Here’s one of my trade secrets:

When someone says they drive as smooth as can be, I ask them to watch this video to see what I mean by smooth. This guy redefines what driving with minimum steering inputs is really about. I use this particular video because most drivers understand that being smooth in a regular direct drive kart is one thing, but being smooth around Kerpen in a KZ is quite another – yet Bas Lammers makes it look simple.  Incredible stuff, I watch it myself as a reminder of what its all about!

I’d suggest everyone watches this video a 100 times at least!

Pay close attention to the steering wheel and how little he needs to turn the wheel to set the kart for a corner, then get through the corner and exit. Keep in mind that this is a KZ which is as wild a machine as can be imagined!

This is the ultimate smoothness target for every karter if smoothness is your thing.

Photo credit: Paul Slamski – coaching with Team Karting and Joe Slamon at Fulbeck

Check out the book transforming the results of kart drivers world wide.

Here are the things that are readily available either cheap or free, and form the basics of the self-sufficient and rapidly improving kart driver. I’m always impressed when I meet a driver who covers all these bases, but I shouldn’t be since its very basic stuff for drivers who want to win.

Data – if you have a Mychron5, Unipro, Alfano 6   do you know how to use the software and read your own data?  If you have any of the above systems and don’t download the data after every run then that’s criminal.

If you have a regular Mychron4 you can still download the rpm Vs time and figure out where you are losing and gaining time on different laps, and doing so without the full system will make you a data ninja because you’ll have to learn the hard way.

Pen and paper – if you aren’t winning already and don’t make detailed track notes about things you need to try to get quicker, then you are letting a lot of performance pass you by.

Simulator – you know everyone in professional racing spends half their life on a sim…. They aren’t messing around with their mates but making actual progress with their driving.

If you have a ps4/xbox/ pc then you have access to very similar tech for very little money.  If you don’t have the money for a wheel etc then anything will do. The sim I got the most out of was called Indy 500 from 1989 which I drove with the keyboard.  What I learned from that is more than the majority of folk get out of a day at a professional facility!

Pull up bar and floor – that’s all you need for a comprehensive physical preparation routine.  Want to push the boat out? you’ll need a broom handle and some string tied to something heavy…. A lead weight will do. Now you can do push ups, planks, pull ups, chin ups, wrist rolls and a whole host of body weight exercise. Callisthenics is as good an exercise programme as anyone can dream of for karting.

Youtube – just about every track has a video of someone very quick giving away all their secrets…. Go figure, but it’s there and free! Have your pen and paper ready and take down notes of what you will steal and try out next time you drive.

Go-pro – watch your own on-board video and note how many apexes you hit… do yourself a mark out of ten…. You need to get 10/10.  Don’t just watch your videos for fun and Facebook – be objective, analyse yourself and set new performance goals. Go-pro cameras are expensive, but you can get cheap cameras very easily that do a perfectly good job.

Eat right – if you go to the burger van at the track and order yourself junk, then you are slowing yourself down.  Eat little and often, fruit, nuts, energy bars with seeds and nuts (not Mars bars !), dates. Drink a lot of water… It’s simple stuff.

 

Image courtesy of Antony Marcano

 

Check out the book transforming the results of kart drivers world wide.

 

What is better, using strict braking points or just hitting the brake when it feels right?

My answer….Whichever you prefer!

Here are the pros and cons of using strict braking points vs braking by instinct.

Using strict braking points.

Pros

  • You always know it’s going to work which inspires confidence
  • You can adjust the braking point by small amounts and experiment with the outcome
  • You can communicate with your data engineer (could be you mum!) about exact points on the track…. Data folk like exactness
  • It makes perfect rational sense to use braking points
  • When someone says you need to brake later, you have an reference point to either try it or argue that you do brake as late as they as you should

Cons

  • Conditions change, you’ll need to have a different braking point for each condition or know how to adjust according to your braking point
  • Novel situations mean you lose your reference point and have to brake safely to ensure you make the corner (overtaking or driving in a close pack)
  • You might be slow to react to a track improving and adjusting braking point a lap or two later than optimum

Braking by instinct

Pros

  • You can ignore braking points and focus on the next point so looking further down the road
  • Instinct brakers tend to adjust very quickly to grip changes, braking later according to the grip they feel over a lap
  • Ignoring braking point frees up mental processing power for everything else that makes you fast
  • Overtaking and situations that you have to throw yourself into are easier if you can just do it and not worry by about correct braking point

Cons

  • Instinct brakers can find themselves a slave to whatever mood they are in, how they feel can determine where they brake sometimes to detriment of performance
  • When braking point is open there is no base point to rely on, so when something isn’t feeling right it’s hard to get confident
  • It’s hard to talk to your team about where you brake if you decide on the fly, so it can get frustrating in the pit
  • When someone says you need to brake later, or earlier it can seem like a vague and useless piece if information

Which one are you? Most drivers know which option appeals to them….. And all the cons can be improved and worked on when you understand them.

