Coaching a driver who has only raced on a simulator presents a new challenge
Joel Miller has immeasurable coaching experience. He was the driver mentor and coach for the Mazda Road to Indy for multiple years and makes part of his living coaching others. But when he was asked to guide sim racer and Mazda Hot Lap Challenge winner Logan Clampitt through his first test in a real race car, it was another level of coaching altogether.
“It was really interesting coming from coaching guys that have learned from the real thing and have 20 days in a car and they want some assistance vs. somebody that has never seen the inside of a race car before,” says Miller. “The rate of progression was much faster.”
Clampitt was testing a Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car at The Thermal Club, a country club racetrack located just outside of Palm Springs in Southern California. He earned the test through winning the Mazda Hot Lap Challenge, a sim racing contest conducted online and at various racetracks, with the finale being an iRacing-hosted race at Daytona International Speedway.
Clearly, Clampitt knew some things about driving a race car — he just hadn’t actually done it. Despite immediately recognizing that Clampitt recognized racing lines and knew how to find an apex, Miller started him slow.