How’s this for a ski area parking lot? Courtesy Winter Driving School
What do the top drivers in drifting, rally and most every form of road racing have in common? They train on ice and snow. Ice amplifies poor driving technique and so mastering it makes negotiating other surfaces that much easier. The Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs has been teaching professional drivers, members of the Secret Service and FBI and ordinary citizens the art of winter driving for 30 seasons. The 77-acre facility is unlike anything else in North America and features three purpose-built ice and snow covered tracks coated with more than 250,000 gallons of water so they stay ultra-slippery. Classes range from half-day to multi-day and are held mid-December to early March. Beginners use front- and all-wheel drive Lexus vehicles equipped with Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires to practice braking, acceleration, weight transfer, cornering and accident avoidance techniques. More experienced winter drivers learn to properly control a vehicle in low-grip situations and explore tricks used by the world’s greatest rally drivers including advanced skid control, the best use of traction, emergency/threshold braking and how to maximize weight transfer. “They put you in these complete real life oh shit situations and teach you how to safely get out of them,” says Denver resident Kristi Castle Africano, 33, who took the introductory course in 2010. “It was more fun and frightening than I ever imagined.” winterdrive.com.