By Mazda Factory Race Driver Tom Long:
I was recently at Virginia International Raceway helping Reg, a friend and client of mine, with a brand-new car. Learning a new car provides both opportunities and challenges, and you may want to tackle them weather dependent.
Reg’s home track is VIR, so learning the new car at a familiar track was the start of our plan. That plan continued with incremental goals for each session on track as he learned the new car. But, there was rain in the area that washed out these dry weather plans, which encouraged us to consider plan B.
We asked ourselves, “How do we judge when it’s beneficial to go out on the track or better to stay put and work on other objectives?” In this particular scenario, given that it was a first-time experience in a new race car, we decided it was best to minimize the variables by not running the car in the rain, and maximize other necessary learning. Besides, there are often lots of new buttons and switches to learn!
With so many protocols on new race cars these days, it’s critical to be familiar with your controls, especially when you’re at speed on track. You don’t have time to be looking down to find out what switch does what! So, instead of driving, we spent our time working in the paddock, learning all of the car’s buttons, switches and protocols.