Conversation Pace for HPDE


I vividly remember as a student the first time I got instruction with a helmet intercom. The instructor (who shall remain nameless) was very chatty, "So when I was seven, we got a puppy..." Made me a little crazy, and I regretted inviting him into my car (he was not assigned to me).

One of the things I try to ask the student early on is their preferred pace for interaction. They generally have an opinion, ranging from "I want to do a few laps with no instruction, only interrupt me for a safety issue" (which is fine if they have the requisite amount of experience) to "I'd like you to tell me everything in a constant stream". The latter is the default for a first-timer, though you have to be very careful to not over-load them.

I try to do a "check in" on pace, either at the end of the session, or on a long front straight. It goes something like, "How's the pace, am I talking too much, or do you need more from me?" This gives them an opportunity to guide your approach, hopefully keeping them from being frustrated.

Intertwined with pace is to always be instructing in front of the car. Both the student and the instructor can easily get bogged down in discussing what was wrong in the last turn complex, or how to do that better. It detracts from what the student is doing "right now" and what they will be doing "seconds from now". A strategy I use often is to say, "I'm going to instruct you through Turn 7 next time around" to address something that is behind us. Then I'll introduce it again maybe one turn before, something like, "Stay left as you exit this turn (T6) - OK, turn for the apex, unload the wheel as we cross this crest." Managing the communication this way lets the student know that you're engaged, you'll deal with it at the proper time, and keeps them focused ahead. If it's really complicated, do a follow-up in the paddock with a track map.


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