The Ten Stages of Successful Progress in the World of Motorsport
First, you must understand there is more to high-performance driving than just fast. It’s an art. If you think of it as art and practice to refine that art and that skill, starting slow and let speed emerge as a by-product, you won’t just go fast, you will go faster. Than, give yourself a little pad on the shoulder and try to find where to improve and improve (again, not in terms of speed, in terms of efficiency) hence getting faster. 1. Learn theory
2. Practice theory in free racing simulations.
3. Practice good driving habits on winding public roads, cone-courses and large empty lots.
4. Get professional input with a personal trainer and than at a race driving course and/or race driving school.
5. Designate a particular track for practice sessions: Get videos decipting laps at various speeds, instructional videos, videos decpiting a certain driver’s error. Get turn-by-turn guides, talk about it in the forums.
6. Get on a track with a personal trainer. Walk the track. Let the instructor perform one smooth lap and view/disscuss the track line through the lap.
6. Limit your RPM range and practice key techniques and common mistakes on the tack. Dedicate each lap to perfect a certain technique, and every four techniques, merge them all toghether in a single lap.
7. Segregate the track into segments and practice each segment to perfection. Built a certain plan with your trainer.
8. Summarize as much information as possible and use them for personal improvement and for feedback in online forums’ like our disscussion forums. (Note: Internet-based, and any oral input in fact, should be treated with caution and a certain doubt).
9. After the session, set a certain trail for yourself with the advice of your instructor. Take aspects which you had difficulty with, and set certain goals for improvement in this area in a certain time frame of a few weeks. Post input from the experience on the forums for counseling.
10. Set another session with the instructor.
At a beginning, you will not simply go over the whole track simply and train. You need to break it down into elements, and work over each one. Having worked on each technique and driving aspect apart, you can put everything toghether into practice around one corner, and than around another, practicing around track segments and, with experience, around the whole track.
One problem with solo training is the lack of prespective resulting in ignoring the “Luck” factor. (“Nakhs”, as I call it) I have seen drivers tackle a skid make a bad correction and recover, or make the correct recovery input badly and spin. In both cases, the driver misinterpreted the luck factor, both for “bad” luch resulting in the skid and the good luck that saved him in spite of applying a sub-optimal correction. He hence came to the conclusion that he is a splendid driver and that he did good, just because what he did/thought he did worked in situation “X” and maybe in situation “Y” too. Without a trainer, this will make the driver inherit bad habits that lasts without the realization of their problematicness up to the money-time when the wall is coming by at 60mph. Outch!! And besides, who says the net result is all that counts, where is the spirit??!
This is without even disscussing the lack of skill of beginner to average drivers. There is a great difference between what you do or, more precisely, what you think you do, and what you are indeed doing. I have seen people do one thing (like brake and declutch) and yet be certain they did something else (like stay off of the clutch or countersteer perhaps). And yet untill the drill is repeated about three times atleast, are they convinced that they actually did something else.
Stage 1: Preperation
The first stage, is the theortical material, which can be found in this website on our comprehensive Race driving guide. Many of the offered techniques and driving habitbs — Seating positions, mirrors, steering habits, pedal operation, utilization of vision, lines, elements of correct driving, etc — can and should be practiced and used on public roads. They will help you to fortify those habits (which might be the opposite of the habits you naturally adopted/was taught to adopt) so that you can utilize them on the track, as well as to improve you road driving, and save money (on gas and mechanical car wear) for racing, and stay alive on the road to race another day.
At a certain stage, professional observation in a certain sort of driving course is obligatory. As a rule, oral instructions suffer from simplifaction of matters that are in fact much more complex, we made our best efforts to refrain from this. However, since you do not drive with a keyboard, you do not learn driving over the keyboard. You need to practice, but with a controlled environment and professional supervision, you might not do things right, however sincerely believing that you are. Even pros needs inspection from a third party from time to time. The bottom line is (although it might appear moot) is that personal coaching is a must!!
