DirtFish Rally School

Earlier this week I crossed out the latest item from my bucket list – I had the pleasure of completing a 3-day rally school with DirtFish!

It has been an amazing experience – and the awesome instructors deserve all the credit for that. The cars and tracks aren’t bad either 😉 We learned many different techniques, and then put all the freshly obtained knowledge into practice. Lots of seat time, personalized and targeted feedback through-out. As I saw the track in my rear view mirror at the end of the 3rd day, I realized how much progress we’ve all made during that time…

Absolute blast, and I know I’ll be back for more. Addicting!

Keep on reading to learn all the details below 🙂

 

DirtFish Rally School 2021

 

Overview of the program

DirtFish offers a variety of programs, from 2-hour, half a day, through 1-, 2- and 3-day courses. You also get to choose between AWD cars and RWD cars. Plus some of the classes come also in “advanced” and “elite” flavors. And if you crave more, they also offer private coaching, and co-driver classes!

I signed up for 3-day RWD program. And if that was an option, I’d opt-in for a 5 days without hesitation.

Why RWD? There are pros and cons for each (RWD vs AWD), but real-wheel drive requires a bit more finesse, and I think it just feels more engaging, when we can control the slide with throttle, and do those glorious drifts 😉

There will be up to 10 students in a class, and you’ll be split into 2 groups of 5. There’s always 1 group driving at a time, while the second group is taking a break, has a chance to ask questions, observe how others are driving, and drink more water (very important on sunny days, the cars don’t have AC and we’re driving with windows open 🙂 ).

If you’re taking the class with a friend, consider whether you prefer to be in the same group (to drive together, and have breaks together), or opposite groups (to be able to take photos and videos of each other).

The program is divided into exercises (morning) and lapping (afternoon) for each day. In the morning, after short classroom time (really short, but very informative – there was absolutely no point at which I felt like I’m getting bored, and clearly we all want to get behind the wheel quickly, which all the instructors completely understand :), so the information is presented in a very engaging and concise way).

Side-note: the instructors take turns in providing in-car coaching and classroom teaching, so you’ll get to work with a lot of passionate folks through your time there! At least in the 3-day program (since that’s the one I have experience with), you’ll get 2 different instructors each day, and it could be another instructor (or one you have already worked with previously) for the in-class teaching. That person also stays with us in the bus, drives us around the compound between locations and is there to answer any questions we may have or provide constructive criticism on the driving of other instructors during the demonstrations 😉

To learn more, visit their website:
https://drive.dirtfish.com/ 

Over there, you’ll find detailed curriculum (course goals and driving techniques) for each of the classes. Check it out for more information!

DirtFish provides a photographer, so even if you’re signing up by yourself, you’ll get cool snaps from your driving to show off 🙂 Additionally, you can rent a GoPro to take awesome footage through out. All the cars have GoPro mounts in the right places, and – which I think deserves recognition and kudos! – DirtFish doesn’t “nickel and dime“, if you have your own GoPro, feel free to bring it and use it!

 

For reference, I’ve been driving in the car #2, which is why you’ll be mostly seeing that vehicle on the photos below.

 

What have we learned?

We started with the basics: importance of weight-transfer, limitations of the tires and importance of balancing it out between inputs (acceleration/braking/steering), and then put that into practice on the course with 2 fundamental techniques:

  • Lift, Turn, Wait
  • Lift, Turn, Brake

From there, we moved on to:

  • Trail breaking
  • Pendulum (Skandinavian Flick)
  • connecting corners
  • throttle steering
  • and much, much more…

Before we knew it, through the practical approach to that knowledge, where we got to practice new method in isolation first and learn it through repetition, we quickly became able to make use of it all on the courses!

The courses kept growing in size and difficulty through the days. From a shorter ones (Slalom, Grid, Boneyard) to longer and at first glance bit more intimidating: Link, Grid, Wedge. And it all lead us to running the Mill (longest course, super fun!) on the 3rd day. Fun fact: after completing the 3-day school, you can sign up for a full day session on the Mill – this is something I’m considering right now 🙂

Also, on the 1st day, you’ll receive a packet with all the information that will be covered in the program, and more. This is a great reference to read afterwards and refresh your knowledge, or refer to during the class for some extra tips.

