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Talent?

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by Hubert, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. Hubert

    Hubert F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2002
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    Been musing on this a while, on a personal level, and without coming off like an utter narcissicitic penis, how does one know if they've got talent? As in, real racing talent? The kind that, if someone took a chance, and put you in a car, would show you to be up to speed with "natural" ability? What's the litmus test here?
    We know kimi's got it, but that's b/c P.Sauber took a chance on him... how do you find that for yourself?
     
  2. West777

    West777 Formula Junior

    Aug 28, 2003
    311
    Spend lots of money and go to the driving school? I dunno. I would love to find out though. Like you said I think it comes baturally. You either have it or you don't. Sure, you can learn how to drive, but I think all of the greats were born with it in their blood. When I first started driving, I considered myself an excellent driver (I was 16 yrs old, and I think any male at that age thought the same). But, the more and more I watch Formula 1, and other races, the more I realize I DONT know about driving, things like balancing the car properly. I would love to learn all of the ins and outs.
     
  3. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    It's simple--go racing. Not only will you find it incredibly fun, but you will realize how many pretty damn good race drivers there are out there, even on the Club level. I remember when I went to my first racing school five years ago, my single fear was that I would end up not enjoying it that much. I know, it sounds impossible and even ridiculous. But my entire life I had loved racing, and the thought of finally trying it and not liking it terrified me. Well, I loved it naturally. But something else you will realize, should you try it, is that there really is no such thing as natural racing talent. There are traits that can benefit a driver, but those alone are worth nothing. When I raced Formula Mazdas, it used to drive me nuts that there was a guy in our stable nearly twice my age, probably 100 pounds heavier and obviously in s**t shape who would kick my ass on the track, lap after lap. So, if and when you strap in, don't expect to be some golden boy racer from the get go. And don't let that disappoint you, either. Seat time, seat time, seat time. And enjoy the ride!
     
  4. Hubert

    Hubert F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2002
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    That's just it... it's not that I think I"m some boy racer from the clouds, but the thought of getting to skip baber and finding out that I'm totally backasswards in a racecar , would, well, probably ruin a lifelong aspiration; it would be like the realization that "I dumb."
     
  5. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    Don't think of it that way. Here's a little story for you: A few years ago, my friends and I were at Road America during an SCCA event. One of the races was an entire field of Dodge Neons, specially prepared for the race track, and all evenly matched. One of my friends kind of laughed at the sight of 40 or so Neons racing around the track, saying they looked "gipped". Well, someone else responded by saying "Hey, at least they're out there doing it."

    It's all the more important to go into it with the intention of enjoying yourself. If you feel an inner pressure that you have to be great immediately you might not like it as much. Who knows, you may end up doing quite well. Good luck.
     
  6. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ

    Aug 3, 2002
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    Hubert, i feel just like you do... Like i've got some natural ability that only so few people have, even though i've never driven a racecar or ANYTHING on a racetrack and have never driven a real sports car, extensively... & everytime i take a step further in learning an aspect of racecar driving, it's overwhelming at first but then it settles in with everything else and the only unquenched thirst my mind is left with is, well... do i have it...? If given the chance, could i get out there and practice and be something beyond the millions of people who are already doing just that...?

    i'll never know until i try... Like Gilles said, it's not about getting out there and being some miracle man, either... Everyone has to crawl before they can walk... i think part of being really good is the length of time between learning to crawl and walking in stride... Let us know what and how you do... :)
     
  7. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
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    Well, if you are talking about F1 level of talent, all of us are way too old. Most of these guys started in shifter karts before they hit puberty. HW, if you are looking for a cheap way in, and you're not to talll and fat like me, shifter karts are the way to go. You too can discover if you have what it takes to, "Never Lift!"

    DrTax
     
  8. Hubert

    Hubert F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2002
    2,642
    The Left Coast

    DES:
    I don't *think* ive got some preternatural talent. Rather, i'm trying to discern that...

