Racing isn’t easy, especially as a beginner. Things will go wrong, and that’s how you learn. These are ten screw ups, mishaps, and misfortunes that you’ll probably suffer at your first race.
There are so many things to think about while on track, sometimes you forget about the most important thing. Yourself. Reader Turbolence88 can explain.
No matter how many times you’re told, no matter if it’s 90 degrees ambient or 9, you don’t quite realize just how much energy you exert out on the track and how much you need to drink before you strap yourself into the cockpit.
You may feel fine for a while; hell, you might not even notice a three-hour stint pass you by out on the track like I did. Then you come into the pits for a driver change and it takes half the team to help you out as you hobble towards the nearest chair and bottle of Gatorade to give your cramped limbs a rest as the adrenaline filters from your body.
9.) Getting Too Nervous
It’s your first big race. Sure, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, but just make the most of it and you’ll probably be fine. Reader 8695Beaters gets it.
You get super tense and think you have a plan, but it all goes out the window the second the green flag drops. You get nervous, you make mistakes, and then you get desperate. Newbies always put way too much pressure on themselves and make mistakes, either missing corners, or even crashing. It takes some practice and experience to calm down and keep yourself under control.
The old saying is “the loosest nut is the one behind the wheel.” It’s goddamn true.
8.) Forgetting Track Supplies
You can try all you want with pre-race checklists and last minute WalMart stops, but almost always something will be forgotten. You probably won’t even realize what you’re missing until that third pit stop and you’re about to use up that last cable-tie. Stay prepared.
7.) Building For Speed, Not Endurance (Or Both)
In testing at track days and the sorts, it can be easy to steer toward the almost unhealthy goal of putting down a really fast lap time. Those quick lap times are great, just as long as the car’s reliability isn’t being shot down in the process. Reader Straight7PackRacing can give some input.
People build their endurance car for speed. It’s a noob thing to do, and 90% of the folks fall for it. It is impossible to make up an hour off track by shaving 5 seconds a lap. Get your cooling system in EXCELLENT order (make sure your fans are working well - and balanced if it is a flywheel fan) and make sure your brakes don’t boil in the first 5 min. Leave the go fast bits until you can do a pit stop without three trips back to the paddock and 4 jumps back and forth over the wall.
I’d rather a reliable 70 HP car that allowes me to late brake than a 300HP turbo car that is always threatning to overheat.
6.) Underestimating The Budget
Until you actually get to a racing event and experience it all first hand, most of your knowledge probably comes from the internet (hey!) or other more experienced racers. This can make it hard to dial in a solid number for a team budget.
Consumables aren’t cheap. And yes, they do get consumed. Very quickly.
5.) Failing Tech Inspection
You think you’re all ready for the big day. You read the extensive rule book tens of times. You and your teammates triple checked all tie-downs, safety equipment, the weight, everything and you’re 99% sure everything will go down perfectly. Until it doesn’t.
Tech inspectors are there to make sure everyone and every car will be safe on track, and that no foul-play is going on. Just don’t be surprised when they catch you breaking a rule you didn’t even know existed.
4.) Passing Under Yellow
All the nervousness, stress, and pressure on your shoulders as a novice racer can sometimes make it pretty easy to miss flags thrown by corner workers. That, or you’re just a full of yourself, over-confident greenhorn who doesn’t really know what rights and wrongs of wheel to wheel racing.
3.) Spinning Out
There are tons of things on-track that may cause someone to spin out. If it’s your first race, it’s incredibly possible that you aren’t yet completely familiar with those things or the grip threshold for the car or the tires that you’re driving with.
Spins happen. Cars will go off-track. Just try and keep most of your wheels on the pavement and hopefully you’ll be fine.
2.) Breaking Off-Track Safety Rules
Pit and paddock speeds, filling your gas outside the closed garage, all pit workers having to wear flame-retardent clothing when filling gas in the pits. It’s easy to forget these things, especially when they might not appear to have a direct result on whether you see the podium. And then it does. Reader Brian, The Life of can share his experience.
In my experience, some kind of pit safety violation. We got nailed during our first Lemons race fueling the with the driver still in the seat and the crew chief checking on something under the hood. A double-whammy. The penalty was “creative,” as they are. We walk the pits for 15 minutes chanting “WE WANT TO DIE!” while our crew chief responded, “THIS COULD’VE BEEN ME!” as he held a huge picture over his head of a race car driver on fire, running from a wreck.
1.) Being Over Ambitious On-Track
Competing in your first event can be incredibly exciting. The smell of race fuel in the air, the rapidly flowing blood, the loud race cars. Don’t let all this stuff get to you. Drive at your race car’s limits and your limits.
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