HomeCar CultureCommentaryHagerty, Skip Barber to offer manual-shifting driver training

Hagerty, Skip Barber to offer manual-shifting driver training


The Hagerty Driving Experience is, quite literally, shifting into a high gear as the collector car insurance and valuation-tracking company announces the Hagerty Driving Academy, a partnership with the Skip Barber Racing School to teach both the art of driving with a manual transmission and also driving with enhanced skills regardless of the vehicle.

“Hardly anyone teaches driving a manual transmission anymore, but we think it’s a fantastic skill for all drivers to have,” McKeel Hagerty, chief executive of the company that bears his family’s name, is quoted in the announcement.

“We also think they need experience in the kind of crash avoidance techniques that Skip Barber Racing School excels at teaching. This partnership is all about safety, education and fun.”

For several years, Hagerty has offered a driving experience for young drivers to teach them to drive with manual transmissions using vintage vehicles. The new driving academy will be open to drivers of all ages and adds safe-driving skills to the program. It also expands the program to more than 40 events annually, and from coned-off parking lots to historic racing tracks.

Even as the auto industry moves toward autonomous vehicles, Hagerty maintains a mission “to save driving and preserve automotive heritage” and sees the new academy as part of that mission.

“Participants will take part in vehicle avoidance exercises such as panic braking and emergency lane changes, as well as how to properly correct a skid, practice slides and recoveries, and the basics of operating a manual,” Hagerty said in its announcement. 

“Participants will also be introduced to performance driving on an autocross course and will spend time behind the wheel of a variety of classic cars.”

manual shifting, Hagerty, Skip Barber to offer manual-shifting driver training, ClassicCars.com Journal
Skip Barber school uses manual-transmission Ford Mustangs for part of its training programs and is adding vintage vehicles to its fleet as part of the Hagerty partnership | Skip Barber Racing School photo

The first Hagerty Driving Academy is scheduled for April 3 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Other tracks that will be the site of upcoming academy events include Road Atlanta, Lime Rock Park, Laguna Seca and the New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Participants must be at least 15 years old. For other details, visit the special Skip Barber website.

Hagerty also announced that in addition to discounts for Hagerty Drivers Club members at Skip Barber school events, four driving academy dates will be offered free to club members. They are May 10 at Willow Run in Michigan, July 27 at Vancouver, British Columbia, September 21 at Road Atlanta and October 5 at Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

The Skip Barber Racing School was established in 1975, has six home-track bases and more than 350,000 alumni.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. These guys rock. For me, a manual is the make or break point on the deal, so I’m still driving my ’04 GTO year ’round in Fargo, ND. Nothing I can both afford and want to drive comes with a manual anymore (don’t clutch to "save gas"), so I deal. Yeah, I know Porsche, et al created autos faster, smoother, and more effective than my ham hand/lead foot. But I don’t drive yon GTO for lap times or quarter mile heroics. I drive it because I love the interaction between my touch and the machine response. The feel of the aftermarket short shifter from Australia, the whine in the box, the positive bark of the tires when I’m moving up through traffic, well. And no auto I’ve ever experienced allows one to override the tach and engine brake +500 rpm over redline, then sidestep the clutch and double stripe the pavement at will.
    More people drove sticks, less people would be on their @#$&!! phones in traffic.
    Save the manuals!
    Fargo ND


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