    DrTax:
    Maybe I 'm just really anxious...
    I just turned 23 this past Nov. 1, and feel like I'm wasting time (if I'm going to try to do this "pro" thing), but don't really want to find out that I had nothing to offer in that regard to begin with. And, i'm not really endowed with the money to just throw at it, and "see what happens." I did the karts when I was younger, but stopped once my fam moved from germany to the US. I 've already decided on skip barber, but I just dont want a lackluster cloud hanging over this on special part of my psyche; i.e., racing. I don't know, sorry guys... I'm rambling.

    hubert
     
  9. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    Hubert--I LOVE rambling about stuff like this, so ramble on, brother. I think the real reason this topic interests me so much is because, like all of you, I've always felt the same way about myself, too. Having a passion for the sport probably jump-started these feelings long ago, but little things along the way helped to perpetuate it:

    Among my friends, I was always the quickest to excel at racing video games, quickly learning the tracks and challenging the top drivers. At the go-cart tracks, I was always runaway-faster than my pals, as if always seeming to luckily get the "fast" cart. At a BMW autocross promo event, I set the fastest time of the day, the only driver to record an under-20 second lap time (by a whopping 1/10th second).

    Some or all of this may look/sound familiar you guys. The way I see it, it's things like this that help feed the desire to race, and perhaps within them are signs that, just maybe, we may have skills which, if developed, could serve us well on a race track. Soooo, at the age of 23, it's unlikely there is a future in Formula One for you (although James Hunt was already in dental school before he saw his first race). But that doesn't mean there aren't other paths. A lot of drivers in the various GT/Sedan classes make their fortunes first, then spend it on racing. Either way, longevity in those venues is much, much longer than in open-wheel.

    When I finally made the decision to try a season of racing, I realized how little I knew, including what I wanted to drive! So, I volunteered to crew for a SpecFord driver for a season to get an inside-out perspective. It paid off, and in the process I met a lot of great people. I've been wrestling a lot lately with the idea of getting an entry-level racing sedan just to get back into it. Either way, you'll never regret trying and failing the way you will regret never giving it a shot at all.
     
  10. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Don't do it and regret it.

    Or

    Do it and don't regret it.
     
  11. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    Yeah, but I prefer my long-winded way of saying it better!
     
  12. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Me too! Always enjoy your posts. *smooch* hahaha
     
  13. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Pete
    My thoughts.

    Personally in my case I knew straight away that this was for me. If you do not leave your first track session with a burning desire to return ... then you have not got it!~!.

    No matter how much talent you THINK you have if you do not want to commit every last breathe to any sport you are not going to excel at it ... because the other competitors DO want to, and this makes up for any lack of talent, as they soon learn.

    An example: My boss did a track day, and I asked him how he liked it ... and his comment was 'Yea it's fun ...' but that was it. When I had my first track experience I went home and had to be talked out of converting my long term concours restoration project into a full house race car. 2 weeks later I had bought another car to go racing in!!!! Now that is enthusiasm.

    I see this in my children for some sports, and thus I support as best I can ... but if I do not see that enthusiasm or passion ... I'll let it pass as a fad, because that is all it is.

    This enthusiasm and passion for the sport can be seen in the way drivers drive around the track. The ones that are good and real racers are always working their car looking for that extra speed ... Kimi, the ones that are just circulating are doing just that and not even trying to coax that extra speed out of the machine.

    Same thing happens at the Go-Kart track ... which I love to play with every now and then. With in 5 minutes I can tell who is going to be fast and who is not, and I cannot help myself but I'm continually looking for that faster lap ... even though it is supposed to be social. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been beaten on a Go-Kart track, even crappy indoor karts ... even now that I am 35.

    The will to win makes the driver, everything else comes second. Loose that fire (as I did a few years ago, hence I retired and went and got married, etc.) and it is over.

    Now I am not saying I am the undiscovered MS ... but I have won a club championship and always been one of the quickest in a particular model of car, and thus I believe I HAD it ... and not from training at race driver schools, but simply learning from my racing father and competing and working real hard on my own abilities, and loving every minute of it! :)

    A race driver school can only teach theory, they cannot ignite the fire, that has to be self lit!

    Pete
    ps: Most of the above applies to all sports, ie. professional sports did not make a player play any better. Sport is far bigger than money, it is some peoples meaning to life. Like MS take the money away and he will still race as hard!
     
