Q: “My question is this: I’m kinda at a plateau where the improvement curve has seemed to flatten. I really don’t have resources for a $1500 per day coach… well, my wife says I don’t! I want to improve my times with better driving and not HP, and I do enjoy chasing down GT3s! So, Ross what do you suggest for a 58-year-old guy who loves the track and wants to be smoother and faster?”
A: I recently wrote an article for Speed Secrets Weekly about how, as we get better, we get tougher on ourselves and may think we’re not improving, when we really are. Lap times are only one way of measuring our improvement, right? When you say you’re on a plateau, are you? Maybe your fastest lap time is not improving much, but are you getting more consistent? Are you able to turn the same lap time with less effort, meaning it’s coming easier – and may also be easier on your car? All of those things mean you’re improving, but it’s just not showing up on the stopwatch.
The other thing to consider is that the closer you get to the limits of your car, it gets tougher to find the last few tenths of a second. If you’re measuring improvement by lap time, are you getting close to the limits of your car? There is a limit, right?
How often do you get on track? To improve, you need to practice. I’m not saying it’s all about getting more seat time, because there’s more to it than just more time doing the same thing over and over again. You need to practice the right things. Quality seat time is what it takes, not just the quantity of it. Yes, a coach would help that, and the right coach might just save you more than anything else – even if you have the coaching for just one day, the benefits may last years.
Beyond what I just said, I believe that the deeper your understanding of all things driving, the more you’ll improve in a shorter amount of time when you do get on track. Reading, watching videos, training sessions, etc., all help. Yes, that’s my business, but it is because I’ve seen how it helps drivers.
If you use a simulator – a simple one works – and practice the right things, that will pay off, too.
Mental training, specifically using mental imagery (visualization) will make a huge difference. But make sure you’re doing that the right way, too.
Many of the techniques used on track can be practiced at legal speeds on the street.
Without seeing you drive, it’s hard to recommend a specific thing to work on or practice. So… take a good look at whether you’re really on a plateau or not, do more “study” away from the track, use a simulator, do mental imagery, get more strategic practice on track, practice on the road, and reconsider a good coach (not all are good) for a day.