Welcome to "How To Drive Fast," a new, weekly column by native mad-cunian IndyCar racer Alex Lloyd. Each week, Alex will impart the tools, techniques and mental conditioning that will get you around a racetrack quicker, and make you a safer fast driver on the road. — Ed
Hello. My name is Alex. And I am a racecar driver.
For years, I have scoured the globe in search of knowledge and wisdom on how to become a faster driver. For me, it was about channeling my experience — and the experience of others — to enable me to win more races. Whether you are a racer in need of the same tips, or some kid who steals his Dad's BMW on a weekend to impress his latest fling, this column should provide you with some valuable tools to achieve your goals. After all, everyone wants to be able to drive faster.
When I was eight years old I pestered my father to take me to the local go-kart track. It was a dark and dingy little warehouse in Stockport, England and we used to go every Saturday. I loved it. I adored speed and the following year I began racing karts in all our local events.
A few years on, in Y2K, when Will Smith proclaimed it was the new "Willenium," I had won the British Karting Championship and leaped into Formula Ford –- a wingless, open wheel machine that is constantly sliding through each and every bend. At the tender age of 16, I became the youngest ever British racing driver.
Over the years I raced around the UK, finishing second in the 2003 British Formula Renault Championship, in a closely fought battle with now Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. That was a hell of a series, with IndyCar's Mike Conway and E.J Viso, as well as F1's Paul DiResta competing, amongst others.
That winter I won the Young Driver of the Year award and was named Britain's "New F1 Hope." Which was lovely.
The following winter I got my first test in a 950 horsepower McLaren F1 car and, let me tell you, that was even lovelier.
I'd always figured I belonged in America. Perhaps it had something to do with being constantly pissed on by drizzly English rain. So when the opportunity arose in 2006 to race Indy Lights (the step below IndyCar), I jumped. That year I won two of the seven races in which I competed, and I joined the championship-winning team for the following season. I won the Indy Lights championship in '07, winning eight of 16 races and became the most successful Indy Lights driver of all time. The coup de grâce was winning on both the Indianapolis oval and road course, marking me as the only driver in history to ever achieve such a feat.
After the high of 2007, I returned to land in an IndyCar and began racing at my dream level. I have now raced four Indy 500's and achieved a best finish of fourth back in 2010. Additionally, I won the Rookie of the Year championship at the end of that same season, and have enjoyed some good success in IndyCar but never received that golden ticket into one of the bigger, more well established teams, to really fight for victory on a regular basis.
Are you still awake?
Having bored you with my background, I hope you can at least appreciate that I am not some wannabe driver who has never won anything other than a street race against a middle-aged bald bloke, driving a slightly dented 1999 V6 Mustang.
My aim for this column is to dissect the techniques necessary to drive a car at its limits. To understand how best to conquer any type of racetrack and how to adjust your driving style for various cars and conditions.
Have you ever raced an autocross and been plagued with understeer, costing you valuable tenths of a second, and wondered how you can rid yourself of this issue? Ever wished you understood more about trail braking, racing lines or the ideal car setup for ultimate speed?
Everything above and more will be answered in my weekly column, so please check back. Let's get cracking, turning you into a better, faster and more well-rounded driver, capable of destroying any middle-aged bald bloke that comes your way.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP