RaceSchool.com Podcast Charlie Kimball Interview

Charlie Kimball who hails from Camarillo, California, spent some time talking about getting back into an NTT IndyCar Series race car for the first time since his heartbreaking disappointment of not qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 this year. His last street course race was October 2020 at St. Pete.

How does he prepare mentally and physically for the challenge of navigating the concrete jungle and mean streets of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach? Listen here and find out!

Note: Charlie Kimball was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his junior racing career. He has since gone on to be an NTT IndyCar Series winner along with winning in IMSA and being a beacon of hope for others as he pursues his passion and dream of racing Indy cars.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Charlie Kimball waves to his hometown fans before the start of the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.Charlie Kimball pushes hard in Turn 9 during qualifying on Saturday, yet was only able to earn a 20th place starting position.Kimball’s AJ Foyt Racing crew practices a pit stop during the Sunday morning warm-up.Kimball leads Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay heading into Turn 2 during the race where he would eventually finish 18th.With only one race under his belt in 2021, it was no drive in the park for Charlie Kimball, yet he still managed to beat some series regulars and 2021 race winners!

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What’s My Line, Part III?

In part two; we looked at corner combinations and prioritizing corners. In part three, we’ll expand on that below:

Many tracks feature long esses to go through. Make sure that you apex late enough on the initial turns so that you don’t get “behind” on your steering. The last thing you want to do is to back off early and lose that momentum through the rest of the corner combinations. Keep that rhythm all the way through the esses and balance (like on a tightrope) through the complex of corners and that can be extremely rewarding.

Off camber, on camber, blind and crests are all corners that can all dictate how, when and where you turn in, apex and exit. Again the idea is to carry maximum entry, mid-corner and exit speed that will ultimately lead to a lower lap time. In some instances, you give up speed in one part to gain speed in the other while always keeping the focus on balance and decreasing your overall lap time.

Furthermore, what does your car like? Make your car happy! If your type of car doesn’t handle well in long constant radius corners, consider the diamond line whereby you would enter it more in a straight line (to maximize speed into the braking zone), get it slowed way down to where you can turn sharper than the radius, and then accelerate hard in more or less of a straight line exiting to take advantage of your brakes and horsepower. If on the other hand you don’t have a lot of horsepower, always look at the shortest distance and carrying that mid corner speed.

The bottom line is that there can be many ways to go through a corner and still come up with an identical lap time. Consider which is easier on your tires and equipment over the course of a race. Also consider race craft and how you can use your vehicle line placement in what could be more defensive or aggressive lines based on whether you’re being passed or want to pass someone else.

Rain is another scenario where the normal racing line may not apply. When you go off line in the dry, the “marbles” off line tend to make your life miserable as the car will lose grip faster than you can think about it. However, when the rain comes, that might be the best place to place your car. As opposed to the smooth rubbered down areas of the normal racing line, the outside edge of a track can still have rough aggregate that accentuates the car’s traction capabilities. This of course has a lot to do with the level of moisture content on the track surface and what kind of

tires you’re using. Are they full wet, intermediate or dry tires? Is the rain just starting or is the track developing a dry line. Keep in mind that rain tires will shred themselves an early death on a dry track, so part of tire and line management involves driving off the line intentionally just to get some moisture on those tires to keep them alive that much longer.

If all of these techniques seem to have caveats about them it’s because they do. The best line to take is the one that puts you in the winner’s circle consistently. Most skilled drivers will be smooth and easy on equipment, especially their tires, so that in the long run they’ll have a fresher tire to take whatever line they need to go faster than everyone else. Good luck!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

What’s My Line, Part III?

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Takuma Sato Interview

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (and Formula One veteran) Takuma Sato discusses the challenges of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit as well as other topics right after qualifying. Sato was not happy with a 16th place qualifying position and his Sunday morning warm-up was one position further back in 17th. However Sato’s motto, “No attack, no chance” served him well in the race as he raced his way to a top ten finish (9th) holding off some of the best Indy car drivers in the sport.

