Following the astonishing finish to last week’s US Masters Golf tournament, there has been much discussion over the relative merits of coaching in sport. Bubba Watson – who won the event, his 1st major – is entirely self-taught. He’s never had a lesson in his life and therefore his perception of what’s possible differs from many other players on the tour. If you haven’t seen what was effectively the winning stroke; from the spectator area deep inside the trees, look it up, it’s outstanding.
They say that practice makes perfect and while this may be true, there’s a huge amount you can learn from one who has been there and done it. I’ve been racing for nearly 25 years and yes, that makes me feel very old, but I’ve been lucky enough to drive some fantastic cars and karts. From Daytona’s single engine karts through to a vintage Formula 1 car with Caterhams, Radicals, Formula Ford, Formula Mazda and others all under my belt, I am in a privileged position to be able to pass on this knowledge and experience to our customers.
Over the last four years, dozens of drivers have taken advantage of the tuition that we provide at Daytona and I’ve never failed to make someone faster. You can spend hundreds of pounds hacking round and round at practice sessions honing your skills, but one tuition session with an experienced instructor can save an awful lot of time and bruises. If you’re making simple errors but you don’t know that they are errors, it doesn’t matter how much track time you have, you’re always going to make them. Having someone point them out and correct those saves money in the long run.
The most common mistake that I’ve seen is the classic taking too much speed into the corner. If you don’t slow the kart down early enough, you are simply not going to make the apex of the corner; you’re going to have to wait to get the vehicle turned in and wait to get back on the power. Meanwhile, your competitor who knows when to slow the kart down, lost some time to you on the way into the corner, but got on the power earlier and drove through and off the corner. His speed into the apex was slower, but his speed in the middle and exit and all the way down the next straight was considerably higher. That is the number 1 mistake that people make. Sort that out and you’ll gain hoofing great big lumps of time.
Our tuition sessions are tailored to each individual driver. No two drivers need the same programme. We can video the sessions with the SmartyCam and overlay GPS data onto google maps and do all sorts of cool stuff or we can just concentrate on lines and braking points. We can even do race craft; attacking and defending. A tuition session at Daytona is hard work but at the end of it, you’ll be faster and better prepared to make your next event more successful than your last.