High Performance Driver Education is the ticket to speed

Not everyone who buys a sports car wants to become a racing driver, but they probably do want to drive it fast now and then.

It’s never a good idea to do that on public roads, but neither is just showing up at a race track and just stepping on the accelerator.

There are plenty of ways to do it the right way, though, including attending a High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) event.

Some are offered by professional schools, others by the automakers themselves, but there are many that are sponsored by owner clubs and run by peers, like the ones held by the northeast chapter of the Audi Club North America.

Students work their way up through green, yellow and red skill levels over time before earning a black ranking, which allows them to become volunteer instructors themselves. The focus is on car control and track discipline, and many attendees say that learning how to drive at speed makes them safer drivers on the road when faced with emergencies.

According to the folks at the Audi Club, its fine to bring a totally stock car, but upgrading the tires and brakes at least is a good idea if you plan to become a regular. Many owners do add performance modifications to make their vehicles more track-worthy, and the skills learned at these non-competitive events do translate to racing for those who decide to take their driving to the next level.

Accidents can still happen, and deaths do occur. But reputable organizations take as many precautions as possible, including a full track safety staff and on-site ambulance.

Prices vary widely from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but the Audi Club charges a $50 annual membership fee and around $300 for events, like the one at Club Motorsports in New Hampshire that FoxNews.com recently checked out in the video above.