Want to know what to expect from your Speed Secrets Weekly subscription? Want a sample? Click on the images below to see Issues #3 and 5 (these are PDFs of the issues – your email may look a little different).           As well, below are samples of content from various past issues (all Past Issues are available by clicking here). Note that each issue has more content than is shown...

Sample: Issue #39, January 28, 2014

“Driving fast is all about how you use the brakes, isn’t it?!” One of my coaching clients had that epiphany during a race weekend, when he finally began to run at the front of the pack. His revelation was followed up by, “And it has little to do with how late I brake…” Yep. The awesome thing with data is that you can track every nuance of how you use the brakes, as Matt Romanowski illustrates so well in his article below. Following his advice, it’s possible to “draw the ideal brake trace” with your foot. If you know exactly what the brake pressure trace on the data acquisition system should look like, you can work at replicating the line with how you apply and release the pedal. With Matt’s article and screen grabs of data, you now have a target to shoot for. Enjoy the article – and drawing the brake trace with your foot! Oh, and even if you don’t have data acquisition, you can imagine the application of the brake pedal that it would take to create the traces that Matt shares.  * * * * * “Braking” Down The Data When we analyze data, we do it in a number of ways. One of the most popular is to compare the data from two different drivers (often using a professional driver as a baseline), to see where one person is faster. We also look at how proficient and consistent a driver is in basic skills such as braking, throttle application, and steering inputs. In fact, fellow SSW contributor Peter Krause is often heard telling people that the single biggest differentiator...

Sample: Issue #33, December 17, 2013

There was a time when I thought computer games were just that – games. And that there was nothing to be learned from playing them. Finally, I was at an event with a VGT simulator, driven by a kid who was kicking everyone’s butt. His name was Ryan Hieronymus (it still is, in fact!). Since then, he has proven he wasn’t just one of those young kids who’s fast on a simulator, but can’t drive a real car. He’s gone on to race in the ultra-competitive Pro3 (Spec E30) class in the Pacific Northwest. He won the championship in 2012. Not bad for a “gamer”! There is much to be learned through sim racing. Enjoy Ryan’s article, and maybe we’ll see you racing online soon! * * * * * Simulated Or Real Fun? As a “veteran” sim racer, I can see several benefits to computer-based driving simulations that everyone can apply to real-life driving. Most people think that all a simulator can teach you is which direction a track goes; it really only helps you if you’re going to a new track, and even then, you have to hope the track you’re going to is actually modeled in a simulator to begin with! The reality is, for those who are willing to put in the time (lots of time, BTW) to really get a feel for your virtual wheels, the benefits of simulator training can outnumber those of driving in real life. For starters, let’s take a look at what you have to work with, or rather, what you’ll need to do without. In a real car, you’ve got your “seat of...

Sample: Issue #29, November 19, 2013

David Murry is one of those guys who covers all the bases – he’s super fast and smart behind the wheel, he’s a great coach, and he’s a good guy. I hear this question frequently (from performance and race drivers of all levels): “How do I know when to work on my driving, and when to work on my car?” If that question has ever gone through your head, David’s article will shed some light on the answer. One of the best decisions I ever made in motorsport was just after I purchased my Formula Ford for my second year of racing. The car had been run successfully by another driver for two years, so I made a promise to myself: I would spend my first season completely focused on my driving, and only in my second year would I begin working on making the car faster. During that first season, the only things I adjusted on the car were the front and rear anti-roll bars. I left everything else as it was, while I tuned my driving. It paid off; I won races and a championship by improving myself every event. Then, in my second season with the car, I made some fairly major changes to it, learning more about chassis setup as I went. By then, my driving was a known quantity; I could tell when my car needed tuning, and when my driving needed attention. * * * * * Is It My Driving or Is It My Car? I have been racing for over thirty years and I’ve learned a lot of things from many different sources. In my first...

Sample: Issue #27, November 5, 2014

Many readers of Speed Secrets Weekly are not just drivers, they’re also instructors and/or coaches, too. And that’s why the news we got three weeks ago hit so close to home, and was so difficult to swallow. Sean Edwards, a shining young driving star, was killed while instructing from the passenger seat. Ironically, it was the day that Ingrid Steffensen’s article about the reasons someone would choose to be a High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) instructor appeared here. I never met Sean, but friends have told me that he was a special guy. Not just because he could drive the wheels off a car, and was a great coach, but because he was a great person. He coached for the right reasons: he enjoyed it, was good at it, and he helped his students. I heard many stories about how Sean went out of his way to help other drivers. A few weeks ago, he had traveled to Australia to instruct some drivers because he wanted to. It wasn’t for the money, it wasn’t because of sponsor commitments. He truly enjoyed helping others. When I first heard of the loss, I held back my own thoughts about the topic that was on so many people’s mind: in-car instructing. I wanted to take time to process everything before jumping in. And as of this moment, no cause has been identified for the crash, so I won’t make assumptions here. In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to a number of friends who are professional coaches, and who have instructed literally thousands of drivers from inside and outside the car. I’ve also been in touch with...

