Driver Improvement


The one most important variable in the puzzle is you, the driver. No matter how great the chassis, how fancy the shocks, how sticky the tires, if the driver can’t maximize the use of these tools, he doesn’t go fast. A fast car with an average driver is slower than an average car with a good driver, because the good driver can get the best out of whatever he has available.

 

There are plenty of “driver education” schools, books, and websites. Hundreds of pages have been written about hand position, heel and toe, keep your eyes up, look down the road, and what an apex is and how to know it when you see it. SO I won’t try to reinvent the art of driving here. What I will help you with is putting all those techniques together into a fast, smooth driving package.

A few general points:

I approach driving as an autocross. You compete with the clock and yourself. If you focus on going as fast as YOU can, then you typically will finish where you should. It only distracts from the goal if you worry about the other guys. Work on going as fast as YOU can at a smooth and consistent pace. Don’t overdrive. Concentrate on YOUR best driving. Fix what is the worst or biggest issue with your driving, then the next biggest issue, etc. The race doesn’t always go to the fastest, but to the most consistent. You never stop working to drive better and make the car go faster. That’s all you can do at any event – do your best and forget about the other guys. Many a race has been lost by the guy staring in his mirror or telling anyone who’ll listen about the injustice of the rules, favoritism, blah blah blah… all of which distracts from the goal. Just shut up and drive, and do YOUR best.

Also, enjoy what you are doing and it will make it less of a task. It takes twice as many hours of car prep to drive a couple hours on the track. Think of how much more you will enjoy the weekend if you are concentrating on driving instead of trying to solve that misfire or brake shake. Show up prepared!

Last, but most important, leave your ego at home. We all have one, and it’s required to compete successfully. But it gets in the way of driver improvement. As soon as the excuses start flowing, the learning slows down. To improve, you have to accept that you are making mistakes and you want to fix them, not make excuses for them. At the same time, beating yourself up is counter-productive as well. Confidence that you CAN do better, and acceptance that you aren’t perfect and WANT to do better are a more direct path to going faster.

Using segment times, data, and video, it’s easy to focus on areas of improvement, as well as recognize what you’re doing right. At any event, from track day to road race, we can always find improvement from every session if we do some simple review. Of course you can drive better and go faster – if you really want to. Do you want to improve? It’s up to you.

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