Tuesday , January , 21 2020
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NASA Great Lakes Region HPDE Instructor Program

Access to the documents and links below are stored on our Google Docs Account.  Log into your account or get one here: GOOGLE DRIVE  

What makes NASA Great Lakes Region HPDE different than other DE programs?

In 2014 NASA Great Lakes region dramatically re-engineered our entire HPDE program.  If you were around back then you'll remember that HPDE 1 and 2 were combined sharing the same classroom.  HPDE 3 and 4 were combined and ran on track at the same time.  At that time had 33 certified instructors coming from two different regions using different HPDE programs.  We had 1 classroom instructor per region and our total HPDE staff amounted to 4 people.  In the winter of 2013 over a kitchen table in Columbus Ohio, curriculum founders Paul King, John "JT" Taylor and Eric Meyer rewrote our entire approach to HPDE learning.  Back then we had one directive from Regional Director Jay Andrew:  "Help those drivers advancing to W2W racing be better racers, better passers and have more situaitonal awareness.  Make our DE customers better drivers that don't have contact or crash into others".  The end goal of our efforts was to make the very best drivers a team and system could produce using 3 things:  1.  The NASA Passport, 2. The NASA CCR and 3. talented, collaborative people working as a team.  HPDE 1 John Santiago and Robert Ellis joined us in 2015+ and have been making huge contributions to both the HPDE 1 and the entire DE curriculum.  Our HPDE 2 program benefits with 3 group leaders and a 1:3 Instructor to student ratio with Derek Mortland and Joey Pollak.  Our HPDE 3 program is led by senior veteran racer and driver Robin Burnett.  This curriclum w a 5 event minimum attendance before requesting a check out ride prepares drivers for options in continuing in HPDE 3 or 3, competing in Time Trails, Comp School success and an early start to our Instructor Program.  

Ee have developed and continue to improve and modify our HPDE program into what you see today.  A thread of continuous improvement runs through our leadership culture and each year we revisit our goals and performance and modify accordingly.  To date we have certified or recertified over 160 new and legacy instructors, we have 8 classroom instructors/group leaders and have qualified instructors teaching, mentoring and supporting all 4 HPDE groups.  Every 3 years we require a recalibration to all legacy instrutors via a 1/2 day Friday on track and classroom program.  The main emphasis for this is tieing the classroom and on-track actions together which is at the center of our HPDE 1 and 2 programs.  That which is presented in the classroom is immediately reinforced on track via drills, feedback and summary evaluation.  This experience is then reviewed back in the classroom and then the next driving concepts are presented and the process repeats.  The instructor is really an extension of the classroom.

Our program was designed and is currently staffed by professional educators, corporate trainers, teachers, scoutmaters, ball coaches and motivated instructors that love to give back.  Our culture is one of continuous improvment and our leadership team seeks out new ideas and technologies everyday.   We strive to deliver a better customer experience and greater delivery and acceptance of leading HPDE driving concepts.  HPDE 1 Group leader and curriculum contributor John Santiago says it best:  "We are a learning organization".


Our HPDE program is similar to other NASA region offerings except for a few key differences:

  1. We don't have students.  We have Customers and Clients.
  2. Our instructors are a direct extension of the classroom and our classroom curriclum and this is very unqiue in our industry.  This is one of our greatest strengths and we've been using this for 5 seaons successfully.
  3. We use the same little blue passport and follow the NASA CCR just like all the other regions but we've defined it more clearly.
  4. Average advancement in each run group takes a bit longer as both the quantity and quality of the delivered information is greater.  Add to this a "higher bar" for graduation and our customers often tell us "Your group 1 is like their group 2" or "I signed up for 3 and I should really be in 2".  Typical HPDE 1 attendence is 3 to 5 events.  
  5. New HPDE drivers to our sytem are required to test-out of the next lower run group to insure they can demonstrate driving mastery over that group's curriculum.
  6. Our HPDE 1 customers initiate their advancement process.  Your role as instructor is to support them when THEY are ready to advance.   This allows the customer to drive their own advancement pace and those wanting to do home study or put in extra work can be rewarded by faster advancment.  The in-car instructor does not sign off the driver but "recommends" they advance and there are printed guidelines to help the in-car instructor endorse/evalute them.  A 3rd party senior instructor does the final check off ride.  We have an 80% + success rate with this method.  Additonally, there is a short classroom written test that is needed to pass before advancement including safety basics such as confirmation of flag meanings and some basic terminology.  All of this is open book as we encourge people to study to advance.
  7. You'll find our sessions have about 33% drills followed by lapping, driving and practice of those drills.  Our instructors are required to follow our program but also get to use their unique individual driving and instructing talents, experience and gut feel to help a customer as they see fit.
  8. We use and require standard DE left hand in-car handsignals so the customer sees continuity througout their entire NASA experince.  
  9. Our customers stay in our run groups longer.  Most drivers take a year to advance through each HPDE group and love it.
  10. We have a very high instructor to student ratio.  HPDE 1 has a 1:1 ratio plus 1 or 2 additonal insructors on standby.  We call them "floaters".  Everyone gets a chance to be a floater.  Floaters show up on grid w their helmet and communicator and are ready to jump in if the normal instructor doesn't show (which is very, very rare).
  11. Our goal is to help expose drivers to the wonderful world of open track driving, make new friends and enjoy everything this sport has to offer.





