38 MAY 2020 scca.comFEATURE
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Author and driver coach Jim Kearneyhas learned a number of secrets throughthe years, and has used that knowledgecoaching drivers like (CLOCKWISE fromTOP LEFT) Runoffs FE frontrunners RayMason and Jim Libecco, FRP F2000racer Tim Paul, and Spec Miata-turned-Trans Am TA2 competitor Tyler Kicera.
Exactly how does thatthought aid in your attemptsto improve? Getting fixatedon the competition’s raceequipment is shooting yourselfin the foot. Perhaps they dohave more power, a superioraero package, and their carhandles better than yours. Buttell me, how does fixating onany of that make you faster?
The fix: Your focus should beon driving better and improvingyour car. Work on you.
“I NEVER CATCH A BREAK.”
Shed this toxic notion from
your head right now, then
consider this: You are a racecar
driver! Most of the world would
love to be in your position.
In fact, a younger version of
yourself would be so jealous
of you as you sit on the grid
waiting to hit the racetrack.
The fix: Win or lose, enjoy
the race weekend – you have
the best hobby in the world!
Also remember what Pratt &
Miller’s Steve Cole says: “The
harder I work, the luckier I get.”
If the car is so unstable thatyou can’t handle it, you mustpark it. Driving scared in trafficis a non-starter. Your inputs willbe stiff and awkward, addingto the bad behavior of a car.
The fix: Your racecar must be
sufficiently compliant to allow
you to survive the moments of
panic that are bound to arise on
track. If the car feels dangerous,
don’t go out until it’s fixed. Do
not ignore this blinking red light.
Racing is like life, so sometimesyou need to make adjustments.
Successful athletes know this,and they have developedroutines that enable themto stay in charge of theirthoughts and moods. For everynegative vibe you catch yourselfthinking, pave over it with apositive one. Over time, it willbecome a constructive habit.
Whatever your level of
motorsports, you can change
your mindset as you would
a shock setting, but you first
need to be aware of the need
for change. Step one is to
recognize the bad thought, and
step two is to pitch that thought
overboard and replace it with
a helpful one. Then just like a
racecar setup sheet, keep track
of what works for you. Before
long, you’ll stop worrying, see
on-track improvements, and
the next thing you know you’ll
be enjoying every moment
of your race weekends – just
like you should.
A note from the author:I clearly remember what it feels like to do poorly and not know why. I was overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated. This memory now serves me well as a driver coach. Racecars are complicated, but driving them a little better is not. I began coaching in 2010 and my drivers have been on the Runoffs podium 15 times, including six gold medals (two each in FV, FF, FC, FE, HP), two silver (both in FE) and six bronze (four each in FV, FC, P1, FM). I also coached the FRP F2000 champion twice. Ross Bentley also recently noted in his Speed Secrets Weekly that the SCCA Runoffs may be the one of the biggest mental challenges in sport. Ross said: “Guess who I’d get to coach me if I was racing in the Runoffs? Why? Because Jim tunes the helmet.” Check out kearneykdd.com for more information.