|Others I would love to have
some coaching but I am on a
budget. How can I make the best use of
my available resources in this regard?
|I have just purchased
a new race car.
|Can you help me learn its limits
|I have just modified
my race car (suspension, more power, etc.).
Can you help me sort it out and get the most
out of these modifications.
|Who is Michael
|Why is Michael Lord the
What is the difference between
the instruction I received at my driving school when
I was first learning to drive and “coaching”?
When you were first learning high performance driving
you were, to some extent, a blank sheet of paper. The
job of the instructor was to show you what you needed
to do in order to understand the basics of vehicle dynamics
and high performance driving and apply it on the track.
The instructor was inputting information. Lots of it!
If you are like most of us it took repeated attempts
before you were able to absorb and assimilate the often
overwhelming amount of information coming at you. At
this phase in your driver development you needed to
“over learn” everything in order to learn
anything. In other words the same information needed
to be taught, demonstrated, and practiced over and over
again before it sank in and became something you no
longer needed to think about in order to accomplish.
It is at this point that the coach begins to replace
If you think back to the people you have learned the
most from chances are they often asked you more questions
than they answered for you. The educational process
required that you be a creatively active participant
in that process. While their questions may have led
you in a certain direction you still had to work out
the solution(s) for yourself. The benefit of this approach
is that, for most people, the information they figure
out for themselves will be retained much better than
the information or knowledge they are shown or told.
A good coach then is skilled in pulling the information
out of you. In that process you will discover for yourself
a new level awareness and capability in your performance
and your vehicles performance that you may have had
no previous access to. The coach’s job is to offer
you a set of tools and a learning environment that aids
and guides you through this learning process. Learning
is often no more than coming up with the right question.
Often the proper question will make the answer to that
question obvious. While a coach may know the answer
to a given question your learning will be more effective
and complete if you come up with the solution for yourself.
Of course instruction and coaching can, and often do,
overlap but in a perfect world you will show me what
it is you need to do to go faster. In a perfect world
you will discover for yourself the true capabilities
of your car. In this less than perfect world I can provide
you with the tools you need to accomplish
Why do I need a coach?
If you are like most of us it is difficult, if not impossible,
to be objective about a subjective experience. Because
you are a part of, or inside, the experience of driving
it is difficult, at best, to stand outside the experience
and recognize a bad habit or a flawed technique for
what it is. By definition a bad habit is generally not
something you are aware that you are doing. It’s
a habit so you never give it a second thought. You never
even know there is anything that needs a second thought.
As such, you have no way of knowing the limiting effect
that habit is having on you and your performance as
I know drivers that constantly show up for test days
and spend all day driving but never learn a thing or
see significant improvements to their lap times from
weekend to weekend. In fact the large majority of the
drivers I see at the track are this way. If a person
wants to drive just for the fun of driving I have no
quarrel with this but a person shouldn’t be fooled
into thinking that they are actually learning something
by simply practicing the same thing over and over again.
I think it was Einstein that said something to the effect
that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing
over and over again and expecting a different result.
A driver should never go out onto the track without
a plan. A plan that says, “I need to go faster”
is not a plan. Without a good plan a driver may eventually,
through trial and error, stumble upon an awareness of,
and a solution for, a given bad habit or flawed technique.
Sadly this process, if it ever occurs at all, can sometimes
take years and often involve expensive damage to both
car and driver. A good game plan for each session, usually
involving no more than two or three specific items to
work on, can make all the difference in the world. It
can take a back of the pack driver and put them in traffic.
It can take a mid pack driver and move him or her to
the front. It can take a front running driver and keep
Your coach is an objective set of eyes and ears who
can help you formulate that plan, session to session,
week to week, season to season and keep it on track.
Baseball teams, football teams, basketball teams, golf
Pros, you name it; they all have coaches. Racers have
been slow to catch on but that is changing
Should I be concerned if my coach
not had any experience driving the type of car I drive?
Let’s be clear about something; you are not paying
a coach to drive your car! That’s your job! My
job is to help you discover for yourself the true limits
of the vehicle you are driving and to learn to exploit
them to their best effect. Put another way you are paying
a coach to help you better understand what your car
needs from you to be driven at its limit and to clearly
define for yourself what those limits are. The techniques
utilized apply equally to any type of vehicle and are
less about the car than they are about the driver. To
quote an oft used phrase in my business; “The
best high performance upgrade you can make to any vehicle
is to tighten the nut behind the wheel.”