  14. ART360

    ART360 Guest

    Hubert:

    If you really want to do it, you'll do it. Talent is not a correct term. We've all got a little talent, hand eye cordination, etc. What seperates the men from the boys in racing is desire. I didn't have many of the physical talents my competitors had, but I found ways around my deficiencies: an example: had the eye doctor grind a set of glasses that gave me 20/10 vision, just like some of my competitors.

    I struggled along until it dawned on me that I needed seat time. I started spending every moment I could afford on the track, started reading all I could about the theory of going fast, and I fell a lot, trying to explore the limits of adhesion.

    After a lot of money, time, sweat, and injuries, I finally became competitive, won a race or two.

    The bottom line: you have to really want this, because it will affect your life if you want to do well.

    I still can't get away from it: bought a shifter cart, and interestingly, at almost 60, I'm only about 2 - 3 seconds slower than the professionals where I drive. Most of the other ex-motorcycle races I know, are still racing, but different vehicles, classes, etc.

    Art
     
  15. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Veteran
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    The subject of talent is one that I am often asked about and I'd be more than happy to present my thoughts on the matter.

    First of all, I do not believe that there is one particular thing that makes one driver better than another. Eysight, reflexes, reaction time, strength are all important but not critical. A defficiency in one can be made up for in another. For instance, Archie Scott Brown was missing much of one arm and raced with a prosthetic limb. Stirling Moss reckoned him faster and he was devistatingly quick (ASB died in an accident after a short but brilliant career). On a more modern note, Michael Schumacher actually has quite average recorded reflexes.

    Big male units also are not a be all and end all. Fantastic speed comes from a metered chanelling of great skill, confidance, & experience. Fast times do not come by chance and just willing it will not make it so.

    To some speed comes easier than others and there is an element of 'talent' that helps this along. Driving is a skill and like any skill it requires lots and lots of practice to hone effectivly. Driving a car quickly is no different to playing a piano or painting. That artistic touch that makes one fast is a developed skill. Most people will plateau at a given level and part of that is an intageable thing called talent. Sometimes it runs out earlier than you like and you are left looking second best. With that said, there are some things that go beyond talent that propel untalented drivers well past their peers and talented drivers to greatness. These are some of the factors:

    1. Desire

    You must want it more than life itself. Winning has to be centrally important and good enough cannot exist.

    2. Passion

    You must be passionate in your driving. Racing looks all glamorous but that is only 5% of the deal. It is filled with heartache and frustrations. These are merely tests for the weak and if you are really passionate, you can overcome it.

    3. Intellegence

    All great drivers are very intellegent. They have the ability to multi-task very well and are not easily overloaded with information. If you do this well, than you will likely be a good driver.

    4. Realistic

    Realize that even if you are really good, you will be a looser most of the time. Every race has only one winner and if you are not that person then you lost. Do not look at this as failure. Learn from each experience and make yourself stronger for the future.


    My advice: Try it!!!! It will be the best and worst times of your life. You will feel more alive than ever and do something that most only ever wish for. But one thing: do it with passion! The moment other things seem more important stop or recognize that it will only ever be a hobby.

    On another note, I happen to be privy to the details surrounding Kimi Raikkonen's 'chance' that was given to him by Peter Sauber and rest assured that a LOT of money changed hands. It all worked out very well but that chance did not come for free. Even Schumacher's first F1 drive had to be paid for (Mercedes picked up the tab and then TicTac paid for it). If you want to make a career of it, make sure you have a way of financing it in the early going because even if you win every race, there are lots of other pay drivers out there that will beat you to the race seats. This sucks but is a cruel reality of the game.
     
  16. tifosi12

    tifosi12 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Three days at Skip Barber answered the question for me (although I never really doubted the answer beforehand): I'm a big racing enthusiast with a tad of talent. That's it. Not a lot talent or even super talent that would get me somewhere. But I didn't expect that. As a matter of fact I have to say it would have sucked to find out at age 25 in a racing school that you actually had talent, but now you already (like 20 years ago) missed the boat to take it somewhere.

    So the question therefore is a bit academic: When you're a toddler, you don't ask yourself that question. And once you ask yourself that question, you're too old anyway. So the only way to be fast is to give your 3 year old toddler a motorized go kart, lots of run off area and hope.

