Some of the OG members of the Kartpulse Forums will remember that when we first started up, that I was looking for someone who could help me analyze my race data after sessions. (Well, honestly, I was just looking for help in general, but that’s a story for another day) I’d been doing it myself on and off for a while, (and even was sponsored by another data hardware provider for a season), but I was doing all off the data work myself.
All of us know that, we have so much stuff going on at the track, that it make it really hard to get everything looked at properly. There just isn’t time to do all of the things. So unfortunately, data was normally the first thing to get dropped, which was frustrating, because it had been hard finding someone reliable to come to the track with me to help spot or wrench with me.
Fortunately, I was able to get connected with Eric Gunderson. I’d been talking to him about my frustrations, not being able to find someone to help me trackside. After doing a podcast together, he told me of his idea of providing virtual race coaching services to races outside of his area through his own brand - Apex Predator Driver Development. He’d asked if we could start working together, and give his methods a try.
I’ve heard of other more professional series having virtual coaching, who could analyze Race Studio data or onboard data after the race weekends, but I hadn’t seen someone try it for karting.
So what’s it like having a virtual coach?
Honestly, I was skeptical at first. I’m skeptical about most things,but I wanted to give it a try.
So I’ve been sending Eric the majority of my practice day and race data, as well as onboard camera footage for him to review of my local track. He then sets up a screen-cast and records his feedback either over my onboard video, or over my Mychron data, so I can have a sense of what he’s talking about.
Sometimes looking at my data traces is the most helpful thing. Other times, it’s talking about my onboard, or an overlay of the two. If I really need to, we can setup a Skype call, so that we can go through things further. Here is an example of one of the racecraft videos that he walked me through during a club race at PSGKA, recently.
After a while, I had found a good team to start racing with, and I started to talk to my other teammates about Eric’s services, We would review some of the footage that he had setup for me, and it helps us start to talk about where I needed to focus for the next practice day, or a single thing that I needed to focus on for the next race.
The surprising thing that I’ve found the most helpful through this experience has been that it’s helped to:
- look at elements of my driving in a new way and
- reinforce changes that I need to make to my driving that my other teammates have mentioned seeing in person.
I typically don’t tell Eric what feedback I’m getting from other people, until after I’ve got his report back, because it helps me if he makes similar comments to other people around me.
What’s really nice is that I know that he’s paying close attention to my data. I’ve had some of my teammates not know what my fast time has been around a track, after racing with them for some time, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to focus on your improvement. So having some impartial, just look at “what you sent me” helps me know that he’s got a critical eye on things.
The other unexpected benefit is that my race reports are now mobile. Since he sends me video files that I can review, I typically download them onto my phone, and review them when I have the best time to focus on them. (Like when I’m on a business trip, or taking a break from morning exercise.)
It’s also motivated me to make sure that I always have my camera charged and recording, when I’m on the track, and also that I download my Mychron data every single day. When I know that I have someone who is expecting to review my sessions with me, it makes it so that I’m more focused on ensuring that downloading my data is more of a habit.
After a few sessions and races, I’ve really noticed an improvement in my driving over the season. I’ve won one race, and had better pace in most of my races. I still have to be responsible to focus on how I practice, take good notes, and do my other training, but having a virtual coach is just another valuable service that I wish I had been able to take advantage of years ago.
Also, (because I’m sure that many of you are thinking about this), his rates are extremely affordable. I get coaching services, for less than the cost of a set of tires, which is amazing more helpful in the long term of my development as a driver.
I really wanted to start this thread to get people thinking about how they are using data, and coaching at the track. Would you try using a virtual coach? Why or why not? What coaching methods help you out at the track? Let me know below, and let’s get a discussion going.
Link to podcast with Eric down below: