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Finally, a PCA National Instructor, How Was Your Experience?

Old 11-29-2018, 03:17 PM
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Default Finally, a PCA National Instructor, How Was Your Experience?

This is a huge check off my bucket list. Instructing has always been a huge passion of mine, starting in Philly Region SCCA’s AutoX program and then working with friends, colleagues, and clients at private track days over the years. When I joined the PCA, passing their instructor training program was a major priority and I finally gained the opportunity after spending quite some time with Suncoast Region at Sebring. The weekend of 11/16-11/18 I flew back down to Florida and went through Suncoast’s instructor training program. It was a two day program, very stringent and superbly run by experienced and quality mentors. My primary mentor Frank Chaney happened to be the latest inductee into Suncoast PCA’s DE Hall of Fame (congrats Frank!), and it was an invaluable and rare opportunity to work with one of the best in the program. I am happy to say I passed with flying colors, to the point I was given my first official student the very next day. It was without a doubt one of the most rewarding weekends I have ever had, and I am thrilled to join the ranks of PCA Instructors and start giving back to the Porsche community I’ve come to love and value so much.

A Huge Thank You! to my friends in the Suncoast PCA and the team at AutoQuest MotorSports who were crucial towards me attaining this goal and fostering me along the way : )

Oh and cherry on top, I beat my PR by over 2.5 seconds that weekend with some tweaks to the car, 2:26.06. Video of some relatively clean laps below.

Some topics I'm curious of and would like to open up for a chat....

Where, When, and Why did you guys get your instructor training?
How was your experience doing it?
Have you enjoyed instructing with PCA over the years?
Has anything changed good or bad since when you started instructing to present day?
How has it been instructing on a National level between multiple regions?

- John Gaydos

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John Gaydos - Performance Specialist

PCA National Instructor
Cell - (484) 883-6197
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Office (855) 486-1400

Last edited by Soul Performance; 12-04-2018 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 11-29-2018, 04:27 PM
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The real student from hell is a lot worse than the fake ones in ITS.

Fortunately most students by far aren't that and instructing opens up a new world and makes you a better driver as well. I enjoy it enough that I'll instruct when I don't have a car - something I never understood as a student.

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Old 11-29-2018, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by TXE36 View Post

The real student from hell is a lot worse than the fake ones in ITS.

Fortunately most students by far aren't that and instructing opens up a new world and makes you a better driver as well. I enjoy it enough that I'll instruct when I don't have a car - something I never understood as a student.

Agree with all of this.

The problem with the fake student from hell is that you know that the guy is just acting and there isn't real, visceral fear. When the real student from hell shows up, you'll know it.
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Old 11-29-2018, 05:53 PM
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Congratulations! Wellcome to the club!

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Old 11-29-2018, 06:30 PM
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Never been a PCA instructor. I'm interested and they've pursued me, but the dates are always in conflict with my military duty. Oh well. I am an instructor for NASA but last season I never got a chance to run with them.

Congrats on your accomplishment!
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:11 PM
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Raced SCCA back in the day (70s) and was Assistant Chief Instructor for Detroit Region SCCA Race School. Got out of Motorsports until I bought a Cayman in 2007 and discovered DE. Got moved to White group in my second DE. Mentioned my experience to the track chair and started instructing while in White group. Instructed for many PCA Regions without going to PCA school but did training in 2011. I find instructing very rewarding. The magic moment is when the student decides you may know what you're teaching and you decide that you trust the student. I would say 90% of my instructing experiences were positive. My last student had never had instruction and never been to NJMP driving an antique Subaru Forester Station Wagon. By the end of the first day I had introduced threshold braking and followed up with trail braking and we were getting Point Byes from most of the cars in the group.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:11 PM
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I love being an instructor as well - went through a couple of years ago with Citrus. Congrats!!

Ive enjoyed the experience completely - but understand that going into an event - it’s no longer ‘your’ weekend. It’s more about your student.

Congrats - take every one of your pet peeves while on track and beat them into your students heads - make bad behaviors obsolete on a grass root level!
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:34 PM
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The 'solo' car pic at Sebring is great.
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Old 11-29-2018, 09:38 PM
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Congrats, John!
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Old 11-29-2018, 10:29 PM
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You're doomed. DOOMED!

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Old 11-29-2018, 10:45 PM
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You would hope so, but I had the perfect storm some 15 years ago. My checkout instructor's car was not running ( I think this was planned). He ended up using mine and purposely forgot to brake knowing even a pro racer could not make turn in. We ended up on an escape road after I shouted and gave directions to abort. I asked him afterwards would he have tried to make the corner and his answer was "yes".. Congrats on the next phase of your journey. You will learn and develop as a driver along the way.
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Old 11-29-2018, 11:23 PM
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Congrats John. Best wishes for continued enjoyment.

You learn a lot from the right seat, and there is no question it’ll make you a better driver. I believe it has also made me significantly more patient.

My best advice is to listen to your gut. If you FEEL a student is driving too fast or above their skill level - then slow ‘em down and make them focus on some specifics. If they do well the speed will increase “organically”. If they aren’t listening then pit in and have a chat - a serious chat. Don’t put yourself at risk because you don’t want to rain on their parade. If your gut says it’s a problem - it’s a PROBLEM. Address it NOW. Safety first. Your chief instructor will back you every time. It’s rare - but it can happen.

I had one student who didn’t respond to my instruction. We pitted in (I used hand signals) and I learned that his ear piece had fallen out of place and he couldn’t hear me. Rather than let me know he wanted to keep going. We fixed the isssue and went back out. Sometimes they get “frozen” or are protective of their session time - but do the safe thing every time.

One last note - becoming a PCA Nationally trained instructor does not automatically guarantee that you may instruct with any PCA region. In many cases you will be accepted, but it’s up to each individual chief instructor to determine if your experience meets their criteria. This is a common misperception amongst instructors who have passed the training.
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Old 11-30-2018, 01:05 AM
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Old 11-30-2018, 01:23 AM
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I've enjoyed my time a National Instructor for 2 years after tracking for 10 years. I did it 1st for the major price break but it grew into seeing how the student "gets it". Had one student who was 74 yrs old. On track at one point he was driving all over the place. Felt like he was somewhere else but not on track. I asked him if he was ok and he said "I just forgot where I was"! At that point I clapped my hands as a visual to wake him up. After that he got on it.
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Old 11-30-2018, 07:48 AM
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I commend everybody that feels comfortable sitting in the right seat of somebody they only met that day - sound mighty scary to me. John - congratulations and thank you for your commitment to bring new players into this sport and make them better drivers!
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