Running with a team

So, how does this whole team thing work? I was recently at a regional event at NOLA Motorsports park and there were lots of people there practicing for the
Pro Tour in big fancy shiny tents. Teams like Crosslink and RPG rocking in Thursday morning with a semi truck full of karts.

So if that is the goal to race with a team like that how might one get there? Is it all based on money where if you pay them they will give you a spot or do those drivers get signed by the teams? If it is the former how much would a full arrive and drive at a big race cost with a team like that?

I’d say 95% of the people on a team are paying for their spot under the tent. The remaining 5% are drivers like Norberg, etc. But even those drivers don’t get a completely paid drive. As for the cost, it varies per team. Big teams like PSL, RPG, etc are going to charge more than small teams. But they offer things that some smaller teams can’t. They have an abundance of information from a wide variety of experience that they can apply to helping you. But the only way of knowing their price is by asking the teams themselves.

*not saying that small teams can’t compete with the larger teams. Simply saying that the big teams can afford to bring a hot shoe under their tent which helps the paying drivers with coaching, data, etc. It gives you direct comparisons to what the guys that are winning are doing.

3 Likes

Zach’s 100% right.

If your money is green, you are qualified to “race for a team”. If you’re lucky or a proven top-caliber driver, you might get some free stuff and get to be in that tent on merit without paying for much. But that’s the super small number of guys you see at the top of the Pro Tour standings or EKN Rankings.

Through connections and relationships, and a result here and there, I was fortunate enough to run with teams for essentially nothing in terms of equipment costs over the past several years. In return, I worked for teams in the off weekends, wrenching and coaching. Which is a fairly common arrangement for those kinds of deals. Without having the good fortune to get deals like that, I wouldn’t have been racing nearly as much, if at all.

1 Like

If someone is looking to start running with a team and is running regional events right now, do you think it would be effective to try and run with a local team in your area at a regional event before running a national event? Would it also be cheaper to run a regional event than something national?

It really depends on what your goal is for being on a team. So that’s my first question for you. What do you want to get out of being under someone’s tent? Next question is how comfortable are you at the regional level? Are you running towards the front, etc.

National events are pretty intense. The fields are big, the competition is very close, the track changes a lot with grip, and sitting on grid with 50 other karts can be intimidating. In order to be truly ready for a national race you need to have the least amount of variables to learn as you go. You should be comfortable with competition, know how the kart should feel and what adjustments to make to get it there, and a good attention to detail on what your driving level needs to be at. The more variables you have, the less focus you can place on a single issue you might be having. If you’re trying to learn a track, learn a new tire, learn how to drive in grip, learn how to behave around new-to-you aggressive drivers; you’re going to be overwhelmed. If you already know the track, are comfortable with your competitors, know how to handle the grip, and just need to focus on fine tuning your setup; you’re going to be less stressed, probably get better results, and have a better take home feel from the weekend.

Cost wise still depends on the team. Some teams function the same between regional and national events. Same tent fee, transportation, tuner, etc. But there is a bump in operational costs to the teams for rig parking, entry is normally more expensive, etc. But it’s still case by case with which team you ask.

If you have yet to take the plunge on a regional or national event, I’d recommend starting off by doing so at your home track, provided that type of event comes through. If not, maybe find a nearby track that offers this type of event. This will allow you to enter and run as you normally would, and act as a good feeler for how you stack up against a regional/national field. If that goes well, then you can look to expand out of your comfort zone a bit. I don’t think paying to be under a tent is going to be as valuable to someone learning to race at that level for the first time, as it will for someone looking to find the last few tenths to go from mid/back-pack to front/mid-pack.

Thanks, that is a lot of good information. Right now I am running at the regional level and am comfortable in the kart but still am not perfect. I am competitive with the other regional drivers but I know that i still have more to find in my driving as well.

I was more just trying to gather information because my eventual goal is to move up to running at bigger events and from what I have seen you almost have to be running with a team to be competitive unless you have a personal tuner with you.

Then I’d say it’s worth it to be under the tent for at least one regional race, if not season, of a team that you think can help you. Find a team that’s doing well in your area, or well at the level that you want ot be at, and approach them. If you don’t think that any of the teams in your region can take you to the next level, branch out and ask other teams that compete in a series that you think is a good fit. Sometimes the big “eureka” moment comes from being beside someone who’s already successful. Having data, or video, to compare with your own is easily the best tool to have when trying to bridge the gap. I wouldn’t say it’s a formality that you have to be with a team or have your own tuner, but it definitely makes it easier. It shifts a lot of the pressure off of yourself and allows you to focus more on driving and less about the whole picture.

