Column: A few things race-car drivers learn (or should learn)

In his latest column, local driver Robert Adams talks about five things every driver needs to know.

  • Sat Aug 22nd, 2015 8:00pm
  • Sports

I just want to point out how quickly drivers can learn (or not learn) from their racing career.

Some things you pick up on pretty quickly, like ensuring you have your fire suit on and seat belts done up.

Seems like ‘no brainer’ stuff, but just in case drivers get preoccupied just we have an official and pit crews that actually check for seat belt tightness etc. But even with the best diligence offered by the crew and officials, some things you learn as you go.

Here are the top five ‘must remember’ things for a driver:

 

#1 – Keep the car away from the wall.

It seems that if you keep it away from the wall and ensure all four tires generally stay on the track in the right place, you will probably finish.

Even if you’re last, it is still better than a DNF, not to mention the additional costs of repair.

Also, racing in itself can cause a great amount of anxiety on a driver, and just cruising at 100 kilometre per hour on a car’s roof can add to that stress.

 

#2 – Check the fuel content. Check it again, and then have someone else check it too.

Many times fuel, or lack thereof, can cause a car to slowly decelerate.

The driver goes, “damn,” as he coasts into the pits, losing  position totally. I’ve seen fights break out amongst crews and drivers as to who the idiot was that said we had enough fuel in the tank for this race.

It’s really a very embarrassing situation have to explain to your sponsors why you failed to finish over something as simple as this.

Fuel is the most precious commodity on the track, so make sure you don’t leave home without it.

 

#3 – Brakes are your friend and not to be abused.

The aim is to continue to keep speed up wherever possible, including the turns, because keeping speed allows you to keep momentum.

This momentum allows you those precious tenths of seconds over your closest rival, so utilizing brakes in a limited fashion is the ideal.

But in a 100 lap race, it’s not uncommon to actually see the fully red disks glowing brightly from too much brake use in the turns.

This is not good when, all of a sudden, someone goes sideways in front of you, and you have no brakes left to avoid them.

Expletives are used abundantly by the driver at this point, but to no avail.

The end result is usually more repairs.

 

4 – Leaks are a bad. Full on drainage is worse.

It’s not uncommon to have the occasional leak, whether it be slow leak in a tire or small drip from the transmission.

Every race and pit crew aims to eliminate these possibilities, which helps win races. Once in a while though, an oil change is done, transmission replaced or such, and someone forgets to double check the tightness of the drainage bolts or filters.

It’s not only embarrassing to have complete loss of oil pressure while racing, resulting in a DNF for the driver, but we sometimes have to then spend 30-60 minutes in a cleanup routine.

This just totally inconveniences the fans, and on behalf of every driver I would like to apologize for this.

We do our best, but sometimes drivers learn this one on their own.

Check all bolts before every race, including the lug nuts, as we see that all the time too.

 

#5 – Never let up early, don’t wave to the fans till finished.

We have lots of drivers who have entire sections of fans in the bleachers, and it’s lovely to see that kind of support.

Every once in while the driver tries to acknowledge them through a wave or a glance up to the stands. Sometimes, with the race in hand the driver will slightly ease up to wave just before the finish line.

This provides the split second needed by the driver behind to finish .4 of a meter ahead of them.

The lesson learned is to race like there is no tomorrow .

Second place is still just first loser.

 

Saturday nights racing features the Street Stock special, and it’s a close one, with only a dozen or so points separating the top four cars.

We expect racers from all over the province to come and challenge our local boys for some bragging rights on this one.

And if you were at the last race of the street stocks you were privy to some pretty spectacular grudge driving within the top 10.

This race will settle once and for all who can go the distance, hold their car together, and complete 100 laps under the extreme pressure they will experience.

Of course we have the minis, midgets and yours truly, racing again in the repaired Ford Probe, #61 in the  hornet class.

Action starts at 7 p.m.