"RACE TO WIN" How to Become a Complete Champion Driver" By Derek Daly

"RACE TO WIN" How to Become a Complete Champion Driver" By Derek Daly
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Forward By Mario Andretti
Book Review By Tim Kennedy

Los Angeles, Ca. - The off-season for auto racing fans is a great time to catch up on your reading about your favorite sport. I did just that over the Christmas holiday. My first book review of this off-season will be the 2008 published hard-cover book "RACE TO WIN: How to Become a Complete Champion Driver":

"RACE TO WIN: How to Become a Complete Champion Driver" by author Derek Daly. The 256-page, 6 X 9" book has 53 color photographs and retails for $25.95 US. It is well worth the expense and time to read, digest and utilize the contents. That statement is true for current racing drivers and for parents and youngsters hoping to become racing drivers in any discipline of motorized sport.

About the Author:

Derek Daly was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently resides in the metropolitan Indianapolis, Indiana area with his wife and three children, one of whom (Conor, 16) is pursuing a motor racing career as a driver. Derek began his racing career in Ireland and it spanned 17 years. His racing career included stints as a formula car driver in Europe, Formula 3 racing and the pinnacle of racing--Formula 1 from 1978-1982. He raced for five Formula 1 teams including Ensign, Theodore, Renault, March and Williams. He almost won the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo one season. Derek made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1983 and raced at Indy annually and in the CART Indy Car Series for years with a third place finish his best result. He also raced in sports car long-distance endurance races at Sebring, Florida and Le Mans, France for Nissan. He and a co-driver won the 1990 and 1991 Sebring 12-hour races. He retired as a driver in 1992 and became a writer, broadcaster, motivational speaker, racing advisor and businessman with his own race driving school.

The foreword to Daly's book was written by world-famous racing champion Mario Andretti, the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, 1978 Formula 1 world driving champion and CART Indy Car driving champion. Mario recommended Daly's book saying, "the book offers a true driver development path laid out for drivers, team managers and parents to follow."  Mario particularly was impressed by Daly's innovative "Champion's Pyramid" and its six qualities that a racing driver needs to posses (in balance) to succeed as a racing driver. The book is available everywhere quality books are sold. I will not go into specific details about Daly's concepts contained in the book, but I will highlight and cover major topics contained in his book during my following book review.

What makes Daly's book so interesting for readers is the way he uses the names of well-known national and international racing drivers to illustrate his points. Those points are the positive and negative qualities that make drivers successful in racing or deny them the racing success they seek. Daly also cites his own racing career to illustrate some of the hard lessons he learned during his racing career. If budding drivers of any racing discipline learn from Daly's missteps they might adjust their own attitudes and the way they relate to fellow drivers, crew members, owners, officials, media and sponsors. That alone will make the cost of the book worthwhile. It is fascinating and enlightening to read Daly's anecdotes about real racing drivers and upon reflection Daly is on target with each driver assessment. Daly names four outstanding champions who possess in abundance every element of his "Champion's Pyramid". Those champion drivers are Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.

Daly's book, which was years in development in his mind, is designed to unlock a driver's potential. He believes one must know what to develop and how to develop it. The author discusses Racing DNA (R-DNA) which can be altered unlike human DNA, driver development versus driver assistance program (financial and equipment), and physical conditioning versus on-track coaching. Daly believes that racing drivers need to be developed individually. He discusses relationships in racing with owners, mechanics and media, and the importance of not burning bridges. He illustrates that point with his own racing career in Europe. He embellishes his advice with lessons he learned the hard way with examples of his own actions that he would handle differently (i.e-a relationship with team mechanical staff after an unsuccessful race). While Daly did not concentrate on his strengths and weaknesses as a driver during his racing career, he saw those qualities in other drivers during his role as a racing analyst on television for ESPN. His stated objective for this book was to help the next generation of drivers get to the top and develop necessary skills, to identify and eliminate weaknesses and to sustain their position as a championship driver.

The author started his Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in conjunction with Barry Green (Team Green Racing) and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. in 1995. His academy enrolled and developed 46 young American drivers in a program that preceded that of Red Bull Energy Drink during this decade. Daly identified three primary types of racing drivers:

Instinct-Reflex Drivers
Feel-Sensitive Talent
The Magical Combination of both 1) and 2.

His book named accurate real life examples of all three types of racing drivers. Read his book to see if you agree with his comparisons.

Chapter 1 identified Daly's "Champion's Pyramid" six elements. In the the form of a pyramid from the base to the peak, the six elements are: Talent Identification, Technical Skills, Communication Skills, Mental Skills, Physical Skills, plus Desire and Commitment. Key topics in Chapter 2 (Talent Identification) went into driver discipline or lack thereof, temperament and success, shyness compensated by honesty/humility as demonstrated by Formula 1 champion and Indy 500 winner Jimmy Clark. Chapter 3 (Technical Skills): Daly stated that drivers with good technical skills tend to be less emotional and more methodical in their approach and execution as racing drivers. His driver illustrations were most interesting. Daly contrasted driving by stopwatch times or by feel of the car, driving 10/10ths versus 9/10ths. He stated that time during test sessions should be spent getting the best car set-up or balance and should not be spent trying to lower stopwatch times. According to Daly, the best age to start technical training is 14 to 16. Current kart, Bandolero and Legend Car drivers at the local track level are clearly on the right track.

Chapter 4 ((Communication Skills) included a thought-provoking concept. "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." Daly discussed important subjects for any racing driver. They include body language, firm handshake, look into the eyes, and situational awareness skills. He identified four driver (personality) temperaments—doer, talker, watcher and thinker. His examples of famous drivers in each category made most interesting reading. Chapter 5 (Mental Skills) went into mental toughness, physical conditioning, basing your belief system on truth, developing physical and mental strength (more difficult of the two), absorbing set-backs, coaching and behavior patterns.

Chapter 6 (Physical Skills or Fitness) covered topics such as driving positions, steering wheel grip, physical training in a gym (don't overdo it and cause fatigue or cramping), and pre-hydrating with mineral-loaded drinks. He discussed at length and recommended a Fitness Program for Racers by Jim Leo, of Indianapolis, in chart-form. Chapter 7 (Desire and Commitment) – Daly called desire the most important of the two and used Mario Andretti as a prime example of a racer with the necessary desire. He said commitment is doing whatever it takes to succeed. The author said desire separates racing stars from pretenders. He mentioned "killer instinct" versus a strong desire to win, and the need to race mind-set versus want to race. Daly contrasted European mentality and American mentality and stated that American drivers in Formula 1 racing are not hungry enough.

When pressed to identify the very best racing driver over the decades, Daly named Michael Schumacher. The German-born Formula 1 many-time champion "had 68 Formula 1 poles and 91 victories in 16 glorious seasons." The Epilogue of Daly's well-received book gave key advice-- "Focus on being a champion, not on becoming one. Focus on the process of personal excellence." In summary, Daly's book is timely and needed for current and prospective racing drivers. His analogies and stories, including his recollection and account of his own near-fatal Indy Car 1984 crash in Tony Bettenhausen's Provimi Veal Indy Car at Michigan International Speedway, provide interesting reading. Daly wrote about his own weaknesses and identified practices that make racing drivers great drivers and champions. That is vital information for anyone embarking on or currently engaged in a racing career.

The book is available everywhere quality books are sold.

Pick One Up Today!