The holidays are now over, which signals the start of the race season nearly everywhere. No doubt many of you are now under 2 feet of snow and might consider my statement ridiculous, but Arizona, Florida, Texas, and California racers don’t stop racing during the winter months.
While the rest of the country is buried in snow, NASA already is operating events in the more forgiving climates. In fact, some of the cars that just finished the 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by the U.S. Air Force race need to be ready for their first event in early February. Being able to race all year is a blessing — and a curse. However, even if you can’t get your car on track until after the first melt, you can start your season now and enjoy more success when the day arrives to take your car to the track.
We all know that any successful racing effort is grounded in good preparation. All too often I hear drivers complain that the first event of the season arrived too fast and that they had to work like mad to get things ready. As the new year begins, if some are struggling to decide what kind of resolution to make, I might suggest “better race prep” as an item to consider.
We all know how nice it is to have everything ready in advance for a race weekend. Or maybe we have dreamed about it. So, if you find yourself in the off-season thinking about your next event, why not start to make a list of things you want to accomplish before the first green flag of the year? Perhaps install that new data acquisition device your honey got you for Christmas or perhaps hit the garage for a morning session to bleed the brakes and swap out the wheel bearings. Heck, even take an hour and organize that toolbox you are always cursing at when trying to make a hasty repair in the paddock. Even better, take some time to look at all your safety equipment and consider if there is anything else you could do to make you and your car safer.
Not only is being prepared vital to a successful race weekend but strategy is also a key factor. What kind of strategy in the off-season can you employ to help you accomplish your goals during the season? If you develop a strategy to help you prepare for what is to come, you will find yourself calm and relaxed on race day. Driving is more of an individual application, but car preparation doesn’t need to be.
It is always easier to accomplish goals with encouragement, so employ a strategy that uses a team concept to accomplish your preparation goals. How much more enjoyable would it be to work on your car with one of your racing buddies over pizza and beer instead of wrenching solo in a cold garage? This can be a great strategy to get your car in top shape for your race season. In fact, you might even convince your spouse that you have made a resolution to be prepared for the race season and that hanging out with your friends working on cars while drinking beer and eating pizza is a critical part of meeting that resolution.
As I reread my suggestion, it does sound a little far fetched, but I hope it got you thinking. By starting now, you and your car will arrive at the first race more prepared than ever, and you will be able to enjoy the start of the racing season like never before.