Free racing school offers now bundled with performance vehicles

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High-end performance vehicle manufacturers such as Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and BMW now offer free race schools bundled with vehicle purchases.

Cadillac has been getting serious about performance lately.

Its ATS-V model, for example, is packed with 464 horsepower from a twin-turbo V6 engine. There is a beefed-up chassis, and of course, beefed-up looks to announce its performance potential.

And now, it comes with two days on a race track. All who buy a new ATS-V or CTS-V from Cadillac will be given performance driving lessons.

Now included in the ATS-V's $60,695 (before options) price is a two-day driving school, Cadillac V-Performance Academy at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Nevada, about an hour from Las Vegas.

Even for those who do not have visions of becoming a race driver, a racing school may lay the foundation for better driving.

"You learn the basics, and you can apply them to anywhere, and especially street driving," said Danny McKeever, a veteran racing instructor and longtime trainer for the Toyota Pro-Celebrity race in Long Beach.

With its track day program, Cadillac joins other performance makes in offering advanced training.

Mercedes-Benz has included a day at the AMG Driving Academy with any of its high-powered AMG models. Buyers may also enroll in more extensive AMG Academy training programs for an additional cost.

BMW also offers an extra-cost option with their M model with track time at BMW Performance Driving School, at a location in South Carolina near their U.S. factory, or the Thermal Club Raceway outside Pam Springs.

Such offers are not exclusive to high-end performance vehicles.

There is a new version of Fiat's one 124 Spider called the Abarth, with a base price of $28,195. Buy it or the Abarth version of the Fiat 500 (base price $22,575), and you will get to attend the famous Bondurant Racing School outside of Phoenix.

"Once you learn the basic skills of performance driving, you can take those basics and apply them not only to the race track but also to a mountain road, city streets," said Mike McGovern, lead instructor at the Bondurant School.

Experts say anyone buying a hot car - in any price range - should definitely look to the pros for lessons to get the most out of it.

"Enjoy your car, and then settle down you know when you get on the street. But you know go out and have some fun with it," McKeever said.

McKeever notes that driving fast on a track is much safer too, as there are no intersections, no speed limits, and all the cars are going the same direction.
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