Especially at the regional level, there are tons of solo guys, racing out of a small trailer with their mom or dad tuning, and they do very well. Don’t get too hung up on the idea that you need to be with a team to do well. Focusing on that idea could actually stifle your ambition and learning. Absorb knowledge from here like a sponge, go do practice days and take notes, and maybe spend the money you would on a team program on some extra tires for practice or maybe some driver coaching to start. Try a bigger event and see how it goes, and if you really need more help and need data and the amenities a team offers, then shoot for that.

Teams are really great and a nice thing to be a part of for many reasons. The camaraderie of having a group working together, the far superior collection of data to work with, and the parts, support, and knowledge needed. It’s all great and worth the money in my opinion. But I would just recommend giving a bigger event a shot on your own once, doing the best you can, and then you know how much help and what kind of help you need, so maybe you can shop around and find a team that will cater to you better. Or you might find you’re a prodigy and you don’t even need a team/tent program to do well!

How’s your progression? Are you at the sharp end of your game or are you stalling and need some inspiration to find new pace?

I wonder if you’d get more for that by doing some intensive coaching as opposed to a team.

I definitely still have more to find in my driving and that’s what I’m looking to improve on the rest of the year running regional events. I’ve never really thought about looking at driver coaching only because I haven’t seen any in my area but maybe that would be something to look at before running with a team.

This last weekend I was just off the front running regional guys but quite a bit off the National guys who were running that weekend. Part of that is definitely my driving but we were also struggling with chassis handling the whole weekend and were trying to work out a new engine.

I did remote video coaching with Warren and TJ. It was… useful :2nd_place_medal::3rd_place_medal::2nd_place_medal::3rd_place_medal: but no :1st_place_medal:(I blame Bonanno for no wins!).

Bonanno has been racing longer than I’ve been alive I reckon. Even I, with my prodigious expertise, can’t coach you past him in one year. :sweat_smile:

You can setup to do a coaching day with Alan Rudolph at Speedsportz. He’s in your area, and we did a session with him. You learn a lot, and what to look for in data and video analysis. He helped us as to what to look for in the data to help. His coaching sessions is not just for you, but for your dad as well since he’ll be around to help when Alan is not. Besides Alan, there are a few others that you could get a day of coaching from, Riley Dickenson, Jon Over, to name 2 in our area. I am sure Charley Swayne would also do a day of coaching.

But as it was stated, when you are not on a team, or with a driver coach, absorb what you can from here, and from other drivers/tuners at the regional, or even club, races.

That you and @speedcraft Warren got me where you did (front pac minus JB) is a miracle in itself. Nice work. :clap::clap::clap:

I want to know more about this remote coaching

I can elaborate on what we did if you want.

1 Like

I’m curious what a remote coaching looks like or involves

1 Like

I think like Lindsay I am interested in what remote coaching looks like, I know some of the larger teams offer driver coaching but how does that work?

With TJ, I’d send him a video of my race and he’d give me a blow by blow critique. We’d then discuss his thoughts.

TJ insights on line and technique were very helpful. Hs ideas were very useful to me in visualizing and understanding how the kart gets round the corner, how I should be slowing it, etc.

I also got a great deal out of TJ’s thoughts on the “racing”. He was really helpful in getting me to assert myself and start racing, hard. He also helped me understand how to think better on track vis a vis making pace and making passes. I started to understand the longer race and think better, with his help.

TJ had a metaphor that was rather effective, in my case. I was starting to get pretty enthusiastic about trying to pass people but it was not helping my laptimes (or anyone else’s). I was sticking my nose in, in dubious circumstances, and generally slowing myself down.

TJ pointed this shortcoming out to me; "Think of it like this… “I have a no window shopping rule; If you walk through the door of the store, it’s buy something or leave. No window shopping.” In other words, don’t stick your nose in if you aren’t confident you can complete the pass.
This, along with the rest of the explanation, stuck with me. With his help, I got a lot smarter and more confident.

@speedcraft Warren and I had a similar arrangement. He would view a session/race/lap and we’d discuss.Things were different in that it was more intensive, more focused on understanding the why/how of it. Warren knows plenty about racing, being a very accomplished open-wheel racer in his day*, but I found myself drawn to his way of articulating the dynamics of driving and the unique way he understands how it all works.

I had reached out to Warren because I was stuck, and how he thought resonated with me. Over about 6 months we worked (a lot) on the whole enchilada. As I got better and more confident, we spent more time on the mental side of the game, and less on technique.

To simplify, Warren helped me transition to a new level in how I drive and think about it.

In Warren’s case, data was involved as well. We also used SIM.

*Warren has become scary quick in sim, too!

1 Like