Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: Communication is a 2-way street. Ask questions and listen.

coaching-race-driversAs an instructor or coach, this Speed Secret is pretty straightforward. At least its meaning is. From my observations, though, not enough instructors or coaches follow the advice.

But as a driver, what does this Speed Secret mean to you?

If you have an engineer or crew chief with whom you can debrief about your car’s handling characteristics after driving on the track, that’s pretty self-explanatory. It should be a 2-way conversation, and not just you telling your engineer about all the problems you’re having with the car’s handling. Let your engineer ask questions – encourage them. You ask questions. The more questions you both ask, the more you’ll be digging to the core of the problem, and therefore finding the real solutions.

If your engineer is someone you see every morning when you look in the mirror, then you’re going to need to have that 2-way conversation with yourself (sure, you might not want to do that loudly, while pushing a shopping cart full of old clothes and cardboard boxes down the street all by yourself!!!). But, once again, ask questions – of yourself. Listen for your own answers, and then ask more. The more questions you ask, the more you’ll be digging to the core of the problem.

Could this 2-way conversation be between you and your car? Yes! In fact, that’s perhaps the most important conversation you’ll ever have. You know that your car is talking to you, through its sounds (engine, brakes, tires, wind passing the car), feel (vibrations, chassis pitch and roll, g-forces, feedback through the steering wheel and pedals), and what you can see (the rotation of the car, change of perspective when the chassis leans or pitches forward/rearward). If you ask yourself, “What do I feel? What do I hear? What do I see?”, your car will answer… if you’re paying attention – if you’re “listening” – and communicating.

Check back here often for more tips and advice for performance drivers, race drivers, high performance driving instructors, and anyone else interested in learning to get around race tracks quickly.

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