Preparing for race day involves more than getting dressed in racing gear and getting in the car. There is mental preparation, physical preparation, planning before the trip, and knowing the schedule. There’s also the need to understand the rules. Unfortunately, many drivers lose because they aren’t aware of the rules at the track they are racing.
Mentally preparing for race day is important because the sport requires mental toughness. Here are some tips to help you mentally prepare:
- Clear your mind. Take some quiet time to yourself, close your eyes, and throw away negative thoughts.
- After you have cleared your mind, visualize the track. Feel yourself driving the track and taking the turns. Visualization is a powerful way to prepare your mind for the race. After the practice run, adjust your visualization so you can practice in your mind what you learned about the track.
- Leave all your insecurities outside the track. You need to be confident, but not so confident that you get careless behind the wheel. You have to remain humble and realize that something could go wrong. The goal is to be careful and professional to minimize that chance and have faith in yourself.
It is amazing how much your mind can affect your performance, making racing a mental game, as well. The last thing you want to do is sabotage yourself before you even hit the track. You have to:
- Stay calm under pressure.
- Stay focused on the positive.
- Have confidence in yourself.
- Rebound quickly when you make a mistake.
- Handle any negativity in the most positive way possible.
It is possible to keep your fears and doubts off the track. Practicing visualization and honing in on your confidence will help.
Although a racecar driver is behind the wheel of a car, that doesn’t eliminate the need to prepare physically. The driver has to display a high level of performance. The smallest error can result in setbacks. If those setbacks are as much as a 10th of a second, it could be the difference between winning and losing.
Being in good physical shape benefits your driving abilities. It’s even more important the further you get into the race. Because you need to keep your energy up, cardiovascular endurance comes into play. Many professional drivers have personal trainers so they can ensure optimal physical conditioning. You also need to make sure you do the following, even when on the road:
- Sleep well.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Eat nutritious meals, which can be hard on the road.
- Exercise, even when you are traveling.
Staying in good physical condition also affects mental health, which will beef up your visualization game. Racers are athletes, and athletes use their physical game to influence their mental game.
When on the road, you can go for a jog, do push-ups, use hand weights, and other similar exercises. When you’re not on the road, you can go to the gym and do:
- Leg Extensions
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Pec Deck
- Upright Row
- Stiff-Leg Deadlift
- Wrist Curl
- Seated And Standing Calf Raises
- Lower Abdominal Exercises
- Oblique Muscle Exercises
- Upper Muscle Exercises
If you have never been to a gym before or you aren’t very knowledgeable of the exercises you should be doing, many gyms have personal trainers that can help.
Being in good physical shape will help when you have to deal with the heat in the cockpit. There are times when temperatures in a racecar can reach 160 degrees. A strength training program can minimize the effects of the heat, giving you a competitive edge.
Plan Your To-Go Bag
There are certain items that you will need to take with you. You will need:
- Racing gear
- Personal items
- Extra changes of clothes
- Healthy snacks
- Documentation about the track so you can read the material prior to the race
- A portable DVD player or other video playback device so you can study in-car video from past races (if you have this)
Basically, you are going to pack everything you need when you are traveling, but with a few extra items that are race-related. Anything that you feel you need, pack it. The last thing you need is to become frazzled because you don’t have something. Becoming frazzled can cause your mental game to be “off” and can also affect you physically. You need to remain as calm as possible and clear your mind.
Also, make sure you bring plenty of water to the track with you. It is going to get hot in the cockpit, and hydration is one of the ways you are going to beat the physical effects of it.
Before and At the Event
The racing schedule is most likely going to be updated at some point. This may happen before the race, so it is best for you to memorize the schedule so you know what to expect. Sometimes, the schedule changes at the last minute. This means you need to check the updated schedule when you arrive. If nothing changed, that’s great. If something changed, run it over in your mind so you have an idea of what is happening when.
You also need to know the practice schedule so you can make plans. Because the oil in the car has to be changed between the practice run and the race, you want to ensure your crew is ready to go. You also need to know how long the practice run will be.
Lastly, make sure you understand the rules of the race. The rules from race to race can be very similar, but there are some differences. While it may seem cut and dry and like there is no way to mess things up, drivers have lost races because they didn’t know a certain rule. Find out the rules as far in advance as you can so you can memorize them. Memorizing them better ensures that they will be followed.
For more tips and tricks about racing preparation contact Team Stradale today!