If you live in a climate where there’s an off season, now is the time to get to work.  However, before you start to put a wrench to your car the first thing to start doing is to plan.

  1. Planning

The head of Atomic Autosports, Bill Snow, has a plan for everything track related and it starts in the offseason.   His advice is to use whatever planning method works for you.  For him, it’s Google Docs and Sheets, but for others it’s an old fashioned, spiral bound notebook.  Either way, start documenting your plan.

So why plan?

Without a plan you won’t finish what needs to get done prior to the start of the season.  Your plan should include everything that needs to get done and it needs to have time based deadlines.  If you have a plan you can easily start and stop your activity and you can delegate too.

So where to start?

  1. Review your notes from the season.  Hopefully you recorded feedback from your events. Maybe you recorded information related to the car’s handling or a tool you always had to borrow.  Make notes about items that need to be addressed.
  2. Go over your car and note items that need to be replaced and addressed.
  3. Check out the websites for the sanctioning bodies you run with and start to build your calendar of events.  This will help with planning around family activities and requesting off of work.
  4. Read the rules.  Rules change so don’t get DQ’d because you didn’t know that a rule changed.
  5. Your tools and equipment.  Spend some time going through everything and taking notes of what needs serviced, replaced, and what you may need to purchase.
  6. Take inventory.  Don’t you hate it when you order parts and supplies only to find out you already had it?  This is why you take inventory of what you have and what you need.

Once you have all your notes together you can develop a plan to get you and your car ready for your next event.

Note: In the Late To Grid podcast episode with Gabe Guiterreze, Gabe shared lots of great ideas on staying organized.  Click here to listen.

Ok, so now it’s time to develop your plan.

Start to list out everything you need to do to your car, everything you need to purchase, and everything you need to do prior to the season.  Once you have the list complete you can start to execute your plan.

Many drivers and teams like to use cardboard and a sharpie marker to list out what needs done to the car.  This makes delegation easy and is a great visual of your progress.  Lay the cardboard on your windshield and keep the sharpie close.  You can cross off items when they are complete and add items as needed.

Start to make your purchases.  Many folks need to spread the purchases out for cash flow reasons.  If this is you, make sure you plan when you’ll place the orders.  Oh, and keep your receipts!  This helps for future purchases (you already have the part number).

We’ll wrap up this section by reminding you that planning doesn’t stop once you get to our first event.  Having a plan for your race car is a season-long concept.  You should have a plan for your food at the track, your packing list, your crew’s responsibilities – heck everything should be documented and planned.

2. Your Car

So now that you have your plan in place let’s focus on your car.  Keep in mind that as you sort your car you may be adding to your list.

First things first, give your car a good bath and clean it out.  This includes underneath as well.  You never know what you’ll find under seats, in the trunk or behind a bunch of dirt.

Next go over the entire car.  Looking over everything and inspecting all the components.  What you are checking for is loose or worn out components.  Take note of everything so that you can refer back to it.  This is also a good time to nut and bolt the car.  If you find items that need attention, make a note, put it to your plan and order the parts or components you need.

3. Your Self

During the offseason it can be hard to maintain a good diet and get the needed exercise we need to be your best.  Put together a diet and exercise plan that is realistic and that meets your goals.

When the season starts you’ll want to be ready for the physical and mental demands that motor racing and track days place on a driver.

4. Your Season Schedule

In the planning phase of the offseason you researched what events you were interested in and who was running where.  Now it’s time to put that into a schedule.  

What type of calender you use is up to you.  Many drivers will have a separate Google Calendar that allows them to keep racing events separate from work and allows them to share it with co-drivers, family and team members.  Others will create a spreadsheet of the events as they can add additional information to help better manage resources.  Still others will use a paper calendar.  

It doesn’t matter what type of calendar you choose, just choose one and get planning.  

5. Learning & Podcasts

While we as drivers should be taking time to learn all season long, the offseason is a great time to focus a little more on learning and education.

We are lucky to be involved in a sport that has so many websites, podcasts, and forums.  Spend some time and do research for people that drive your same car and perhaps race in your same series.  Scroll through podcasts and look for one that might help you better understand vehicle dynamics or one that explains how to prep your car for the track.  BTW, we’re partial to the Late To Grid podcast.

Speaking of the Late To Grid podcast, one topic that many guests have mentioned is networking.  The offseason is an ideal time to network with other drivers, crew members, industry insiders, and experts.  Our sport is filled with people who are willing to share their time and expertise – take advantage of it!

Following these five simple steps this offseason will help you have a great season at the track.