Speed Secrets Weekly

Sample: Issue #2

This week's contributor is Peter Krause, who is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable and best driver coaches around. While he's been at this for a long time - and worked with drivers at every level and type of motorsport - he's also on the leading edge when it comes to using data and video as tools to help drivers perform better. 

Enjoy Peter's advice and perspective!

Five Things Every Track Day & HPDE Driver Should Know

by Peter Krause

Sometimes, competition driving gets an inordinate amount of ink and bytes relative to the number of people that practice it. As a professional coach known for working with historic, marque club and club racing drivers, people often approach me or send an email opening with, "I know you're a racing coach, but do you ever work with track day and HPDE drivers?" My answer? Of course! 

Statistics show that nearly 100,000 people (in high season) are on-track every weekend somewhere in North America. While a few of these HPDE drivers progress (and continue to progress) quite far in professional sports car racing (James Clay and Mike Skeen are two examples), most participants have no inclination, desire or ambition to engage in wheel-to-wheel competition. 

Let's get one thing straight: I believe what track day and HPDE drivers are doing at various Hooked on Driving, TrackDaze, NASA or PCA/BMWCCA drivers education events is JUST as important, rewarding and worthwhile as "going racing," if not more! 

One of the key components contributing to the success of any top-level driver is the fact that they can generally execute fundamental skills REALLY well. Instead of the distractions and emotions invariably stirred up by competition, the ability to practice these fundamental skills in a safe, controlled environment is extremely valuable. The assembly of the proper "building blocks" is something that should be well ordered, managed and of the highest priority. Thankfully, there are plenty of good resources to help guide track day and HPDE drivers in the right direction.

This sport is full of distractions, frustrations and "performance plateaus." It is also one of the most exhilarating pastimes imaginable and one that is sure to 'set the hook" in any motorsports enthusiast. By formulating a plan, the track day or HPDE driver can really "practice perfect" and have much more in common with a competition driver's desire to use as much of the car's capability as they are comfortable with, within the rules, practice and protocol of that track day or driver's education event. What can you do as a track day or HPDE driver to make sure you keep the magic alive in your hobby? Here are five things that can help.

  1. Frequency . The more you do it, the better you get. It may not be a smooth progression - a lot of folks get "stuck" until the light bulb comes on or they make a mistake that has fewer ramifications than they expected and they realize that there's "more there." 

  2. Targeted improvement. Set very specific skills execution or on-track car placement goals and STICK WITH them until you can "do it in your sleep." All too often, drivers only see the yawning chasm of EVERYTHING they think they don't do well, never bothering to develop a plan to improve, piece-by-piece, step-by-step. Start gently and add speed slowly, because it's very hard to take it off!

  3. Homework . Do it. In this day and age of YouTube and data-laden video, try to become as facile as you can with the vagaries and topography of the course, even one that you know well. You can NEVER know enough about the track you drive (or will be driving) and to reduce the amount of "questioning" in your mind (that makes you hesitate in executing control inputs), you MUST know what you will do, BEFORE you get to any particular point or complex on the track you're driving.

  4. Good sense . Trust your butt. If things are happening so fast that you're reacting, instead of planning or "being ahead of the car," there is something wrong. There is no place more full of useless information than the racetrack paddock, and most of it is worth what you pay for it! Trust, but verify... If other drivers (or your instructor) says "Oh, this is FLAT," don't just throw it in there and hope it sticks. Develop and execute a plan to get there, IF that particular goal is important to you. There's WAY more time to be gained in the slow stuff. Start there first, and always remember that your shiny trophy at the end of the day is your pretty car loaded back in the trailer or driving out the front gate just as pretty as it came, less some brake pad material and tire tread!

  5. Upgrade your measuring technology. You can't know what you don't have solid, concrete information for. It's never been easier to have real, valuable and objective information overlaid on video, instead of the intensely boring "riding around" videos. Many folks start with the iOS or Android app, Harry's Lap Timer. When you want something more reliable and powerful, get an AiM Solo, VBOX Sport or a Traqmate Basic and these, combined with RaceRender or TrackVision, can add GOOD information to that GoPro you've been toting around. The best tools are those that are integrated video/data loggers. Come in from a run, pull the SD card and play what you did with FULL information, right NOW. Our minds are very powerful "loggers." We often remember the way things happened on-track the way we would have LIKED them to be, not necessarily as they WERE. So fix it. Take advantage of the technology today to measure your performance and mine areas for impro vement.

Have fun! This is the most important ingredient to keep you engaged, interested and coming back for more.

Peter Krause

 

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