You Want To Be A Professional Racecar Driver? Better Read This
It seems every time I go racing at Homestead Miami International I come back with something to write about. This past weekend was no different.
Two things inspired me. I thought it might be good to share those thoughts with you. Hopefully, it will get you to thinking and maybe help you with your racing endeavors.
The first thing was a column I was reading by Randy Pobst in the current issue of “Sportscar” Magazine. In it, Randy was re-living his outing in a club race event recently and describing how hard he had worked for three long days, only to get 1 and half laps in his car.
Randy is a multiple champion and race winner in SCCA World Challenge and other professional series. Randy, in my opinion, embodies the racer spirit. I always read his column and pay attention to what he says.
The second thing that got my attention was just how hard all of these weekend racers were working around me at Homestead. In my garage alone, a friend and fellow racer broke a motor in the second lap on Friday’s morning session. That required an engine change (3-4 hours non-stop). No practice or qualifying.
Saturday comes around and the car isn’t right. Saturday night comes around and he drives 3 hours to get a spare car. Loads it up, drives back 3 hours, unloads and hopes all is well tomorrow. I’m sure similar events were occurring in other garages.
My point is this. These guys are totally committed. They’ll move mountains before they’ll quit. Most people would just pack up and go home after a couple of days of thrashing and still no track time. That’s just too much work.
So between my weekend at Homestead and reading Randy’s article I came up with three thoughts that can make the difference between being a professional racing driver or a weekend warrior.
Obviously, there is more to it than just these three. But, seeing Randy Pobst describe the hard work and dedication that is required and seeing the hard work and dedication over the weekend made a clear statement…
…This racing business and racecar driving is very hard work. Only a special few will ever really make it to the professional ranks. If that’s your aspiration, make note of these three things:
1. To succeed in this business you need a lot of heart – I prefer to call it passion. You must know, in your heart and soul that this is what you want to do more than anything else.
You must be willing to drive all night, work all night, study data, work for sponsorship, forego the party, forget the girlfriend, forget nice stuff (all your money will be tied up in race stuff), be disappointed, and risk your life.
In other words, you must really want it and you must work really, really hard. If you can tell me these sacrifices and this level of desire aren’t necessary, then I challenge you to examine your heart (desire).
2. You need to know your “gift”. I wrote about gifts in December. I believe God gives us all a talent we can use and that when used properly makes your success a near certainty. The hard part is discovering whether or not driving a racecar or possessing a certain level of athleticism is your talent.
Realizing your gift can be elusive. It’s often hard for you to know what you were really born to excel in. It is often even harder for some of us to face the fact that our gift isn’t something.
I see a lot of guys racing who really believe they are good, even gifted; but they aren’t (Milka Duno, Dennis Vitolo come to mind). I’m not saying you can’t get to the big leagues even without the “gift”. I’m just saying to look at yourself and be honest. Might save you some major disappointments.
3. Finally, you must take a healthy dose of that medicine called reality. A reality check is important when starting any business or career. You must be asking yourself questions like:
How much money is this going to take? Where will I get the money? Will I need help raising money or can I do it myself?
Still other questions are: What will influence my progress, my success, or my failure? Who are the competitors and are they better funded than me? Is this business impacted by the economy?
There are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Racing is a business. In my view, it’s the entertainment business.
To be a successful business you need some breaks along the way. You are going to need good planning, adequate financing, targeted marketing, and smart people to help you. To be a successful racecar driver is no different.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask Randy Pobst or someone else you know who is a champion. Ask them what the cost was to become a repeat champion.
I’m not talking about the money costs either. I’m talking about ALL the costs. The work and sacrifice or the toll it takes on relationships. There are many things that are affected by this level of commitment.
So, remember these three: Heart, talent, reality – If you have the right answers on these then, chins up, I say you’ll make it.
To your success,