Making karting fun again – Turning track days into test days. #theartofkart

 

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So in my last post, I admitted how having to worry about my engine exploding was making karting less fun, so while I’m working on that, I’ve been focusing on also how to improve my approach to my driving.

I’ll admit, though no surprise to anyone, that I am not the fastest driver in the world. Therefore, I always want to work to improve my driving skills, and my understanding of how to setup my kart. After a few years of racing, I’ve gotten to a point where “just getting seat time” isn’t becoming as beneficial. I need a more focused approach in how I practice and test, so I can work on developing specific skills with my racing, setup and racecraft.

Driver Coaches- You want how much? Jeez…

The first thing that I’ve done is investigate doing some work with a driver coach. A driver coach would help to watch me and give me pointers where I can improve. I’ve been doing some research, but the majority of the ones that I’ve seen have wanted to charge what I feel like is too much for just a single day of instruction. Like ridiculously expensive. One person wanted to charge as high as $1100 a day for kart coaching.

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Now I’m not saying that person isn’t experienced or valuable, but there isn’t much in the world that I will pay $1100 for that I’ll get instant value for in a single day in my kart. Coaching takes continuous involvement with the student, in order for them to develop in the right way, and make sure they don’t regress back into bad habits.

There is no way that I have the budget to put down $1100 for each day of working with a coach like that.  It’s not to say that driver coaches aren’t important. I really want one. I’m just looking to find one who won’t basically gouge my wallet, when I’m just trying to learn new skills. (I’ve actually got a lead on someone who might be more affordable, but more on that for another day.)

So in the interim, I’ve decided to start teaching myself as I tend to do. I could do many more practice days with that $1100…

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Turning track days into test days.

I decided that I have to start changing was my approach to how I go to practice days. I realized that what I have been calling a practice day has been really just a glorified track day  of just doing laps with out practicing any specific. Now there isn’t anything wrong with just driving around. It’s a ton of fun.

What’s not fun is getting my butt kicked at the next race, because I haven’t been  improving any part of my driving or setup knowledge.  I’ve actually skipped a few races this year, because I basically knew where I was going to shake out before I started.

Our field sizes at club races are too small to just make showing up being fun. People are either much faster than you (ie: see those with pro experience), or much slower than you. So you spend a good amount of time in limbo, if you’re not racing near the sharp end.

I’d rather take the time to develop myself more, so at least I have more of a chance of being competitive closer to the front, or at least have some people to battle with.

Earlier in the year, I decided to start really taking a more focused approach to my practice days, and teach myself  how to actually test. I’ve put together a driving notebook to start taking notes on setup changes, gotten a few cameras for my kart, and most importantly, started to investigate more about the AIM data acquisition system that I have – RaceStudio 2.

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Working more with data. 

What I’m going to do is create a series of articles on KartPulse, about what I learn using my data logging system. I’m going to do my best to distill the information to its basic application, in the hopes that I’ll be useful for people.  Also when I have video from track…ahem, test days, then I’ll embed them with these articles, so that you can see what I can see.

My thought is getting a better understanding of the data that’s coming from my kart will help me be able to better train myself, and set a more structured agenda for test days. This will mean that I’ll have to skip a few races until I get a better understanding of how to use the tools that I have, but in the end, I’m hoping that it’ll make my racing more fun when I get back to it.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated as more stuff happens. #keepkartingfun.

3 thoughts on “Making karting fun again – Turning track days into test days. #theartofkart

  1. Nice post. We share a few similar experiences. I’d actually suggest that you don’t skip any races (unless for other reasons), to get better at using your tools. The best value from data comes from having lots of it. Use every opportunity to gather it. You’ll find that seeing lots of good and not so great examples of certain traits in your data make it easier to identify in the future.
    And yes, having specific goals is extremely important. I penned something down about that here – http://goo.gl/9jLUXF

    • The last two races I skipped to refresh my carb kit, install some adjustable camber pills, and to attend a Mychron seminar.

      I’ll agree with you on grabbing a ton of data. However, skipping these last two races it was a matter of 1) knowing that my engine wouldn’t be fresh enough to make the data useful, and 2) to be able to learn something new that will help me in the future races. 🙂

      But very good points, and nice post, btw.:)

    • Another point that I’ll add on here, is that I’m working with some of the local racers to have some more ‘mock races’ during the practice days. We can get to the track a bit more often in karts, so I think it would be helpful to simulate some races prior to the official events, so we can get that extra practice and data.

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