A driver must learn to communicate with not only the crew chief, but other crew members about how the car is performing both in the handling aspects as well as mechanical functions. He/she can prevent serious failures by letting the crew know when the tranny develops a funny sound, or there is a vibration or the brake pedal is going down slightly.
And of course the driver must effectively communicate how the car feels handling-wise with detailed information on entry, mid-turn, and exit. Even on the straightaway there is information to be passed on. If the engine is on the chip hard, or the acceleration tails off past the flag stand, that could mean changes are needed to the engine systems.
The spotters not only must have a comfortable and effective relationship with the driver, they must be able to spot trouble with the car and assess the level of damage in a crash and be able to communicate that to the crew. How did your spotter do this season?
The spotter also communicates with track officials, keeps track of where the pace car is, relays the location of other cars relative to theirs and do all of that while remaining calm, clear, and professional. It is an important job and any feedback the crew can give to make their job better helps the entire team.
How did you do getting to the track each race? Was your trailer too crowded or did your truck labor under the weight of all of that race stuff? Talk over your transportation needs and see if you can do better if things didn't go so well.
If you blew out a number of trailer tires, now might be the time to check the bearings and alignment. Your tires might be overloaded or under-pressurized. The axles might be bent where the tires are toed and in need of alignment. We never think of these areas of equipment until things go wrong. Do preventative maintenance now.
Sponsors, Media, and Public Relations
Racing is an expensive proposition. We need all of the support we can get, and it's out there somewhere. If you only cover 25 percent of your costs to go racing, that is money you don't have to spend. Go for every dollar you can get and do a good job of explaining how sponsoring your car might benefit area businesses. Improve your sponsor search or create a plan to go after sponsorship.
How did your team do with the media? The more exposure you can get, the better your chances of getting help with your expenses. If you are crowd friendly, then someone in that grandstand owns a business and would like to see their name on your car. If you don't create positive public relations, then your chances of finding partners is slim.
Create a website if you don't already have one. This is a place where a sponsor can direct clients to go for more information about the team they support. They are looking to enhance their image to their customers and you can help. A good website is money well spent.
Finances and Budget
Now is a good time to organize all of your expenditures over the past season. Break down all costs so that you can easily see where the money goes. It might just surprise you. For example, if you are spending 15 percent of your racing budget on fuel, then a fuel supplier coming on board as a sponsor offering to fill the race truck each race day would lower your costs by 15 percent.
Suppose your tire bills are 20 percent of the year's budget. You might just talk a tire store into buying a new set of tires each week in exchange for sponsorship. Again, that is 20 percent right off the top in savings. Most potential sponsors can relate to direct cost items and covering those costs than just forking over money. You supply the invoices and they reimburse, simple as that.
If you get to the end of the...
If you get to the end of the season and can't find many notes that detail each race, then you need to be better prepared for the coming season by assigning a person to take and keep track of setup notes. You need lap times of your car and other fast cars, tire data, setup data, and driver comments.
Some team jobs only involve...
Some team jobs only involve work at the shop. A good welder can be a valuable addition to the team. Most of our time "racing" is spent at the shop. The environment needs to be conducive to having fun and working toward goals. If the team dreads going to the shop to work, then more and more work will be put off until the car goes to the track, and that's not very efficient.
In the busy and loud environment...
In the busy and loud environment of the racetrack, we need to be able to communicate. When all crew members have on headsets, then the crew chief can make sure things get done quickly. If you can afford a radio system, then by all means get one. It will help eliminate a lot of confusion and frustration.