Q: “I race in the Champcar Endurance Series, formerly Chumpcar. One of the many things I’d like to get better at is dealing with traffic. Sometimes it’s cars that are a lot slower than ours, sometimes close in speed, and then there are the ones that are faster. I’m a long-time autocrosser and the addition of others around me can be a serious overload of stimuli. We just finished up our 4th season so I’m better at this than I was, but still feel like there’s a long way to go. To add to the challenge often we are on a new-to-us track, or one that we only go to once a year. Can you address this topic?”
A: That topic – racecraft – is much bigger than I could ever address in this column! In fact, I did a full webinar on that topic, and talked for about 2.5 hours. I suggest you take a look at downloading and watching it (Improving Your Racecraft) by going to SpeedSecrets.com/Webinars.
What I will address here is that racecraft has more to do with your mindset – your attitude or mental approach – than it does with technique. Sure, there are the strategies and tactics of passing, being passed, and race starts, but if you have the right mindset you’ll find most of them. I created a video titled The Racer’s Mindset to help drivers get a better understanding of that mental approach. You can watch it here.
Finally, racecraft takes hands-on practice. I can tell you where to position your car to set up a pass, but you need to go do it for it to really make sense and sink in. Some of that practice should take place mentally, by doing mental imagery (visualization), because you can pre-play many scenarios in your mind so you feel prepared (impacting your mindset in a positive way). You can figure out some of the tactics in your mind before you ever get on track. But, obviously, you need to eventually get on track and just do it. That’s why I think it’s great that you’re racing in one of the “low budget” endurance race series. The more of that you do, the better.