As with any activity or sport, getting involved in auto racing not only can be exciting, but if allowed, it also can be overwhelming. All too often, it’s that same excitement that can cause problems. Getting started in any activity, including auto racing, should be done in an organized and well-orchestrated manner. But it’s also important to remind yourself to do everything in moderation.
Remembering these important facts can and will help getting started in auto racing lead to a long-lived adventure, and something that can be more affordable than one might imagine. It’s equally important to remember that learning new and better car control, and driving skills does not mean you must always be behind the wheel. Within NASA, there are countless ways to learn, and believe me, when it comes to being a better driver, there’s a lot more than learning how to step on the pedal on the right, and turn the steering wheel.
In fact, one of the best ways to get started is to ask how you can help at the track on race weekends. There are always groups that can use some assistance, and I have found there is a lot to be learned by simply being around others and listening, and observing. As you find yourself helping out at events, not only will you hear others asking questions and getting answers, but you will begin to learn about other classes of cars, why certain protocols are observed, where other racers/students get great deals on necessary racing related goodies — and the best part is that it will cause you to begin to ask the right questions. There is an old saying that a good teacher will not give the student the answer, but rather teach the student to ask the right questions.
Too often, newbies get so wrapped up trying to focus on just learning to drive fast that they not only spend too much, but they tend not to learn things in the proper order. Besides the obvious problems with that scenario, they ultimately end up spending their hard-earned cash and time focusing on the wrong things. Getting started in auto sports by learning to ask questions, a new member not only can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, but also shorten the length of time it takes to begin in that all-too-valuable confidence.
Instead of asking how to drive fast around a racetrack, I would be asking, what’s the best way to get to the track? Do I need a trailer? If not, what items should I bring along? Or what should I leave at home? (radar detectors, CDs flopping around in the car and so on). What notes should I be making? When was the last time you saw someone actually taking notes at a drivers meeting? That said, bring a notepad with a clipboard, paper and pen. It’s also a great place to keep the weekend schedule. How about a tire-pressure gauge and some white chalk? Believe me there are thousands of questions that, when asked, can help a newbie learn and save money.
The journey of learning to be a better and more competitive driver does not have to involve wasting money and time. And if this adventure is approached properly, it can help people avoid getting burned out. Don’t allow your dreams to go up in smoke like a set of worn-out slicks. Find out how you, too,
can help during NASA events. Learn to ask questions, and most important of all, get started having fun on what surely will be a life-long adventure.