1. Mindset and attitude
When I first set out to write this post, I didn’t intend to put the ‘things’ in any order, but this first one was one of, if not the most important lesson that I learnt. This is something I grasped quite late on in the season, at Anglesey, the third to last weekend. My second race that weekend didn’t go to plan. I spun… and things went downhill from there. The main shortcoming that affected the race was my attitude after I had spun. My driving deteriorated from that point. After the race I came back to the AB Motorsport paddock area in quite a mood. I took some time to myself and came back. I then had a conversation with Jack Sycamore and Ali Bray and said how I felt completely deflated after the race… like I didn’t even want to take part in the last one. But it was what Jack Sycamore said that stuck with me and got me back in the car. He explained that if anything happens in the race, like a spin, or being spun by another competitor, that nothing can be done until after the race; there is no need to let it affect your driving whilst racing. I took this with me for the rest of the season, and I think it changed me as a driver. I performed much better with a change of mindset. So, thanks Jack!
Having never done any kind of competitive racing before, this was always something I was going to learn right from the off, and I’m sure will continue to learn. One bit of knowledge I gained is to study how a driver ahead drives, what kind of lines they take and if they make any mistakes, to capitalise on them. I taught myself how to defend in my second ever race, after I’d made it up to 4th from 7th at Brands Hatch. I had Ivan Leary really wanting get past. I defended for the rest of the race and was ecstatic with the result. I would say a lot was learnt from making mistakes, as I knew couldn’t repeat them if I wanted to succeed.
3. Being part of a team is important
Having the support of a team behind you helps tenfold. Being able to sit down after a session or race, and not be concerned about the car is really advantageous. It allows me to concentrate on other things, such as reviewing my onboard footage after a session, or talking with Ali, Jack, Brad or Chris from the AB Motorsport team about setup without having to worry about doing it myself. One thing I learned this season is how much information and track/driving knowledge I can gain from other drivers in the team. It was surprising how much the little things they mentioned help me gain a bit of time here and there. At the end of the day,
I think having a team behind you is key to enjoying and performing well in the championship, especially when you stick it in the wall and your team get it out in the next session. Thank you, AB Motorsport!
4. The social aspect
Now, this is something I’ve found I tell my family members about as something that I didn’t see coming at all, but that I really enjoy! I have to say it is one of the best parts of a race weekend. Going out for the evening with the other drivers and my team is something I look forward to pretty much every weekend. The camaraderie of the team whilst in the paddock and over the race weekend is something I think is quite special, especially through the highs and lows.
5. The budget… it always costs more than you think
Well… at the start of the season, I and my Race Director/Finance Manager (Dad) put together a budget for what it costs to compete in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship. We reckoned we needed around £15,000 to run the car for the season with the professional support of AB Motorsport. But it cost a bit more than that. We didn’t factor in:
- The cost of test days
- Additional track days to get familiar with the car and a few of the circuits.
- Engine rebuild
- New gearbox
- And replacing several bits that fell off or broke.
Having an excellent bodywork sponsor, CarMagic, certainly saved us a few pounds over the season, especially when I made acquaintance with the tyre wall at Oulton Park.
And of course, what you also have to consider in the first season of racing are the set up costs:
- Buying and setting up a car
- ARDS test and licence
- Helmet, Hans device, racewear
And that can add up to quite a bill.