Episode 8

“Food For Thought”

Racing drivers are athletes, meaning they have to eat like athletes. I definitely don’t, so how do I need to change?

I like food. A lot. The issue is I like (and therefore eat) the wrong food. A lot.

Whilst I’m fortunate that, due to my ectomorphic body type (meaning whilst it’s really hard for me to build muscle, it’s also difficult for me to gain weight), I don’t outwardly show the effects of my poor diet, I do think that making a few adaptations here and there could significantly affect my performance behind the wheel for the better. So that’s what I’m going to do. After all, one of the ideas behind Living The Racing Grind is to, well, live the racing grind…

Unfortunately, unlike full-time top-level drivers, I don’t have access to a qualified nutritionist to constantly monitor my sustenance intake, and measuring out exact portions gram-by-gram can be a little complex and over-complicated. As a result, this isn’t going to be carried out with scientific levels of precision, I am purely trying to find out if the theory is sound or not. Starting today, that’s what I’ll by trying to do.

Luckily for me, there are actually plenty of articles already on the internet that follow the nutritional habits of Formula One drivers, meaning there are plenty of places I can search for inspiration. What’s even better is that, for the most part, none of the sources seem to conflict in their messages either. What I think I have learnt from studying a selection of these is as follows:

It seems to me that breakfast is in fact just a normal breakfast. Thinking about it this shouldn’t be that surprising, really. After all, breakfast is supposed to fuel your body for the day ahead, and racing drivers certainly need fuelling! Just like a standard breakfast, slow-release carbohydrates seem to be best. Porridge seems to be a go-to meal due to the high carbohydrate content, and oats also contain a high amount of fibre, which helps to control blood-sugar levels.

To supplement this, vitamins and minerals are ingested from fruit and raw vegetables, and finally a multivitamin. These help cognitive performance, which is probably quite helpful when piloting a racecar round a track. To wash this all down, water seems to be the best bet, alongside a glass of fruit juice or a cup of coffee. Caffeine intake does need to be monitored, however, as it is classed as a performance-enhancing drug over certain tolerances.

From a personal point of view, this doesn’t sound massively different to my current diet of a bowl of wheat cereal. Similarities in carbohydrate and fibre content are present, so the only change to make in my diet would be to add an orange or some raw carrot to my breakfast.

For lunch, this may create quite a large change to my diet. Going are my supermarket meal deals and local bakery sausage rolls, coming is real, unprocessed food in place. A favourite for drivers seems to be grilled or stir-fried chicken, for it’s high in protein and low in fat content. This is generally paired with rice or potatoes to replenish those slow-release sugars that have been used since breakfast, and vegetables for the enclosed nutrients.

Whilst this certainly isn’t appealing to me as the most exciting diet in the world, it is worth remembering that, in elite level sport, nutrition is purely seen as fuel for the athlete, much the same as petrol for the car, and nothing more. This is one of the reasons drivers anticipate the off-season so much, as they are allowed to enjoy their cuisine for a few months. For my situation sticking by the rules is not quite so vital, meaning the odd restaurant meal with friends or a Sunday roast with family isn’t going to completely overturn all the good progress up to that point.

When it comes to dinner (or tea, supper or whatever else you choose to name it), the main food group shifts from carbohydrate for energy, to protein for muscle replenishment. The focal point of the dish becomes meat or fish, with pasta or potato to accompany. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of fish, however that may have to change in order to avoid eating chicken twice a day!

Finally, snacks. Whilst snacks aren’t a good thing to be consuming regularly, sometimes they’re necessary. Surprisingly, ham and cheese toasties are a good snack, as they contain both protein and carbohydrate. Another left-field choice is dark chocolate. 85% cocoa dark chocolate is high in iron, which helps brain function, and anti-oxidants too. For myself, I’ll probably add a dessert into the diet so I can at least enjoy some part of my meal, however none of the meal plans I researched made any mention of one, meaning I’ve got free reign to either stay sensible or just blatantly cheat.

But there it is, the second adaptation I’ll undertake in order to closer align my life to that of a professional racing driver. There will be a follow-up episode in a few weeks to document whether I have felt any significant changes take place in retrospect of both the fitness work and the meal plan. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram as there should be some semi-regular updates posted on there. Finally, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check back every Wednesday for the latest in my #RacingGrind!

