemed to come to me - I was finding and logging the improving grip levels on each successful lap of the circuit.
I had found time to look ahead, tease the turn, manage the ABS at grip limit, trail the car into corners all within my 'happy place'. All this with several cars three inches from my boot, or me being three inches from theirs - looking through the window of the car in front, to see the road ahead. Another invaluable nugget from training that naturally began falling into place. I even managed several clear overtakes in the final few laps.
We finished 19th place - a positive first result!
Racing is an unbelievable experience I will remember for the rest of my life. In addition, sharing every moment with family and friends, made the whole thing even more special. I have a much greater appreciation of the effort, commitment and skill required to go fast on track - something I had greatly underestimated.
The social aspect is also a wonderful part of the experience - working towards a joint goal as a team, with friends. Reliving overtakes, slides, funny moments - lots of fun and laughter - especially at my expense, for forgetting the team’s car number.
Our support team Track Toys Racing were incredible, clearly buzzing from us finding speed and moving up the grid. A real team effort was key to our success over the event.
With my first race complete, keen to get more seat time, I joined my dad and Phil at the Race of Remembrance in Anglesey. Four hours of quality seat time resulted in a 5th place class finish. The event itself is a uniquely moving experience on a stunning track.
After falling in love with racing in 2021, my dad and I agreed we would now target success - a podium! No easy task in a very competitive One-Make series. This would be our main goal and the challenge was set.
Having previously rented a seat in the 467 car, we decided the next step for us was to build our own! A winter build from Track Toys Racing and the white car was born - Gandalf is its name with number 466. “You shall not pass!” was the inspiration for the name - for any Lord of the Rings fans.
We had the car - now for the ingredients…
Weirdly for me, running had actually now become an enjoyable hobby. Running over three hundred miles in 2021, 2022 started much the same, with me losing 6 KG (light is fast) and ran over eighty miles in January and February.
As I had learnt in my first season, being fit is a key element of successful racing. A good fitness level frees up the mental capacity required to think while driving at 100 MPH with 60 other cars on circuit. This is simple practical advice - anyone can do it and it 100% helps to give you an edge over many in the paddock.
The next muscle I needed to work, was my brain. Hungry for knowledge, I read book after book to try to gain any edge, or find golden nuggets of information that might help me during the off season.
I also found a great way to maximise my learning and time was to listen to racing podcasts whilst running.
The book that resonated with me most was the last in this list. I have listened to this audiobook over fifty times, helping me to start to create the mindset required, to succeed in motorsport.
With the fitness well underway and studying likewise, winter testing in the new 466 began at a wet and cold Donington Park.
The first time out was an experience - 70 MPH in the wet down the Craner Curves is one hell of a scary experience! But the car felt fast and strong.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt over the races I have completed:
I simply couldn’t have done any of this without the training - this gave me the foundation for almost every aspect I experienced on track. The skills I’ve gained, will continue to sharpen with more practice and I will use them for the rest of my racing career. I will continually build my technique to hopefully become better and better!
A final note: I have learnt that motorsport has no shortcuts. Everything is hard fought and hard earned. You have to listen, learn and absorb the learning at every stage by experiencing it and feeling it for yourself. Enjoying the journey is just as important as the final destination (hopefully the podium). I now have the racing bug for life - I just wish I hadn’t waited 40 years to start!
I would encourage anyone who is able, to experience what I have. An eye-opening journey. Have fun, stay safe and here’s to podiums in the future!
Mark’s blog continues with his 2022 race experiences, thoughts and learnings into the inaugural 2023 season starter in his next blog: New Season, New Car.
