What We Can Learn From A Professional Race Car Driver

F1 Driver Brian Sims sitting on a yellow race car out the front of Parliament London

What We Can Learn From A Professional Racing Car Driver

I raced cars professionally for many years. After retiring, I set up my own racing driver school on the Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa. There, I taught pupils of all ages and gender the skills necessary to compete and to survive on the racetrack. In my life, I have driven over 1,250,000 miles on the roads of the UK, South Africa and the United States of America. Whilst many of the skills needed in road driving, are different to those used on the track, there are some very important lessons that apply to both disciplines.

A question that I am always being asked is whether professional racing drivers have better reflexes than the average road driver. Whilst a few might have, I don’t believe that there is necessarily a big difference between the two. You might be a great tennis player and have great reflexes, but that doesn’t make you a good road driver. Let me explain.

Read The Road

The common factor amongst good racers and good road drivers is that they don’t rely on reflexes; they learn the skill of anticipation. If you read the road, looking not at the stretch of tarmac twenty meters ahead, but instead focus 100 /150 meters ahead, you will find that you anticipate what is going to happen in front of you much better and therefore have more time to react in safe manner.

Anticipate What Might Happen

You do this in racing so that you can position yourself on the appropriate lines into a corner, taking into account any cars in front of you and where they might be likely to pull out from the slipstream of another competitor. It’s the same on the road. If you anticipate what might be happening or likely to happen ahead of you, then there is no need for lightning fast reactions. Anticipation is the mark of a good driver, on the track and on the road.

Drive Smoothly

The other tip that I want to pass on is to drive smoothly. It’s critical in a race car and is the sign of a good driver on the road. Imagine you’re driving with a bowl of water fixed on the bonnet of the car, a tennis ball bobbing in the water. In all your driving manoeuvres, starting, stopping, cornering at high speed or low speed, changing gear, turning left or right, imagine that ball. It must not come out of the water, whatever you do. A professional race driver can drive at speed and not scare passengers. You can drive fast, but smooth, and you will be a much safer drive.

My final message is to take pride in your driving style and don’t show off in a car. Top class drivers are a pleasure to be with as a passenger, not a nightmare come true!

Have Pride In Your Driving Style

My final message is to take pride in your driving style and don’t show off in a car. Top class drivers are a pleasure to be with as a passenger, not a nightmare come true!

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