In my first post, I looked at how I prepared for a race and promised I would reflect on how I’ve developed my skills over the last two seasons. Well, this is Part 2.
For those that haven’t read Part 1, I’m Logan Ploder, a contributing editor here at FMR and team captain of the Fast Myles Racing Team.
At speed, head tucked down for max airflow.
To start off, I feel I’ve improved a lot since I bought (or rather, my Dad bought) my own kart in 2015 for my rookie season, to this point in 2016 where I’m the Briggs & Stratton Junior Light Champion. 2015 was a learning experience for all of us here at Team FMR. The drivers (Myles, Jayden and myself) learned as much as we could about how the karts drove on track and improved our driving skills based on how the new Briggs & Stratton powered karts handled. The beginning of the season for me at least was very inconsistent, but yet still better than I thought it would be, as I was finishing as high as 4th and as low as 29th as this season reached mid-point. But once the second half of 2015 arrived, I was getting podiums in almost every race, which then boosted me from 7th to 4th in the TRAK Briggs & Junior Light Championship by the end of the season. Not bad for a rookie season!
The #28 Intrepid Kart that helped carry me to a successful 2016 season.
Then 2016 arrived. Even with my confidence as high as ever, I knew there was still more room for improvement. Mainly on starts which everyone on the team gave me grief about and which I pounced on almost immediately at the start of 2016.
And also more aggressive passing, which I improved on very little until the last two or three races of the 2016 season. I also learned how much of a difference dry tires make on a dry track vs wet tires on a dry track. Let's just say one was an easy lesson, and one was a hard lesson.
None the less, what I learned helped as I ended the 2016 season as the TRAK Briggs & Junior Light Champion... and this was only in my 2nd season.
I’d like to reveal the secrets of my success. Like in most things, it comes down to studying.
Watching YouTube videos, from another drivers' perspectives are valuable classroom time.
So I studied race footage. Lot’s of it, and not just my own but that of my competitors and other racers in other karting series and other forms of racing as well. There was always something to learn, I thought.
I would watch my footage to admire some of my own great drives, of course, but also to see where I could’ve done better during the race. Did I pass in the right spot, could I have carried more speed into a specific corner, or adjust my line to take advantage of others? Could I have done more to protect a position, or fought harder through a series of turns, or… well, a host of other little details here and there always seemed to stand out. There is always something to learn if you watch video footage for that purpose, and not just for entertainment or great memories. And, of course, I also studied how my fellow competitors raced/drove, so I could learn which driver was capable of doing what in which corner, and other things about them as well... which could always give me an advantage if I was up against them on the track. For example, I know my teammate Myles prefers an outside pass in some corners (Hmmm, that might explain a crash or two too).
Since there are few Junior Light drivers other than my teammate Myles who post their footage on-line for easy study, I moved on to watching Briggs & Stratton Senior race footage, to see how they take their corners and how they make their passes. All that studying resulted in me trying new things, which most of the time worked out very well, helping make me a better driver.
Computer race games or simulators like iRacing™ can give you valuable virtual "seat" time.
My last secret is that I have a lot of hours (several weeks worth of hours at least) on racing games and simulators like F1 2016, Project Cars and in the past, iRacing and Gran Turismo, to help optimize my driving techniques which are very similar in the game compared to real life driving. You can learn wherever you look to learn from.
To end off, I just want to tell you three things. First of all, I want to thank you all for viewing this article. Second of all, I want you all to stay tuned to the Fast Myles Drive Tribe page. Finally, I want all the young drivers viewing this to try and use all of my secrets to success that I revealed, as I’m sure it will really help you out. We all need to stick together to build the motorsport community and fan base. And to push each other to be the very best we can be.
Oh, that Kai!
- By Logan Ploder