These courses are designed to make the most of the driving skills that all of us aspiring (performance) drivers hope we have lurking within us. Colin (and his team) seem to have acquired a vast range of skills and experience to tease this out of even the tardiest of learners. He is keen to see potential problems from the individual’s perspective rather than his own. The courses involve discussion of the forces, vectors, and accelerations involved and their effects on the tyres, suspension and car both in theory and on the track. These aren’t always as obvious as I had previously thought. Colin also seems to be well aware that the learning of ‘new’ motor skills requires repetition, repetition and more repetition till it becomes innate. This differs from other courses where you are shown once or twice and then expected to be able to reproduce it for evermore, both an unrealistic and naïve expectation. The repetition was far from boring, quite the opposite because when I finally was able to reproduce what was required without much effort again and again it was a Hallelujah moment. Progress. Colin is an uncommonly modest bloke whom you have to press to share his credentials for the job which turn out to be impressive and include engineering, test driving, racing as well as teaching for luminary individuals and multinational motor companies. The delivery of his instruction was neutral even though he might have been telling you the -----ing obvious for the nth time which I know I certainly would not be able to do. What I failed to understand at the end of the courses was why this was so little known about. It should be mandatory for all drivers irrespective of their apparent knowledge base or experience. For those who have invested heavily in their offspring who have recently passed their driving test it would seem short sighted not to see this through by enrolling them on the TL1. It could save their lives and seems a small price to pay for the absence of much potential heartache. Highly recommended.
"Cat Driver Training - September 2021 If you want to understand and explore the dynamics of your car then this is the team to help you whatever your level of knowledge. Personally I learnt many things about the dynamics and capabilities of the Porsche 911. Things that had not been explained to me in such detail even on Porsche factory tours and track events. The level of instruction out on the handing circuits and tracks is of the highest standard and brings to life the theory discussed in the classroom. My driving skills were taken to the next level and I will continue to work with CAT to further develop them. The facilities available at Millbrook are outstanding and it is a privilege to be able to access them via CAT Driver Training."
"Do you think you know it all? Well set up, well briefed and spendidly delivered. This training covered technical aspects of driving skills and then followed (and backed) those up with practical exercises. The learning was continuous and developmental. Whether it was simply understanding what your car could do (or what you might be able to make it do) or what you could do, there was a whole range of skills, techniques and aids that would enhance anyone's understanding of motoring. Whether it was how ABS could be triggered (or not), understeer/oversteer, trial braking, dynamic forces, on-limit driving; you name it, this course covered it. Delivered by people who clearly knew what they were talking about, but in a friendly, clear and accommodating style. I learned something from every session."
"The best decision I ever made! I have trained with CAT Driver Training twice now & looking forward to coming back in the future. I trust in their expertise & there is always something new to learn, a habit to be explored & an exhilarating experience that pushes me to my limit & builds confidence in myself & the car. The knowledge, experience, understanding, patience, compassion & professionalism of the team are just some of the qualities that make them unique & I highly recommend them."
"Performance Driver Track Day Course I participated in the course arranged by Porsche Club GB and very happy to give 5 stars all round. The team has put a huge amount of thought and effort into making the facilities and training Covid-secure, which is indicative of their professionalism. I found the whole day both fascinating and a lot of fun, in briefings, on the various driving segments, and chatting with the team and other participants. I was genuinely in awe of how much Colin moved my theoretical and practical driving on, and what he got me to get the car to do in the space of one day - always building confidence, encouraging me to explore my limits, while not pushing me beyond them. Can't wait to return!"
"I have had a reasonable degree of driving training over the years as am ex police officer and advanced police driver. I took the performance driver driver training to learn about track driving, and found it excellent. My instructor was Paul who was fantastic. The training built up during the day and I learnt so much about the capabilities of my own car and although I was nervous about using my own car realised afterwards it was the best thing for me to do. The instruction was extremely informative from an engineering perspective coupled with driving, friendly and tailored to your individual needs and abilities. At no time was I encouraged or pushed to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. It was extremely professional throughout. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone whatever your standard of driving."
"Truly exceptional In my experience, driving instruction has generally consisted of being repeatedly told that you are 'doing it wrong' accordingly to some unknown standard or principle that you had hoped to learn about by taking said instruction. Then there is Colin. It is not that common to find an individual who genuinely understands both people and engineering. It is incredibly rare to find one who can actively apply both to deliver a sustained behavioural change. Colin adapts his teaching style to the way you learn. For me, he lead with the WHY of the learning point, grounded in physics and engineering. We'd then put it in to practice, often doing several variants of an excercise to explore how the car reacts to differing inputs, providing valuable context for what good feels like and reinforcing the learning point. Each point built on the previous ones, layering up and coming together in to a whole, one far greater than the sum of it's parts. Subtle changes to huge effect. I was concerned on the day that the learnings would rapidly fade, but I have found that because Colin has taught me an understanding the lessons have persisted, even if I do still need some more practice (48 laps of the Silverstone GP circuit last Thursday definitely helped!). Add to this the fact that Colin is great company and an absolute pleasure to spend time with, and you have one of the most positive learning experiences I've ever known. Truly exceptional. I could not recommend more highly. Thank you!"
