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Pobst Position: Planning your Race
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Pobst Position: Planning your Race
Planning? I'm not a planner. Ask my loved ones. I live in the moment. I certainly have not planned this column, just the title. But after all these 22 years of racing, I realize I do plan, subconsciously. In thinking about it, here are some ideas. First, what you cannot do, though I've heard many try. You cannot plan what will happen in traffic, especially on the start. Too many variables. A driver must remain flexible, because conditions are constantly changing. I love that part of it. I laugh remembering teammates who had it all laid out. You bear right and follow the Porsche, and I will go inside into one. Sure, Bro. Then the Porsche jumps the start, you bog it, and a guy a row back comes screamin' down between us. Plan this!

What I'm referring to is more like karma. Or car-ma. How you behave now will attract certain things into your race later. In the big picture, planning starts with the choice to race and then the car and series. With this comes how to pay for it, and who will help build and run the cars, and do you have the support of your family? Some of my early attempts were so pitiful, as I look back. Talking with a friendly race shop trying to get a cage built for my Opel 1900 Sedan street car on Wednesday for a Daytona infield SCCA Drivers School on Saturday. Oh, they must have laughed as we hung up. So hopeless. Having a friend/mentor who has already done such a thing is a great idea, but I hate to ask for help.

If you are after a championship, your plan is affected by how important it is to finish. And you certainly are not going to win without a finish. A major part of a race plan involves the other cars and drivers. Where are their strengths and weaknesses? Many crashes happen because passes are attempted instantly, without sufficient data to know if it will work. A pass on a competitor with similar performance often requires a plan, and can take several laps to accomplish. You must have some clear advantage to make it work. If you try to do it purely on bravery, you will probably end up next to the other guy in the gravel trap, blaming each other. My KPAX engineer (I know what you're thinking, club guys, my own engineer, I'm such a lucky guy) Will Moody usually gives me an overview of what we might expect from our competitors, and from our own Porsche. This guy will probably make mistakes, this one has frequent mechanical issues, this car will be slow at the start. A review of the performance potential of those near you on the grid is smart. Some of these folks are going to give the position to you, one way or another. Just turning consistent laps will move you right up the order. By thinking ahead about those other racers, you can reduce your risk. If you work your way up the field by simply catching a car and immediately dive-bombing it, you are exposing yourself to a lot of risk. Low percentage moves, as Chief Steward Pat DiNatale says. He gets to watch a lot of them on his ChaseCam reviews. Very entertaining, when it is not you. I wanna see the highlight reels.

Planning involves thinking ahead, and is ongoing during the event as well. Often it is better to run with a guy to catch the one ahead, or get away, than to pass right away. Waiting for a traffic situation can create an easy pass. When will you be lapping others? Opportunities abound. Planning and patience go together while in the car. Part of the race plan is considering how the car will do as laps go by. Tires and brakes hotter, fuel load lighter. To continue pounding this into your head, planning means planning to finish. All the crying and blaming and finger-pointing in the world will not unbend that suspension and get you back on track. Planning means using your head, not just your heart, or your hormones.
Originally printed in Sportscar September 08
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