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Episode 7

“Keeping A Lid On Things”

Every racer has a sense of individuality, both in driving and in presence. How, though, will I portray mine?

This week, with the lack of #RaceWatch to devote my time and (albeit limited) creative resources to, I thought I’d go all out for this episode instead. So, I got thinking. If I was to ask what the easiest method to identify a driver during a race was, there would be two answers.

Naturally, the first response would be the number on the car. Every car has a unique number, with their driver(s) associated with it. However, this could vary from season to season, or championship to championship, meaning just a number is not truly individual.

Moving on to the second answer then: Their helmet. The vast majority of drivers have their own personal colours adorning their skull, and it is a subject of pride for almost all. Speak to any driver about their choice of design and there’ll be a scintillating story about every colour, shape, image that comprises their personal livery. No two helmet designs are the same, and with that in mind I thought I’d have a crack at it.

My first helmet design concept

 ‘Considering that you just spoke at length about stories surrounding cranium colours, what, then, is the story behind this arrangement?’

I’m glad you asked! I should, however, deposit a disclaimer before we proceed. As you can see, I’m no graphic designer, and this is most certainly a work in progress. Whilst I am extremely pleased with the outcome of my weekend’s work, there are a couple of aspects that could change before a final product is ever created. There is also the consideration of which specific helmet would receive the honour of displaying such artwork, but that is another episode in itself.

Another point of note is that, when researching helmet liveries in preparation for this task, I noticed a few common traits within the majority of designs. For example, most paint jobs are bold yet fairly simple at their core. As a result, I have endeavoured to carry this trait onto my own design, by using strong blocks of colour that are still distinctive and distinguishable at a distance, rather than just at a couple of feet.

Anyway, the ideology behind my crown-cover’s pattern is as follows, starting with the obvious. The colour scheme for this whole #RacingGrind brand is black, grey and orange, therefore it was a pretty simple choice for my lid’s dominant colours to match. That is why large portions of the helmet are black and grey, with mostly orange accents providing boundaries. After all, what’s the point in even having a brand if you aren’t publicising it to within an inch of its life?

The Racing Man dominates the plan view of the helmet

Continuing this theme, I felt it was vital to incorporate aspects of the #RacingGrind logo into the headpiece. As such, the racing-man has pride of place on top, and a chevron, as featured at the base of the logo, delivers a bold shape across the chin and up onto the cheek area. Personally, I especially like the outcome of the chevron design as I feel it provides a sense of purpose and speed to the overall image.

Behold: a name that will almost certainly not go down in racing’s history books

Other advantages of the chevron swooping back over the cheeks are that, firstly, it perfectly advised of the steepness in which to have the point at the rear of the helmet, and secondly it produced the ideal guideline for my name to be placed. When it came to the name, I immediately knew that I wanted to emulate the font used for my logo. I also felt that, due to having two short names, the most aesthetically pleasing layout was by utilising my full title. Naturally, having a name on the helmet will help spectators identify me on track whilst simultaneously reminding them of who I am each time they see an image of me, which in terms of marketing can only be a good thing.

The chevron shape also found its way from the logo onto the lid

Moving up to the visor strip, and this is where the first potential amendment may occur. Personally, I am a big fan of having my hashtag pride of place in the centre of the frontal area, however visor strips are also prime spots for sponsor stickers to be placed, and in that situation, sponsors are always going to take precedence. For now, though, I have no sponsors, and that means it’s the perfect spot for some self-promotion!

Speaking of sponsors, I have decided to go for the classic white halo around the forehead area. The neutral white gives a perfect base for sponsor logos to be placed without clashing with the primary style, and the wrap-around nature means that sponsor logos will be visible no matter what angle the helmet is being viewed from.

The orientation of helmet that, hopefully, all of my competitors get used to

Finally, we move to the rear of the helmet. In all honesty this is my least favourite portion of the livery, meaning it’s most likely to get a design change. What I want this area to symbolise is me as a human, something personal. This is the reasoning behind the neon green, as it is a colour I love and one that is likely to remain constant in spite of potential changes, however I’m not sure the triangular motif screams me. I would quite like to have my initials in this potential motif, along with my personal favourite number 99 (which, in an ideal world, would be my race number), I’m just not convinced by the layout.

Well, there you have it. My initial #RacingGrind helmet design. Whilst this took an absolute age to create, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Given the feeling of achievement gained from it, there may be more concepts on their way, but don’t hold out for them! What do you think though? Which bits do you like and which bits would you change? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll try my hardest to reply to them!

