Topic: What We Learned - Rookies at PIT
We ran the Moose Crossing Volvo S60 (#802). We had a great experience and learned a ton for our first race. Plan to race again in NH at the Halloween Hooptiefest. We thought we would share what we learned and what we plan to do next for those rookie teams considering a race.
What We Were Glad We Did:
1. Family team - we kept it small and manageable. Two brothers racing with our sons. Forever memory for 17 and 18 yo boys. No controversy or disappointment. Just a lot of work! Not everyone can race as a family, but no matter what you do, make sure team dynamics are good. Your first race will become stressful at times.
2. Took our failed tech inspection in stride. Listened, adjusted and came back with the issues addressed (the next morning).
3. Properly set expectations among team. Our victory was racing, keeping the car and drivers unscathed and generally not sucking. We were not trying to win anything our first time out.
4. Knowing the car was in solid mechanical shape well before the race. No crazy paddock projects were likely. Car also was also rust free.
5. Not blowing up the car. We took breaks and didn't try to run continuous laps. We know we can push it much harder next race, though. Your mileage may vary....
6. Learn what it feels like to go fast in the car and what corners it likes...and doesn't like. Try to improve each lap. Focus on getting smoother not just more daring or aggressive. Compete wisely. Don't baby it too much...but don't be on the ragged edge all the time
7. Had a home-base close to the track with garage. This felt like a great advantage for our first race, but that's just us.
8. Avoided black flags. Didn't crash or swap paint. We had no on track issues and stayed ON the track.
9. Listened and learned from other teams and judges. Lots of good experience and advice waiting for us.
10. We were hopefully consistent and predictable and made a point to wave people through on a line to avoid unnecessary issues among more experienced drivers.
11. Drove a car with abundant off the shelf parts. Ok...not super Lemony...but still glad that's what we had.
12. Read, re-read, and re-re-re-read the rules
13. Upgraded our brakes (calipers, rotors, pads) to much bigger than stock as part of pre-race prep. Stopping was nooooooo problem.
14. Watched a lot of the online content to get a good feel for the approach to the race
15. Provided a social media page for our family and friends to see the progress
16. Rented half our gear and shared the most expensive pieces (helmet and hans). Two team members bought (used) full sets of soft goods. Tried on rental ahead of time...we needed a smaller helmet and had time to react with the rental company.
17. Had a good checklist for tools and supplies. We had what we needed at the track. Except for that floor jack on Sunday...hmmm....
What We Wish We Did:
1. Had an additional 2-3 months to prep the car. From auction to track was less than 3 months. An extra two months would have been really, really nice.
2 Make the test and tune day on Friday. Would have been a game-changer for our rookie team but we had items to address after our first tech, so that was a priority (see #1).
3. Walk the track. We would have learned a lot.
4. Wish we didn't have to tow the car so far to the first race (Vermont to Pittsburgh). This was offset by having a home-base garage...Not sure if it was a wash or not....ask Dave. He had a few too many adventures with the tow rig!
5. Had extra brakes and rotors on hand.
6. Had more time to adjust and tune the car for things like camber, weight reduction, spring height. Especially camber.
1. Optimize some of the performance aspects of the car. Simple non-cheaty stuff. Camber, weight, height.
2. More fully embellish our theme. We have a moose head that never made it on the car...next time.
3. Have a better handle on fluids (type of fluid for each area, what happens during race, how to manage)
4. Have a better handle on tire management (pressure, temperature, tire type)
5. Have a better handle on brake management (rotor construction, pad construction, driving approach)
6. Attend test and tune day
7. Drive more laps. Hot-pit changes and hot-pit fueling.
8. In-car communication. This wasn't an issue for us the first race but we can see the value as you progress.
9. Drive faster but just as clean.
10. Add a couple of team members.
11. Put numbers on the roof...not the hood. Hood gets so hot numbers fall off. Numbers are hard.
11. Hang out and have fun Fri and Sat night