The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Someone said that to me years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since.
I spent more than a decade in amateur racing and just finished my second season as a pro racer—and on most days I still feel like I was born yesterday.
Here are five observations that stuck out to me in my sophomore season of pro racing:
1. Winning isn’t everything. Don’t get me wrong, winning is very important to a long career in motorsports, but the most successful race car drivers I know do more than just podium.
These drivers understand the business of motorsports and are constantly seeking to bring value to their sponsors and partners in everything that they do. There are dozens of fast drivers waiting in the wings to take your spot.
You can’t just win on track—you have to help your partners win with their customers, too.
2. Winning can’t be everything. You can do everything right that’s within your control—train, practice, set up the car perfectly, qualify in the front—and still have the worst race ever due to circumstances that are 100 percent out of your control.
Clearly, this ties in with the previous point (i.e., another reason to bring more to the table for your partners than just winning) but I want to bring up something else: as a driver, even if you do everything perfectly, you’re going to have bad races.
This season, I learned that beating yourself up only defeats you before the next race begins.
Focus on what you can do, do it to the best of your ability, and leave everything else up to the racing gods, e.g., my goal for each race is to leave knowing that I got the most out of myself and the car as well as to learn from any setbacks so I can improve in the future.
3. Teamwork makes the dream work. I doubt this is the first time you have heard that phrase, but trust me, it couldn’t be any more applicable to the pro racing world. In amateur racing, it is common for the driver to prep the car, bring it to the track, unload, and eventually make some laps on track.
It is still possible to do that in the pro racing world, but the driver is often required to be separated from the car for long periods of time at each event. At the minimum, this requires teammates to assist in those times of need.
However, bringing teammates onboard is an opportunity to surround yourself with experienced, smart, and dedicated professionals. Putting together a great team will only enhance your chances of success on track.
If you take a closer look at some of the most successful teams and drivers throughout the paddock, THIS is what separates the best from the rest.
For example, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by people on the DXDT and CrowdStrike Racing teams who are way smarter than me and willing to pull me along when I get stuck.
4. Understand that collaboration extends past your team. A fierce competitor on track might become your closest ally off the track when troubleshooting a technical issue or when an unobtainable part needs to be sourced quickly.
Building relationships with your competitors can be challenging but is an important part of professional racing.
Besides, you probably have a lot more in common with your competition than you think and it makes the event so much more enjoyable when you can talk and laugh with the people who also choose to be there.
5. Balance risks and rewards. Moving from amateur to professional racing comes with a lot of additional risks. We have all heard that some version of the phrase “you cannot win a race in the first turn but you can lose it.”
This quote also can explain the move to pro racing: by taking too much risk at the beginning, you may lose your chance before you get a chance to shine.
That is why it is really important to make sure you manage the risks involved with professional racing by carefully choosing the car you race, the series, and most importantly your partners.
I’m fortunate to have learned these lessons in my second year of racing and am looking forward to learning more as the next season unfolds.