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Episode 6

“Where Am I Racing?”

With the season fast approaching, now seems the perfect time to discuss where I’ll be racing.

Finally, we have survived January. By the weekend, we will be 10% of the way through 2020. With this in mind, I feel this week is an ideal opportunity to set out my list of deciding factors concerning what racing series I enter next year, and explain why each factor is important to me.

Whilst the majority of these factors are in no particular order, there is of course one fundamental barrier to certain competitions. Price. One of the unique aspects of this blog is that I am striving to make this journey independent of ‘the bank of Mum & Dad’, in an attempt to prove that motorsport is not quite as elitist as it’s made out to be. Ultimately, bringing in sponsors will hopefully provide assistance to cover costs, but the potential cashflow from these avenues can be unpredictable, and the revenue gained is most likely supplementary in value.

As a result, the upper boundary of total costs for the year is likely to be £45,000. Having said that it is highly likely that even this number is unattainable, but best-case-scenario is around this figure. By total costs I should clarify this really is all inclusive, for instance the year’s petrol and tyre costs, costs of extra parts and maintenance, and transportation to and from events.

The second most important consideration is following. After all, my plan is to document this racing journey, yet if I’m competing in a class that nobody has ever heard of, that doesn’t exactly match my goal. I want to prove that, with hard work and sacrifices, it is possible to make it into well-known racing series, and racing in a series supporting high-profile, national championships like the BTCC or British GT is an attainable target. Maybe not immediately, but it may be a good level of exposure to strive for.

The next few considerations to be made relate to the cars themselves. In some series it is very easy for a select few racers to dominate proceedings, all because they were able to invest more into their car’s preparation. In some series there is nothing stopping competitors from rebuilding their engines after each round. Clearly, this is not a practice I would be able to afford, and therefore I would be immediately disadvantaged before the car is even fired up.

To combat this, I am looking at series in which vehicles are closely regulated. It is likely this requirement will limit myself to single-manufacture series, where all maintenance is completed to an equivalent standard at a standardised price. Following on from this, a series that perhaps utilises under-stressed componentry is desirable. This would further reduce in-season maintenance costs, as cars would be more reliable due to parts being less liable to failure.

The last category of consideration amounts to personal preferences in terms of what I would like to drive. In an ideal environment, I would prefer to race a rear-wheel drive car. This is mostly from the standpoint that this is what all top-level racing cars (excluding rally cars etc which are 4-wheel drive) use as their drivetrain, but partly because I currently daily-drive a front-wheel drive hatchback, so if I was to race one too my brain may find it hard to distinguish between road-driving and track-driving, potentially leading to some less-than-sensible B-road endeavours…

Finally, I would prefer not to drive a converted road-car chassis. Vehicles developed with track driving in mind are, in general, much more rigid in their shell and possess better dynamic qualities in comparison to stripped out road cars. What I mean is I don’t see the value in taking a 15-year old BMW 320i and hooning it around. For starters, a car of that class doesn’t fit in with the other considerations listed above, as the modifications completed in making it race ready would fluctuate hugely from racer to racer to start with. That does not mean the car I race can’t be road legal though. Machines like Caterhams or Ariel Atoms are prime examples of track-biased, number-plate owning weapons, of which I would be thrilled to drive.

So there we have it, what I am specifically studying when considering where to race in the next year. A few of the coming episodes will contain in depth reviews of the racing series I am looking at potentially entering, where I will dive in to whether they fit my requirements. It will be interesting to see which tops the chart by the end of the year, and which I’ll be a part of in the future…

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Episode 5

“Virtually A Racing Driver”

Millions of racers live out their dreams without even leaving their bedrooms. Surely that’s easier than this whole #RacingGrind?

Sim racing has very quickly become a global phenomenon. For millions of people like myself, who have an intense love of racing although don’t (yet) have the budget to warrant getting behind the wheel for real, racing virtually has become a hugely popular pastime. The draws are understandable, too. After all, when else would you have the opportunity to experience the fastest cars on the planet around any track of your choice, whenever you want? With sim racing, the world is literally at your fingertips.

Alongside the lure of following in the tyre-tracks of motorsport legends, people have managed to secure extremely high profile, lucrative careers as a result of gaming. Examples include British gamers Jann Mardenborough, who secured a Nissan factory race seat after winning the Gran Turismo-based GT Academy in 2011, and James Baldwin, who has won an Aston Martin GT3 drive in this year’s GT World Challenge Europe after winning the World’s Fastest Gamer competition in late 2019.

There is also a plethora of gamers who are making a living exclusively online. Esports events organised using games such as Gran Turismo and iRacing offer prizes worth tens of thousands of US Dollars to the victors of their competitions, and the Formula 1 game boasts an impressive Esports structure, featuring pairs of contestants backed by all 10 of the Formula 1 constructors.

Should I, therefore, consider saving myself a load of money and obtain my racing fix through a virtual medium? Whilst it does maybe make sense economically in the long-term, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by the whole idea.

Personally, I want to go racing not because I want to make a career out of it, but because of the adrenaline rush that overwhelms me whilst I’m in the cockpit. The feeling of speed that I experience from the wind buffeting my helmet, the lateral forces on my body as I cling on through a high-speed corner, the heat of my body as it’s encapsulated within a race suit and positioned in front of an enraged engine. I like to feel what the car is doing through my bum, yet these feelings just can’t be replicated in a household simulator.

Of course, simulator work can be utilised as an integral training aid as part of a wider driver training schedule. It is a very effective tool at drilling discipline and consistency behind the wheel, or trying new setups or lines around specific tracks, all at a massively reduced cost. The only money spent during a 3-hour simulator stint is that of the electricity to keep the system running. Completing a 3-hour stint on track in a real car would put strain on the mechanical components of the machine, alongside depleting irrecoverable resources such as tyres and fuel. The most telling cost-saver of all, however, is in the event of a crash. Crash on a sim? Press reset. Crash in real life? Have fun with a rather large bill.

And thus, the question becomes should I be racing online to improve my future on-track results? Almost certainly the answer is yes, I should. But am I going to? Not at this moment in time. As the cover photo for this episode reveals, the only gaming wheel I currently own relates to a PlayStation 2. Not the current 4th generation platform, not even the previous generation. Nope. 2. It’s safe to say racing games have evolved since 2002, Gran Turismo Sport is a little more advanced than Gran Turismo 3. In order to gain meaningful practice, I would have to invest in a new games console or PC, along with the wheel/pedals, and I don’t want to do that for the following reasons:

With Sony and Microsoft due to release their successors to the PS4 and Xbox 1 within the year, it does not make sense to me to buy one of the current consoles. This is because new titles will not be published on the current consoles for much longer, and so the system would become obsolete within the next couple of years, putting me back at square 1. This for me puts consoles out of the question.

With this in mind, I’ll turn my attention to PCs. If I were to buy myself a PC with the same specifications as the ‘recommended’ requirements to run the F1 2019 game, I would need to invest at least £800 (US$1000). Combine that with the ~£200 for a low-mid range wheel/pedals combo, and I’ve just spent £1000 on my ‘cheap’ training aid. With how limited my current budget is, that could be the difference between me actually going racing or not. Would it be wise to potentially jeopardise my absolute involvement in order to secure a marginal gain? I think not.

In short, sim racing is certainly a credible option to facilitate on-track performance improvements, and for some it is even a perfect alternative. For me, however, the lack of instinctive tangible feedback and a substantial initial investment deter me from virtually becoming a racing driver.

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Episode 4

“Racing is Just Mental. Literally”

Driving fast whilst in close proximity to others takes a lot of mental capacity to ensure there’s not a resulting bonfire. So how do I train my brain?

Everybody’s aware of the stereotype that men can’t multitask, and for the most part, with myself at least, I would say it’s true. Take cooking for example. At the outset, having three or four individual foods all requiring different cooking methods for varying lengths of time doesn’t seem particularly difficult, it just needs a little bit of organisation. However, in practice, it never quite seems to work out. Maybe it’s a saucepan boiling over whilst I’m turning over what’s under the grille, alternatively that’s the moment when the microwave starts yelling it’s (thankfully pre-bleeped) expletives at me. Finally, regardless of what else happens, I can almost guarantee that the one thing in the oven won’t be ready when everything else is already dished up. If you hadn’t worked it out yet, I don’t cook much…

Luckily for me, this week’s episode isn’t about cooking. It is however, about multitasking, mental agility and decision making. A lot can happen very quickly whilst on track with a grid of other racers, meaning not only must I be able to focus on what my car is doing, but I also have to be aware of what’s going through the minds of those around me. Am I catching the car ahead? Will they try to defend their position? Is there someone behind me who I’ll have to be wary of? Are they trying to dive-bomb me?

Whilst taking part in a race there are hundreds of variables that could curtail my fortunes in an instant, so it’s in my best interests to be aware of these potential problems, to be able to actively avoid them. A lot of accidents happen due to a lack of awareness, particularly when novice drivers and standing starts are involved. It takes time to learn the skills of awareness and anticipation, yet they’re two of the most key in the world of motorsport.

Luckily, considering my lack of actual race seat for 2020, I have a fair amount of time to train these skills. This should mean that, when the opportunity does present itself to climb in the car, I will have had ample preparation, and therefore should possess a slight advantage over the competition. An easy way to begin training my brain to be more aligned to the skill set required is through the use of brain training apps, however they’re designed for the average person to test themselves, rather than being tailored specifically for sports-related mental agility.

A novel idea that’s more racing-focused could be to watch onboard footage from actual races. For example, watching onboard footage of an LMP2 prototype during a WEC race would give me a look into the thought process of a driver who has to manage weaving through the slower sportscars, avoiding their charging LMP1 counterparts and maximising their own strategy all at once. The busy field during an event can make a race mentally fatiguing, yet drivers must still be able to pick their way through without any mistakes. Having prior knowledge of when and when not to pass will accelerate the learning curve during my future on-track experiences, leading to better race-craft and hopefully less chance of a crash.

To wrap things up, whilst cooking may not be a vital weapon in a racing driver’s armoury, multitasking certainly is. The ability to not only focus on your race but the races of those around you is an invaluable asset to avoid on-track altercations, and one that I must possess to stand any chance of being a successful driver regardless of what series I am competing in. To prepare myself brain training is a must, yet in the absence of on-track acclimatisation I need to think of some unconventional alternatives. No matter how disconnected the method may be, it will prove to be fruitful, as it’s all in the name of the #RacingGrind!

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Episode 3

“What Autosport International Taught Me”

Autosport International is seen by some as the perfect curtain-raiser to the motorsport calendar, but how was my experience?

Autosport International, to many a motorsport fan, is as good as racing can get without anything actually moving. Exploring the seemingly endless sprawl of stalls will almost certainly entertain any attendee for the 9 opening hours each day, no matter how specific their vehicular tastes are. Exhibitors ranged from 7 of the 10 current Formula 1 teams, the Formula E brand and the 2018 Le Mans winning Toyota (still unwashed 18 months later), to the majority of leading helmet and racewear providers, motorsport retailers, a multitude of suspension companies, a dozen bucket seat manufacturers and even two producers of sequential gearboxes. Two!

There were plenty of exclusives to be snapped up too, with Pirelli showcasing their new 18-inch wheels for 2020’s Formula 2 season, M-Sport unveiling their Ford Fiesta’s WRC livery for the upcoming season, and the British Touring Car Championship seemingly confirming half the grid for this summer. In fact, the BTCC Kwik Fit stand was so hectic that, at one point, Tom Chilton emerged from under a sheet as the news broke he had signed for BTC Racing.

However, there are hundreds of articles in the press dissecting every morsel of news and gossip to come out of the four days’ proceedings, therefore I’m not about to delve into my opinion about each and every single occurrence from last weekend’s show. What this blog is all about is my journey into motorsport, and with that in mind here is what I took away from my visit to the event:

Firstly, finding the right racing series for me is crucial for many reasons. Before choosing a racing series to enter there seems to be a lot more considerations to take into account than had I initially thought of. For example, a couple of important questions I hadn’t previously given thought to are “who else is racing when I am?” and “how controlled is the balance of machinery?”

Whilst the first of those two questions could mean who else am I on track against (which in itself could be an important consideration), in this circumstance I am actually referring to other series’ racing during the same weekend. From a marketability standpoint, a competition that shadows a much larger national series such as British GT or the BTCC will offer you a significantly higher level of exposure in comparison to driving in a stand-alone series such as the 750 Motor Club. This not only means gaining sponsors may be easier for me due to more sets of spectator eyes staring at their stickers, but also that the likelihood of someone important noticing any potential achievements is that much higher. Naturally the race organisers are also going to realise this and so entry fees are likely to be substantially more costly, but it needs to be a consideration nonetheless.