Note: It was announced after the grand prix that Sato would not be returning to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for 2022. Sato is looking to sign with another team and as of press time nothing has been announced.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Takuma Sato waves to the crowd just prior to the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Was it also a farewell wave to IndyCar?Takuma Sato hustled his RLL car through Turn 9 during qualifying but it was only good enough for the 16th starting position.Takuma Sato looks at data with his crew to figure out how to go faster after the Sunday morning warm-up.It wasn’t exactly a Sunday drive in the park for Sato, but after narrowly avoiding the crash in the hairpin that knocked out Pato O’Ward Sato made the most of the positions he gained to finish ninth.Near the end of the race, Sato leads Ed Jones, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Zach Veach Interview

Zach Veach has had an incredible professional auto racing journey. He climbed the open wheel ladder system and made it all the way to the NTT IndyCar Series. After three seasons with Andretti Autosport, Veach transitioned to the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 GTD program in IMSA (International Motor Sports Asscociation) and is adapting well to his new “office.” In this interview he talks about his journey and transition into “tin tops” as well as how he prepares for his race weekends.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Zach now finds that part of being an IMSA driver is communicating with your team and co-driver on the radio other than in the cockpit. Zach’s co-driver this year is Frankie Montecalvo.There’s never a dull moment in the GTD class! Here, Veach is being chased by the GTD Porsche of Katherine Legge/Rob Ferriol  and the Mustang Sampling DPi Cadillac.After qualifying ninth in the most competitive IMSA class, the team was looking forward to a good result, but a puncture on the pace lap led to an unscheduled pit stop to change tires. The team soldiered on to finish 13th. Veach is shown here still holding off the GTD Porsche.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Sebastien Bourdais Interview

A four-time IndyCar Champion and former winner at Long Beach, Sebastien Bourdais was hired by AJ Foyt Racing to help get that team further up the grid for the 2021 season. Although he struggled in qualifying (listen why) and got hit on the first lap of the race to knock him down to dead last (28th), he recovered to finish in the top ten (8th)! This interview took place just after the morning warm-up where Bourdais was not feeling confident, but was hopeful, going into the race.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Sebastien Bourdais waves to the fans before the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Could this be his last NTT IndyCar Series race?

The champ knows how to push hard to make up positions and is doing so here through Turn 1. Notice his left front tire is just off the ground after attacking the berm.A Sunday drive through the park? Hardly! However as Bourdais disappears amongst the flowers, he will re-appear next year full-time in the Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA DPi car. That schedule will allow him to compete in all but a few IndyCar races. . .Bourdais saved his Firestone “Reds” (softer compound tires) for his final two stints for maximum speed at the end of the race and is shown here leading two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato home in 8th and 9th place respectively.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Jimmie Johnson Interview

Winner of seven NASCAR Cup Championships, Jimmie Johnson “retired” from NASCAR and has embarked on an NTT IndyCar Series career with Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2021 Jimmie competed in all of the road course races and concluded his season at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – essentially his home race for the El Cajon, California native. In this interview before the race, Jimmie talks about the differences in the physicality of NASCAR vs. IndyCar and competing here at Long Beach.

Interview and photos by Larry Mason.

Jimmie Johnson poses for a photo with his crew behind him (and driver coach Scott Pruett flanking him on his left) on Shoreline Drive just minutes before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Johnson has had different liveries on his car during the season based on fan voting. This particular version is easy on the eyes and represents his sponsors very well.

Turning right through city streets is something Johnson didn’t have to do in NASCAR!

Being precise in car placement is nothing new for Johnson. Getting this close to the walls without fenders is significantly different!Johnson is hoping to be more competitive in 2022 so that he can show his rear wing to everyone else in the field. He’s improved significantly this year and was 15th fastest out of 28 cars in the Sunday morning warm-up session.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Will Power Interview

Indianapolis 500 winner, NTT IndyCar Series Champion, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach winner and Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame inductee - Will Power, took some time to talk about his 2021 season and the intricacies of the Long Beach circuit. He also talks about simulators and how they benefit him and his team. A surprise guest walks by for a quick “hello” during this interview. RaceSchool.com will have an interview with that guest in a future episode. 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

After a poor qualifying session (for him) Power already has his game face on prior to the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.Unfortunately, he left his braking just a bit too late during qualifying and gets sideways in Turn 9. He ran out of room at the exit of the corner and made contact with the wall. That tiny mistake left him starting in the 12th position.Will Power finished in 10th just ahead of his teammate, rookie Scott McLaughlin (11th shown just behind in this photo) moving up two spots from his starting position. With a guy like Power, you know he wasn’t happy with that.Unfortunately, he left his braking just a bit too late during qualifying and gets sideways in Turn 9. He ran out of room at the exit of the corner and made contact with the wall. That tiny mistake left him starting in the 12th position.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why You Should Have a Coach!

raceschool.com Why You Should Have a Coach!

Who are the greatest athletes in the world? Some might argue Olympic athletes. Who are the most coached athletes in the world? Again, Olympic athletes are at or near the top. If these athletes are so great already, why do they need a coach? It’s a simple answer really. Everyone is human and as a human you can enhance your skillset and abilities in multiple ways over time – especially when you have a good coach to observe and help you achieve your goals.

