In 2015, NASA has crowned nearly 80 new Champions between the events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Virginia International Raceway. There also have been nearly 100 events nationwide in which people have raced, Time Trialed or driven in one of our HPDEs.
NASA members have experienced different kinds of luck throughout 2015, and faced numerous trials and tribulations. Some have had glaring mechanical issues. Some have wrecked cars, anywhere from a bent fender all the way to sending the chassis to the crusher — and many examples between those two extremes. Some have had personal issues, job changes or have relocated and not been able to make all the events they planned to this year. Reality has sunk in for many drivers, who realize that this motorsports part of our lives isn’t always perfect. On the flip side, many have overcome and persevered to end up either on the top step at one of our Championships events, or to be currently in the running for one of our regional points Championships.
If there is one bit of advice I can give to any driver at any part of this crazy year, it is to have a goal. Yes, I know the editor’s column on Page 6 contradicts me on that point, but hear me out. So many of us get caught in the circle of just going to certain events and just driving each session. It makes it easy for us to not be improving lap times, consistency or getting near the pointy end of the field.
This is a simple three-part plan that can only help if you find yourself at a driving plateau. First plan a goal for the season. Whether it is to get to your first HPDE event, advance to TT, get your competition license, or win a Championship. Make a goal toward which to strive. This will keep you hungry every weekend, whether you’re working on the car in your garage or trolling the forums for ideas to go faster.
Second, plan your event weekends. I know how easy it is to wait until Wednesday on an event week to start getting the car ready. Often, this will lead to having to take an unprepared car to the track, something you must continue to work on before you can go out for a session. That leaves you feeling as if you’re playing catch-up all weekend before you even get on course. Planning your weekend’s tire, brake and fuel programs, and your personal food and drink intake will help you be more relaxed and energized each time you get in your car to drive a session. Print a schedule and make sure you plan when you’ll be servicing your car. Also plan when you’ll be eating and allow for lots of fluid intake so you stay hydrated. Having a plan besides “showing up to drive” will make your weekend go much more smoothly than not having a plan.
The last part, and most difficult, is to have a plan for each session. Whether it’s trying a new line, testing a new car setting, or beating your competitor, having a plan for each session will help you have the mental strategy to make every session a better one for you and get the most out of all the valuable resources you are using.
As we enter the last quarter of the season, no matter if you are in the Championship hunt, coming out for your first event, or working your way to the lead pack, having a goal and a plan to achieve it will lead to improvements.