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.
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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 purchased an ex-Rothmans Cup Porsche 944. My daughter had just been born and I was tearing around Mosport in my convertible 964 when I realized that the bolt-in roll bar installed in the car might not offer the sort of protection that a new, responsible father should have. The 944 was my proverbial “barn find,” although in my case it was in a filthy, pigeon-infested industrial unit in East Toronto.
The Porsche Rothmans Cup was the brainchild of David Deacon, head of Porsche Canada’s ad agency in the mid-80’s. It was the first spec-class racing Porsche had done anywhere, and featured specially-ordered normally-aspirated 944’s making an astonishing 150hp. For a car that weighs 2,800lbs, that’s not a lot of power. But the series was very successful, as the racing was very close, and the various Porsche dealers across the country enticed some pretty big name drivers to enter the series.
Simply put, it took great finesse to drive these cars. Not because they were powerful, tail-happy supercars but because any small mistake was amplified and you couldn’t make up for it with the loud pedal. The suspensions were very limited in their adjustments, and the tires weren’t particularly grippy. No wonder the series launched the careers of a bunch of future stars! The drivers had to be picture-perfect, every corner, throughout the race.
I think we focus too much on getting more performance out of our cars, when we should be working on getting the most out of ourselves. Slower cars allow you to spend more time concentrating on how to refine your line, your turn-in point, your brake and throttle application. In a powerful car, everything’s coming at you faster and sometimes you’re just hanging on. It’s much easier to find the limit, and work at it, when you’re not going as quickly.
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To read the rest of Karl’s article, download Issue #21 from the Past Issues. And to read more like it, get a year’s worth of Speed Secrets Weekly – subscribe now.