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Note Taking

Assuming your goal is to improve your driving skills and performance, you need to take as many notes as possible about track conditions, the car's setup, and your own driving performance.

Having a record of what you did at a particular track, and the conditions at that track will help establish a starting point for the next visit. This will minimize your time experimenting with car setup (even if it is just tire pressures) and allow more time for working on driving techniques, and enjoying yourself.

As with any form of performance optimization, it must be approached scientifically. This means changing one variable at a time, and documenting the effect. Did the change improve what you wanted? Did it improve anything else? Did it make anything worse?

Each change or adjustment to the car and its environment has to be correlated to lap times, tire data, and the driver's impression of the car's handling. Sometimes the driver will believe the change made him slower or faster, but the lap times say otherwise. An adjustment may cure a handling problem, but show excessive wear on a tire. Everything must be considered in balance for the best overall performance.

With a stock street car, there aren't too many things to keep track of. The more you modify your car and give it race car adjustability, the more confusing it can be to know what to change and why (especially if you're doing it yourself and learning along the way). Good note taking is essential in keeping a clear head, determining a path for making adjustments, and in proving whether something experimental was beneficial.

You should have a standardized form for recording all this information. You can use the ones we have created as samples, or make up your own. Whether it's typed, handwritten, fancy or not, its important to have a premade form and to keep numerous copies of it handy. This will remind you what data to record, and will provide a consistent place to find it from session to session.

A very useful method for taking notes is to make several copies of the track map, and write on it. Write down track features that affect the handling of the car such as bumps, slick spots, off camber sections, etc. Also write down what you are using as reference points for braking and corners. After each session, write down where you're experiencing understeer and oversteer. These notes specifically on the track map will be more useful in helping you to visualize the experiences you had when you return to the track in the future.

The following sections identify what skills and techniques you should be practicing, what notes you should be taking, and provides some explanation for why.

Read Next Article (Track Condition Notes)

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Use a standardized form for recording all your session notes. Whether it's typed, handwritten, fancy or not, its important to have a premade form to remind you what data to record, and provide a consistent place and format for comparing data from session to session.

Session Log Sheet
(PDF download, 24k)

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