Every race, my team almost always has someone new to the squad. While there is some risk to this, I have met some really great people along the way, so I intend to keep doing it. What risks are there? Mostly that the driver abuses the car in some way. I can recall one driver whose shifting was so abusive that I literally could not watch the video. Every 10 seconds I would cringe as he over-revved the engine. I could only watch for a few minutes before I shut my eyes and hit command-Q. Should we have done a better job vetting him? Clearly. But he had a decent racing resumé. Better than mine anyway. It’s really hard to determine who is going to be a great endurance racing teammate until you’ve watched video of them driving your car and hung out with them at the track. Some people are so good off track that you want them to be permanent members despite their shortcomings. This week I decided to write a post about how to be an ideal arrive-n-drive teammate on Triple Apex Racing (or whatever team name I happen to be using that weekend).
- Safety first
- Don’t be a jerk
- Save the car
- Do more than your fair share
- Have fun
- Drive fast
6. Drive fast: Why is this #6 on the list? Because a racing team is a complex entity and there are so many things more important than your lap times. Anyone can learn to be fast. It’s easier to learn how to drive fast than to be a decent human being. You can learn the one in a year and the other eludes people for whole lifetimes. Being a decent human being is the core of what makes a good teammate.
5. Have fun: It should go without saying that we’re driving race cars for fun. We certainly aren’t being paid to do it. In fact, we’re paying hundreds of dollars every event, so it had better be fun. But I see people with sour faces all the time. That’s probably because people are focusing on the outcome rather than the activity. You’re in a racecar at a race track! Do you realize how special that is? Not everyone gets to be so irresponsible. What would life be like if there was no racing? Horrible, right? So love every second of it. Both good and bad attitudes are infectious. Spread happiness.
4. Do more than your fair share: Racing cars takes a huge amount of time and money before getting to the track and lots of work once you get to the track. There’s always something to do. Check the tire pressures, lug nuts, oil level, fuel cap, etc. Tug on some hoses to make sure they aren’t loose. Organize the pit space. Practice getting in and out of the car quickly. Bring food and drink for other people. Do whatever you can to make life easier on everyone around you. Don’t stop when you’ve done your part. Meet life more than half-way. And if something happens on track, take more than your fair share of the blame. Don’t seek to lay blame on others. You’ll be the better person for it.
3. Save the car: When you’re out on track, you’re making thousands of decisions every lap. If there’s no one else around, you’re probably deciding on the best way through a corner (at least subconsciously). And when you’re in traffic, you’re trying to decide how to position yourself to greatest advantage. On our team, “greatest advantage” means not crashing the car. Every little bit of contact matters. A little rub can very quickly turn into a cut tire. And there goes any chance of winning. “Save the car” also means driving it in such a way that you prolong its life. That means not running over high berms or over-revving the engine. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours have gone into your time on the track. Treat the car like you understand that.
2. Don’t be a jerk: Our team prides ourself on not getting into trouble on or off the track. We drive “courteously-fast”. Racing is competitive, and there’s nothing better than a hard-fought battle between equals. But we do not cheat and we do not purposely put other cars in danger. If you are overcome by “red mist”, get off the track. Our team has no place for that. Drive with a cool head or don’t drive. If someone does something dangerous near you, you will not retaliate in kind or attempt to “teach them a lesson”. But feel free to chuckle after they take themselves out of the race.
1. Safety first: This is a blanket statement that covers many topics from the garage to the paddock to the track. Since this blog is mostly about driving, let’s focus on the that. Here’s a quick list of don’ts from the second you light the ignition.
- Don’t speed in the paddock
- Don’t go over the blend line as you go onto track
- Don’t scare novices by driving too close to them
- Don’t attempt to go faster by braking later and harder
- Don’t pass in corners
And here is one thought to put you in a safety-oriented mindset
- The race is safer with you in it because you look out for the safety of the other drivers