Hold on a second. Are you sure you’re ready for the upcoming race? I’ve said it many times. I cringe every time I see teams practicing tire changes and driver changes at the track the day of a race. Good God, what have they been doing all year? I must assume they didn’t decide to register for this race last week. When was the last time you saw any NASCAR, F1 or IndyCar teams practicing the day of the race?
I’m not going to rant about those teams this month, but let’s examine many other items teams seem to neglect prior to race day. Running a business, or working to make a living, which includes earning enough to support one’s racing passion, is time consuming. I get it. But if your racing passion includes a vision of performing well, let alone near a place on the podium, there’s really no excuse for not being well prepared. Drivers and teams often daydream about whatever happens to pop up in their head and that’s all they think about, which distracts from all the other important items that need attention. Believe me, the team that prepares best is the team that more and likely is going to win on race day.
There are some drivers who honestly believe they are “gifted” drivers who possess skills needed to win on the track. Such BS is not something you’re just born with. Developing these complex skills requires a deep dedication to the process of failing, learning, and trying again, time after time. Call it seat time, call it desire, good hand-eye coordination, or call it practice, but regardless, it’s not a God-given talent.
Here are a few items a well-prepared teams or drivers will include on their checklists. Ask yourself if you or your team have given them some consideration.
Do you sleep before a race? Or are you one of those teams out in the paddock practicing tire changes?
Stay upbeat and positive. Relax and enjoy the time at the track with teammates. After all, isn’t racing supposed to be fun?
Stay well hydrated and eat before a race.
Arrive early before a race. Don’t allow yourself to be held up in long lines at registration and get stuck setting up your pit area in a hurry, which also helps you and your team to attend important drivers meetings. I can’t begin to say how many times I’ve overheard someone say, “Oh, sweet Jesus, I’m late! I’ve got to run to the drivers meeting! You stay here and work on. …”
Warm up your body before a race. Do some stretching, take a long walk, meditate. Taking a walk is the perfect time to visualize the start. The first corner.
I have a favorite, humorous story from the world’s best-known racing/sports reporter, Chris Economaki shared with me before he passed away about the time his boss sent him to the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento to get an interview with a new upcoming driver, A.J. Foyt for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” Chris waited for the right moment and finally asked, “Pardon me A.J., do you have time to talk with us?” and the interview began. “A.J., I noticed you walked around the track this morning before you went out to practice. What do you learn from walking the track before you take your car out?” Foyt says, “Well Chris, to be honest with you, I can’t take a s### in the morning until I’ve had a good long walk. …” And, Chris said, “That was the Foyt interview that never made the air.”
It’s important to stop spending all your time working on the car and begin working on yourself. If you don’t have time to properly get ready, then you shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Get rested, hydrated, meditate, and for god’s sake, take a crap.