1.  About a week prior to the event you'll receive an e-mail with your customer pairing and their e-mail address.  Plan to reach out to them.  Some customers report to us that they never recieved this email.  Send it a few times.  First contact is key---especially for a 1st timer.  Our NASA GL web page has a great page specifically designed for the new HPDE 1 driver.  Send them this link:

2.  Your first meeting will likely be on grid before tech.  Tell them in your e-mail that you'll be asking them a few questions about their car, their weekend goals, past track experience, etc.  Every instructor has their own style when meeting their customer.  Set a professional learning expectation.  You are the expert.  They will follow your lead.

3.  Also on Saturday morning you'll be teching your customer's car.  Become familiar with this document b/c you'll be using it.  Remind them to show up with the form filled out.  TECH FORM

4.  When you meet your customer on grid for the first session it will be a RECON/FAMILIARITY LAP.  Plan to point out the flag stations and put them at ease.  Get to grid early, confirm communicator accuracy and get to know them.  Remember the first impression your first intructor had on you?  Make a good first impression.

5.  Your weekend will be based on using the session documents or the "1, 3, 5" (one, three, five) document packet.  Study this package.  The 1, 3, 5 one page is the secret to supporting what your customer just learned in the classroom and what your goal is on track.  Please see at the top of each document is the drill definition you'll be running as soon as you roll on track.  READ THAT FIRST.  Your customer will be handing you paper copies of the 1, 3, 5 early Saturday morning.  It is your job to use it constructively to help them learn.  Bring a pen/pencil.  Tell them to bring one too.  They will be using the 1, 3, 5,  your evaluation and your summary notes in class after every on track session.

 1/3/5 Session Package Forms you'll be using

Drill Descriptions you'll be using

6.  If your student wants to advance and he/she initiates advancement here is what you'll need to know:  HPDE 1 TO 2 ADVANCEMENT INSTRUCTIONS for Instructor




Plan for success and you will acheive it.  We have a learning organization and there are a ton of resouces you can tap into at the track to help your customer have an amazing weekend and a ton of fun.  Invite them to the party.  Invite them to the track walk.  Take them for a ride or watch the race with them.  If you need me I am just a radio call away and John Santiago and Robert Ellis are always either at their trailers next to grid, in the classroom or on track.  We are here to help you have success with your customer.  Don't hesitate to ask if we can help.

-Eric Meyer, NASA Great Lakes Chief Instuctor and your entire HPDE Team.



OTHER NASA GL Instructor Resources:


NASA Great Lakes HPDE 1 classroom presentation (full)

Instructor Manifesto Free Download


Richmond Shreve Free Manual

Richmond Shreve Free Resources

MSF LEVEL 1 PROGRAM (Recommended but not required)






NASA HPDE Instruction 2020


The NASA Great Lakes region HPDE Instructor Program has these requirements and components:

  • The new Instructor must have familiarity of our system, our process and culture.  We are a learning organization.   This makes it take a little longer for a new driver wanting to join our process as an Instructor but with little experince w our group.  We help you do this by a special introduction fast track program starting in HPDE 3.  This is our most advanced instructed group and will give you a great idea of the quality of drivers we need your support creating.  There are a minimum of two HPDE 4 events you must run with us in order to qualify to attend our Insturctor clinic.  We hold one clinic a year in April at Mid-Ohio on a Friday.  It is one day in length and has prerequisites.
  • A NASA GL driver coming up through our system and wanting to instruct must declare their interest in HPDE 3.  Our Day 1 HPDE Instructor program begins early---a year or more before a driver attends an instructor clinic.  This program is called DAY 1.  See Chief Instructor Eric Meyer for more details.
  • Our classroom and curriclum is tightly connected.  You are an extension of the classroom.  When concepts A and B are introduced in class, your role is to support those same concepts A and B on track.  We use the One, Three, Five document to support this.  You use this single paper sheet  to document and evalute your driver's session performance and make helpful suggestions and notes.  There is a track map on the back of each of these.  You will learn how to use it.
  • A driver coming up through our system must be HPDE 4 status with at least 2 group 4 events under his/her belt.  You also need to be a part of the DAY 1 Program.
  • Interested candidates engage in the Day 1 program involving role playing, working with mentors, classroom attendence once a weekend and attendance in February Ross Bentley Instructor workshop in Indianpolis.  This will be held on Feb 22/23 in Indianapolis.  DAY 1 is a one year jump start to becomign a very talented and skilled DE Instructor.

Please contact me as early in your driving career as possible if you have interest in becoming a NAS Great Lakes HPDE 1 Instructor.