How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Despite a decades-long letter-writing campaign by Jalopnik, the International Olympic Committee still hasn't included motor-driven sports in the Winter Olympics. That just means we'll have to apply our driving skills to skiing, skating, snowboarding and the bobsled. Here's how.

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Olympic Sport: Speed Skating
Racing Strategy To Apply: Flat-Track Motorcycle Racing
Similarities: Go fast, turn left, no brakes, high corner speeds.

How to Win: Speed on the straights is determined by your corner exit. Get your cornering line, get on the power a fraction of an inch before everyone else, and you're good to go. At the end of the straight, you'll be going slightly faster than the person/people you want to pass, so duck in front of them, claim the line, and you're set. Now the only problem is your higher entry speed — if you're not careful, it will lead to decreased velocity in the corners, giving the people you just passed an advantage on the next straight. If you can force your competitors off-line in the course of your pass, they'll lose that advantage.

Also: Don't crash. Short races mean that there's no chance of recovery if you make a mistake.

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Olympic Sport: Snowboard Cross
Racing Strategy to Apply: Supercross
Similarities: Snowboard Cross is essentially a direct rip-off of Supercross, but with gravity instead of engines and boards instead of wheels.


How to Win: It's all about the holeshot: If you get out of the gates ahead of everyone else and go as fast as possible, and you'll win. The problem lies in the jumps and turns along the way. Resist the temptation to showboat with big air; you'll need to learn the course and work out the right speeds to land in the sweet spot on the reverse ramp. Too much air will slow you down, and too little will keep you from clearing the obstacle. Use the banked corners to turn the board; slam into them as fast as possible, allow the berm impact to compress the suspension (your legs), and then use that stored energy to rocket out once you're pointed in the right direction. Force competitors to the outside of corners when you pass. If there's contact, the hit will spit you back onto the course while forcing the other guy off line (or, even better, off course).

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Olympic Sport: Downhill Skiing
Racing Strategy to Apply: Closed-Course Road Racing
Similarities: Corners slow you down, so it's all about maximizing the length of the straights and the radiuses of the corners. Each course will have an ideal racing line that does achieves that goal in the most effective manner.

How to Win: Turning slows you down, so think of turning on skis as being like trail-braking a car. Start your turn from the outside of the track, bleeding speed off and maintaining a constant radius as you clip the apex flag. Avoid excess yaw (don't get too sideways), as it only kills velocity. Unwind your body's lean like you'd unwind a steering wheel and you'll accelerate down the next straight. Repeat after me: Smooth is Fast.

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Olympic Sport: Cross Country Skiing
Racing Strategy to Apply: Rallying
Similarities: The terrain, the distance, the abuse, the endurance.


How to Win: It's all about consistency. Push too hard in a rally car and you'll fly off a cliff and die; push too hard on skis and you'll wear yourself out long before the finish. The trick lies in finding a speed that you can maintain across great distances as your ability to focus and react is reduced by exhaustion. The closer you can bring this speed to your personal maximum, the better chance you'll stand of winning. Don't push too far too soon, don't get lost, don't hit a deer.

Illustration for article titled How Car Racing Can Help You Win The Olympics

Olympic Sport: Bobsled Racing
Racing Strategy to Apply: Formula One
Similarities: How fast you can drive isn't as important as the speed of your machine and the talent of your team.

How to Win: Join the team with the most money — they'll build you the fastest vehicle. Audi develops bobsleds for Austria; fittingly, this year's American sleds are designed by former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine. Each one costs up to $4 million and is the last word in advanced composite materials and aerodynamics. Once you have a solid engineering base, select the most highly qualified team members (in this case, former sprinters and running backs appear to have an advantage) and drill them until they can do their jobs with their eyes closed. Once they give you a good start on the course, it's up to you to not make any mistakes while under the immense pressure of representing your country and resisting huge G forces.



Here is another snowsports-to-motorsports link for y’all:

Phil and Steve Mahre were US Olympic skiers from the early 80’s. Phil had a gold in ’84 and a silver in ’80. His brother Steve managed a silver in ’84. Having also grown up ski racing myself, I’d always heard stories of Phil and Steve as the greatest American skiers (this was pre Bode and pre Vonn). It was kind of like how a motorsports person born in the same era heard about Senna, Prost, Hill, Clark, and (don’t kill me here…) Junior Johnson and Richard Petty. They were just well known people in the sport and often highly regarded.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s. I was running a shifter kart at the local tracks, doing OK. Decided to try my hand at a couple of the regional SKUSA races. At one of the races I saw Phil Mahre and Steve Mahre on the entry list. I asked the organizers, and sure enough, I’d be karting with people I’d grown up hearing about! I ended up chatting them up at their trailer after one of the practice rounds. I think they were a bit amazed that someone born when they’d been winning medals knew who they were, but they were really down to earth about it all and we chatted about the move to motorsports. Seemed like they really enjoyed driving and found a lot of parallels with ski racing in terms of lines, smoothness, hand / foot / eye coordination, and even things like weight transfer. I ended up getting a picture with them with a sign cheering for my high school ski team.

Fast forward a couple more years (but not nearly as many this time). The brothers contested the Koni Challenge series in the Grand Sport class driving a Mustang.

So there is your added connection. A couple of Olympic snowsport medalists converting to motorsports 