Yeah, yeah! That’s all well and good but I’d
to know exactly what kind of vehicles you have worked
I have instructed, crewed, coached,
and/or personally driven or raced several different
types of open wheel cars, as well as closed wheel cars
including BMWs, Porsches, Corvettes, Ferrari Challenge
cars, Miatas, RX-7s, Sports racers, Mustangs (both modern
and vintage),as well as numerous fwd cars of various
makes and models.
Should I be concerned if
my coach has not
had any experience driving the track I will be driving?
You are not paying a coach to drive the track. You are
paying the coach to help you find the line that works
best for you and your car and how to cope with the constantly
changing circumstances present on track in any given
race weekend. The techniques employed for this do not
vary from track to track.
Working up a track from the side of the track is a relatively
easy task. Combining what you, the driver, have learned
from being on track with what the coach has learned
from observing you and other drivers from vantage points
all around the track it is possible to very quickly
assemble the basics of any track. Usually most of this
work can be accomplished in the first session.
At the end of the day it boils down to you, the driver,
and how well you are driving your car. If you are truly
hustling the car and paying proper attention to what
it needs from you to stay on track the line will pretty
much take care of itself.
Yeah, sure, whatever! I’d
still like to know
what tracks you have had first hand experience with.
OK fair enough! I have crewed, coached, driven and/or
raced, tracks from the Nurburgring and back with stops
all across the US and Canada.
What can I expect from my first
Everyone learns at different rates
and utilize different approaches to that learning. The
first session therefore is usually spent assessing the
driver, getting to know each other, and building a working
relationship and a game plan for the work to be done.
This does not mean that you should not expect tangible
results from our first session together. Quite to the
contrary! Arrive with an open mind, ready to learn and
you will come away from the day a changed driver.
Why should I pay someone
to tell me to “go faster”?
The most common joke regarding my profession is someone
will pretend to be talking on a two-way radio imploring
his driver to “Go faster! Go faster!” (HAHAHA!
That’s pretty funny! I haven’t heard that
one today!) Of course if my job were that simple I would
be out of a job. The fact is I will probably pay very
little attention to “going faster” or chasing
What I will spend time on is your ability to take in,
assimilate and utilize the information coming to you
through your senses; what you see, what you hear, and
what you feel kinesthetically. If I can improve the
quality of this information do you think that your performance
as a driver will also improve? Absolutely! By increasing
your awareness in these areas you will develop a more
intimate awareness with your own capabilities as well
as the capabilities of your car and the track you are
driving. Your speed and lap times will take care of
You will likely never hear me say, “Go faster”.
In fact you might even hear me say “if you want
to go faster, slow down!”
Is it worth the cost?
How much did you just spend for that extra sticky set
of tires from which you expect to gain an extra half
second or so and that you will likely use up in one
weekend? What if I said that I had something that could
give you at least that much improvement in performance
but you would only have to pay for it once and could
use it for the rest of your life? Not only that but
the more you used it the more results you would gain?
That would represent a pretty good bang for the buck
wouldn’t you agree? If only sticky tires got stickier
the longer you used them. Now wouldn’t that be
Working with a driver over the course of several days
or a season the results can be significant often exceeding
what the driver ever thought they or their vehicle were
capable of. Of course results do vary greatly depending
on the driver and his or her current state of development.
Some days working with a driver they have found no more
time at all but were able to turn their best lap more
consistently instead of occasionally turning a “flyer”
but not being able to consistently back it up with another
one and another one. On the other hand I have been in
situations where drivers have drivers have been able
to knock 5-10 seconds off their lap times, sometimes
literally with in a few hours of working together. I
have never worked with a driver where some significant
improvement was not achieved.
Is it worth the cost? That is a question that only you
can answer for yourself based on your own goals and
objectives. Will you get results? Absolutely! Read
what others have to say.
At what point in my development
as a driver should I use a coach?
Generally speaking, once you have obtained a basic knowledge
of high performance driving theory and technique you
are ready to start working with a driver coach. At this
stage of your development the earlier you begin working
with a coach the better lest you practice and ingrain
bad habits. It is much easier to establish good habits
in the first place than it is to undo bad habits.
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect
practice makes perfect.” (Ross Bentley)
I am already a championship
driver. How can you help me?
