Posted: May 22, 2019 Read time: 10 Minutes
Over the last 10 years “Dynamic Driving” has become the halo phrase for driver coaching and the training industry. Companies looking to attract your attention and win your business will use the phrase in their title and throughout their course range - just as we do at CAT Driver Training. An exciting prospect for sure - the promise of being a driving dynamics expert by the end of a course! But are all training providers genuinely qualified to deliver on their dynamic promise?
My motivation to write this blog? To give you my thoughts and opinions on what Vehicle Dynamics mean to me and the team at CAT – recognised experts in this field, adding logic and prescription to what is a very large and diverse subject. Unashamedly, it may inspire you to book a course with us. If you're reading this from across the globe, it may help you to choose the right training provider for your needs. That said, we have had customers fly from New Zealand, Hong Kong, across Europe as well as the US to name just a few, specifically to work with CAT for our expertise. Proving distance may not always be a barrier, if the rewards warrant the commitment and expense (and if the exchange rate is favourable!).
Vehicle Dynamics is the study of how the vehicle will react to driver inputs on a given road. Vehicle dynamics is part of engineering primarily based on classical mechanics. Source: Wikipedia.
Vehicle chassis/platform development within the motor industry is managed by a dedicated team of engineers - experts in their field, Masters of car control, vehicle evaluation and test techniques. The engineers responsible for how your car behaves on the road, often represent the pinnacle of driving ability.
CAT Driver Training has been developing motor industry engineers dynamic driving skills for the last 15 years. Our motor industry training, engineering credentials and qualifications (read our qualifications here) have helped make the CAT instructor team the “go to” people for Dynamic Driving development and coaching across Europe and the world.
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Experience tells me, observing and evaluating a vehicles dynamic characteristic and using the information you’re sensing and feeling intelligently, will improve your car control. Be that in a measurable way via a stop watch or data logger for competitive driving, rewards can also be subjective: driving enjoyment; the ownership experience; or perhaps speed and safety.
Reflecting on what I witness from the passenger seat - moments when drivers realise what they and their vehicle can achieve - when their sensory experience is tuned to their vehicles engineered DNA - your personal satisfaction metres can go off the scale.
I have genuinely experienced tears of joy with customers! I know that sounds unimaginable, but it’s true.
Best therefore not play down the value our knowledge imparts and at times, the emotional investment made striving to be in dynamic harmony with your vehicle.
Equipped with a definition of the term Dynamic Driving and its relevance to the motor industry, how do we bridge the gap between how a professional engineer utilises dynamic driving, and how you might?
Every CAT Driver Training course includes concise and effective briefings on how cars work. Briefings are tailored to your needs and objectives and as complex or minimal as you require - we don’t want you falling asleep! Content is crucial. It galvanises and confirms why we do what we do behind the wheel. Understanding the reason why you are doing something for most customers, is the key reason why CAT is chosen as your training partner – a desire to develop technique and genuine dynamic understanding. Factual vehicle dynamic content is only delivered by a true engineer. At CAT, you get the best of both worlds: advanced driving coaches with professional instruction and qualifications, and engineers. A unique and unmatched combination.
We have had the pleasure to work with over 5100 customers since 2005, in vehicles ranging from 1930s vintage race cars to modern day super and hypercars. To any petrolhead, the list would make a great “time for tea” video and create a difficult choice for “my top 10” car collection. CAT instructors use our evaluation, test, coaching and training techniques with every client.
Under our expert guidance, this allows you to unlock and then experience your vehicles key dynamic characteristics.
Why does this engineering and mechanical knowledge make a difference? How does it improve my car control?
Did you know:
Just a few examples that in isolation may mean very little but alternatively, imagine a day of driving and mechanical enlightenment, centred around your specific vehicle. All presented in a style that suits your needs, learning style and objectives. CAT content and coaching compresses our unique knowledge and compacts your learning - a unique approach centred around true vehicle dynamics and vehicle DNA.
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Manipulating and managing a vehicle for optimised car control is a communication exercise. A good example of vehicle dynamics at work is how we utilise our Subaru and its adjustable dampers. Exploring 7 ride and handling evaluation criteria, you adjust the vehicle dampers to suit your driving requirements. The 7 criteria are carefully chosen - representing the fundamental and significant areas you engage with, to optimise tyre grip in a corner. A short route into advanced dynamic “know how” available to all – not just professional engineers.
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You are encouraged to use your own car when coaching and training with us. Occasionally, however, your vehicle may just be too good! A stiffly suspended performance car can often manage and mask its dynamic workings so well, they become difficult to read. In these instances, we have a fleet of vehicles available for hire that are chosen to accelerate your learning. A soft Ford Mondeo is a great learning platform! Ideal for learning to read and feel dynamic happenings, this accelerates your learning and optimises the time we share together. Then it’s back into your car to continue.
What we enjoy at CAT is how quickly our customers advance their knowledge, driving skill and confidence. Often daily, we hear back how customers enjoy the technical briefings and the understanding of why the techniques we pass on work, and the engineering behind them. Our clients’ Trustpilot reviews confirm that our approach works and are borne out by the amount of repeat business we maintain. “When can I book my next course” has become a mainstream question during the end of day debrief back at the CAT hub over coffee and a wind down together.
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Like many coaching, training providers and driving schools, all CAT instructors are advanced drivers with ROSPA Gold, IAM and DVSA fleet qualifications. All good reasons to back up why we are able to call ourselves advanced driving coaches and instructors. That does not, however, give entitlement to be called a vehicle dynamics instructor. That qualification comes from a lifetime in the world of vehicle engineering aligned with genuine motor manufacturer training and qualifications. This is the CAT differentiator – we are true vehicle dynamics coaches and instructors.
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I hope you have found this blog enlightening? Yes - it is a promotional tool, but beyond that is a genuine desire to ensure whoever you pay to develop your driving, ensure you receive what you expect and you trust the statements made about your learning to come. That magic word - dynamics - can blur the lines. My advice? Ensure you know how you are going to learn and what, before you hand over your money. As importantly. Is the coach or instructor teaching you (there is a difference) qualified to do so to the level their advertising suggests?
To the uninitiated, choosing a company to develop your driving technique and knowledge can be confusing, we can all look very similar. There are lots of us out there and we may even use the same facilities. I hope this blog has helped to inform your decision.
"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."