Meet Your Driving Coach: Robert Dillman
Robert was only 9 years old when he pulled his first adrenaline filled maneuver behind the wheel. While cruising Californias famous 405 Robert's mother suffered a seizure and collapsed at the wheel. Without hesitation he jumped into action and drove the vehicle through traffic, managing to pull it safely onto the shoulder. This story garnered quite a bit of attention, and he soon found himself on national television and mingling with some of his favorite celebrities.
While he was quickly recognized as a local hero, the attention wasn’t out of the norm for Robert. He had already spent his young life defying great odds just to survive. He was no stranger to intense situations and couldn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. There’s more to tell here, but I’ll let Robert share the details.
Fast forward to 2001. Robert turned 16 that year and was just finishing up the driver's license process when The Fast and Furious hit the big screen. Like many young men that summer, Robert was fascinated with what he saw and in love with a certain bright orange Toyota Supra. He spent quite some time pleading with his parents for his very own. To his surprise, the negotiations paid off. Roberts father flew to Texas and drove home a 1996 Supra. This story ends exactly as one would expect; it was crashed many times while trying to replicate what he saw on the screen.
Around this same time, Robert met the girl who would later be his wife. She was a military brat just like him, and also shared that same unhealthy interest in automobiles. Over the next several years they went on one epic road trip after another. They slept in cars, lived out of motels and got lost along the way. Finally realizing adulthood was setting in and their cash reserves disappearing, Robert decided it was time to get a real job.
Robert says his passion for driving and previous experience with law enforcement is what led him to apply for the police academy in 2006. He admits not knowing much about the academy other than it included and an entire week of advanced driver training. That really had his attention. His first taste of legitimate training occurred on a bitterly cold winter day in North Texas. While others were huddled around a grill trying to stay warm, Robert was begging to stay in the car and go another round. At the end of the week, his instructor announced to the class that Robert had the best technique and “feel” he had ever seen. He says he can “still feel that goofy grin on my face.”
After spending several years as a LEO and attending other driving academies; Roberts passion for not only driving but teaching the skills he had learned, was burning strong. Like most officers, he has countless stories of fatal crashes, memories of picking up severed limbs and notifying families their loved ones were no longer with them. The life of an officer took it’s toll and left scars that cannot be erased from his memories. He couldn’t understand then, and still cannot understand today why the level of driver training he received isn’t offered to our most at-risk demographic.
In 2012 he left his law enforcement family behind and began contemplating his next steps. One Sunday afternoon he attended a local Autocross with his Dad, which would turn out to be the catalyst he needed for inspiration. Instead of enjoying the fellowship and conversation with the drivers and spectators around him, he was listening. These supposed drivers were pushing too hard, hitting the throttle in the wrong place, braking too late, hitting cones and finding themselves in grassy fields. He was surrounded by laughter and cheers for these drivers as they raced the clock, but he was alone in his ability to hear their mistakes.
Robert left this event invigorated and inspired. He knew he was a driver and was uniquely equipped with a skill set, life experience, and an empathy he couldn’t deny. He cashed in the retirement earned from his law enforcement years and opened NEVO Driving Academy. NEVO went on to earn numerous awards and become a leader in an antiquated industry. While the success was incredible, he knew he had more to learn.
In 2013, he was challenged by an old Marine with a driving style so simple it was difficult. Bobby Ore, a stunt driving legend, taught him his ways and soon welcomed him into an elite family. Within a year he was wearing an Instructor shirt and shaking hands with race car drivers, stunt professionals, and celebrities. The same people he looked up to as a boy, he was now having coffee with and working side-by-side. Robert says, "Meeting your heroes is one thing, but driving next to them takes it to another level."
The more skill Robert obtained, the more he wanted to learn. One day while mindlessly browsing YouTube, he stumbled upon a new style of driving. Ken Block was doing things with cars that Robert didn’t understand. After becoming slightly obsessive, he packed up his F-150 and left on a journey to study where it all began for Block; the world-renowned Team O’Neil Rally School.
Like many other endeavors, his time at Team O’Neil nearly ended in relocating to New Hampshire and becoming an Instructor. He even found a house and put in an offer before deciding his Atlanta chapter wasn’t complete quite yet. Back in Atlanta, he had just been hired by AMCI to work at the Porsche Experience Center and NEVO was still racking up awards and 5-star reviews. Still, something seemed to be missing. A piece of Roberts' heart still belonged to his military and law enforcement family. He wanted to give back to that community and train the men and women who fight for our freedoms.
His goal was realized in late 2017 when he was brought on as an Instructor at BSR in West Virginia. During his Instructor Train-up at BSR, he looked around and began realizing something. He was sitting in a room with some of the best drivers in the world and they saw him as an equal. What a feeling after all of his hard work!
Upon returning home Robert closed the doors at NEVO Driving Academy. While not an easy decision, it was time for so many reasons. He realized it was impossible to bring about change catering to the state mandates, teaching from their antiquated curriculums and just getting teens through the driving test. Roberts goals were always to introduce a higher level of training to those who truly wanted to learn; whether that be teens, adults; new or experienced drivers. Shortly after closing the doors at NEVO, Robert was contacted by the Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park and offered a training opportunity. He and the family quickly packed up their belongings and relocated to St. Augustine, Florida where they currently reside.
Robert is currently contracted with BSR for government/military driver training, The Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park for rally driver training, and he co-owns The Dillman Driving School for new and inexperienced driver coaching.
Robert provides verifiable world-class driver coaching and motorsport performance training to individual and corporate clients across the United States. He has worked with politicians, celebrities, professional athletes, business organizations, and federal agencies. Working alongside you or your driver, Robert will assess then implement a targeted curriculum and provide an experiential environment to assure meaningful learning. Clients of all ages and experience levels will gain increased confidence and an entirely new skill set.
Roberts Credentials Include
- BS, Behavioral Psychology
- BS, Kinesiology, Jacksonville University - In progress
- Certificate of Executive Leadership - Cornell University
- Florida Law Enforcement Academy - Equivalency
- Montana Law Enforcement Academy
- Texas Law Enforcement Academy
- Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response
- Certified Specialist in Speed and Explosion (NASE)
- Sports Performance Coach (USAW)
- High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE) Level 1
- American Rally Association
- Emergency Vehicle Operations
- Non-Emergency Vehicle Operations
- Coaching the Emergency Vehicle Operator I&II
- Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) - NAEMT
- CPR, BLS - AHA
Memberships Actively Held
- Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)
- The National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE)
- USA Weightlifting (USAW)
Robert Dillman is a former Deputy Sheriff with the Hemphill County Sheriff's Office out of North Texas and a former Police Officer with the Bozeman Police Department - Bozeman, Montana.
While Robert's focus is more on coaching drivers and managing his driving school, he does occassionally compete in various motorsports. Driving a modified Ford Fiesta ST, Robert took 1st place in this SCCA RallyCross Event; hosted in Atlanta.