Follow these three tips and learn how you might shave a second off your time.
Racing brings out the most competitive impulses any of us will ever experience. That relentless drive to finish first and finish fastest can become so obsessive that many of us can get so caught up in the rush that we miss the chance to slow down, take a breath, and peel off laps with more pace than we ever imagined.
Here are three tips that you can follow every single time you find yourself at the track.
Tip 1: Smooth is FAST!
When racing, you are always leaning on the bleeding edge of what your equipment can do in even the best conditions. Only thing is, rarely are the conditions perfect. When you hear smooth is fast, it basically means don’t upset that bleeding edge balance between fast and out of control. Smooth, steady steering inputs along with the smooth application of power and braking will keep your equipment more balanced and less likely to get upset and send you out of control.
That’s not to say smooth is always fast. Smooth can be just smooth, sometimes slow. On the other hand, haphazard, herky-jerky racing with shrieking tires may sound and look fast, but it isn’t. The fastest smooth, where it’s pushed to its limits, usually finishes first.
Tip 2: Drive One Corner Ahead.
You should ALWAYS drive ahead of the track and the vehicle in front of you. If you only plan for the corner in front of you, you will never be able to efficiently set up the driver ahead of you for the pass. Looking one corner ahead will also keep you safe and better prepared to avoid any obstacles that may come your way.
The most elite racers drive fast and think faster, continuously collecting mental snapshots and anticipating all that lies ahead. Watch any high-level series, and you will discover some drivers who just seem to have a knack for missing the big crash or finding a way to win at the end, almost as if they know how the race is going to end long before it’s over. In racing especially, you can often get a good idea of what’s about to happen simply by paying attention to what’s in front of you right now.
Tip 3: Drive Your Line.
No two drivers will ever drive the exact same line. If they did, racing would be boring. It is very easy to get behind someone and follow or start to change your line to get around them, but this is a trap. You caught up to them for a reason: your line was faster. Keep on your line, apply the pressure and wait for a mistake.
There’s a lot of science to racing–aerodynamics, weight displacement, horsepower, and acceleration to name a few. And then there’s the simple art or poetry in finding one’s own line along with the Zen-like concentration to calmly keep it while there’s chaos all around.
There’s no better place to practice than indoors.
With any outdoor track, your fastest smooth, the best way to attack each corner, and your best line are always changing with the weather and track conditions. The track will be dramatically different when it’s wet vs dry, hot vs cold, or day vs night. Not to mention, if the track is fresh, it will feel and drive a lot different than if it’s got a lot of rubber and debris.
That can make it hard to test different lines and other tactics because what works really well with one set of conditions won’t with another. It’s also why some of the best drivers in the world adapt in real-time to conditions that can change dramatically within the race. Add changes in the car, like tire wear and the changing order of cars in front and behind, and you start to realize why every lap is different.
Because our tracks are indoors and at a consistent temperature and humidity level, they can provide one constant variable to make it easier to get near-instant feedback as you experiment with your line and your edge.
And if you race in other series, whether it’s a dirt track, asphalt, concrete, oval, road, rally, or any other type of racing, you may find that a little practice inside where the feedback is consistent and instant may help you get better everywhere you race.
Lose a second to finish first.
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