In a sport, or any endeavor for that matter, the only way we improve and move ahead is to go through an evaluation process from time to time. The end of the season is a great time to think back through the last season and do an honest evaluation. If you do, you will be taking advantage of a process that will surely enhance your future performance.
The best time to evaluate your season is right after it is over. Don't wait and think that you can do this later on. Do it while the information is fresh in everyone's minds and while the notes are still intact. Delaying this process will only make it harder on everyone. Set up a meeting for the week following the last race of the year. Tell all of the team members to attend and to bring with them any and all notes they may have taken throughout the year.
You can make it an end of season party if you like and invite all of the family members for each of your team. Find a few minutes where the crew can meet and talk over the year. This could turn out to be a good time to reflect on successes and areas where improvement would make things better. The following are some areas where discussion might bring up new ideas and solutions to problems. Feel free to add to this list as you see fit.
There are four subcategories under the heading of performance, so we will take a look at each one separately.
One of the first things we think about throughout the season and especially at season's end is how the chassis performed. Were we fast enough through the corners or do we need to make changes? This is easy to determine. Any one of the crew and the observers for the races can remark about how your car looked compared to the lead cars (if you weren't the lead car of course).
Did your driver run up on cars at mid-turn or get run over? If you took segment times during the season, you will know the answer to this question. If you didn't, make a note to do that next season. If you're off on lap times, you must figure out where you are losing (or more appropriately gaining) time. Each setup sheet for each race should have the lap times for all of the significant cars you are running against. It would be a nice addition to include turn segment times also for both your and their cars.
Tire temperatures are a great indication of performance after the fact. That and tire wear tell lots about the dynamic balance of your setup. If you changed setups through the season, go over what the driver said about those changes, look at the lap times for the different setups, and see if you improved your qualifying and finishing order.
How did your engine perform over the course of the season? Did it require work and did it hold up well? Look for notes on cooling issues, fuel feed problems, and ignition failures. A discussion on those topics could result in basic changes to the engine package that could help prevent similar problems next year.
This includes discussion of items such as how your car is wired, plumbed for cooling and oil, plug evaluation, radiator efficiency, and others. A review of the type of radiator or other components that affect the engine temperature might be in order.
Ask everyone to critique how the crew performed in the handling of duties, performance under pressure, and other topics. How satisfied is each one of them in their work and the work of others. Did they mesh well and were they able to cover each other when things got busy? Is the shop time constructive besides being fun?
The work needs to get done and at the same time, the crew should look forward to the time it spends at the shop and the track. This is an important issue for almost all teams. The more successful teams seem to be having fun in all they do.
How did your team do last season? Now might be the time to discuss all that happened and p
Team duties can be shared if needed. Mechanics who work well together will benefit the tea
And you wonder why I use "he/she" so much. It's her fault. Each team member has a list of
The driver needs to be evaluated too. This is a sensitive subject most of the time. The driver's job is the most important one on the crew simply because all that might go right otherwise must be taken the rest of the way by the driver. Just as other team members need review and support, so does the driver.
A good driver won't mind a good overview of his/her performance during the past season. Along with "constructive criticism" must come encouragement and suggestions for improvement for all team members including the driver.
The process of getting the car ready to go racing and the work that goes on at the track is important to success. A team that does a better job of preparing a car at the shop will have more track time with fewer headaches. Evaluate how prepared you were last season.
You've seen the teams who are all over the car from the time it's unloaded at the track until it is fired up and goes out. They are usually late for practice and get to run less laps as a result. Maybe the team members can't get to the shop during the week, but they should. Doing basic maintenance work on race day is a hard way to go.
When I raced, I had other teams at the track comment that I never worked on my car. I told them I got all of my work done in the shop before I left for the track. And that is the way it must be. Other than tire selection and fueling, everything needs to be completed so that the car can take part in the first practice session. Think about how prepared your team was last season. If they were not well prepared, then maybe they can get better organized so that things run more smoothly in the future.
Did your team have all of the tools that were necessary to properly work on the car last season? In thinking back, you might recall having to borrow certain tools to the point that it might be time to buy those tools. If some of your power equipment is getting old and worn, it might be time for a rebuild or replacement.
Think about what tools other teams had and how that affected their preparation. If you don't have a set of scales, then now might be a time to find the funds for that most basic setup tool. Pit guns, compressors, drills, rivet guns, welders, race jacks, saws, and more are all tools that we use constantly. Go over each and every one of them to make sure they will hold up next season.
The way in which the crew communicates is of primary importance in getting anything done efficiently on the team. In any business or endeavor, the methods used to communicate will make the difference between success and failure. A separate and frank discussion about how your crew transfers information would be one of the most important discussions you can have post season.
The leader of the team must effectively communicate how he wants the team to perform, meaning who does what and when. The overall plan for that can be designed by the team, but ultimately it is the leader who enforces the plan and executes the orders. It all starts at the top.
Individual Team Members
Each team member must know exactly what is expected of him or her, and be willing and able to execute the assigned duties. Other team members can help with the learning process of a person new to his or her duties, but everyone must be up to task before the first race of the season.
The team members must develop a good line of communication between themselves outside the crew chief so that their duties will assist each other and not negatively affect each other. Some tasks just take two or more people to accomplish. So, team members will help out when needed. Don't be afraid to ask for help, or give a hand when needed.
Start your younger team members off by providing lots of help, oversight, and instruction.
Some of your team members will start out with simple duties like applying decals. Later on
Discuss how your driver communicated with the team. Was his/her explanation of how the car
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 season and can't find many notes that detail each race, then
Some team jobs only involve work at the shop. A good welder can be a valuable addition to
In the busy and loud environment of the racetrack, we need to be able to communicate. When
A local grocery store could furnish refreshments such as cold drinks, chips, and maybe even hamburgers and bread for track consumption. This gives them a tie-in to the community and shows it supports the local race team by having its name on the car. The local auto parts store might offer up a set of ball joints or other relatively cheap parts that would keep you racing and lower your budget.
The point we are trying to make here is that in order to be successful, you need to be organized. The more organized your team is, the more successful you will be. I don't know any teams that win on a consistent basis that are disorganized.
Team meetings should take place in the pre-season, during the season many times, and post season. I once consulted with a team who regularly met around a conference table. When I was back home in Florida, they would call me from the shop in Wisconsin on a conference phone with all of them seated around a table. They won a major NASCAR series championship that year. Let's have a meeting.
In the busy and loud environment of the racetrack, we need to be able to communicate. When
Things can get busy around the car on race day. This team works well together completing e
When we talk about communication, we need to include the track officials. How well did you