One of the things that I like about this sport is that
there is always something new to learn, re-learn, develop
and/or refine. The bar is constantly changing. In my
experience the grid will always rise to the fastest
driver in the grid. This means that you can never rest
on your laurels. If you are at the front of the grid
I can show you how to stay there. If you are near the
top of the grid or occasionally on pole but want to
run there more often I can help you discover how. The
coaching techniques I have learned and developed over
the years apply to any driver at any level.
I rolled my car three times
last season. How can you help me?
This question really did come up. I truly wish the driver
had talked to me before he rolled the car the first
time. I consulted with him for less than twenty minutes,
asking him to recount in detail each event. Without
going into similar detail here the solution lay in his
ability (or lack thereof) to improvise in unexpected
situations combined with managing an undisciplined desire
to win at all costs. Could I have helped him? Absolutely!
Did he hire me? Not yet. Perhaps he will have to roll
his car once or twice more before he feels he can afford
How can I most effectively use
our time together?
Once a session is booked a questionnaire will be sent
out asking you to outline your driving history, your
own assessment of your current capabilities and challenges
as a driver, and what you hope to accomplish in our
work together and in the future as a driver. Taking
the time to answer the questions as honestly and thoughtfully
as possible provides a firm foundation upon which to
build. Often, just completing this questionnaire will
lead the driver to a different perspective in and of
This questionnaire will be followed by a conversation,
usually by phone, to set the basic game plan for the
day. Beyond this come with an open mind and a willingness
to try anything.
Additionally, a quality in car, two-way radio system
is extremely useful (some would argue essential) as
is a video camera. In car data acquisition systems,
while expensive, are also an invaluable learning tool.
Is it better to work with
several different coaches or to stick with one coach?
The relationship between a driver and a coach is an
intimate working relationship. Like any intimate relationship
it can take time to build. The less time you spend building
this relationship the more time you will have to utilize
it. Working with several different coaches means that
you will be spending more time building working relationships
rather than making good use of an established relationship.
As a driver you are putting yourself in an emotionally
vulnerable position when working with a coach. The relationship
will require you to open yourself up, take risks, make
mistakes, look “foolish” and push your limits
beyond, in many cases well beyond, your known comfort
zone. This is not easy. As such it is essential that
you find a coach with whom you feel a rapport and a
sense of trust. Once you have found this person I definitely
recommend that you stick with them.
I would love to have some coaching
but I am on a budget. How
can I make the best use of my available resources in
The reality is that anything to
do with racing is not cheap. However, if you are racing
on a “budget” there are ways in which I
can work my services to try and stay within that budget.
For example in addition to my daily rate I can also
work out package rates. I also offer consulting and
I like to use a Data Acquisition system in my car. Can
you help me decipher the information and show me how
to use it too my best advantage?
Yes! I have extensive experience on most of the major
Data Acquisition systems including AIM and MOTEC. I
am a big believer in the effectiveness of these systems.
I have just a purchased a new
Can you help me learn its limits and capabilities?
I have just modified my
race car (suspension, more power, etc.). Can you help
me sort it out and get the most out of these modifications.
There really is no substitute for a good racecar engineer.
I am not an engineer. However I have had the privilege
of working along side, and learning from, some very
knowledgeable people in the business. Additionally I
have a great deal of personal experience from years
of trial and error on my own racecars. Through all of
this I have developed a passably good working knowledge
of basic racecar suspension geometry and tire technology.
Working with you I can help you determine what changes
are driver induced and what changes are induced by the
car itself. If you are already working with an engineer
I can help to significantly speed the communication
and feed back process between the two of you in sorting
out the car.
Who is Michael Lord?
Why is Michael Lord the
Until we have actually worked together I cannot say
with all honesty that I am “the best choice”
for you. There are many choices on the market when it
comes to choosing a coach. Some of them are very good
at what they do. There are also a great many people
out there who simply arm themselves with a clipboard
and a stopwatch and call themselves coaches but can’t
coach their way out of a paper bag.
Like driving, being an effective coach is a combination
of training, experience, innate ability, creativity
and good old fashioned “seat time”. In this
regard I feel I am well qualified. Over the last decade
I have had the privilege of working with and learning
from some of the best in the business and as such I
look forward to showing you what I can help you accomplish
behind the wheel of your car.