Every year there is a new crop of racers moving up in the ranks and trying to find success in their latest venture. The amount of natural talent a driver has dictates only some of a driver’s success, especially early in their career when experience on how to utilize that talent is limited. Another issue with relying purely on talent is that there is no way to change or control how much talent you have. I think other factors that you can control are just as important as a driver’s talent. Four of the most important components of success can be combined in an infinite number of ways depending on each team’s situation: time, effort, knowledge and, unfortunately it cannot be ignored in todays racing climate, money.
I get asked for advice a lot from new teams, especially with young drivers, trying to find varying degrees of success. The key, however, is that asking for advice and heeding advice are not one in the same, and the heeding portion gets neglected in some form nearly every time. Many times, newcomers ask many different people for advice and then only take the parts that seem easy from each person’s suggestions and hope to somehow combine them all for an easier overall path. As you can probably guess, that doesn’t often work.
I am not saying it is bad to ask multiple sources for advice, but at some point you must choose a primary source to rely on so they can explain why certain things are, or are not, working according to their COMPLETE formula for success.
Having a substantial amount of money and the willingness to part with it is undeniably the easiest way to find quick success in motorsports. Money can be used to purchase the time, effort, and knowledge of other people, quickly eliminating many failures and lessons along the way.
Many people in motorsports complain about “rich kids” in racing, but put yourself in the other party’s shoes and it may change your views. If your child decided their passion was racing and you had the financial means to provide them with a better opportunity, how many could honestly say they wouldn’t do it? Many people’s situations could be easily improved by spending less time focusing on other people’s money and more time managing their own.
Not to discourage the vast majority of people who do not have infinite budgets, there is also a clear path to success by combining enough of each of the first three components. I, along with a lot of the top drivers in the top traveling open-wheel series, did not start with an open checkbook behind them and were able to find success and make a living. It, undoubtedly, takes an immense amount of hard work and a lot of disappointment along the way, but it is most certainly possible and extremely rewarding.
The most important advice I can give family teams trying to run a race team on their own, in any form of car and with any form of budget constraints, is to always be as prepared as possible. Preparation, organization, and outlining clear plans and goals are absolutely free and only take some initial time and effort, but pay back tenfold in time savings in the long run.
Having an organized team that has a regular schedule and organized maintenance also quickly helps in building knowledge of the car with no distractions. Making mistakes, both on and off the track, with driving and setups are impossible to avoid but are also crucial in building knowledge and experience. If your car is mechanically sound, it makes identifying your mistakes and correcting them much easier, greatly expediting the learning process. Going to the race track and being confident your car is prepared properly is invaluable.
If you aren’t fully prepared to go to the race track, DON’T GO. As difficult as this decision is to make sometimes, it can be immensely important in keeping your aspirations on the right track. Believe it or not, there is always another race, and it won’t be the end of the world to miss one to be properly prepared for the next. Going to the track unprepared, or making last minute decisions to go somewhere you weren’t planning on, greatly increases your chances of something going wrong at the track. If something goes wrong at the track, it immediately puts you behind the eight ball and often results in putting yourself in bad situations on the race track that can end in torn up equipment with big bills.
As someone once told me, “If you go out looking for trouble, chances are you are going to find it.” Don’t go looking for trouble.