In real estate, it's all about location. In racing, it's all about communication. Probably the key ingredient in building a winning team is to have quality communication, and the flow of information between driver and crew is where it all begins.

Nearly every race car must be tweaked, no matter how good the setup appears. If the car is terrible, the level of intensity for communication goes up several notches. The driver is the single individual that must take the setup he is provided and do the best job he is capable of doing, and with that, be able to tell the crew exactly what the car is doing, right or wrong.

To be truly successful, the driver must have a hand in the process and decisions that will ultimately determine the way the car is set up. There are certain rules and procedures for proper and efficient communication between the driver and the crew. Here are a few ideas that might help your team's flow of information.

Preparation and Team Goals A team that communicates well is usually more organized, better prepared, and more efficient than its competitors. There are many varied areas in the whole racing operation where improved communication will benefit the team and enhance the chances for success. Driver communication is at the top of that list.

The driver has a responsibility to communicate effectively with the crew. The process starts with constructing the car for individual driver preferences on issues such as pedal placement, steering wheel position, seat angle and position, seatbelt adjustment, gauge placement, the extent and quality of safety equipment used, and any other matter that concerns the driver's comfort.

A set of goals and expectations must be established before the car ever hits the track. The driver and crew should anticipate the track conditions and set up the car accordingly. For dirt teams, this means knowing how the track crew prepares the surface at this particular track, how much grip it may have initially, and how the grip will change over the course of the event.

It is always a plus for the driver to communicate with other drivers about track conditions or problems with certain parts of the track. They should ask questions such as, "My car is always loose off Turn 4, has that happened to you?" Or they should make an introductory statement such as, "I was following you through 4 and noticed that you looked loose off. My car was doing the same thing. It must be the track because I'm OK in Turn 2."

Once practice comes around, the driver needs to fully understand how the car is set up and have a good idea of how it should feel. The practice session is intended to be an opportunity for him to compare how it does feel to how he anticipated it to feel.

Problems in Testing/Practice Brake bias, steering ratios, and basic handling problems can all be addressed when the driver knows how to communicate accurately and honestly about how the car behaves during practice. The driver/spotter communication back to the crewchief is critical during these practice sessions.

A team needs to find a spotter who is experienced and is acceptable to the driver. Usually this is a close friend, family member, or someone trusted by the driver to help provide quick and accurate information about the car that the driver might not be able to see or be otherwise aware of. Tire smoke, oil or debris on the track, or a slow car ahead are typical bits of information that a spotter can provide to help the driver.

Along with those environmental issues, the spotter also needs to be aware of basic handling issues associated with how the car looks on the racetrack and how the driver needs to drive the car.

Examples:
1. The driver is making a diamond turn in the middle, showing that the car might be tight.

2. The front wheels are turned excessively, which means that the car is tight.