The excitement of going to a new race track with your car can also bring about a flock of butterflies in your stomach. After all, you don’t want to be known as “the driver who totaled their car first time out.” Below are five quick tips to get up to speed quickly and safely so that you can be better prepared for when it’s your turn to turn laps.
Tip #1 – Review the track map. You’re going to have to learn the course sooner or later, and by studying the track map it gives you the initial information you need to know which way the course goes and how wide/tight the corners are. Make sure that you have two printed copies of the map so that you can write notes on one of them after your session. It’s a great place to debrief with yourself, your team, and driver coach.
Tip #2 – Watch in-car video. This seems obvious, but make sure that the video you watch is of good drivers in similar cars to what you’ll be pounding laps with. Also, make sure that the video you watch is not of some novice in their first-ever time on that track. Look for race winning drivers at that circuit to give you a better idea of where speed is made.
Tip #3 – Drive the track virtually in a simulator. Whether you do this at home or pay to go to a facility to rent some time on a high-end sim, this is certainly worth the investment in time. Again, try to find a car as close to your class as possible. If the sim doesn’t have your class, see if you can adjust to either “dumb down” or “performance up” the class car that the sim offers to get the most realistic version of what you’ll be doing. If possible, do some sim racing against other competitors first to really get a feel for what you’ll experience.
Tip #4 – Watch cars on course in person, if possible. Visit the track ahead of time and watch from different areas of the track. This could also be a good time to volunteer as a corner worker and you’ll be as up close and personal as you could possibly be without actually driving your car on the track.
Tip #5 – Complete a track walk if possible. By walking the track, you’ll have a better idea of elevation levels, grip changes with different areas of pavement. This can be done via walking, scooter, golf cart, etc. Just make sure that you take your track map with you and write some notes down about elevation, camber, curbing, grip and potential passing opportunities. Keep safety in mind and also look for safe places to pull off (in case of mechanicals) and where the corner worker stations (fire bottles) are located.
Tip #6 – This is a bonus tip. Talk to other drivers in similar cars/classes and learn from the ones you trust. This is where a driver coach can help. Fast Lane has numerous driver coaches that have competed on many tracks in many different types of cars. Tap into that wealth of knowledge.
There’s no substitute for actual seat time, however, by completing the tips above before arriving for your first laps, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful time on track. Good luck!
By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason