by Dawn Fischer

A winning car consists of more than just a good car. The Driver can be that fine line that makes the difference between a good car and a winning car. There are some drivers who are naturals and others who have to work extra hard to get off an occasional good drive.

A driver's emotional state has a lot to do with his/her driving at any time. I have found that TOTAL determination, concentration, and relaxation are key factors. Of course you just don't instantly become a great driver. It takes lots of hard practice. Your determination and concentration should be no less during practice than in a real race. Don't tense up in the car. Work with it, not against it. Get to really know your car, how it sounds and feels, so you can tell dad when something isn't quite right.

Most of the driving skill originates with a car designed especially for the driver. Here are a few of the things that we came up with over the years that helped me:

Here is one way to overcome your fears of the edge of your lane, (grass, pylons, flags, etc.). Start off slowly, with just an approach to the edge. Straighten up against the edge gradually, no fast turns, and stop the car. Have someone hold the car while you get out to see where you really are. Not as close as you thought, are you? Go back and try it again. Keep it up until you can draw an imaginary line on the road to drive by,. Learn to drive this imaginary line, it will be straighter than any other guide you can use. Now go half way down the hill and stop to see if you have your imaginary line in the proper relationship to the edge of the lane. Later start from half way and take it to the finish on your line. Now put them all together. If you hit the edge don't worry, this is practice. Move the wheel slightly back toward the lane and try to quickly re-establish your line.

Some hints to steady driving: NEVER look, or try to look at the other car. Draw yourself a 1ine to follow down the track and never take your eyes off it. Don't move the steering wheel unless you absolutely have to. If you hit a flag or pylon don't panic and over correct, a slight turn of the wheel will get you out of trouble. If you do use the flags as a guide, drive at least 3-4 flags ahead.

There are a lot of things to remember when you drive, but it all soon becomes second nature. During my nine years and 150 races, I have learned quite a bit from the best of teachers - Experience. So concentrate, be determined, but stay relaxed and become friends with your car. Only together can you be a winning team. Make every drive your best because once you make a mistake it's gone. But don't give up the heat, the other guy may have made a mistake too, and remember, the heat isn't over... until it's over.

Return to the Derby Tech Page