Sample: Issue #23, October 8, 2013

Rule number one for drivers is “Blame the car,” right?! I say that half-jokingly because if you can make your car perform better, it does make driving easier. Finding a way to make your car handle better is important! And that comes down to sensing what it’s doing. In the recently-released movie, Rush, Niki Lauda says something about the ability of his butt to sense the car’s handling. I’ve always argued that while it’s true that we use our butts to sense what the car is doing, we have much more going on in our heads than we do in our backsides (well, most do, at least)! And to me, being aware of and sensing the car’s dynamics comes from knowing what questions to ask ourselves (and I think questions come from our minds, not our butts!). In this issue, race car engineer Jeff Braun tells us that there are really only 2 questions you ever have to answer to determine what the car is doing and how to improve its handling. * * * * * The Big 2 Questions In my opinion, the race engineer’s primary job is to get the car to do exactly what the driver wants it to do. Some good engineers disagree with me; they only focus on the simulations and what the fastest set up is from a theory standpoint, then expect the driver to get the most from it. I figure if the car is to the driver’s liking, he can show me what he has… he has no excuses. So what do I need my drivers to do, to help me set up...

Sample: Issue #21, September 24, 2013

Karl Thomson is one of those guys who make you wonder, “How does he do all that?!” Besides running his Compass360 Race Team which competes in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and SCCA World Challenge, Karl is Managing Director & Partner for a marketing company (Compass 360, a boutique specializing in brand strategy, brand development and its deployment to everything from corporate identity to advertising to architecture) in Toronto. Oh, and he’s married and has two kids that keep him busy going to gymnastics competitions and hockey games, plus he drives in selected races himself. Whew! Compass360 Racing is one of THE teams in every series in which it competes because it wins… on the track and off the track. It’s not a surprise that a guy who runs a successful marketing company would know that a race team’s “presentation” at the track is just as important as what it does on track. But at the end of the day, Karl is a racer. He loves to drive, he loves to win. He came up through the ranks, from amateur racing to pro racing – and he still enjoys club racing. In this issue Karl is going to share with you his love of driving, and specifically, how one should develop their driving. * * * * *  Slow is Fast We’ve all heard the saying, “To go quickly, one must slow down.” As in, slow down your thought processes, be deliberate in your steering, throttle, and brake inputs. But I think it also applies to starting your driving career with a slower car instead of a fast one. I got into racing when I...

Sample: Issue #20, September 17, 2013

“Green, green, green.” It’s all about the start… and restart. This issue, that is. First up, an interview with Dennis Paul, then a couple of short pieces of advice from Peter Krause and Colin Braun. And finally, my usual ramblings. Dennis Paul has been the official Starter for the American Le Mans Series for the past 15 years (the only Starter the series has ever had). When I raced in the IMSA/ALMS series I always felt I had an advantage over my competitors at the start because I could “read” Dennis. He’d been the Starter at my local road racing circuit, Westwood Motorsport Park, early in my career (the early ’80s). In some ways, we both moved up the ranks of pro racing together, and more than one driver I know has said he’s the best Starter, period.  When Dennis isn’t working ALMS races or at his real job (Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center where he does research on analgesic drug development… Oh, and on a cure for cancer!), he races a 1972 Porsche 911 (since his ’74 RSR was stolen and burnt to the ground) in PCA and the Gulf Coast Racing Series events. Dennis says, “Other than going to a lot of cool races, racing a Porsche, doing ground-breaking research, and enjoying the New Orleans life, my life is pretty boring.” Yeah, right! * * * * * A Starter’s Perspective – An Interview with Dennis Paul RB: As someone who’s been a starter for many years, in many types of racing – and someone who races yourself – what are the biggest mistakes you see...

