There really is no replacement for quality seat time. I was recently at Circuit of the Americas to help a client get valuable practice time in before a big upcoming event. It’s fair to say that the practice time allocated on a race weekend is just to get familiar with the current track conditions and the car setup, but there is rarely time for in-depth improvement. If a driver has the opportunity to get track time at a circuit in advance of an event, it pays HUGE dividends.
Not only is there much less pressure during a standalone practice, but it also allows you to work on nuances that you just don’t have time for during the actual event weekend. Plus, factors like unforeseen incidents that cause stoppage, mechanical issues and other things can really diminish event weekend practice time. Having the additional practice time at a track gives you the ability to not put as much pressure on yourself or your plan, and it relies less on factors that are completely outside your control.
Another additional benefit of extra seat time is that you have more time to review and identify opportunities after the early practice, which can give you a better plan and focus going into the event weekend.
In the case of my trip to COTA, which has a 20-turn layout, we had the time and the mental bandwidth to break down each particular sector of the circuit. We came out of the practice days feeling confident about the upcoming event there. As always, there is still work to be done to uncover every tenth of a second available, but I couldn’t imagine trying to obtain all of this added knowledge and experience during the short allocated practice time of the event weekend.
This approach doesn’t even require you to take your own equipment to the track to get that valuable practice time. Sometimes, renting a car from a local team is a far more efficient way to go. If you’re thinking about a program like that, feel free to contact me, and I can help you coordinate with some of the turnkey solutions at tracks throughout the US.