At Fast Lane Racing School, we have a wide variety of skilled coaches that can help you bring your driving to the next level. Some of the greatest drivers in the world have said that they have never driven the perfect lap. That’s because there’s always a fraction of a second more that they’re looking for. With coaching, we can help you bring your driving skills up a notch and with more coaching keep that process continuous. 

There are multiple ways that we can observe and help students to increase their skill level. From simple external observations trackside, to riding and/or driving with the students around the track, to data and video downloads to get the “real” story, these data driven deep dives can uncover a wealth of information. Pair that with effective communication between coach and driver and you have a recipe for success when it comes to getting the most out of the car you’re driving, no matter what it is. 

In general, we can teach the racing line – braking points, turn-in, apex and track-out. However, this line can change depending upon what kind of car you’re driving. The line for a Spec Miata versus a high horsepower tube frame car will be different based upon the amount of power/grip ratio.

Street tires versus racing slick tires also make a massive difference in grip level and therefore, how you might approach a corner. If you have a car with aerodynamic downforce, that can make an incredible difference in how you drive and which line to take on the track.

The bottom line is that if you want to improve, you need to put in the effort. An extra set of eyes is worth its weight in gold. So the next time you’re thinking about which driver’s school to go to, consider Fast Lane. We have an incredible variety of race cars that you can choose from to learn in, and very skilled instructors that can work with you one-on-one to help you maximize your time both on and off the track.

Coaching – it’s not for everyone. Only those who want to get better!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Podcast James Hinchcliffe Interview

JamesHinchcliffe-wave-crop James Hinchcliffe waves to thefans before the start of the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Will it be remembered as his last NTT IndyCar Series start?

James Hinchcliffe, aka the “Mayor of Hinchtown” has checked off many of the boxes of being one of the top drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series. He’s a multi-time winner and pole-sitter in addition to big performances like winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 one year after almost losing his life in a horrific shuntthereand winning the crown jewel of street courses at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Additionally, he also finished second in the “Dancing With The Stars” TV show. His easy-going personality doesn’t diminish the fire in his belly for success. In this interview, Hinchcliffe opens up about how he prepares for racingboth physically andmentally and also how the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit gets him pumped up.

Note:James Hinchcliffe raced for Andretti Autosport at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was announced after the race that he (along with his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay) wouldn’t be returning to theteamfor 2022.

Copyright © 2021Larry Mason

His Capstone Green Energy car is right at home amongst the fountain and greenery of the circuit near the Aquarium of the Pacific.

His Capstone Green Energy car is right at home amongst the fountain and greenery of the circuit near the Aquarium of the Pacific.

James Hinchcliffe started the2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beachin 7thafter turning the 3rdquickest time in practice. Here he leads Alex Palou who would go on to finish 4th while Hinchcliffe would have to settle for 14th.

James Hinchcliffe started the2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beachin 7thafter turning the 3rdquickest time in practice. Here he leads Alex Palou who would go on to finish 4th while Hinchcliffe would have to settle for 14th.

Near the end of the Grand Prix, you can see all of the rubber tire marks especially on the front wings. Not the finish or season Hinchcliffe was hoping for, the big question now is where he’ll land for 2022.

Near the end of the Grand Prix, you can see all of the rubber tire marks especially on the front wings. Not the finish or season Hinchcliffe was hoping for, the big question now is where he’ll land for 2022.

In a tribute to his racing idol Greg Moore, Hinchcliffe has #REDGLOVESRULEonhis racing gloves. Here he’s sitting in the pits duringthe Sunday morning warm-up.

In a tribute to his racing idol Greg Moore, Hinchcliffe has #REDGLOVESRULEonhis racing gloves. Here he’s sitting in the pits duringthe Sunday morning warm-up.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Bryan Herta Interview

levitt-VIR-1021-03911 Bryan Herta

Known during his racing career as “High-Speed Herta,” Bryan has been just as successful off the track as a team owner in the NTT IndyCar Series winning two Indy 500s and multiple championships in sports car racing. Bryan Herta Autosport currently campaigns the factory Hyundai effort in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. He’s also the race strategist for his son Colton Herta who won both of the last two Indy car races at Laguna Seca.We caught up with Bryan right before his son would go on to win the season finale Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach!

Photos, captions and credits:

Interview by Larry Mason.

Photo by Michael Levitt, LATUSAMedia.com

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