Racing Savvy

I pulled this from the iRacing forum and it was pulled from somewhere else. We at BRL have an advantage in our Saturday night races because we all know each other’s racing styles and abilities. This is a little long but well worth the time it takes to read. – Lowell

By Bob Stanley #34 Team LightSpeed

Be smart and race with savvy by never having to blame anyone else because you got caught up in their mistakes

There are a lot of ingredients in the recipe for winning races and series championships and all of them are crucial to success. That recipe includes a large dose of racing savvy. You can do all of the right things preparing for the race but if you don’t do the right things during the race most of the time, your chances of winning it are very slim.

Most people will preach about patience and after years of seeing it preached but very few people actually grasping the concept, I’ve decided to take a different approach. I’m not going to preach about patience; I’m going to preach about being smart.

Every time you exceed your limitations but succeed, you’ll gain false confidence

First and foremost is to know your limitations and try your absolute hardest to never exceed them. You will, but you must try as hard as you can, not too. How do you know what your limitations are? Here’s an example, If you’re not absolutely positive that you can hold your line as you’re passing someone low going into a corner, you’ve exceeded your limitations. Even if you’ve successfully pulled off the maneuver, you still exceeded your limitations to that point. Every time you exceed your limitations but succeed, you’ll gain false confidence until eventually you totally blow it and wipe out ½ the field which inevitably sets your confidence and your reputation way back, kind of like dieting by not eating. You lose weight for a while but put it all right back on because you’re starved. Confidence in racing should come just like everything else that provides true confidence, from your overall success, not individual instances of succeeding by exceeding.

Next, we need to discuss respect. Remember racing etiquette, if you don’t respect your competition, you’re not going to have much etiquette but even worse than that, you’re not very smart. There are lots of times when you’re going to have to have help from someone else on and off the track to win races. If you don’t respect anyone else in their endeavors to have fun with this, no one will respect or help you. If you think you can win races all on your own and enjoy this at the expense of others always taking and never giving, once again you’re not very smart and/or just plain masochistic.

Now that we respect our competitors and ourselves, we can talk about the difference between being smart and being patient. If you’re a patient driver, you’re pretty darn smart. However, while you have to be patient, you also have to be aggressive. You’re a savvy driver when you know when and how to do both. I see lots of fast drivers, lots of very aggressive drivers, a few patient drivers, and very few savvy drivers. Most people rely on their own common sense when it comes to racing smarts but common sense to one person is not always common sense to another especially when it comes to racing online.

A savvy driver sizes up the competition

A savvy driver realizes this and almost always does the smart thing without having to really think about it. Just like after hours of practice, you instinctively do the right thing if you get into the corner a little to hot, your reflexes take over and you deftly maneuver the car back to where you want to be. A savvy driver does this by sizing up the competition. Forget how fast they are in practice. How smooth are they lap after lap? How nervous do they get when you get right on their rear bumper? How well can they hold their line lap after lap? How well can they checkup if you slow a little more than normal going into a corner. How aggressive are they when they want by? Do they move over easily if they can tell you want by or do they run as hard as they can to stay in front of you? All of these things can be found out during practice and if you don’t take the time to do this, you’re not very smart. This is why most pickup races are such a wreck fest; no one knows each other. [This last bit is difficult to do on iRacing since practice sessions are decoupled from race sessions; but after a while you begin to recognize many names and associate driver styles with them.]

Lastly, let’s look at the smart thing to do in specific situations: A driver you don’t know very well gets up to your B pillar on either the inside or the outside going into a corner, back out of it and let them have it. Maybe you know you can hold your line but do you know if they can hold theirs? Sure you can blame them later for not holding their line and causing the accident but that doesn’t get those valuable points or safety rating back does it?

Conversely, a driver you do know that can hold their line in the same situation does this and you know you can hold your line, what do you do? This depends on what’s smart for you based on the overall objective of winning the race. Do you abuse your tires racing him/her through the corner? If you only have 5 laps to go, abuse those tires. If you have 50 to go, the smart thing to do may be to let them have the spot.

