Saratoga Auto Museum Street Survival
The action started bright and early as each student carefully inspected their vehicle with supervision from the instructors. Brake pressure was checked, tire pressures topped off, and dipsticks wiped and analyzed before everyone got the go ahead. The first activity of the day lived up to its name - the "wake up drill." Students lined their cars up and one by one accelerated hard to a first set of cones, then braked hard, trying to stop before the second set. Most cars passed the first challenge, with a few students really learning the limits of their anti-lock braking systems.
The students' early morning torpidity quickly gave way to eager smiles as the young drivers clambered out of their cars. Instructors split the drivers into two groups, which began to alternate between interactive classroom discussions and hands-on driving at the test track.
Laid out across the main lot in front of SPAC, the course featured a variety of obstacles that would challenge the young drivers, including a slalom, a lane merging simulation, and a full-size skid pad (the crowd favorite). The slalom featured a series of cones equally spaced apart, requiring the driver to maintain speed while weaving in and out between the cones. The majority of cars used were front-wheel drive sedans, some of which had trouble maneuvering the slalom, however over the course of the day the drivers began to find the cars' limits of understeer.
Nothing demonstrated understeer quite as well as a trip around the very slick skidpad (freshly soaked by fire trucks from the Malta Ridge Fire Department and Milton Fire District #1). The slick pavement helped demonstrate to students the unexpectedness of a loss of grip. Even though your wheels are pointing one way, doesn't mean your car will necessarily follow suit. The students didn't get to have all the fun either. Parents and spectators had a few good laughs watching the students figure things out for themselves. One young driver worked tirelessly to keep his Kia Sedona minivan on course while sliding around the parking lot - all in the interest of learning.
Saratoga Automobile Museum Director of Education, Seth Warden, spoke highly of the program. "It was a no-brainer to bring Street Survival to the museum, it fits our mission to educate, and the kids definitely learned a new skill set." Following an award ceremony and group picture, the students were encouraged to take their parents for a ride on the track to demonstrate what they had learned.
"The best thing about the program is that it teaches students real life scenarios before they happen in real life." The program returns to New York State on July 13th, at Monroe Community College, in Rochester.