"Superb day with calm knowledgable and professional guidance from Paul. Thank you Paul. The course is so well structured consistently building ability and knowledge in complete safety. I fully recommend anyone wishing to increase their knowledge, confidence and experience to attend."
"Far better than any track day you can imagine! There is a massive difference between a typical driver experience or track day events and CAT driver training. The main difference is that you drive your own car to the full extent of it's capabilities, and your own, while being given expert one to one tuition by brilliant trainers Colin and Paul, who come from a Motorsport and auto engineering background. Their combined domain knowledge of engineering and competitive Motorsport allows them to explain the physics of why the car behaves as it does and how you can exploit the cars characteristics for maximum performance., in a safe fun environment. The frankly brilliant experience on the track is matched by the quality hospitality hosted by Jo, and classroom training, which prepares you for what you will experience on the next stage. These stages include such delights as the ring, where you will drive with no hands on the wheel at 100MPH, providing you with a clear understanding of the fact the car finds its own balance , and my personal favourite the alpine stage, with hairpins a plenty and 'character building' drops and rock faces. I have to admit to being slightly 'corner shy' before the training, however after some brilliant coaching from Collin urging me to 'stay on the gas, stay on the gas!' I am now far more confident and safe in the twisty stuff!"
"I don’t want to make this review too long and detailed, so I think the best way to summarise it is this: I think I possibly learnt more in one day that I’ve ever learnt before and the skills are relevant to all driving and can be practised daily. On the way home, I drove the ‘long way’ just to practise and feel the difference in the attitude of the car. I used to do this now and again because there are a few good straights and it’s nice to give the car a ‘blast’. This time, I drove that way home because I wanted to drive round the corners properly."
"Extremely professional driver training. Period. I wanted a course that would deliver a very high level of training, in an organised and professional manner. The course exceeded my expectations in every way, I wish I had started working with CAT Driver training years ago. There is no doubt that if you are looking for absolute top level training, there isn't anywhere else to look. Somehow they manage to follow a very tried and tested course structure, yet it is tailored all the way along to meet your requirements and current skill set. very impressive. I cannot rate this company highly enough. I have more dates booked already."
"Very structured training Paul was very clear and methodical in his coaching. The training technique was built up in various sections during the day and all came together like a jigsaw puzzle in the end for a great result."
"It's hard not to be enthusiastic about the lasting impact CAT Driver Training will have on your approach to driving. I spent a day with Paul exploring the potential of my new vehicle. The coaching is clear, methodical and structured to allow you to go on learning for a full day without overload. The training venue is superb and quiet enough (on the day I attended) to allow uninterrupted driving. Brilliant admin team too. Absolutely 5 Star!"
"Everything you read about these people is true and i cannot really add anything apart from clicking these five stars and to say they are truly incredibly knowledgeable, professional and nice. I did the Performance Driver Track day in my amazing six-month-old 911 GTS 4 and I now know so much more about my car and myself. I was in a group of six people all with different driving skill levels from the complete novice (me) to regular track day enthusiasts and the day was a journey of discovery for everyone. I am so pleased to have done it."
"First class performance car training day. Many thanks to Paul & your great team for a really enjoyable training day at Millbrook on Friday. I learnt a lot more about the capabilities of my F430 and found many new limits! The attention to detail in the delivery of the training was exceptional. I would recommend this to anyone with a performance car who wants to fully understand and enjoy their vehicle."
"An amazing day. If you drive you should go to CAT. If you have a performance car you MUST go to CAT. A day with CAT will transform your driving, you it be safer on the road in any situation and it will be the biggest performance upgrade your car will ever get. I learned so much in one day without any pressure, effort or stress. Colin's coaching is world class, he makes it simple / interesting to understand and easy to absorb / remember. The whole day and and everything leading up to it are well organised by the team. They REALLY care that you have a great day and TOTALLY deliver. You owe it to yourself to go."
