Starting Out in Race Cars – Stepping Stones

By Mazda Factory Race Driver Tom Long:

Recently I was at Road Atlanta helping an up-and-coming racer who I was with for the first time, although I’ve enjoyed working with his dad several times in the past!

Ryan is 15 years old age with a lot of go-kart racing experience. He had just received his car racing license and has been trying to figure out his best path up the motorsports ladder. We had several discussions in which we weighed the pros and cons of his various options, but we knew that the first objective was to obtain seat time in cars any way he can get it. One of those opportunities came at Road Atlanta, where I helped Ryan get more comfortable with driving cars in general. I also helped him learn Road Atlanta and all of its challenging nuances.

We had a productive couple of days, with Ryan going quicker in every session as he got more comfortable. He also developed his data review and feedback skills, and we had a lot of fun along the way, too. This is an exciting time in his career. He’s starting a fresh season in 2020, when he’ll get his first taste of car racing. In the meantime, he is gaining as much seat time as possible throughout the off-season to be as prepared as he can be for next year.

With Ryan’s goals set for next year, getting seat time in the types of cars he’ll be racing will continue to be important. Picking the right stepping stone—something that will give him not only a challenge but also notoriety as he develops his craft and gains success—is an important part of his plan, as well. The choices he makes now can help set his career path.