Career Advice: How to Become a Professional Driver

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 15, 2015

Dear Car Talk:

I have seen many car commercials on TV. One of the things I often see in the fine print is some form of: "Professional driver. Do not try this." I have always wondered, how does one become a "professional driver"? Are these people racecar drivers, or are there courses offered for people who want to become one? Being able to say that you are a professional driver must be a fun conversation starter at a party.

-- Scott

Head over to your local Domino's, Scott, and fill out an application. As soon as you're getting paid to drive, you are, by definition, a professional driver. That was easier than you thought, right?

The commercials you're talking about are done by people who call themselves "stunt drivers." There's no obvious path to becoming one; it's not like Harvard offers a Ph.D. in Doing Doughnuts.

My guess is that a lot of the people who end up as professional stunt drivers have some background in racing. When you race a car professionally, you learn to operate the car on the edge of it being out of control -- hopefully without losing control of it. That's what a lot of stunt driving is.

If you want to get your feet wet in racing, there are a number of schools around the country that will give you a one-day, three-day or five-day course on a "closed track," as they say in the fine print of those commercials.

The two best-known probably are the Skip Barber Racing School and the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. But you can check in your area and see if there are others.

I also know Bondurant has a program for so-called executive protection and kidnapping-avoidance driving. That's for people who have to drive in dangerous places -- even more dangerous than a Massachusetts rotary. It teaches people driving skills to evade bad guys who are chasing them. That kind of stuff may translate better to stunt driving than the straight racing courses.

Plus, learning how to evade people may be a good skill to have, Scott. Since the course costs about $5 grand, you'll need to avoid whomever you borrow the money from. Best of luck.


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