The other intriguing question that Autosport International made me ponder was that of the balance between vehicular performance in each competition. It is clear to see that, in Formula 1 where 99% of the competition is based on who can build the best car, sometimes a few participants are rooted at the foot of the timing screens whilst others are seconds a lap quicker. This could be down to skill yes, however chances are the people consistently climbing on the podium are those with the biggest budget building the best cars. Therefore, especially when first competing, it might make the most sense for me to try and scout out something resembling more of a “spec” series, such as the Caterham Academy or the Ginetta G40 series.

Once again, the expectation would be that initial entry costs are much higher than some other championships, yet with brand new machinery that is closely monitored throughout the season it is much more likely I would leave a season with a much more representative view of my actual driving ability in comparison to others’.

So alongside giving me an opportunity to capture many, many pictures (which you can find all on my Instagram, @TheRacingGrind), Autosport International enabled me to slightly better understand the climate I am aiming to join, alongside giving me more of a representative idea of how broke I just might be in a years’ time. I must say it was a fantastic day out and I would highly recommend attending in 12 months’ time, hopefully just like I will be. Between now and then, however, are another 50-odd of these episodes for me to write, and a whole year’s worth of racing experiences to be had!

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Episode 2

“Racing Drivers Aren’t Athletes.”

Many non-motorsport fans don’t see racing as a ‘real’ sport. Are they actually right?

“Racing drivers aren’t athletes, all they do is sit there whilst the car does all the work.”

Tell that to a racing driver. Tell that to the human who has to sit in 60°C heat for as much as three hours at a time, whilst simultaneously clenching their core, legs and neck to fight against the cornering forces that make their body feel as much as three times heavier than normal. All of this whilst wearing protection that would give ski clothing good competition for body heat retention, and also having to lug around another 2.5 kilograms wrapped around their head. Alongside this skeletal torture, it is expected of you to be able to think clearly and make hundreds of split-second decisions per lap. Oh, and this happens at speeds up towards 200 miles per hour. Believe it or not, racing is a physical and mental endeavour. Racing drivers really are athletes.

As a result, fitness becomes a large differentiator between drivers especially in the lower echelons of motorsport. Fitness is such an important factor to a racing drivers’ results on circuit that almost every top-level driver will have a full-time personal trainer. To clarify, I’m not talking about some bloke working at your local gym who’s on call whenever you need him. I’m talking about 24/7 by-your-side service. During the season Formula One drivers will see their personal trainers more than they’ll see their families.

So how am I planning to introduce aggressive levels of fitness training into my everyday life? The short answer is: I’m not. Not yet, at least.

Whilst I have devised a fitness plan for myself, this aforementioned plan does not include rushing out to buy a long-term gym membership as soon as I wake up in the morning. This is due to a number of reasons, but mostly because of how busy gyms historically become during the first few weeks of January. Not immediately ‘hitting the gym’ and ‘pumping iron’ five times a week also allows me to better appreciate the difference in performance levels between a complete lack of fitness, a basic level of fitness work and a high-intensity regime.

So, what exactly do I have in mind? The prime focus will be to work on my core. Having a strong core will ensure that, when cornering at high speed, my body is more stable within the seat and I can focus on picking my lines in and out of the turn rather than concentrating on keeping myself from sliding out of the car. The core is also one of the easiest muscle groups to work on at home, as the use of weights is not required for the majority of exercises.

My secondary training focus will be flexibility. Increased flexibility is key for athletes as it aids injury prevention and recovery due, in part, to the absence of knots within the muscles. Knots can also interfere with muscular coordination, which is vital for driving performance. For these reasons, yoga is extremely popular and widely utilised within the racing community. Therefore, yoga is to become my method of choice for contortion training.

Having disclosed this weeks’ personal challenge it’s now my job to stick with it, all in aid of the #RacingGrind. Alongside the new exercise regime this coming week is an exciting one for myself, as I will be making an appearance at the Autosport International Show on Thursday, January 9th. It is an event I have been planning to visit for a couple years, not through my newfound calling as a blogger but purely as a car fan. It should be a brilliant opportunity to meet a tonne of individuals and brands that work in the automotive sector, and potentially could even be perfect setting to find myself a race seat! I guess we’ll just have to keep watching this space…

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If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!