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Episode 26

What do racing drivers really do, after all they must do something other than just driving all day, right?

Racing Drivers – More Than Just Driving

What do racing drivers really do, after all they must do something other than just driving all day, right?

The majority of people, when asked about the job role of a racing driver, will assume all that a racer has to do is fling a car around the circuit as quickly as possible, collect their paycheque, and leave.  Well, we all know what happens when you assume…

Contrary to said belief, the modern racing driver needs to be able to perform in many different aspects to be a true asset to both their team and sponsors. From technical feedback, to media relations, to interactions with the crowd, to a positive, engaging social media outlook, there are many, many subsidiary aspects to a racing driver’s job. But what exactly makes a good driver personality? Let’s have a look at what, other than outright speed, is desirable in a modern-day driver.

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First and foremost, any team will be looking for someone that has the ability to improve the car. After all, a slow car is a slow car, and won’t challenge for victories even if its pilot is the quickest in the field. If, however, a race team has the option of a second driver that, whilst only 90% as quick, has the technical ability to improve the car during testing and effectively set the car up on race day, that’s who the seat is going to. From a team perspective, drivers are disposable, so whilst a quick driver may be a good short-term solution, an improvement in the car will see a longer-lasting change of fortunes.

Next up, you’ve got to bring the funds in, so you’ve got to be a perfect match for your sponsors. Now, there’s quite a few different ways you can appease those who assist your racing career, from slapping their stickers on your motor through to full-on brand ambassadorial roles, but the absolute key is to be excited by their product. So far, in my own quest to go racing in 2021, I’ve been approaching companies where I myself have been a consistent customer, as I feel like I can empathise with the brand, and therefore market it well.

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All too often we see people of influence posing for a picture with random tat they’ve never seen before, and it’s simple for the public to see straight through. Therefore, it’s vital to be able to prove to sponsors you can genuinely help them out. This doesn’t just have to be a sticker on the car and a social media shoutout too, it could be things like public speaking on their behalf, or anything you can think of really!

So, once you’re in the sponsors’ good books, it’s time to win over the media. Depending on the status of your race series, this will mean one of two things. If you’re in a small, grassroots championship, an ability to weave your achievements into the press will give you an unrivalled affinity within the paddock, whereas if you’re partaking in a more widespread series where the press is actively following you, it’s imperative you’re staying on it’s good side.

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Whilst in some industries the term “any publicity is good publicity” most certainly applies, motor racing is not one of them. Just ask Daniel Abt, for example. He thought it would be a good idea to “publicise” the skills of a professional e-sports driver when Abt himself should have been driving, yet those exact actions cost him his job. Admittedly the consequences may have been exaggerated because Audi and the rest of the VW Group are trying to get away from the whole “cheat” association, but still.

At the beating heart of motor racing sit these automakers, and if you do something to infuriate them, you will be thrown out the door at a moments’ notice. There are thousands of racing drivers, meaning you’re very much disposable. If you get on the bad side of the media, you’ll have a tough time trying to land a new ride.

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Finally, there’s your own, personal social media. Having a strong social media following can help prove to both teams and sponsors that you’re very much a well-liked personality. The way you build your following matters to a much lesser extent, as whether you do it through an entertaining personality or by making the most of your appearance won’t affect too much, as either way it proves to potential employers you can build a loyal, engaged fan base, which is a valuable trait to have.

Of course, there’s a common aspect to most of the points I’ve listed above, and that’s being a nice, likeable person. Generally, in life, if you’re nice to people, it pays off in the long run, and when it comes to motor racing the rewards might just be that bit better still.

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Episode 01

Starting up a racing career is hard, they say. Just how hard is it though? I’m making it my mission to find out…

Starting up a racing career is hard, they say. Just how hard is it though? I’m making it my mission to find out…

“New year, new me.”

“New year, new me.”

The cliché that almost all of us use to convince ourselves that we can make a difference to our lives for the better. After all, what better time to make a change than when the whole planet (near-as-makes-no-difference) simultaneously celebrates a change. Beginning a new challenge at the start of a new year means it’s easy to calculate how long we’ve successfully stuck with our new habit, or as with the vast majority of us, how long we lasted before we gave up.

So, here is my “new year, new me” challenge. Writing. Well writing and racing, but I’ll touch on the writing bit first. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been particularly gifted at writing in my 20 years of existence to date, but I’ve always enjoyed stories. Be it reading stories, reciting stories, being immersed in the portrayal of a story by people much more talented in the field of acting than I, a good story draws people in. It draws them in to the point where they don’t want to get out, they happily embrace each word right up until the final full stop.

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But it’s all well and good knowing what a story does and wanting to write one, but where does the inspiration come from? Where do you find that gripping storyline? For me, in this instance, I feel that subject will be myself.

“But who are you? Why are you so interesting? I’d never even heard of you before clicking on this post!” I’m sure you’re thinking, although I expect there isn’t quite as much emotion behind your thoughts as those expressions just had. This brings me onto the racing. I, just like a lot of you I’m sure, want to go racing, but don’t have millions of pounds of backing. I don’t even have thousands at this point. It’s just me. I want to go racing, but I don’t have a race team, a car or even a race licence. I do, though, have a desire to race.

Regardless, my “new year, new me” plan is to live a racing life. Every aspect of a racing drivers’ life will be documented, be it mental and physical health, raising finances to race, finding the best competition to race in, how to improve as a driver, everything. Every sacrifice, every triumph, every setback will be lived and written about, all for your reading pleasure. Together we will discover just how hard it really is to get into racing using just my own two feet.

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Ideally, this culminates in “racer realises lifetime dream” rather than “racing blog stalls at the start line.” Ideally, I don’t give up in two weeks’ time like most “new year, new me” challenges. Ideally, I haven’t lost the interest of both of you readers by now. “Ideally” is a very easy word to use far too many times in a row, it seems. I think I’m now rambling on a bit…

Let’s get things back on track (I promise the puns are really not intentional). Now that you know, and hopefully understand, what this blog is going to contain over the coming weeks, months, years, I hope you find it an entertaining enough concept to stick around with, as I prepare to dedicate my life to the racing grind.

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Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!