A lot of drivers look forward to making an annual pilgrimage to a destination track, myself included. In my case, it’s IMSA events at tracks that I only visit once a year. For other drivers, it might be a regular season event or something special, like an annual endurance race.
It’s a lot of fun to participate in an event like this and to share it with friends or your team, but it also adds a lot of additional preparation, not only from a logistics standpoint but also from a driver preparedness standpoint.
When I work with clients who are headed to a track that they only visit once a year, we start by referencing video and notes from years prior, and then we get in some simulator work, whether it’s a lead-follow session or critiquing recorded laps on iRacing. These two things really go hand-in-hand. We use the notes to look at brake points, gearing, specific reference points and other notable things about that track. Those are the kinds of details that help a driver recalibrate before diving into laps on a simulator, so it’s much easier to get back into a good rhythm once the virtual practice is underway.
Working on these aspects to get refamiliarized with a track months before the event might not be a big benefit. It’s important to start early, but not too early. You also want to build volume leading up to the event so that you’re doing more studying and simulator work just before the actual event. If you practice early and then take a break from it, these things won’t be fresh in your mind anymore. It’s better to study steadily and really focus during that final week before you head to the track.
Challenging yourself at a track you only visit once a year can be a lot of fun, and it can also be very rewarding when you show up prepared and ready to be competitive despite it not being in your regular rotation of circuits.