If you do not believe us than first, you should! But in any case, here are the quotes of two racing drivers on coaching. First, Gerardo Bonilla (US Formula 2000), himself a trainer:
- “Hi-kick Racing: Professional athletes, for example, in football golf, or baseball, often receive coaching. In the professional level, how do you feel coaching effects a driver’s improvement? What about at the youth and amateur level?
- Bonilla: Coaching is effective for all levels, from beginner to pro. A professional driver simply cannot consider all the possibilities and options for improvement. Pride makes us blind to many areas of improvement. An unbiased coach will make you aware of things you would never have considered. They are worth their weight in gold. If I could afford one, I would have a coach every single time I drive professionally. At the youth and amateur level, a good coach adjusts his or her feedback for the level and personality of the driver.
- Hi-kick Racing: Do you think car control at a high level is something that can be taught?
- Bonilla: Yes, absolutely yes. The difference between drivers is how long it will take them to learn, and the ultimate level of achievement (some are not capable of processing the data for the highest degrees of difficulty). Driver and coach must both have patience and unrelenting desire (and funding!) for the driver to reach his or her goals. ” (Going Faster with Gerardo Bonilla)
And, another, from someone who is not a trainer:
- ” ‘When you live in Europe, there is no need for a trainer for practice. We have open or closed, public tracks here, which I am sure would do. Once you grasp the physics and car dynamics, the rest can be learned via trial and error.’
- I have to disagree.
- Autodeduction is by itself random, leaving the self-examining driver short of tools to measure his progression with. I was to driving courses in the company of professional trainers with a vast experience in racing, who would finish each such learning experience with new insights, be it about techniques or about instructional methodologies. It would in fact be the educated and experienced driver, who would achieve the greatest benefit from a few hours of coaching.” 
Racing simulators, such as Grand Turismo, BMW M-3 challenge, and Live for speed are also beneficial for when you are not physically driving a car. You can read about their advantages and disadvantages here.
At this stage, you should consider a serious course at one of the available Racing Schools, this is going to be much better than simply going on the track and trying to be fast, even by correct technical driving or a planned practice session. You might also recieve a scholarship for a loca league or even an international racing license. Make sure the instructors are experienced in driving and have good instruction methodologies and personal treatment according to our HPDE Instructors Guide. Make sure they cover all subjects in both theory and practice, according to our Race driving guide. A racing school experience is not going to be very productive without preperation at a smaller course, so it’s best to built a base by learning the theory, and than sharpening it with one to three sessions with a personal trainer (be it about performance driving or even defensive/advanced road driving) and than to go to a full racing school experiene.
Once you have been to one serious (3-4 day long on-track course covering all the elements of racing, in theory and in practice), or at least two shorter courses (those that last 1-2 track days), we suggest to take upon yourself certain “trails” in improving certain techniques and aspects of good driving, with which you struggled in the course, and than return after a pause ranging from five days to three weeks to another round at the track in which the instruction was held, preferably with a personal coacher and than preferably make another meeting or two. The behavioristic rational behind this is to make students that undergo training to try locally, well-defined in advance, ways of driving and/or a technical element of different driving from that he was accustomed to until undergoing the training.
At a racing school, and in tracks afterwards, a certain mental state of mind must be acquired for the driver to perform well under pressure. For more information on this, read Pages 2, 6, 8-10, 15-16,18-21.A few stresses for planning in real time:
1. it is important to think of what you are about to do (in advance) and take to heart the imaginary associations and “references” or whatever than pops up in your mind suddenly, as keys for the memory. E.G. When coming to a turn, imagine you and your car driving through a certain line, before actually doing it. The earlier you can get a clear mental image of the bend ahead, the more effectivelly are you driving and thinking!
2. Making actions repetitive in your mind like “maintaining throttle”, “maintaining throttle”, “maintaining throttle”… “staying on the brake, staying on it, staying on it, staying on it…” and repeating the mantra in your head while doing it in practice, helps to make it “circular” and avoid pressure and distractions. When a certain task is finished, mentally “mark” it in your mental checklist. If nessecary, talk to yourself out-load. If you cannot perform the driving and “commentry” simultanously, you are driving too fast for the conditions and your level of skill! This instructor is demnostrating how to perform such a commentry:
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