"Absolutely Brilliant! The best advice I can give: believe every one of the glowing reviews on CAT! I approached CAT because I wanted to feel more comfortable with my newly-purchased BMW, the first rear-wheel drive car to be used for every-day driving after decades of FWD cars. I wanted to find out what the car's capabilities are, what it would feel like in extreme conditions, understand what it was telling me at the limits and, generally to get advice on my own technique. I wasn't a novice, having done plenty of track days and laps of the Nordschleife but I just knew that there's always plenty more to learn... A day's Performance Driver session met every one of my targets, and then more! Paul was a patient, logical and technical instructor who took time to explain what would happen in each manoeuvre and then fully debriefed that stage so that I not only knew what the car was doing but also understood what effect on the car my own actions were having. The proof of the pudding was in the final stage - setting consistent timed laps of the handling circuit. I'd worried a little about this all day as I'd have described my driving as enthusiastic but perhaps not consistent. The results were close to unbelievable to me! By remembering all that Paul had demonstrated and explained to me I surpassed my wildest dreams. Fantastic! As a result of this day, I now have more belief in my ability to read what my car's saying to me which brings confidence and relaxation. The car and I are now a team, rather than me just sitting there making it go down the road. I can highly recommend the whole CAT experience. Professional, friendly, patient, technical when required and not afraid to challenge when necessary. Oh, and the lunch is good too! I wish I could afford to go back every month..."
"Achieve your driving goals here! Can't ask for more than that! The entire experience was a positive and pleasant one. Everyone I met at CAT Driver Training contributed positively to the day, regardless of the role, so thank you to Jo, Lynne and of course, Colin! CAT have existing programmes for teaching anyone the fundamentals and advanced techniques of how to drive fast, but Colin can identify really quickly what you can and cannot do, and is quick to understand how to best use your time. I went in with my own unique set of requirements which slightly 'broke' the programme, but it was no problem at all and the most impressive thing was that I achieved my goals by the end of the day! I wanted to understand my car, be able to find and drive at the grip limit, and also understand how to be a faster and better driver. A lot to fit into a day, but Colin managed it in the most efficient way possible, and we achieved them all! Colin has great insights into vehicle dynamics, as well as the human machine behind the wheel. He understands why we sometimes don't function as optimally as we would like! His ability to listen to you, translate your input and isolate what is not working with your current technique helps focus the day on exactly what needs attention. This focus, along with Colin's 'feeling' of how the package of car and driver is behaving, makes him uniquely qualified to provide great direction and input to help you become the best driver possible. A lot of people talk about it, but very few can translate the inputs to a specific process for you to follow as a driver. The process is all about starting with foundations and building on them. It doesn't always seem to make sense, but trust the system - it all comes together in the end! The time is not cheap, but it will help you achieve your goals, so how do you put a price on that!? Thank you CAT Driver Training!!
"Best In Class Driver Training The training provided by Colin at CAT Driver training is superb. I am lucky enough to attended training days with Porsche, Lotus, Aston Martin and the day with a Colin at Millbrook has topped them all being informative, challenging, practical and above all delivered by a true Petrol Head. Thanks again and I will be back with the 911."
"Reminding how to drive fast A day with Colin on a 'One to One' basis is almost essential for anyone who lives on a small rock in the middle of the English Channel or lives in a city. We don't drive fast and don't get the opportunity to drive fast unless we are on a track. Colin spent the day reminding me how much fun it was to have 'fast feet' and to make the Tyres 'squeak' as they reach the sticky limit. I think I lost about 7kg in weight during the day as I was worked so hard but oh what a day. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who had a petrol head. Best bit was the 'Alpine Loop' at the end of the day. Full gas on the exit with all four squeaking. 👍😃"
"Excellent! Colin, Jo, Paul and the team are amazing, professional and have a unique ability to cover all areas of driving properly. My driving capability has been enhanced beyond measure. I highly recommend them and the CAT Advanced Driving Academy Programme. During the course it became clear to me that CAT Driving are one of the very few on the planet with such experience and capability. They have designed a brilliant dedicated package focused on working with you and delivered with an attentive caring personal touch."
"Paul was amazing: awesome teacher with a great brain. Made me realize my Mustang has actually way more grip and better and better handling than I thought. Top notch facilities in Millbrook. Totally worth it."