No Longer A Rookie: The Toyota Racing School Experience!

The Vios Cup just got revamped as the much more action-packed Vios Racing Festival for more waku-doki this 2019. It’s an all-encompassing experience of the fun of driving that Toyota wants to push, and to ensure the quality of the racing on show, they’re also requiring future drivers in the one-make series to undergo formal training at a key addition for 2019: the Toyota Racing School.

Separated into Level 1 and Level 2 classes, basically all you need is a license and the ability to drive a manual transmission. So while racers need to take the lessons, it doesn’t mean it’s exclusive for would-be competitors only. And we were there as part of the (eager) public to try it out!

Held at Clark International Speedway in early June, the Level 1 course began with a simple test: braking.

If you’ve never suited up in full race gear and clambered into a rollcaged car, it’s enough to get you excited to do things already.

Accelerate to 80kmh, then slam the brakes to stop within a braking zone of cones. Emphasis on slam from the instructors. If you’ve ever tried those license tests in Gran Turismo then that’s pretty much how it played out on our first attempts: failure. Braking hard (and releasing just enough not to lock up) isn’t as simple as it seems–as well as not coming in too hot or too slow. But this is a venue where failure is okay, because knowing the feeling of doing it wrong is just as valuable as learning to do it right! Besides, there was no timing or grading to worry about. That was for the next exercise.

Hope you don’t mind we borrowed your car Chie!

The classic slalom with a tight u-turn at the end was next. And after three practice runs, you get three attempts to set a best time for bragging rights. It’s another fun exercise where you learn to push your limits for a good time, but not too hard that you run over cones and get docked two seconds each. Like celebrity racer Klea Pineda who joined us that day!

The two events were also more tiring than you think, as your adrenaline surges and ebbs every time you go out and line-up for the next attempt.

The highlight of the experience is getting to do five laps around the entire CIS. It was surprisingly unsupervised–unlike a babied driving school experience at all. There were braking, turn-in, and apex cones for guidance, but no instructor in the car. The participants played follow-the-leader–no overtaking–behind a safety car that showed the proper racing line and picked up the pace each lap until everyone was flying down the home straight in high gear.

Afterwards, you get a certificate of completion, and you’re one step closer to becoming a Vios racer if that’s the goal–otherwise, it’s an excellent way to spend the weekend and improving your driver skill too!

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