 

Videos

Quick overview of the rally experience:

I’m still working on editing all the footage (almost 5 hours of capture from GoPro alone!), and will post more here once ready 🙂

 

Gallery!

Group photos:


 

 

On-track photos:

Those photos have been taken by DirtFish photographer on the final day of the class.

 

Views of the track / compound:

 

 

Photos of the car:

 

Classroom:

 

Simulator room:

 

Bonus snaps 🙂

Encouraging sign at the entrance:

My shoes after 3 days (they were new when I started 😉 ):

Signing the wall after class completion:

Trustworthy bus that took us around the compound between the courses:

Racing suits displayed in the main building (lots of impressive names!):

 

 

Tips and Tricks

I thought of collecting few, seemingly random, but hopefully interesting, tips for anyone considering signing up for a class with DirtFish. Small things that could make it even better for you! 🙂

  • If you have a GoPro, bring it. Simple:)
  • If you don’t, I recommend renting it from DirtFish – at the time I attended, it costed $60, and you get to keep the 64GB SD card with all your footage, so I think it’s a fair deal.
  • They provide a selection of mounts and chargers in the class room. So be sure to grab what you need, and recharge batteries between sessions as needed.
  • Where to mount the GoPro? All cars come with mounts: inside of the windshield, inside of the roof behind the driver and co-driver, side of the car on the small rear windows. Note that in some of those places (windshield, mounts outside the car), you can mount the GoPro facing forwards as well as backwards, for some additional angles.
  • You won’t have time to re-position GoPro during a session (e.g. there most likely won’t be enough time between laps) so change the angles between sessions if desired.
  • When you’re on the lunch break, you can use the simulator room!
  • Reminder on the differences between 2 groups if you signed up for the class with a friend – if you’re in same group, you’ll get to drive and take brakes together. If you’re in opposite groups, you can record each other’s driving.
  • And lastly, connecting with the class mates – I’d recommend starting a list of emails or IG handles on the whiteboard or a piece of paper, and maybe creating a shared folder (Google Drive, OneDrive) for everyone to upload their photos and videos. The class ends much sooner than we’d all like (because it’s so much fun!) so it’s nice to stay connected 😉

 

Pro-tip: if you’re using multiple GoPros, remember to configure them accordingly. In addition to resolution and framerate, be sure to confirm date and time in order to easily synchronize footage across GoPros for editing. Another trick is to take a couple seconds long recording on all GoPros at the same time in the class, so you know the timestamp deltas for easy correlation of the footage.

 

So, how do I sign up?

Head straight to:
https://drive.dirtfish.com/
and choose the program you’re interested in!

They’re divided into sections:

  • FUNdamentals – shortest programs, to get a taste,
  • Up your game – this is the main section, oferring 1/2/3-day classes
  • All in – additional options after you complete the class (this is where you can find e.g. the full day Mill run that I mentioned)

but if you look around, you’ll see that they have even more to offer.

If you enjoy rally, you found the right place to take that passion further!

 

Thank you’s and credits 🙂

Huge thank you to our amazing instructors: Mitch, Michelle, Kip, Jack, Brad, Sean, Erik, Geoff and Jason for showing us how it’s done and fearlessly getting into cars with the students 😉

And a big shout out to fellow classmates: my wife Sheetal :), Bonner, Peter, Carla, as well as the second group of students who we didn’t get to drive with, but instead had a chance to watch as they were shredding on the track: Ryan, Matt, Kirsten.

 

The amazing instructors is what makes for the wonderful experience.

They are all passionate, knowledgeable, and talented in both driving and teaching – I learned a lot from all of them, and – in addition to helping me grow as a driver – they contributed to creating lasting memories and igniting a new passion for rally!

Thank you.

 


I also posted some photos on Instagram, check them out there 😉

 

 

 

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