Life Tips from a book about Professional Race Driving

First off, let me say that there’s no book in the world that can tell you the right and proper way to carry on life. But sometimes it’s nice to learn about tips and techniques that do work well.

There’s a book called Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques and even though it’s a book about speed racing, that surprisingly has a lot of great tips that work both in the car race track, and in the race track that is real life.

Here are some nice quotes from the book:

“In most cases, there is more to be gained by maximizing the performance of the driver than tricking out the car. The most important factor is the driver, the ultimate control system of a race car.”

This is true in practically every sense in terms of the tools that you use to get a job done. You don’t need to get the latest and greatest of everything. If what you have can suffice to get a job done, it’s much better to improve yourself in that skill area than to buy something new that will barely help.

For example: Buying a new computer every year because the old one isn’t as fast as the new one. It doesn’t really help if the person who buys the new computer stays the same, and all the things that the new computer can do, the old computer can do, just slower.


“If you want to drive a race car well, whether to win an Indy car racer or just have fun competing in the middle of the pack in an amateur race, you must be seated properly in the car. First of all, you must be comfortable, otherwise it will be overly tiring and very difficult to concentrate. Many races have been lost simply because a driver lost concentration due to discomfort from a poorly fitted seat.

Being comfortable in the car is critical. If you’re not comfortable, it will not only take more physical energy to drive, but it will also affect you mentally. A painful body will reduce your concentration level.”

Basically you have to be comfortable in the environment that you are in if you want to do well in it. Otherwise, you’ll be thinking too much about the discomforts to be able to concentrate on what you want to do, fully.


“I often see racers, particularly at the back of the pack in amateur races, trying to go fast, with their arms flailing around, banging off shifts, jerking the steering into a turn with feet stabbing at the pedals — the car usually in massive slides through the turns. It may feel as fast and even look fast, but I’ll guarantee it’s not. If the driver would only slow down, the car would actually go faster. It reminds me of the saying, “never confuse movement for action.”

It’s not important to be flashy, it’s important to be smart in your actions. Sometimes less work in a different way may benefit more than doing an over-extensive amount in another way.


“Sometimes you concentrate more on racing the cars around you, rather than focusing on what you need to do. Having said that, some drivers actually perform best when there is a little extra incentive – like chasing another car. Plus, you may be able to get a good draft off the car in front. But be careful you don’t get too caught up in what the competition is doing. Focus on your own performance rather than on the competition.”

Don’t worry too much about how well other people are doing, just pay attention to how well you’re doing. Also known as, don’t compare yourself to how well other people are doing, just care about your own performance.


Look and think as far ahead as possible. Often, a driver’s natural reaction is to look at the wall or the point you’re just about to get to. That’s not enough. You won’t drive a smooth, flowing line if you don’t look far ahead. And looking well ahead, and concentrating on getting to where I’m looking, seems to really help me.

Study that track that you are on before racing in it. Make sure you know every turn and the texture of the ground so you don’t go over mud or crash straight into a wall. It applies to real life too, just read that sentence I wrote, and change it however you want to interpret it, applying to real life.


Never give up, no matter how far behind you are, no matter how unlikely it seems you will catch your competitor in front of you. Keep pushing until the checkered flag falls. How many times have you seen the leader of a race have a mechanical problem with only a few laps to go? You will never be able to take advantage of their problems if you are not close. You have to be close to take advantage of luck.

Basically, as long as you’re still alive, you can still catch up and perhaps even pass the competition, but only if you don’t slow down. If you slow down, it’ll be harder for you to catch up, if you slow down too much, it then becomes impossible.


I hope I shared a lot of useful tips for you guys. Please feel free to read any of my other posts, as they are all pretty much as good as this one. I just don’t think they’ll get as much attention as I didn’t put a cool picture up for them.

There are a whole lot more tips, some even more helpful than the ones I posted. The only way you’ll find out more, and to support the author, is to buy the book here:

11 Responses to “Life Tips from a book about Professional Race Driving”

  1.   mkinsey Says:

    I like the part about being able to catch up- playing Mario Kart, there are times when I’m in last place on the second lap, but by the third and final lap, I’ve regained composure. How? By not panicking, by handling very carefully, and not over-correcting my steering. It requires a good bit of attention, but it gets results.

    This applies to classes too- if you’ve got a class you’re not doing well in, and you realize that before “the race is over”, then you have a good chance at making up for your past mistakes!

  2.   llawson Says:

    As most of the floor probably knows by now, I am a huge Mario Kart fan as well. Going off of what Margot has said, Mario Kart also has power ups that help out a lot when you’re trying to catch up. Why does this matter? I feel that the real life leadership equivalent of this is all the people and resources that you have at your disposal. Just like NASCAR drivers don’t have gas gauges and rely on others to calculate it for them and their constant contact with people telling them what is in their blind spot, we have friends and mentors to tell us when they think we’re overdoing it and he path we should take in the event we’re too stressed to see it ourselves. I know that recently my real life “power ups” have really helped me to catchup before finals. Don’t ever forget about the resources around you!

Leave a Reply