Important Tips to Prepare for Your Next Race Weekend
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Preparation is the key to any race weekend and when you’re prepared, you’re simply more confident.
Races can be won or lost before you even get to the racetrack, so it's best to set some time to get ready for anything that comes your way on any given event. The race is most likely not going to go according to plan, but having the ability to adapt comes from the confidence that preparation instills. Here are some basic guidelines and tips to become prepared to be your best on the track.
1. Physical Conditioning - Fitness comes into play during any race, no matter the series. With temperatures inside a racecar reaching upwards of 120 degrees, physical conditioning plays a big role in how a driver performs. When a driver becomes fatigued, they will be less consistent and are bound to make more mistakes. A driver who is prepared for the high intensity nature of driving a racecar can put full focus on racing the track and the cars around them.
Some useful ways to improve your driver fitness can include exercises where you reach and hold a threshold heart rate. I've found mountain biking a great way to prepare for a long, hot and physically demanding race. Mountain biking forces you to maintain focus and hand eye coordination while your heart rate is high. This is very similar to the atmosphere your body goes through during a race. The bottom line is, the more you focus on fitness the faster and more prepared you'll be for the race weekend.
2. Hydration/Nutrition - Along with physical conditioning, what a driver eats and drinks can play a role into how they perform. Being only slightly dehydrated can slow enzymes in your body and will hinder the ability to produce energy which will show during a race. Proper hydration is needed during a hot day at the track, not to mention how much hotter it is with layers of Nomex. It's best to start hydrating up to a week before the event, downing water just before getting in the car will be little to no help, other than making you need to use the restroom the whole stint. Water, with food is one of the best ways to hydrate your body but mixing in electrolytes from sports drinks can also help. It's best to find a high-quality hydration mix that works for you, try to steer away from Gatorade or other sports drinks with high sugar.
Nutrition is also equally as important leading up to a race. Lean protein and light carbs for energy, nothing too heavy, so no chili burgers from the track side snack shack. Instead, try some almonds or walnuts for a quick snack and a low-fat protein with brown rice, avocado and a vegetable for lunch with fruit to snack on after. Planning ahead with it comes to meals at the racetrack is very important. Pack your food ahead of time, especially if you have a dietary restriction, because most tracks are not vegan/vegetarian friendly. Everyone is different when it comes to nutrition, so find something that works best for you during a race weekend. When you find that balance, paired with proper hydration, you'll be better prepared for staying sharp inside the car.
3. Track Notes, Video, Sim Driving and Visualization - One of the most important areas of preparation for being 100% ready to drive at full potential for the first on-track session is a pre-race review of your track notes and video. Whether the upcoming race will be your first time at a certain track or you’re looking to improve on your driving from laps you have turned previously, it's critical to be prepared.
If the track is new to you the first step would be to look-up or obtain video from the track paired with the car you'll be driving. This can be done by getting in touch with a fellow driver with experience or if that's not an option, YouTube has many onboard videos from tracks all over the world. When looking at a YouTube video of a track make sure the driver has creditably and the video is current. Make some quick rough notes of braking points and reference marks. This will help you to be able to visualize the track and learn its unique characteristics.
iRacing and sim driving can be a great hands on way to learn a track. I find it's the best system for getting practice in before you even turn laps. Track time is limited for most race weekends so iRacing can give you a leg up.
Lastly, your mind is a powerful tool - especially in the racecar. Visualization techniques can be surprisingly beneficial to prepare for a session on the track. Start with sitting down somewhere quite and run a lap of the track through your head. Picture every detail from the color of the curbing to how the steering wheel feels in your hands. Time yourself, see how close you can get your visualization lap to your actual lap time. If you get really good at this, your brain won't know the difference between if you're doing this inside the car or not. Free track time.
Interested in learning more? Contact Devin today for inquires on coaching opportunities to get yourself faster and more prepared on the track.