 

Check out the book transforming the results of kart drivers world wide.

 

Since the UK has produced 3 world champions this year I’ve been banging on about why British karting is able to produce a lot of really great drivers.

 

See “4 reasons the Brits are crushing right now” for more on that.

 

BUT, I think there is a tougher breed of karters out there who are able to take it to the Brits for world domination of karting, but who have the disadvantage of having to travel to the other side of the planet to do so!

……..The Aussies

 

This year I’ve worked with 2 drivers competing at national level in Australia.  From that experience I can tell you the level of competition is seriously high.  My mate at Euroz Performance Jamie Rush confirmed this when he told me the competitiveness in the X30 class in Australia is as high as anywhere else on the planet.  This is why the few Australian kart drivers who come over to Europe to run in World Finals and big events like the SuperNats in the States tend to go straight to the front.

 

Australian karting is super competitive and they produce some of the world’s best karters.  A few notables I can think of straight off the top of my head are Dave Sera, Kip Foster, Pierce Lehane and Jason Pringle.

 

But, why do I say they are the toughest karters in the world?……

 

Extreme weather conditions.

Australian Nationals round Newcastle February 2017 – Temperature 48 degrees!

 

The highest temperatures recorded in the UK ever is 38 degrees in 2003.  When it gets that hot here people actually die (over 700 recorded deaths that year).  When the temperatures get into the thirties on race days people struggle a bit, and you get the odd heat exhaustion victim getting taken to the paramedics.

 

So when my driver told me the forecast for Round 1 of the Australian nationals at Newcastle was predicting temperatures in the 40s, I said:

 

“No way man, they’ll have to cancel it – people will die”

He says “nah mate I’m going and we’ll see what happens”

 

Now, I was dead certain that race would be cancelled, I had no doubts in my mind that they would refuse to allow kids out to race above 40 degrees… no way.

 

It shows what I know…. on race day the mercury hit Sahara Desert levels of 48 degrees and they didn’t hesitate to race.  

Genuine temperature from Newcastle round of Australian nationals – Christopher Sutherland

This includes everyone from cadets to KZ.  I love to talk about how KZ is by far the most physical form of race driving out there, it breaks current F1 drivers who are supposed to be elite athletes. It is exhausting, yet these badass Aussies were out racing in full race overalls, on a race track belting out even more heat than the 48 degrees air temps.  Absolutely incredible!

 

Not only that, this was a national level race – and that means frantic.  Drivers, mechanics and parents running around and lifting karts all day in awnings that must have been like saunas inside.  

 

Let me remind you – 48 degrees!  Even Spain has never seen temperatures like that, and the Aussies barely take notice.  They are out racing at the limit, togged up with the full race kit and operating at their peak. 

 

But can they handle the cold?

 

Further to that, it’s not like it doesn’t get cold out there – this year I was working with Hugh Barter whilst racing the Rotax pro tour in 4 degrees and raining…. Just about as ugly as it gets – so these guys cover the lot.

 

Are the Aussies the toughest karters in the world, I think they could be.  What do you reckon?

 

Check out the book transforming the results of kart drivers world wide.

 

Why are British kart drivers absolutely crushing it at top level karting right now?

 

Danny Kierle – World Karting Champion 2017

Oliver Hodgson – World X30 Champion 2017

Brett Ward – World Rotax Champion 2017 + X30 Euro Champion 2017

Dexter Patterson – World Junior Karting Champion 2017

 

There are lots of nations around the world with great talent and fantastic racing, but I reckon the following perfect storm of factors helps the UK churn out karting talent like no other nation.

 

Reason number 1 – PF International 

Karting1 made a flippant tweet after Danny Kierle won the World title, that winning a clubby at PFi would probably be just as difficult as winning the world champs.  Thinking about it, that is most likely perfectly true.  The sheer density of talent racing at PFi in the X30 classes on a regular basis is incredible.  I think it is conservative to say that at a winter series race, there will be at least ten world class drivers duking it out.  The other 25 drivers will be seriously quick too though!  So if you want to win a winter series race at PFi in Senior X30 it is likely that you will have to beat 3 current world champions in the process.  Where else in the world is that the case?

The intensity of competition at PFi on a regular race weekend is incredible, and this makes the drivers super competitive and of course all the support they have from teams, mechanics and engine builders is top notch.

