ask-ross-bentley-q&aQ: Okay, say I have the $5k it takes to set up a really nice data system for my SpecE30.  Should I put the data system in first and then get some strong coaching, or is the $5k best spent on that coaching first?

A: Great question! First, I don’t think you need to spend $5k on a good data system. I bet you could get what you want for under $2k, and have some left over for coaching.

As for whether to get the data system first, then coaching, or vice versa… That depends on where you’re at as a driver. What do you think? Do you think there’s more in your driving, or more in the car? Do you think a good coach (and understand there are huge differences in coaches) would be able to help you find more in your driving than a data system would? If you had the latest and greatest data system, do you think you could analyze it yourself and coach yourself to find the same amount that the coach could?

A good coach will help you learn in a way that will be with you forever. A data system can do that, but you have to really know what you’re doing to self-coach yourself with data to get the same long-term effect. The problem is that many coaches are not capable of doing that – of helping you learn things that will help you forever. Many will jump in your car, set a lap time, and say, “Do what I did.” That’s not coaching. And that’s not long-term learning for you. It’s simply copying someone else’s driving. It can lead to a short term gain, but not a long term one.

My experience is that there is often a lot left in the driver, and I think it’s great that you’re looking at this the same way I would – how to get the most out of the driver (you). It sounds like you understand this, which is great (many drivers don’t get this).

Okay, $5k… I would spend $1000 or so on an AIM system with camera, and the rest on coaching. But I’d make sure I was getting a good coach. A good one will do more in two days than an average one will in 10 days.