I was coaching a couple of clients at Road Atlanta recently during a club race weekend. It happened to be one client’s first time back at Road Atlanta in several years, and it was his first visit in that car. I could really appreciate the approach that he took to the event, because it was what I think of as “methodical progress.”
Rather than rushing the results and having to worry about lap time progress each session, it was more about the process and understanding the track. We started a little slower to allow more absorption of track knowledge, then started to pick up the speed in a format where it was more productive long-term. Rather than being focused on just going as fast as possible, the approach was about learning the nuances session by session and then putting everything together later in the weekend.
For example, we specifically worked on turn one in a session, and then worked on turn five in the next. We focused on late braking into turn ten in a session, too. We didn’t worry about having to put it all together the first time out, but broke out each turn separately. By day two, we were really seeing some lap time progress. We put each piece together on the third day, and his lap time was just melting away. In fact, he went out and won his class!
I think in this case, the client was wiser than the coach! I had intended to use lap times as a benchmark, but he decided to use each session’s goal as the benchmark instead. He wasn’t concerned with the lap time but with how well he met each goal. He knew that in the end, when it would count, he would be able to put it all together to be quicker. It takes patience to approach racing in this way, but as he proved, it can really pay off!
I’ll be back in a race car myself this weekend as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge heads to Mid-Ohio. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 77 TRUMPF Audi RS3 LMS with Britt Casey, Jr. You can watch our race live on Saturday, May 5, at 2:10 p.m. ET at IMSA.com or on the IMSA app.