What is Talent?

Hey everyone I just had a pretty open question here. I know that people always talk about talent and young people who are talented drivers, I want to know what you guys really define as talented (in karting) or when you see someone and go wow they have some major talent, what shows that to you guys? (Be as technical as you like or as simple.)

Simple answer: You just know. The clearest example of this to me was when I first saw Kyle Larson drive (outside of karting I guess), and my jaw was on the floor. I think I said out loud at the time “there is no way I could do what he is doing with that car.” He is an extreme example, but again one that you don’t really need a complicated set of metrics to evaluate talent.

Complicated answer: Highly subjective from person to person. It has to be inherently, as to each of us, based on a multitude of factors, certain traits in people stand out. Often we tend to pick up on traits related to our assessment of talent that are related to areas we know we ourselves are lacking. For me, I evaluate talent by the following:

  • Can I see the driver actively thinking and reacting to their driving while on the track? Even from a young age, some drivers will, some drivers won’t. Often, this trait is either there, or not there, and doesn’t really seem to improve markedly without a lot of time and effort. As an example, some drivers, regardless of age, will blow a corner over and over and over in a session, and never try different techniques. While this is all part of the learning process of course, it is interesting to see the rare exception to this, be it adult or child, that will begin changing their inputs to a corner within a session, whether experienced or not.

  • Does the driver have an inherent ability to digest and pair-apart advice? I say this because, throughout a developing driver’s career, there is a lot of noise. From parents, from tuners, from coaches…often a talented driver will take a chaotic situation, and still somehow make it work. Whether the parents aren’t super mechanically inclined and yet they tend to drive around the problem, or perhaps family life isn’t super great but on the track they still perform, etc. To me, that is an area of talent that is not always considered when looking at the finishing order in races. There are a lot of kids and adults out there in karting that are held back by external factors, factors which artificially influence years and years of results. Yet, there are some that seem to somehow still pull it off, to still get results. To me, those are some of the most impressive talents, as they are often so isolated in terms of having any true positive or organized guidance, that they are essentially poking around in the dark, stumbling upon what makes them successful on the track.

  • The last metric of the three that come to mind most immediately is I guess, for lack of a better term, called ‘spirit.’ How bad does that driver want success? The saying goes ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ and I would say in motorsport that is quite true. Some drivers, you can tell they will advocate for their own success and growth. Even at a young age, even in the single digits, some drivers seem to just be so, so, so hungry. They will hang around the kart instead of playing with friends, watching dad or a mechanic adjusting things. They will ask questions out of the blue that will surprise you and make you as a mentor have to stop and think to really give them a strong answer. Again, to me, these are remarkable talents, because whether they are ‘naturally gifted’ or not, they will be quietly working on their craft constantly. Often, those that continue to grind and grind and grind on themselves to find more will continue to improve, even if they didn’t have the ‘it’ factor at first.


Thanks for the big long paragraph which I love because I am happy to read about karting for hours, I got the answer to the question from this, as well as a great deal of advice actually because I think if (BIG IF) I get the chance to start karting or even just get into A kart I’ll definitely use this as a criteria of sorts to compare myself.

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Glad it was helpful. Do keep in mind, however, that this question is very diverse in terms of the answers you will get back! (And I am sure others will chime in soon). There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about talent, as again it is often highly based off of a ‘gut feeling’ we get, which varies for each person.

Yeah for sure, I’m interested to see peoples opinions.

The karters who I have worked with that get picked up by the F1 programs are the ones who are able to be right on the pace after a few laps. I think that’s the particular talent F1 people are looking for, since there is no significant testing available in F1 and they often get just one lap in which to do the business in qualifying.

One driver in particular who got picked up was able to get into an unfamiliar simulator and match the fastest ever times in a few laps…he didn’t go faster with more practice, he just hit the limit immediately. Those are the kids who generally become labelled as ‘talented’.

My own opinion is the same as Eric, there is huge diversity of talents among drivers. So many different talents can be exploited to create better results in racing - I don’t think there is one talent in particular that trumps all others in karting.

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I think a good way to frame it might be to deconstruct the traits of some of the greatest drivers…

I was watching a video where they described f1 guys/gals as the type of drivers that can a) go out and set fast laps immediately and b) adjust their driving to compensate for things like the engineers requests.

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Dom Callan, I can understand the concept and also believe ones love for racing can be developed and honed in, if desire, opportunity and finances are available? This what I am banking on being my Son’s first sponsor, we will make it happen! Thanks for the resources, I will totally check them out, Peace Be With You <*{{{><{ Scout