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Excerpts from the book “DRIVE TO WIN”  by CARROLL SMITH

Winning races - drive to win

The business is so demanding and the competition so fierce that you cannot afford to give anything away.

This means getting yourself into peak physical condition and keeping yourself there. This, by the way, is not because driving the racing car takes much in the way of strength – it is because of two of the basic facts of driving.

Fact #1: Racing Driver Needs Physical Mental Endurance

The first is that the driver spends his working life in a very debilitating environment – even in open cockpit, mid-engine racing cars; it is hot, debilitatingly hot. Even the air you breathe is hot. To compound this, the driver is encased in at least three layers of Nomex. What we need is physical and mental endurance, not physical strength.

Fact #2: Racing Driver Needs Optimum Diet and Optimum Training

The second fact is that, as we become physically tired, our brain slows down and our decision making capacity deteriorates. To overcome this, the driver needs an optimum diet and an optimum training program.

This means damned little if any alcohol. For the same reason, it means no drugs whatsoever. The long and short-term effects of even “recreational usage” of drugs as supposedly benign as marijuana on the workings of the brain are medical fact, not conjecture.

Motor Racing Costs too Much Money

The basic problem with motor racing as a profession is that it costs too much money to get well enough at it to get paid for doing it. Ours is the only sport in the world where the participants routinely have more money invested in any single event than the guy who owns the stadium. There is, of course, a perfectly logical reason for this – driving racing cars is the single most challenging and rewarding activity that man has yet come up with, so, to the participants, income is a secondary consideration.

Professionals drive because driving racing cars is their whole life. Sure, they like the money and the perks. But, make no mistake, if the money went away today, almost all of them would still be driving racing cars tomorrow.

Winning Races

Winning races, by itself, will not necessarily advance your career. At race events, there are always drivers with proven winning records wandering around on foot while several others who have never won a race and who show no sign of ever winning one were being paid to drive – as well as several more who will never win another one. We all start out firmly believing that if we win enough races, the Big Time will come and find us. It will not. You have to go and find it. The inescapable fact of racing life is that the driver himself must get out there and find the rides / sponsorship that will advance his career.

One of the things that I point out to the legion of aspiring drivers who approaches me every year is that in order to get to the top in motor racing, except for brief moments, you have to be willing to give up almost everything else in life, until you have advanced to the point at which a living can be made driving.

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Hard Work Beats Talent

The bottom line here is that exceptional talent, by itself, won’t get it done. What will get it done is perseverance and a bottomless determination to succeed – an absolute refusal to quit or to be beaten. There have been lots of young drivers with the God given driving talents of Prost, or Senna, or Schumacher, or Unser. There have been very few with the mental toughness, dedication, determination and perseverance.

If a driver has the ability, the discipline, the determination and the political acumen to make it in racing, then he will find a way.


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Allen Berg

Allen Berg ranks among Canada's top racing personalities. He won the Formula Pacific Tasman Championship, won at Silverstone against Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle in perhaps the greatest year ever in British Formula 3, and qualified for nine starts in F1, a record bettered among his countrymen only by Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve.

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