Speed Secrets uses a unique approach to coach a trio of 16 year olds to success in Daytona February 8, 2005, Daytona, Florida -- It was an impressive showing for Team 16 at this year's much-hyped Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. Competing with...
Speed Secrets uses a unique approach to coach a trio of 16 year olds to success in Daytona
February 8, 2005, Daytona, Florida -- It was an impressive showing for Team 16 at this year's much-hyped Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. Competing with some of the world's best drivers and most seasoned racers, the team finished a respectable 7th of 35 in their class and 17th overall out of a field of 64.
They were prepared for the event by Speed Secrets Driver Development coaches, Ross Bentley and John Olsen. Bentley did double duty as coach and co-driver to 16-year-old drivers Colin Braun of Ovalo, Texas, Adrian Carrio of Monument, Colo., and Brad Coleman of Houston, Texas. The quartet shared the duty in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car fielded by TRG. Bentley won the 2003 24-hour endurance classic; for his co-drivers, this was their first Daytona start.
Speed Secrets worked with the teens for three months prior to the race both on and off the track. The coaches helped the drivers understand that any decision they make behind the wheel is a result of the "programming", or software, in their brain which knows the physical actions required to perform a task automatically. By developing "programming" for a variety of circumstances, the drivers were much better equipped to handle any challenges that would arise during the actual race event.
The Power of Actualization
A very powerful technique known as actualization was used extensively by the coaches to assist the drivers in building more effective programs. If drivers can visualize making perfect decisions behind the wheel and combine that with the involvement of as many senses as possible, their "programming" will have a powerful impact on the results that are seen during competition.
"Visualizing is a very inefficient way of programming the brain," Bentley said. "There are deeper levels than that. Rather than visualizing, which only uses the visual sense, we call it actualizing or mental programming. You can feel the car move, the dynamics of the car. It's like building a complete virtual reality program in the drivers mind."
Braun is amazed at the impact of his training. "It has definitely changed my entire mental approach to racing. Thinking about the race even before you get there and being so prepared, it's like you've done the race a thousand times and the actual race is the one-thousand-and-first time. Pretty soon it becomes second nature, it just happens."
A Lifetime of Experiences Programmed in Three Months
"These drivers had a number of issues to work on that they had never faced in their previous race experience," Olsen said. "There were things like driver changes, endurance racing versus sprint racing and driving a production based car. Two of our drivers had never driven a street car with an H-shift pattern before. It makes the result all the more impressive."
The training plan was also designed to help the drivers physically experience the reality of late braking, downshifting and traffic as well as learning to adapt to lost gears and changing track conditions. "With the rigors of a 24 hour race, you're often working with a less than perfect car, so during training we adjusted the handling of the car to make it bad and then built programs to deal with that," Bentley acknowledged.
Practice Pays Off
During the race, their Porsche lost 5th gear, and the drivers had to adapt. To a seasoned professional, skipping from 4th to 6th and vice versa is a challenge they may have adapted to in the past, but to a 16 year old in their first endurance race? No problem for Colin, Adrian and Brad. They had prepared for this scenario, both mentally and physically. In fact, at one test in December, the three drivers completed numerous laps within tenths of a second of their best lap times while practicing skipping gears. When the time came during the race to do that, it was easy. That's what driver preparation is all about -- predicting and then experiencing scenarios in advance.
A goal going into this race was for these three drivers to be the best-prepared drivers in the race. Not just the best-prepared 16 year olds, but the best all-round. The fact that they drove a mistake-free 24-hour race, while handling the pressures of huge media hype and demands, demonstrates that this preparation paid off.
Lap after lap for 24 hours, the drivers turned consistent, professional laps, ever mindful of the actualized scenarios which eventually played a key role in their experience. They were truly ready to race and the results showed it.
Thoughts From The Drivers
"The most valuable thing that I have learned from Speed Secrets is to be smooth," Coleman said. "They go around to every corner while we are driving and tell us what we are doing wrong and how we can improve it. Speed Secrets has contributed tons to my Daytona training by telling me how to drive the car fast and not use all of it up."
"I built a lot of different programs for Daytona -- being easy on the car, watching all the traffic, paying attention to how much grip each tire has, saving fuel and a bunch of different things that you need for sports-car racing. I went in there feeling like I've done it before, even though I hadn't. I've done it so many times [actualized], I know exactly what to do. With Speed Secrets, you're an experienced old veteran even if it is your first time at Daytona!"
"The most interesting thing that I have learned at Speed Secrets was how to correctly work with people and how to be professional," he recalled. "Speed Secrets has contributed all through my racing this past year with driving coaches and advice. They are a big part of my life, and especially our success at the Rolex 24."
Speed Secrets is a leader in the field of race and performance driver coaching. Their services also include the unique Speed Secrets Driver Development Camps, Inner Speed Secrets seminars, Career Development Plans, and the line of Speed Secrets books. More information can be found at www.speed-secrets.com.