Before we get started, a quick intro is in order. My name is David Pittard and I race cars for a living. In my career so far, I won the British Endurance Championship 2012 and was recently chosen by BTCC driver Jason Plato to be part of the Tesco-backed KX Akademy competing in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup; I won that too.
In between racing, I’m also a keen writer, which explains my first CT article (I’m hoping you guys will find this useful enough to welcome me back). Without further ado - and based on my experiences - here are 10 things you need to remember to become a racing driver.
Have personal business cards at the ready at all times! Motorsport is a very small world. Make sure everyone knows what your ambitions and achievements are. You never know who you might meet.
No one can sell yourself as well as you can. No one can manage you as well as you do. It’s up to you to build the contacts, sell your passion, and work extremely hard at making your business package successful.
Maybe when you get to the big time it’s worth considering a manager - what with all the funny worded contracts and negotiations - otherwise it’s a drain on your financial resources.
Practice interviews, be proactive on social media, and grow a fan base. Build your brand around everything in the sport, to be as attractive as possible to those… yup, you guessed it, sponsors. Jason Plato is a sponsor’s dream and a fine example of a racing personality who has made racing in the UK his living for the past 17 years.
Hundreds of drivers are winning races in championships across the UK and the world. So how are you going to stand out from the crowd? Get inspired by finding out about motorsport marketing over the history of the sport.
Karting does teach you race craft, useful driving skills, and is the ideal start to your motorsport career. However, once you get into the world of cars, no one’s heard of you. Get into cars ASAP and start making a name for yourself in UK motorsport. Ideal championships are the Ginetta Junior Series, Junior Touring Car Championship and Junior Rallycross.
Instructing has multiple benefits to a racer’s career. It helps you earn money early on, it keeps you in the motorsport network (ideal for creating those all-important contacts), and it ensures that you spend as long in a car as possible; this means you’ll know a variety of circuits inside and out, which helps you develop as a driver.
Learning how to teach others to drive also helps better your own understanding of driving technique. And hey, getting paid to hoon around a circuit with an inexperienced driver at high speeds is quite an adrenaline rush!
Always be ready for the next stage in your career. Make or break opportunities can come at a drop of a hat with very little preparation time. Train yourself mentally, physically and virtually to make the most of each opportunity when it comes.
Whether it’s daddy’s money or if you’ve worked hard for sponsorship deals, you have to have cash. Do what it takes to get the readies (within reason, people), because only then can you prove to the world that you’ve got what it takes!
To get the cash you need to realise that motorsport is a business. Exploiting all there is from the marketing side of it will help you raise your profile and become more attractive to sponsors.
“Winning is everything. The only ones who remember you when you come second are your wife and your dog.” - Damon Hill.
Even if you’ve had the best race of your life, there is no substitute for crossing the line first! Serious momentum builds behind you when it happens and everything seems to happen that bit easier (note the emphasis on easier, not easy). This counts for everything that you drive, whether it’s GP2 or an MX-5.