    Having said all that, of course doing a Skip Barber or some club racing is not wrong at all. It can give you great pleasure nevertheless. I left the school knowing that I'm better than Joe Average, but a long, long way from any serious racer. To put it bluntly: I was probably the slowest out there in our class.

    Also aside from the fun factor it did give me a good understanding and appreciation of the really talented drivers. And that's half the fun of watching a race these days.
     
  17. ART360

    ART360 Guest

    People don't realize how much it costs to go racing cars. I've seen young men with great talent, without sufficent family money, get stuck at the highest series their parents can afford. The Gidleys of this world are very few and far between.

    If you've got a kid you want to run IRL, or beyond, you'd better be prepared to spend 1M on him or her, and she or he had better be absolutely great. It's a sad commentary about the sport.

    Motorcycles on the other hand, are relatively cheap to run, and if the talent is there, a kid can move up to a paying job. Examples: John Hopkins, Kevin Swantz, Steve Rapp, et ect.

    Art
     
  18. Hubert

    Hubert F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2002
    2,642
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    Yup. I haven't got a fortune... if I did, I suppose I'd already be racing (if I had the money to blow, "talent" wouldn't really matter since I could go racing w/ or w/out it.) I appreciate all the replies... I guess what would set me right would be for a pro to see me drive, and just tell me if I've got the right stuff, or not, and what to do.
    I'm still on track to do the racing school at skip barber late december/early jan will have to see how that goes (there is the possibility of a ride with a barber dodge team).

    Thanks all,
    hubert
     
  19. ART360

    ART360 Guest

    Hubert:

    Given that the people running IRL, etc. started racing before they were teenagers, you'd start at a disadvantage anyway. If you want to race, find a good amateur class, that falls within your budget, and go see if you're willing to try to win.

    An old joke: How much does it cost to go racing? Answer: all that you have. Problem is that the joke, isn't a joke.

    Art
     
  20. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

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    #20 FLATOUTRACING, Nov 13, 2003
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hubert,

    I think much of what has been said here is on the mark about talent. Here is my two cents worth.

    I think most everything that you need to be a successful racer can be taught just like anything else. For some it may take years to become fast and others are fast right away.

    The natural talent thing became apparent to me (that I didn't have any) at while racing at Skip Barber.

    I quickly came to the conslusion that there were three speeds on the track:

    1) slow (most people fit this).
    2) very fast
    3) devastatingly fast

    The last group is the "natural talent" class. The difference between the first two groups might be a couple of seconds and the difference between 2) and 3) might not be more than a second or two but it reiterates one point:

    You can't teach 3) in my opinion. There are some that will claim you can teach someone to reach number 3) but I believe that while you might be able to teach someone to reach "professional" type lap times the difference between the pros who have natural talent and the ones who learned it is CONSISTENCY.

    Perfect example is watching many of the racers in World Speed Challenge Touring class. Many fine amatuers with near pro like talent but all you have to do is watch someone like Bill Auberlen who dominated WC and won races at the end of the season with a 200 lb. weight penalty.

    There were people who could match his speed in this race or that race or for a few laps here and there but what seperated him is THAT HE DOES IT EVERY DAMN LAP, whether it's a 23 lap srint race or 4 stints at LeMans.

    My first Skip Barber school I was second fastest in our group but the guy who was first fastest was on a different planet.

    His name was Ernesto. Little guy from Venezuela about 5 feet tall and only 15 years old. He won a bunch of South American karting championships. He had his dad there with him and a camera guy following him to tape the schoool. The Skip Barber people were kissing his ass like you wouldn't believe. He didn't come to any of the classroom sessions and they had Skippy people talking privately with him after every session.

    He was at least 2 seconds per lap faster than I was and at Lime Rock which is only 1.5 miles thats huge.

    Bruce McInnes, the head honcho at Skip Barber told us that this kid would be in F1 in 5 years. I though yeah...whatever!!!!!!!

    I didn't see or hear of this kid until a year later when we both raced in the Skip Barber Eastern Series.

