David Pittard 2 years ago 86
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10 Ways To Become A Pro Racing Driver

If you dream of becoming a racing driver, then follow my top 10 tips to get your feet on the top step of the podium!

Remind me later

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.

1. Networking is everything

Lewis’ famous meeting with Ron Dennis in 1995 at the Autosport Awards

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.

2. Don’t get a manager

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.

3. Be the entire package, not just a driver

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.

4. Do something different

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.

5. Get out of karts and into cars ASAP

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.

6. Get qualified as an ARDS Driver Coach

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!

7. Train yourself above your current level

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.

8. Have cash

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!

9. Learn the business

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.

10. Win

“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.

Follow David’s progress on his website and find him on Twitter.

86 comments

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  • “Have Cash” - Pretty much confirming that professional racing is the domain of the rich.

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    2 years ago
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    • Paynos Allan Hutton

      Motorsport is by it’s own terms an expensive sport, that’s a given. But that is what makes Motorsport such an awesome spectacle and something to be a part of. In most cases with track day driving and Karting, you are not going to be talent spotted. Team bosses will not flock to your door, YOU must go to them. Speak to everyone you can, race engineers to drivers and the bosses themselves if you can. Talk about prices, your most accessible championships and even try-out sessions in their own machinery. You have to sell yourself, like the article says. Be honest that you’re learning if you are, but make brochures for yourself on Photoshop and send them to companies and family friends/contacts via email, post, or by hand. Face to face conversations will get you further than anything.

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      2 years ago (edited)
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    • Ben Van Deventer Allan Hutton

      well, there’s a reason the most popular sport in the world is… futbol

      13
      2 years ago
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    • Humberto Roca Allan Hutton

      You play for Aston Villa what are you doing here? Go back to training we need to win more matches!

      7
      2 years ago
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    • datpolishtho Allan Hutton

      I would just like to say that - although motor racing is extremely costly - cash is just a means to an end. There are a billion ways of making money in this world, and personal frugality, common sense and a little bit of financial know how can help you secure cash.

      You dont need to be born rich - but you have to have the qualities a rich person does.

      2
      2 years ago
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    • Simone Willemse Allan Hutton

      Any sports that involves horsepower is an expensive one, especially the 1 horse power ;)

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      2 years ago
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    • Jozo Allan Hutton

      Not necessarily. You could enter yourself into a track day, and then be spotted by someone higher in the game who likes your driving. So basically you need cash, or a lot of skill and luck. Pretty difficult to get in either way

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      2 years ago
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    • Jason Turner Allan Hutton

      Poor mans well known race is pikes peak hill climb

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      2 years ago
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  • Number 8 brings us back to the famous saying “can racing make you a millionaire?” Yes, but only if you’re a billionaire.

    66
    2 years ago
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  • I have noted everything!

    44
    2 years ago
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  • Or become a girl. AKA Sponsors trap.

    37
    2 years ago
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  • Yay, let’s become racing drivers right now everyone!

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    2 years ago
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  • Too bad when you live in a country like Switzerland, like I do. The only way to seriously get sponsors is karting which is ridiculously expensive. So basically,whitout money you can’t get money. I’m right now saving for a car to participate in the DMV BMW Challenge in Germany in a few years, so I can maybe reach sponsors and who knows, even get to GT racing, which is my ultimate dream.

    11
    2 years ago
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  • Hey David, great first article!! I will gladly read any others you write along the way! Just a question though, Do you know anything about racing series for aspiring drivers in North America(Canada)? From what I’ve researched, there aren’t as many as in the UK and i was wondering if you might know a good place to start.

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    2 years ago
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    • Melons SteelMartini98

      Formula Ford, Formula Vee, Formula Atlantic, Canadian Rally Championship (p.s., the CRC is ripe picking for people with the necessary budget…) Canadian Touring Car championship B-Spec…

      The list goes on and on. You need to live in Ontario or Quebec. Practice. Win. Workout daily. Training. Conditioning. Practice.

      Canada is full of drivers who are athletic, but not talented. I’m one of the fastest drivers in the country (I can count on my hands and feet the people who are faster than I am, most of whom I know by name…)

      Work hard. Earn money. Do what you need to, in order to prepare for your career. Work harder. Workout more. Be the perfect guy with the perfect words. Adapt a driving style to make you renowned, like Crazy Leo, Vettel and Block. You need to stand out.

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      2 years ago
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  • So, if you’re an Introvert who would rather just race than be some PR man, you’re out of luck. Okay then.

    7
    2 years ago
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  • this is a really great article, im so…(no words to explain how i feel)

    5
    2 years ago
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  • I have the license, I have the race car, I have the sponsorship.

    If this season goes well maybe I’ll actually paid to do it! :)

    5
    2 years ago
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