Are you ready for an adrenaline rush in the western White Mountains? Head to Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton for a unique experience that you can’t find in many places. Nestled on 600 acres, Team O’Neil Rally School provides a variety of driving courses open to the public year-round. Whether you’re brushing up on your winter driving skills or want to live out your Fast and Furious fantasies, Team O’Neil Rally School can help you with both. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride!
About Team O’Neil Rally School
Located outside Littleton, New Hampshire, in the small town of Dalton, Team O’Neil Rally School was founded in 1997 by Tim O’Neil. Growing up in the White Mountains, Tim began racing rally cars in the 80s and won five production-based U.S. and North American Rally Championships. In 1997, he came home to the mountains and opened a driving school with the vision of building the best driving school in the world.
Today, Team O’Neil is the world leader in loose surface driver training. The private facility encompasses almost 600 acres with two 300-foot diameter gravel skid pads and a six-mile road course consisting of over 50 different types and combinations of corners, blind crests, and junctions.
A Course for Everyone
Team O’Neil offers a variety of driving courses ranging from one to five days. The single-day rally school course focuses on left-foot braking, weight transfer and eye placement, accident avoidance, and some turns in Ford Fiestas. Each day of the school builds on the prior day skills and you’ll have the opportunity to drive different vehicles, like Subaru Imprezas, 3-series BMWs. By the end of day three, you’ll have the opportunity to take longer runs on the open slalom courses and facility roads. After five days, you’ll experience mock rally races, turbocharged cars, and have perfected the Scandinavian Flick.
Do you want the ultimate thrill? Sign up for the Drift Driving Course that will give you a crash course (without the crashing) on the sport of drifting. This two-day course takes place at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and you’ll have the chance to learn the ins and outs of drift racing with Ford Mustangs and 3-series BMWs.
Team O’Neil also offers a more practical course, which comes in handy if you live in New England. The Winter Driving School is a single-day driving course that utilizes your own vehicle. Throughout the day, you’ll learn how your vehicle handles and reacts on snow and ice as well as potentially life-saving accident avoidance maneuvers. All driving courses start on select dates and require advance bookings to ensure your spot.
For the off-road enthusiast, Team O’Neil has something for you, too! Choose from private or team off-road experiences on 600 acres of fun. All you need is your own mid-sized SUV or pick-up trucks, and Team O’Neil will provide you with steep climbs, descents, varying degrees of side tilts, boulders, and more. The TrailCraft Trail Drives can be booked on any day.
When it comes to driving schools, safety is paramount. Team O’Neil takes safety seriously for both drivers and instructors. All courses are taught with a 2 to 1 student to instructor ratio to not only give you the most hands-on learning opportunity but also to ensure your safety. There is an instructor in the vehicle at all times and students are required to wear helmets and a four-point seat belt. Additionally, all vehicles that go beyond the slalom course have full roll cages.
Winter Driving Tips
We asked the folks at Team O’Neil to share some winter driving tips with our readers. Here is what the experts had to say:
Team O’Neil Rally School’s Top Tips for Safe Winter Driving
While winter weather is challenging, the public must still travel to work, school, and other destinations. Many drivers are intimidated by taking to the roads when a mixed bag of weather has created challenging conditions. By taking a few simple precautions and being aware of the current conditions, you greatly increase your safety, that of your passengers, and the safety of those around you.
The Team O’Neil Rally School has provided loose surface and winter driving instruction for more than 25 years. Below are some of the most important safe driving tips for navigating wintery roads.
- Plan for winter driving – You can be the safest winter driver on the road, but you’re only as good as the tools you use. Be sure your tires have good tread left, or better yet buy winter tires. Winter tires are the best tool to be sure you get to your destination safely. Be sure other parts of your car are in good working order; wiper blades, windshield washer fluid filled, have gloves, hat, coat, small shovel, jumper cables and tow strap. When possible, it is also a good habit to
keep at least a half tank of gas in your tank during the winter months.
- Test the conditions…and your car – Before you are faced with a real-world driving challenge, find a safe, open space and firmly apply your brakes or make a hard turn. Doing this early in the winter will allow you to know how your car reacts in these conditions, its limits, and how to safely compensate for it. Doing so throughout the winter and during different storms will give you a better idea of the current conditions and how much steering and braking input you can effectively utilize. This will also allow you to know how much to compensate for the conditions.
- Look where you want to go – This simple rule sounds obvious, but keeping it mind will help you end up where you want to be. When confronted with an unexpected slide, drivers often will fixate on an object on the side of the road, inevitably the car will head towards that object. Remain calm and stay focused on where you want the car to go, continue to concentrate on driving and often you will have a positive result.
- Prioritize your maneuvers – With limited grip available, if you are using a fair amount of one input (steering, braking, accelerating) you must wait to strongly apply another. For example when braking hard, if you turn the steering wheel sharply, odds are you will continue straight. Wait until you are releasing the brake then steadily apply the steering.
- Be aware safety systems can be counter-productive – Systems such as ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) are in place to keep your wheels from locking up under heavy braking. When surfaces are slick enough from snow and ice this may result in you requiring several times the distance to come to a stop. Traction control is meant to eliminate the tires spinning faster than the distance of road traveled. Sometimes in winter, wheel spin is beneficial in cutting through the top layer of snow/ice and finding grip below it. Be prepared to have trouble accelerating in certain slippery scenarios. Know these systems and what their positive and negative impacts are.
Team O’Neil has a fleet of over 70 vehicles and a few mechanics to keep them in tip-top shape for students. Depending on how many days you choose for your rally course, you’ll have the opportunity to drive multiple types of cars. Starting with the front-wheel drive Ford Fiesta on day one, you have the chance to drive a Subaru Impreza, BMW 3 Series, Ford Fiesta ST, or Subaru Impreza WRX.
Make Your Driving Dreams Come True
Whether you’re a racing enthusiast, adrenaline junkie, or someone interested in improving their winter driving skills, Team O’Neil Rally School has a driving course for you. Take a peek at their online Rally School TV and prepare yourself for the experience of a lifetime. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
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