Sample: Issue #14, August 6, 2013

This week’s feature article author, Brian Bonner is a hero of mine. Why? Because he retired from behind the steering wheel when he could still drive the wheels off a car. Even though he was a really good race driver, he felt there were better drivers than he (and he had the balls to admit that), and he was better at the commercial side of the sport. Brian and I first met at Indy in 1992 when he was to drive for Dale Coyne Racing… and I was too, if I could put the budget together. I went home with no budget, while Brian went on to race the Indy 500. He got his best CART Indy car finish driving for A.J. Foyt (that’s a topic we’d all like to ask him about!). I remember feeling jealous of Brian, for not only could he drive, he knew how to put real sponsorship programs together. And that’s what impresses me most about Brian – he knows how to craft marketing programs that provide value to everyone involved. Take a good look at his website to see examples of what he’s done. It doesn’t matter if you rely entirely on sponsorship to support your racing, or you happily fund it all yourself; whether you race professionally or in club/amateur racing… what Brian has to say equally applies. Brian has agreed to write a series of articles about sponsorship… err, what we should call motorsport marketing. This is the just the beginning of what you can learn from him. * * * * * Sponsorship Secrets – Part 1 So, you’ve already noticed that...

Sample: Issue #10, July 9, 2013

This week’s feature author, Paul Haney, knows more about those round black things on our cars that our driving life depends on than anyone this side of the secret boffins hidden in the basements of a few tire manufacturers. In fact, Paul has written the book on them – The Racing & High-Performance Tire. I first learned of Paul when he co-wrote Inside Racing Technology with Jeff Braun, and then I got to know him more when I presented a paper at the SAE Motorsport conference a few years ago. He’s smart and a good guy (hey, what’s he doing in racing?! :)). I don’t know of anyone better than Paul to talk about tires. * * * * * Why All That Weaving Around On The Way to The Grid?, by Paul Haney At the start of a race or track session we see drivers weaving back and forth across the track. Ask a driver why all the swerving and you’ll hear, “I’m getting the tires up to temperature.” Well, I don’t think that’s what’s happening. Most of the tread surface is cooling, not heating. And, since rubber is a poor conductor of heat, very little of the frictional heating on the tread surface gets into the bulk of the tire. Rubber is a very weird material. And a four-wheel vehicle with rubber tires, shock absorbers and a human driver is an extremely complex system. When it comes to tires it’s easy to grab on to a seemingly obvious explanation for what we see a tire doing only to find out it doesn’t really work that way. What we see is actually happening,...

Sample: Issue #9, July 2, 2013

This week’s feature author is Colin Braun. I doubt he needs too much of an introduction if you’ve been following pro racing over the past 7 or 8 years. I first met Colin when he was just 13 years old, when he was racing karts. His father, Jeff, had been my engineer at Scandia when I drove one of the first IMSA World Sports Cars. Shortly after, Jeff and Colin attended an Inner Speed Secrets seminar Ronn Langford and I put on. Over the next few years I had the pleasure of coaching Colin, one of the hardest-working, smartest, talented drivers I’ve ever worked with. There’s a reason that I chose to put a photo of Colin on the covers of two of my Speed Secrets books (The Perfect Driver and The Complete Driver). Colin is a model for how a young driver can be successful in motorsport without spending a huge amount of family money. There aren’t many drivers of his age who have raced quarter midgets, karts, open wheel cars, GT cars, prototype sports cars, NASCAR Trucks and Nationwide. He’s won in every one of those classes (except Nationwide, although he did have a few podiums and pole positions). Yeah, we’re friends, but I’m a fan of his as well. And yes, he’s talented behind the wheel, but it’s what he’s done outside of the car that makes him a real pro. * * * * * The Complete Driver, by Colin Braun I had been thinking about what my first piece for Speed Secrets Weekly should be about and how to make it interesting and insightful. But it really came to me as...

Sample: Issue #7, June 18, 2013

This week’s feature author, Peter Krause is simply one of the best driver coaches there is. Although he’s been around for a while (that’s not a reference to his or anyone else’s age!) and he works with a lot of vintage car racers, he’s as up to date technology-wise as anyone. In fact, Peter’s approach to using data acquisition, video and simulators is a big part of why he’s so successful. The other thing I like about Peter’s approach to coaching, and what he writes for us, is his practical process. He breaks things down to the simplest factors and focuses on what’s most important. I guess you could say that’s what makes a great coach great. It’s not how fast they can drive, how many championships they’ve won, or anything else. Well, nothing but the results of their coaching. Peter gets results. And part of that is due to the stuff he writes about below. * * * * * How To Go Faster, by Peter Krause There’s one universal truth in racing: The car can always be driven faster by somebody else. How can that be? Sometimes the difference between two drivers comes down to experience. Or maybe it’s the confidence born of that experience. Either way, the more you do it, the better you get, generally. If you’re smart, you’ve realized early on that there’s room for improvement. You begin to find out how the quicker folks do it. You resolve to learn. You resolve to do better. Most people get on track just a few times a year, and many enthusiasts don’t begin until later in life. It’s...