The quality of the PFi facility is such that everyone in the UK wants to race there, which combines with all the other factors below to create a World level competition there at least once a month!

 

Reason number 2 – UK Geography and climate – Density of different kart tracks with tough grids and awful weather

From where I am writing this, I can drive to at least 4 different quality kart tracks within an hour.  These are PFi, Shenington, Kimbolton and Whilton Mill.  These tracks are open all year round for racing and the Brits race and practise at these venues in all weather.  The tracks are all completely different, and strange in their own way so that the drivers gain tremendously wide experience.

The clubs are smart enough to run races that don’t clash too often allowing a driver to race every weekend of the month against tough competition.  This creates constant development in an intensely competitive atmosphere, especially in the cadet classes (more on them in a bit).

Races are very rarely cancelled because of weather, so the drivers here are toughened up in conditions that can only be described as horrific!  The coldest I’ve seen at a race meeting was minus 12 degrees, and there was not a hint of cancellation in the air.

PFi winter series – busy as you like and treacherous!

During the PFi winter races it is almost inevitable to see a dry line appear on the circuit that is exactly one kart width wide, meaning everyone has to run on slicks so going a few centimetres off line can result in disaster. Combine this situation with running under spotlights, heading under the bridge flat out whilst smashing over kerbs at 70+mph  with 30 other nutters trying to beat you is a unique and regular situation for drivers racing in the UK.  For me they are absolute bloody heroes!

 

Reason number 3 – The Brits are mad for it

The UK is motor racing bonkers.  The teams, parents, drivers are all crazy for motor sport.  They are also aggressively competitive, sometimes you could say it goes over the top (we are a bit savage), but it creates such a focused and unforgiving atmosphere that it inevitably produces a wealth of talented and resilient drivers.  Motor racing seems to have a hold on the Brits more than any other nation I know, and this breeds talent naturally.

Weekend off? Run the London marathon in your karting kit – typical lunacy from British drivers!

 

Reason number 4 – British Cadet Karting

I believe that if you can win a British cadet karting championship, there is not a motor racing category in the World that is beyond your capabilities.  British cadet karting is incredible, the drivers are complete racing drivers and so are all their support personnel whether we are talking about the teams or parents.  There is nothing like British cadet karting anywhere in the world for sheer competitiveness and those kids come out of cadet karting ready for any level of competition out there.

UK cadet drivers unusually spaced apart, usually they are fully attached to one another!

If you are used to running in races from the age of 8 years old where absolute professionalism is a given, and the smallest mistake means the difference between a win and 30th position, then running at world level is not daunting at all.  It’s just another day at the office, and these drivers treat it as such!

So if you want to race the best, and test yourself in the toughest racing environment in the world (including any other motor sport category) come and race karts in England. If you can win here, you can win anywhere, in anything!

Check out the book transforming the results of kart drivers world wide.

 

Karting in the wet is all about staying off the rubber and getting the kart straight to guarantee fast exits. If you slide the rear, or get any wheelspin you can throw away seconds per lap and have no idea why.  So here is a quick explainer video showing you how you can adjust your lines to make your wet driving life so much easier!

For how to use special techniques in the wet and details of how to attack a wide variety of corners check out my book here

 

I get a lot of really positive feedback about how my chapter on braking has helped drivers make a sudden breakthrough, leading to podium finishes and wins!

So, I’m giving the chapter away for free to you so you can can go out and hopefully do the same.

Braking technique is my NUMBER 1 for creating breakthroughs with drivers. I’ve worked with so many drivers who went from average to race winners overnight, just from working on braking alone! For them it was like somebody just switched on the lights, and boom, they are a member of the club.

Here’s what the chapter covers, including detailed diagrams and the step-by-step instructions you need to master every skill:

  • The First ‘Lock Up’ Braking Barrier To Conquer – Mini Lock Ups
  • Taking ‘Lock Up’ Braking Into A Corner
  • Advanced Trail Braking – Taking Your Braking Even Deeper
  • Stable Braking – If Locking Brakes Isn’t Your Thing
  • Braking Super-Deep To Keep The Kart On Its Nose
  • Beware Using The Front Tyres For Brakes And Killing Your Tyres
  • Power Braking: Fast But Can Kill Brakes and Engines

Download a FREE sample chapter ‘Master Your Braking – The First Step in Becoming a Great Kart Driver

I’m sure you’ll love it and hope you go on to buy the full book 🙂

 

Here is a knockout strategy for getting yourself into a powerful mindset when things aren’t happening for you. This could be on track, dealing with your team (could be a big posh team, or your mum and dad) or handling a potential sponsor.

