In years past a funded driver looking to climb the ladder would likely speak with the teams in the paddock of the series he or she was aspiring to join. Normally one would find that the budgets were quite fluid with variables coming with the amount of testing, tires, engineering and driver coaching that would be included.
The development and acquisition of skills by a race car driver, young or old, does not come without significant cost and exposure.
ACQUIRING THE SKILLS
FOR PROFESSIONAL MOTORSPORTS
The development of athletic skills in most sports requires proper coaching, training, and dedication but a relatively minimal investment in equipment. Many times experience comes through organized sports where the athlete is guided by professional coaching and training staffs that are provided at minimal expense.
Motor racing, however, is unlike most other sports in that it requires a significant investment in equipment. As a result, the focus of the aspiring driver has traditionally been directed to the car, engines and those things that seemingly will make them a winner. But, as many have learned, these components do not ensure success.
The key to success in motorsports is a global understanding and mastery of all aspects of the specific motorsport discipline. Today being the world’s best driver is simply not enough to make it to the top of the pyramid.
Today’s successful driver also needs to have a thorough knowledge of the equipment and be capable of communicating with a staff of highly trained engineers and mechanics about the vehicle’s performance. The driver must not bury themselves in the data analytics but must be capable of explaining in detail what the car is doing and anticipating what the car will require to go fast. Driving coaches are oftentimes employed to assist in these aspects of development. Deciding if a coach is necessary and if so, who to engage is critical.
Our years of experience on the track, in the paddock, working with leading engineers, series and sponsors can be put to use in formulating the “right” program to find success.
KNOWING THE RULES
THE HIGH-SPEED BOARDROOM
Going fast isn’t everything. The driver must be well versed in the specific rules of the race series. They must thoroughly understand the rules of the series and be capable of making split-second decisions taking into consideration not only what will best position the car for a good finish, but also a finish which is not then hampered by penalties. They must also be capable of negotiating the high speed environment of the corporate board room when dealing with sponsors, vendors and series officials. These are often tense situations which may be peppered with political agendas.
It is our opinion that the aspiring race driver needs proper coaching and counsel for both the “on” and “off” track aspects of their career. Our years of experience on track, in the paddock, working with leading engineers, series and sponsors can be put to use in formulating the “right” program to find success.
As driver’s climb the ladder they are often time separated by financial resources. An unfortunate truth is that there have been many potential world champions left behind simply because of a lack of funding, not driving talent. What is perhaps worse is that there have been many drivers who had proper funding that have lost their way due either to unscrupulous team owners/managers or simply not being properly educated on what they should be looking for as they try to climb the motorsports ladder. Important decisions need to be made at the outset concerning budgets and how the career will be financed. Creative options can be considered in some circumstances such as future revenue sharing models. The emotions that accompany this sport have to be put to the side while fundamental business and legal skills are employed.
CHOOSING A RIDE
IN A DEVELOPMENT
But other than considering the past season’s record how does a newcomer to the series or for that matter to motorsports determine what the best fit is? The truth of the matter is that it is very difficult for the up and coming driver and often those who are providing financial support to know.
Most of the “junior” or “development” series teams have associations with persons in other paddocks to help them find new drivers. While representing themselves as agents, driver coaches or even something more subtle they are actually just serving as a recruiter or salesperson for the team. Accordingly, one has to be cautious so as to not be swept up in the attention and praise that is being bestowed as it could simply be a sales technique.
Serious consideration not only needs to be given to the series a driver chooses to participate in, but also to the team they chose. Some of the issues that we take into consideration when matching a driver with a prospective team include the quality of the racing car or car(s) that will be utilized and how it is assembled and maintained, the quantity and quality of spare and backup equipment which becomes critical in the heat of a championship chase, the quality of shop/pit and set up equipment, the qualifications and experience of engineering, mechanical, public relations and management personnel, the driver’s access to set-up records and data of other drivers, the team’s simulation, wind tunnel and seven-post rig development programs, the financial resources of the team, and the team’s relationship with sanctioning bodies and key suppliers. This is but a handful of the issues to consider when vetting a team not to mention that one has to find the right chemistry to create a championship program.
We take this seriously and leave no stone un-turned when negotiating the final agreement. When you consider how much is being invested in a racing program, not only from a monetary standpoint but also from the impact it can have on a career, it only makes sense to have the assistance experienced counsel.