Tip of the Week

Forget the shifter toilet handle and faux fur ice scraper. Here’s a gift idea the car nut in your life will remember for a lifetime.

As the shopping season winds to its frantic conclusion, those looking for a last-minute gift for a car enthusiast may want to consider an experience rather than an object. A gift certificate to a driving experience on a race track or off-road course is just the ticket. We’re as car crazy as anyone here at BestRide and you can trust us that driving a vehicle flat out on a racetrack or bombing through the woods in a performance ATV is just as great as it sounds.

These gift ideas are not hard to find. Search online for the racetrack nearest to your home. Since BestRIde is based in the Northeast and are fortunate to have Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, Club Motorsports in New Hampshire, and the Monticello Motor Club in New York State all within easy driving distance.

There are also off-road driving schools in most areas of the country. One of them is the Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton, New Hampshire. This school has access to miles of paved and gravel roads as well as special training areas to help you learn everything from safe winter vehicle control to our favorite move, the Scandinavian flick. Classes start at about $1400 and the school has one to five-day programs that will fit your budget and goals.

We’ve attended driving schools that focus on safety and also racing schools. The first thing to know is that if the person you are gifting this experience to is not already spending time on track they are going to be fine with a short and basic class. Save the week-long programs for a future year. Another fact is that the cars used in the program don’t matter much. Don’t be surprised if small economy cars make up part of the program. Unless they have already been on a track and had some instruction your lucky gift recipient is not as fast as even the most basic car can be on a track.

If you are looking for an upscale experience and you are in the Northeast, start at the Monticello Motor Club’s site. MMC offers a great set of programs, but also has one of the most impressive facilities in America. This is the same place club racers get to wring out cars like Corvettes and Nissan GT-Rs. MMC has a unique museum and other attractions on site, offering something more than just wheel time.

The facility also has off-road courses. The participant gets to blast over two different Catskill mountain courses in a high-performance Polaris ATV. Prices start under $500 for these experiences.

-- John Goreham

Did you know

The National Safety Council urges drivers to be extra vigilant as they travel to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. NSC estimates as many as 438 fatalities and 49,900 injuries may occur during the New Year’s holiday weekend. The New Year’s holiday period begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.

Some extra tips for safe travel include:

-- Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation,

-- Buckle up on every trip and in every seating position. Seat belts could likely save 335 lives over the two upcoming holiday periods.

-- Avoid distracted driving, even hands-free

-- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue

-- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them at MyCarDoesWhat.org

-- Check your vehicle for recalls at ChecktoProtect.org

Car stats

According to a new forecast from the car shopping experts at Edmunds, a total of 16.9 million new vehicles will be sold in 2019, compared to an expected 17.2 million vehicles in 2018.

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