This one is a bit trickier. You’re in a pack of cars and you’re passing on the inside going into a corner with cars right above & behind you. You know you’re going to have to brake more to stay low and keep your line to pull off the pass. Do you go ahead and make that dive and take that chance? Almost never!!!! Why, have you ever heard of follow the leader syndrome? It’s difficult when cars are all stacked up to judge exactly where you’re at. If you brake later and harder than normal, the chances are good the person behind you is going to punt you into the upper deck even if he or she is a good driver.

It’s imperative to be as smooth and as consistent as possible when in traffic especially going into the corners. If those around you want to take chances, back out of it and let them. You can wave as you pass low underneath that huge pileup.

From the above three situations you should get the idea that anytime you’re not sure what you, your car, or the other person is going to or can do, the smart thing for you is to be conservative, or patient if you prefer to use that term. It doesn’t matter where you are or where they are on the track or how anyone else drives. There’s no rule that says you should be here or they should be there on any part of the track except during pace and caution laps. Regardless of what anyone else says, there is also no rule that says anyone has to do anything on a racetrack.

If you assume behaviors of drivers you don’t know, you’ve exceeded your capabilities

Don’t ever assume anything. If you assume behaviors of drivers you don’t know, you’ve exceeded your capabilities and even if it’s totally the other person’s fault when you get into a wreck. Who’s really to blame if you assumed they’d hold their line? You are!!! To drive this point home, say you’re leading the race and coming up on a lapped car very quickly going into the corner and you really don’t know this person. You immediately move to the inside to pass but this person cuts right down in front of you and takes you both out finishing your race. Well, I hate to tell you this, but you’re an idiot. You assumed this person saw you coming up on him. You assumed he’d be gentlemanly and let you go. You assumed he wasn’t battling for a position himself and not willing to lose the time letting you go. You assumed he knew how to drive a corner under pressure. Sure he was probably at fault but you don’t get your safety rating or race points back; they’re gone forever.

Now for the paradox; this is racing and if we drive patiently the whole race we’re not likely to win

This is why I think a lot of people confuse patience with racing smarts. You can be as patient as a saint but if you expect or assume people you’re not sure of are going to do something, you’re just not very smart. Hmmm, this sounds a lot like defensive driving school. By gosh it is. Now for the paradox; this is racing and if we drive patiently the whole race we’re not likely to win. We have to drive aggressively and take at some point, but we have to be smart about it. The absolute best way to do this is to do your homework and know the competition. Remember what we did in practice? We did some things to size up the other drivers. Take full advantage of that.

What it all boils down to is pretty simple, be aggressive when you know you can and be patient when you’re not sure

Any time you can take and you’re almost positive that other person can and will do their part, then take! If you’re not sure of a person during a race, you have to take the time to size them up. If you don’t have that time because you’re being pressured from behind, do what’s smart for you and your overall goals. Take the risk of passing or let the guy pressuring you from behind by and see what he can do with the guy in front. Do whatever is smart for you. If you take the risk of pushing a pass and the guy in front can’t handle it. He may be to blame but your decision wasn’t very smart. What it all boils down to is pretty simple, be aggressive when you know you can and be patient when you’re not sure

Even when we’ve done our homework and we’re certain that we can pass a driver that will give us room and one of you screws up, well, that’s not stupid. That’s truly just one of those “racing deals.” It happens to all of us.

Lastly, don’t play head-games with yourself. Don’t use warp or justify to yourself that you were sure you could get by and both of you would hold your line when you really weren’t sure of the other driver or your own ability at all.

Blame is irrelevant

One other thing I’d like to talk about is blame. Blame is irrelevant. Blame is a lost cause and worthless. Blame is not worth your time or anyone else’s.

Finally, lets talk about common courtesy. It’s not a rule but it’s common courtesy that if a driver gets up to your door handle on inside, give them room. If the inside driver does not get to the door handle, he should back out and expect the other guy to cut down. If you’re a lapped car and the leaders get up to your door handle on the outside, it’s common courtesy for you to back out and give them the low line at apex. Having said that, if you don’t know what the other guy is going to do, it’s always correct to be patient and back out, if you’re aggressive and the other driver can’t handle it by not doing the proper thing or holding his line, you can blame all you want but who really gives a poop?

Be smart and race with savvy by never having to blame anyone else because you got caught up in their mistakes.

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