  1. Find out which famous driver you respect most – it could be an F1 champion or any top flight driver you really look up to.
  2. Study that driver, watch videos about them and read their biographies.
  3. Gain an understanding of what makes that driver tick, so you relate to them and feel like you know them.

For example I’ll go with Schumacher, since he seems to have crushed every challenge in motor racing – but Senna, Alonso, Moss, Clarke or Villeneuve would all be just as good for me.

Now, when you find yourself stalling, or feeling weak – moments when you feel you are not bossing the situation –  ask yourself what your favourite driver would do.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

1 – “I feel like I’m just not quick enough, but everyone is criticising me and making it worse”

2 – “I know that I have to front this guy and ask him to sponsor me, but what if I embarrass myself”

 

Ask yourself “WHAT WOULD SCHUMACHER DO RIGHT NOW?” Then absorb the answer and turn it into your own strategy.

So, in Schumacher’s case my own answer would be:

  1. I’m going to vow to prepare so well for each track that there is no way I will be slow – then I will psychologically dominate the team around me so that they feel inspired by me – they will never feel the need to critisise me because they will be so full of respect for me as a person!
  2. I’m going to be so full of confidence in my own ability that I will blow this guy away – he is going to think he needs to back me because I am a powerhouse force of nature, and certain to pay him back ten times over!

Now, if you have read enough about your own favourite driver you are bound to find in your memory, a very close example of where they faced the same situation and went for it, they did something that you will remember as very brave, or very smart….

Now all you have to do is, do just that!!

Whatever the answer is….. do it – The point is that the driver you have chosen as your personal favourite, was chosen by you because you relate to them already – so it is very likely that the answer to your question “What would Schumacher do?” will also be what you should do…..

So do  it.

There are loads more practical ways to boost yourself in my kart driving mastery book – check it out

 

You’ve heard of Medusa right? – the monster of Greek Myth who was so frightening and horrific, that looking into her eyes would fill a warrior with such dread and terror, that he would immediately turn to stone!

They say Medusa represents the terrifying chaos of nature – and the warriors being turned to stone bit is like how we are all programmed by evolution to freeze when we face a deadly predator.

I mean we’ve all had experience of that – being scared suddenly and freezing automatically, like something has taken us over and commanded us to be perfectly still until the danger has passed. It makes perfect sense that when humans were potential dinner hunted by big bad carnivores, the best strategy was to freeze and hope we don’t get noticed when a blinking great sabre-tooth tiger shows up.

And this primitive programming operates at full strength – ESPECIALLY during kart race starts!

The start of a kart race is about as close as a modern human gets to being hunted in the wild! There are big scary predators out to get you, and nobody has a clue what is going on – it is a sensory overload situation and totally unpredictable.

And what does a human do instinctively when faced by so many threats that it can’t escape from? It freezes so that the big bad predator doesn’t notice them,  and it hopes that once the danger passes by it can quietly escape without being harmed.

This is how so many drivers react to the start of a race, they freeze and try not to do anything that will get them noticed – their priority is survival and without even having a chance to resist, they back out, go wide and let other drivers by.

If you act like this, you are behaving just like an animal that is being hunted, trying to escape, to survive – meek and frightened.  You won’t be able to avoid behaving this way because it is a very powerful instinctive survival reaction – it has kept the species alive in a very dangerous world – BUT it doesn’t help you win kart races.

If this freeze reaction is unavoidable, how do you get rid of it?

You can switch off the freeze reaction by changing the way you perceive the situation from being hunted ready to freeze, to being the predator yourself.

It comes down to a very simple choice:

“Am I going to be the PREY, or am I going to be the PREDATOR?”

The answer is obvious – we all want to be the predator – but what does that mean practically?  It means you have to think like a predator and stop thinking like the prey!

Thinking like the prey

  • Hope that nothing bad happens to you
  • Be ready to steer clear of crashes
  • Be on red alert for danger, ready to avoid problems
  • Safe survival is the priority
  • Defensive

Thinking like a predator

  • Go to the grid with an exact plan of how you will OWN the start
  • When the race starts make your move first
  • Be the actor, not the reactor
  • Be on red alert to take advantage of chaos and pounce on the mistakes of others
  • Offensive

Can you see how the predator and prey have completely different mindsets?

When you are in the prey mindset your brain is ready to freeze you.

When you are in the predator mindset, your brain is in a completely different mode – you are not going to freeze because YOU are the dangerous predator!

So before your next race start, ask yourself “Am I the prey, or am I the predator”.  With a little bit of preparation before you start you can march to the grid as a predator, leave the prey mentality for the other drivers.

 

Find out more about taking control of your kart races, and dominate – in my book here….