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You may recall I recently posted about my goals for this season. It’s important to me that I don’t just go out and drive. There’s an ironic saying that resonates with me: Doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result is the definition of Insanity. I would like to think I have some talent. I seemed to go pretty fast in Time Trials last season. I’ve even been fortunate enough to expand my skill-set by sitting passenger with some very enthusiastic students. But I’m not fooling myself; I don’t know how to RACE. I want to learn the craft. I want to learn how to do it well. Why? Because I want to win!

I have decided my rookie season is the perfect time to learn how. A couple of years ago, I picked up a couple of books (Going Faster! and Speed Secrets). So I leafed through those again. I looked over at the XBOX 360 wheel and bought Forza 4 and F1: 2012 (played them… once). I remained unsatisfied I was making the most of this opportunity. I needed someone to teach me the ropes and get me started off on the right foot. I have several friends (fast, experienced racers!) out at the track who have been more than willing to help me out whenever I’ve asked. But I wanted something more structured, more formal.

Back in January, I called Mark Baer at SCR Performance and asked if I could have an hour or so of his time. I knew very little about Mark and SCR from our brief interactions at NASA events. What I did know was overwhelmingly positive. He has a reputation not only for his own wins, but also for cultivating winning drivers. We sat down over lunch and talked about my goals, my car, his coaching style and experience, my skill-set, my season schedule. He agreed to watch some video from last season and consider how he could help me meet my goals.

I am thrilled with our partnership thus far. He listened to my concerns and has come up with strategies to help me learn and grow through them. I’ve already made progress in a couple of areas by attending autocross events with him. (He came in second in his class, nationally, with SCCA last year. He knows what he’s doing.) He listened to my feedback from the first event and I’ve noticed he already has altered his teaching style to help me learn concepts more quickly.

Moral of this part of my story is this: do your best and be willing to ask for help. I recommend you look outside your normal repertoire if you feel you’re not improving the way you want. Sure, you might be able to coach your way to a breakthrough. But it’s likely there will be times you can’t seem to consistently shave that second off your lap time.  I haven’t been out to the track yet this season, but I’m excited to set new personal bests every weekend. And I know Mark is going to be there, cheering me on while taking mental notes on ways I can improve my racing.

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