Hi everyone, I’m Logan Ploder, the Team Captain of Team FMR. All of us here at Team FMR and the other drivers and teams as well have their own race day routines. Here today, I will let you all know how I prepare for a race, and in Part 2, I will also reflect on how I’ve developed my skills over the last two seasons.
This may come as a shock to you, but my race day actually starts before race day. Our club races (TRAK - Toronto Racing Association Of Karters) are always on Saturdays. So on Friday, the whole FMR Team comes out to practice. Since we all know the track very well, us drivers try to learn how to drive the track with the conditions it’s in (e.g. track temperature, or rain) as it will most likely be quite similar on Saturday. As for the mechanics (Dads!), they have to constantly switch tire pressures and the gearing to best suit the day’s changing conditions so we can get an equal balance of cornering speed and straight line speed — which is always the hardest task of every Friday test day. Let’s just say I’m happy being a driver, and not a mechanic!
Getting ready to run some practice laps.
Once our full day of practice is over, we load the karts and parts into our trailers and/or rented track garages, and then head home. From this point, I reflect on how my day went, based on some good things I did, and what things I can improve on for the upcoming race. For example, maybe I was sliding too much in turn 5 (yes it’s true. I do slide too much in turn 5), and I think on how I can improve on that, as well as thinking about whether we truly got the perfect setup for the conditions we’ll face on Saturday. Other than that, I just have a nice dinner, rest up, and not go to bed too late.
Saturday morning is when everything truly starts for race day. I wake up as early as possible in the morning, only to greet my Dad who’s already downstairs eating breakfast. I then sit on the couch and tweet about how I feel going into the day's race and then head over to eat breakfast (Life Cereal, potential sponsor plug!) and then head upstairs back to my room to get dressed. I put on my Team FMR shirt, with the appropriate clothing for under my race suit, whether that is shorts for a hot summer day or long jeans for a cold and wet season finale. From there I brush my teeth and head downstairs to load up all my racing equipment into my Dad’s truck (helmet, suit, etc). After the early morning chaos, my Dad and I hop in the truck and take a photo of the early morning sunrise to post to my followers on Twitter.
Our tent set-up. Started with a few chairs and a cooler and has expanded to three tents and a trailer.
Once we arrive at the track, my Dad and I unload all the equipment... tools, karts, helmet, suit, gloves and neck brace. Team FMR then meet up again and set up the Team FMR tent in our usual spot, and make any final set-up changes to our karts, if needed. After about an hour, I get suited up, and sit in my chair right beside my kart, and focus on all the tasks that today’s race has forced me to face.
Sit, Focus, Win. Well after we take the team shot our Mom's always want.
When first practice is over, I immediately tell our Team FMR mechanics (yup, Dads!) how the kart feels, and if I feel I need any set-up changes. After a few minutes, the Team drivers and I head up to the main office, where we check out our practice times compared to everyone else’s and base any major set-up changes on our practice finishing position, to maximize our speed going into qualifying and possibly the race too. I then sit in my chair again and focus on the next task at hand. Racing is a lot of sitting and focusing, inside and outside of the kart.
As a team, the Dad's rotate through the karts all looking after specific tasks.
Once qualifying is completed, we do the exact same processes as we do in practice (set-up changes, etc). Once again, I sit in the chair and focus (see?) on the race ahead, pretty much talking to myself about how to get my start right, and how to balance patience and aggression during the course of the race.
Feeling smug? Maybe, if I had as a perfect day as I envisioned in my head.
When the race is completed, I either come off the track delighted with the feel of victory, satisfied with a well-earned podium, disappointed with a non-podium finish or angered if I raced poorly, or was penalized unfairly and perhaps didn’t get the result I feel I could’ve reached. After all of this, it’s finally time for podium presentations, which I stick around for whether I got a podium or not, to show good sportsmanship. We then load up the karts, parts, and all of our racing gear and the Team splits up and heads home.
A Little bit of close action to add some life to my first article. Thanks for reading!
Up Next, Part 2. How I’ve Improved My Skills.