Performance & Race Driving Tip

Speed Secret: Use the $100,000 track map.

The next time you come off the track, park in the paddock, take your helmet off, swig some water, and then I want you to create what I call “the $100,000 track map.”

What’s the “$100,000 track map?”

Here’s the deal: You and every other driver you’ve been on track with cannot go back on track for 6 months – that was your last time on track. And, in 6 months when you get back on track, I’m going to give $100,000 to the driver who is fastest on his or her 5th lap. So, when you come back to drive in 6 months, you better get up to speed fast! In just 5 laps. $100,000 is on the line. But to make this just a little more challenging, between now and then you’re not allowed to look at any data, or watch any videos. The only thing you have to prepare is your memory… and the track map. Which, if you’re smart, will have every possible note on it that you can think of.

That’s why it’s the $100,000 track map. If you make the right notes to trigger your memory, you’ll get up to speed faster than anyone else.

laguna-seca-track-notesWhat kind of notes should you put on your track map?

  • Braking points – beginning and ending
  • Turn-in, apex and exit reference points
  • Elevation changes, banking in turns
  • Which gears you’re using in each turn, and approximately where you’re changing gears
  • Specific notes about where you want to be looking
  • Surface changes (pavement to concrete, for example)
  • Cracks, bumps and scrapes in the track surface
  • The line you want to drive
  • Acceleration points
  • Turn priorities
  • Where the track surface has the most grip, and where it doesn’t
  • General notes about rhythm, techniques, and “keys to going fast”
  • What you see, feel and hear at various points around the track
  • What your car seems to like

And anything else that you think will help you mentally drive the track every day between now and 6 months from now. Anything that you think will help trigger your ability to get up to speed fast – within 5 laps – when you come back in 6 months.

When I ask drivers to do this, the results span from just a few notes about braking points, to a page with notes spilling over onto the back of it. The best drivers fill the page and have to write on the back. And they review it just prior to doing mental imagery, and then just before driving.

This process does more than just provide a trigger for mental imagery and refreshing your memory before driving. The act of writing and drawing these notes “cements” them in your mind more than just about anything else. In my experience, it makes all of these reference points and tasks part of your mental programming far more than watching a video does (watching video is a more passive activity).

Remember – there’s $100,000 riding on this. 🙂

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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