Friday, April 19, 2013

How To Be... a Race Car Driver

I had no particular interest in learning to drive when I was a teenager. My mom had made it pretty that once I got my license, it was going to be put to use fetching things from the store for her, and I just wasn't motivated to became the driving errand boy. Plus, non-seniors weren't allowed to drive to school, and my school, because parking was fairly limited, was pretty a strong enforcer of that policy. I had many, many friends who had their cars towed because they figured they could get away with it. Basically, I didn't see anything in it for me in the whole driver's license thing, so opted out as long as possible.

That all changed during the summer after my junior year. We were leaving The Farm, which was in an area in Texas where you could drive unlicensed (at least, at the time), and my mom said something like, "We need to look into getting driving lessons for you."
"I don't need them, Mom."
"Sure, you do. Everyone needs them."
"Why? I already know how to drive. Why would you need lessons for something you can already do?"
"Oh, you do not know how to drive, either."
"Yes, I do."
There was one of those back-and-forth arguments here that finally ended in my mom saying, "Well, prove it."
So I did.
And then followed another argument about who taught me how to drive and what was I doing out driving without telling her and all of that, except that no one had taught me, and I'd never been behind the wheel before. Eventually, I guess, she believed me. I did not taking driving lessons, and I had my license before the end of the year, so in the fall of my senior year of high school.

As it turned out, I really loved driving. And I was good at it. Not that I was reckless or anything, but I was really good at moving through the traffic and timing things so that I made lights and all of that. I even got a... um... darn, I can't remember what it was called, but it was a license so that I could drive a van full of people, and I drove for my church. I had that "trucker" tan where my left arm was, well, not tan, because I don't, but a darker pink than my right arm.

But I never wanted to be a race car driver. That may be because the thing I liked most about watching races when I was a kid was the crashes, so I was hyper-aware of the fact that there were crashes. That and I thought racing, like NASCAR, was boring. I mean, come on, it's just going around and around in a circle, and how fun is that? However, if we still had racing like they did when auto racing first started, back around 1900 when it was city-to-city racing, I would be all over that. Or I would have been back when I was 20.

But how do you actually become a race car driver today?

Well, the first thing, really, is to be a good driver. Or racer. Or whatever you want to call it. To some extent, you need to know about the other aspects of racing, such as how to fix your car. You have to decide on what kind of racing you want to do, because there are a lot of options: formula, touring, stock car, drag, off road, and more. Once you know what you want to do, learn about it. Attend a racing school. You may not need it as far as the driving goes, like I didn't need driving lessons, BUT there are school racing circuits you can get into, and that's an easier place to get in than trying to get straight into the professional circuit. It will also give you a chance to gain sponsors if you can't afford your own car.

And that's the big thing, the car. Because it doesn't matter how good you are if you have a piece of crap car that you're racing in. Not that the car makes the racer, but it is a combined effort. In the end, it's one of those professions were some innate skill and a lot of practice really make the difference. It's not like you can go get a degree in race care driving, although that might be kind of cool to have hanging on your wall.

22 comments:

  1. I knew a drift racer. I rode in his car once, and when he had to make a U turn he did it in less than a second. My heart flew out the window. Not fun at all. :-/

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  2. Race Car driving looks cool but can be very dangerous if you're not careful.

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  3. As much as I feel the need for speed when driving, I would be a terrible race car driver. For which the world is probably grateful.

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  4. And you need a good pit crew and head mechanic.
    Enjoy watching Nascar but never wanted to race. Not a thrill seeker. Although I do like to speed.
    Jerry was a Race Car Driver - name that band!

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  5. Many years ago my friends and I went to Brands Hatch in the UK every weekend, loved to watch the races. I agree, Nascar is boring just going round and round. I drive but never wanted to race.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  6. Apparently women don't have the mental capacity to be race car drivers, well, according to a quote this week by some old guy who used to be a famous racer. Probably for the best. My Subaru is twelve years old and doesn't have the racing spirit much anymore anyway. :P

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  7. Husband watching the qualifying for tomorrows Formula One race at the moment. The sound of cars racing round is almost deafening! Not a fan myself, like you said they are going round in circles!

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  8. You should watch this Jeff Gordon prank video Mr. Racecar man

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghOmqfL9M60

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  9. I like to watch race cars whip around a track, but to be inside, steering (in my case, trying to steer while terrified--something I'm not good at) doesn't appeal very much. In this sport, I'm a good spectator.

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  10. Dee: A friend of mine did about 110 with me in his car once. It was a pretty freaky.

    Sheena: Yes, it does.

    M.J.: I'm not much of a speeder, but, when I was younger, I think I would have made a good racer.

    Alex: Well, yeah, that's true, but those things come later. At first, you really need to be able to do a lot of the work yourself.
    I have no idea about that band. I could look it up, but that would be cheating.

    Jo: I've never been to a race. Of course, I've never really wanted to go to one, either. I'm sure I just would have sat and read.

    L.G.: Oh, I wouldn't count out the old cars; sometimes, the old ones have the most spirit.
    All I can say about the women drivers thing is that -I- didn't say that.

    Suzanne: They are. I'd want a track that was interesting.

    Michael: All right, I'll go watch that.

    C. Lee: I'm not even a good spectator.

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  11. I didn't get my drivers license until I was 24, I didn't see the need for it earlier either.

    Dark Thoughts Blog

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  12. I like to drive fast, but not sure I'd want the pressure of driving competitively fast. I just like the idea of getting somewhere. But I do like to drive.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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  13. Mary: I think my oldest son may wait that long. He's completely uninterested.

    Lee: I'm sort of anti-fast, at this point. Actually, these days, I'd prefer just not to drive.

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  14. I was a big fan of Cruising USA as a kid. Not sure that counts.

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  15. Great theme! Stopping by from Blogging A to Z.

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  16. S.L.: I don't know what Cruising USA is, although it sounds vaguely familiar.

    Jake and Terri: Thanks!

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  17. My mom used to race cars in street races when she was younger! This was back when there were wide open streets that were blocked off just for racing, and it wasn't so dangerous. I also love my sports car, and have been wanting to learn how to do some cool driving classes, like drifting and such.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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  18. Kristen: That's one thing I've really never had a desire to do. That may be in part to Lucas almost dying because of his racing obsession. But, hey, we got Star Wars because of it.
    What kind of car do you have?

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    Lone Mountain Truck Leasing

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