What the Driver Needs

The driver needs the following from the spotter:

  • Help in lining up before a race. Tell the driver if he is out of his appointed starting position or if he needs to move back to allow another car to get to its position.
  • Knowledge of when to expect the green flag. “Green next time by” or “one lap to go, I’ll give you the green,” are ways to alert the driver to the start of the race.
  • Notice for caution lights. Announce caution lights, or impending cautions and hazardous track conditions. Keep one eye looking ahead to spot trouble before your car gets into it.

  • The proximity of crashes and where to go. If you feel the driver needs the information, tell him where it’s clear. Never, ever talk while the driver is upon a sudden situation and can see well enough to make his own decisions.
  • Communication with the officials. The restart lineup may be relayed to the spotter for use in letting the driver know where to position himself after a caution. Penalties and warnings are other instructions the official may ask the spotter to relay.
  • Clearance all around the car. Let the driver know when it’s clear all around so he can run his line. This information might not sound important, but to the driver, it signals a time when he can relax, not slow down, somewhat during a long run and possibly run a faster line.
  • Who is closing and how fast? If a faster car is closing, let the driver know so he can be prepared. If for position, the driver can judge if he needs to be aggressive, or if not, allow the other driver to pass. If you know you’re holding up a car halfway through a long race, it’s wise to let the other car go. Later on, the situation may reverse itself. The car that was faster 20 laps ago might have worn his stuff out and is now backing up to you. If you’re considerate, chances are he will return the favor. If you blocked him, get ready for a long delay.
  • If there are slow cars ahead. Giving notice about slow cars on the track can help avoid trouble, especially when your car is involved in a race for position with another car. There’s no need to call out too soon. When your car is a quarter lap or less from the slow car, go ahead and let the driver know. If it’s a really slow car, speak sooner if you feel the need.
  • Information about the car. You might be able to spot trouble with the car before the driver or crew notices anything. Your vantage point is usually high and you can see all or most of the track. If you see tire smoke, fluids spilling, or a sudden push developing, let someone know.
  • Laps run and laps remaining. Let the driver know when the halfway point has come, when there are 10 to go, or if it will be a green, white, or checker at the end after a late caution. Smart drivers will conserve their energy and tires for a late race surge for the win.
  • Lap times vs. leader. Some drivers need lap time information to judge how they’re doing against the leader. If they are the leader, they might want the gap between them and second place called out. If your car is faster and is pulling away, it might be prudent to take it a little easy and sandbag to save those tires for later on in the race.
  • Moral support and encouragement. Offer support to the driver, especially during long cautions. Tell him what he did right and possibly what might make the run better. If you’re pitting, give complete and precise information, especially when the pits will be open and where your car’s pit is located as the driver comes down pit road.
  • Directions to Victory Lane. In all of the confusion of winning, the driver might get disoriented burning all of those donuts and lose track of where Victory Lane is located. Help him along while you enjoy a mutual win.
  • Driver Psychology

    Every driver is different when it comes to personalities and thinking processes. You need to get to know your driver’s way of thinking. Does he need encouragement or does he need to be restrained?

    The spotter may be in a position, depending on the relationship with the driver, to manipulate his mood and strategy if needed. After an inadvertent spin or bad start, you need to reinforce the fact that whatever happened is over and we need to move on with the rest of the race. You might hear, “Did you see what that guy did?” or, “Wait till I get to his bumper, I’m gonna pay him back big time.”

    In these cases, do what you can to calm the driver down and encourage him/her to see the big picture. “Hey, I don’t think he knew you were there” or, “that’s OK, we can make it up, let’s get ready for the green.”

    Never, ever encourage a response to an incident. It’s your job to remain calm and to direct information that has a positive effect on the outcome of the race for your team. If you can’t do that, then you don’t need to be in that position.