    My first race was in the wet at L.Rock and he was flat out amazing. He lapped everyone in practice at least three times (me twice). At one point we are coming down the main straight in a pouring rain and there is no grip. I am struggling to keep the car from going straight off the track and locking up the front wheels. He just zooms by clicks off four perfect downshifts and nails the throttle through the apex like it's dry out there.

    He won 14 of 16 races that year and then was moved to Europe. I later found out his dad raced with Montoyas dad and they are buddies.

    He is now in F3 and beating people like Piquet Jr. and F3 champ Van de Mewre. In fact he was leading qualifying at the world famous Maccau F3 final this week until he had a huge crash.

    His name is Ernesto Viso http://www.ernestoviso.net/ and I think he has a shot at F1 because like many other South American racers who have had success his dad is loaded and brings major corporate sponorship with him (that and of course bucketloads of talent).

    BUT more than anything what stuck with me about the natural talent things was the following quote from head instructor Bruce McInnes who was a professional racer and trained people like Michael Andretti and Montoya.

    During one of the first session at the school, where Ernesto was wiping the floor with the rest of us Bruce said the following:

    \b{"Ernesto you really had a fast session out there, your about 1 second off the track record but you are driving the car on talent alone. You are doing a lot of things wrong out there and we are here to teach you to do them right".}

    I though holy sh*t, he's one second off the track record (while the rest of us are anywhere from 3-10 seconds off the record) and he isn't doing a damn thing right????? THAT'S TALENT.

    He proceeded to shatter the Lime Rock track record for a Formula Dodge school car by .21 seconds which Montoya held there.

    The "...you are driving on talent alone..." quote stuck with me through the past couple of years watching other fast drivers.

    You can teach many things.......But natural speed (the ability to be fast even when you are doing things wrong) isn't one of them!!!!!!!!!!

    At Skip Barber you will know quickly if you have this world class talent. They aren't going to hide this from you. They want the next Montoya to come from Skippy school not Russell or Bondurant.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Regards,

    Jon P. Kofod
    1995 F355 Challenge #23
    www.flatoutracing.net
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  21. tifosi12

    tifosi12 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Absolutetly fascinating read, Jon. Thanks much for sharing this!

    Sounds like we're gonna here from this kid sooner or later. Probably sooner if he is already doing well in F3. Piquet Junior isn't probably a revelation, but still. Hope you got his sig while at Skip's.
    :)

    And I will remember: I heard his name here first on FChat. From Jon.

    I also agree with all the stuff you said. Just like in Golfing, it is consistency that makes the masters. Also agree about your classification of the drivers. Lots of patience, practice, money and seat time will get you from group 3 to group 2, but never to 1.

    I remember being completemented for my heel and toe technique as being the best in class in that regard. Well, no wonder. I practiced for a year before taking the class. But that's only technique, but not talent. Just one of the many things you can learn mechanically, but it won't help when it comes to those neurons in your brain connected to your "butt sensors".

    BTW: My teacher at Skip was some wunderkind as well and I followed his career for a while, hoping that I was driving a future champ around (in the Neon session where he sits next to you). But to no avail. His career eventually plateaued. He'll probably remain an instructor for the rest of his life. Not bad, but no F1 in his future either.
     
  22. tifosi12

    tifosi12 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    oops, I meant from group 1 to 2, but never to 3

    of course
     
  23. ART360

    ART360 Guest

    You see guys like that in every racing venue. They are soo good that you want to take them out back and beat the crap out of them for making you look so bad. Having said that, it still takes Daddy's money to make sure that they get better.

    Art
     
  24. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

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    Jon, see if you remember the name of this girl. About 3 years ago I did a Skippy lapping day at Road America, and there was a South American girl there, Brazilian, I think, with her own private instructor from the UK, and so on. She was pretty hot, and wasn't shy about changing in front of the troops. Anyway, her story was that she is/was married to some older SA television honcho, and they were giving her a nearly limitless checkbook to see how far she could make it in auto racing. I can't remember her name, but I swear I saw her racing recently in GT class. Any idea?
     
  25. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Veteran
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    You are thinking of Milka Duno. Hords of cash and effectivly no talent (I'm making this claim from the people who have worked with her)
     

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