Colin's Corner: Organization is Key to a Driver's Schedule

Colin's Corner: Organization is Key to a Driver's Schedule

I want to take a few minutes to talk about what a drivers schedule is like and how important it is to be organized! You may think, we only have 12 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races a year – that leaves a lot of free weekends and free time? Not to mention we only work the weekends right?! Sounds like a pretty nice job to have but it’s a little more complicated than that. Hey I’m not complaining – getting to drive really fast, exotic cars, at some of the best race tracks in the world, while having professional mechanics and engineers work to maintain and make the cars faster is AMAZING! Here’s an idea of what we have going on throughout the year.

 

We have IMSA commitments…

Most of us “pro” racing drivers in the sports car world have more going on than simply driving 12 races a year. In the IMSA GTD class we have four days of private testing (where we as a race team can pick where we want to go and test throughout the year) as well as a handful of official IMSA tests throughout the year. Mix in some sponsor appearances and a handful of car dealership visits and events and it becomes a bit more complex. A select few drivers will also race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge as well, that series races on the day prior to the big WeatherTech races! So you can double all those commitments we have already talked about. Pulling double duty on the same weekend in an endurance sports car racing series is a pretty impressive feat!

 

We race in other series…

Quite a few of the guys will race in other race series as well. Some in different sports car series in the USA, some in sports car series in Europe or even more internationally. And some in different kinds of motorsport (for example I race full-time in Global Rally Cross as well as IMSA). This is a great way to fill up some of those off weekends!

 

We Coach Too…

Additionally, a lot of us will do some driver coaching as well. This is a great way for us to use some of the knowledge and experience we have built during our own racing to help improve the skills of other drivers that are newer to racing, or want to improve their racing. There are a lot of different series devoted to newer drivers, or drivers who may have gotten a later start in racing, but still LOVE the sport and the competition and the learning that goes along with it all. I will dive a little deeper into this one since it may require some more explanation.

 

When we go to coach we typically get hired to help a driver/team out for a few days of testing or a race weekend. Sometimes we will actually start out by driving the car ourselves and getting a bit of a baseline data lap with the car (and of course if the setup needs some tweaking we will work with the team to get the car driving better) so that we understand how to drive the car quickly and we can better coach. This also allows us to collect some actual data and in-car video from the lap too. We can then use this data and video throughout the weekend to compare to the driver that has hired us to help improve his/her speed and comfort in the car. 

 

It is amazing how sophisticated the data and video systems are on these cars! The system will collect and produce a graph of the outputs of data from; steering wheel angle, brake pedal pressure, throttle pedal angle, gear position, engine RPM, and then a ton of other sensors that are helpful for the engineers and mechanics (like temperatures and suspension data). We will take an overlay graph of those driving inputs, and compare it to the baseline lap that we did prior, and look at the small differences of the inputs from the driver plus mix in the review of the video to look at things like car placement on the track and lines. It is pretty incredible how much you can see and critique from the video and data. The hard part of this job usually is being able to break down this information in a way that the driver you are working with can process it and go faster in the next session. 

 

For me as a coach, with a few different clients in different series, I really enjoy seeing people improve and refine the craft of driving and racing. I also really enjoy being able to have the chance to drive a TON of different kinds of cars – from GT cars to Prototype cars to stock cars to open wheel cars – you name it, I have probably driven it! 

 

We book our own travel…

In addition to all our racing obligations, we sometimes have the opportunity to write blogs like this, drive cars for a commercial, print ad, social media videos, etc. Mix all of this together plus keeping up with both pre and post event reports, and the fact most of us book our own travel, and you can keep pretty darn busy! I’m fortunate enough to be racing in IMSA GTD and Global Rally Cross full-time (18 race weekends) as well as driver coaching in two different sports car series full-time (19 race weekends) along with other various test days, appearances, etc. Not a lot of weekends off but fortunately, I LOVE being at the track! Now I need a nap after looking at this schedule.