Joey Hand takes over the reigns as Online Driving Instructor. The BMW Motorsport driver will carry a dual role this year competing in the European DTM series and the American Le Mans Series. Here is your chance to receive advice from a talent who has risen from karting to the top levels in professional motorsports. Answers will be posted daily beginning January 21, just prior to Hand’s appearance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing.
BMW Motorsport Driver, ALMS Champion, Rolex 24 at Daytona Winner and Star Mazda Champion
BMW Motorsport Driver Joey Hand, 33, from Sacramento, Calif., is living proof that hard work, perseverance and talent are the primary attributes necessary to become a top-line professional driver. Hailing from a modest family background, Hand first sprung to prominence in karts, which he began racing at age 12. He made a rapid transition into cars, finishing second and claiming Rookie of the Year honors in the 1998 Star Mazda Championship, then winning the title in convincing fashion one year later.
After earning a Team USA Scholarship in 2000 and contesting the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in England, Hand moved into the Atlantic Championship with DSTP Motorsports, earning top rookie honors in ’01. He then took advantage of an opportunity to move across to the sports car ranks with Team PTG and BMW.
Almost a decade later, Hand’s name is virtually synonymous with BMW. He has earned multiple wins in the American Le Mans Series and Rolex GT competition, including an ALMS GT2 championship and victory in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona. He was chosen by BMW to represent the marque on its return to the high-profile European DTM series last year, and was able to confirm yesterday that he will return for a second DTM campaign in 2013 alongside his various commitments in North America.
“I’m happy to be asked to do this and proud to do it,” said Hand, whose season will commence in earnest next week at Daytona when he suits up to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing in the ‘round-the-clock Rolex 24 sports car enduro. “When I was young and coming up, there was no program or website like SAFEisFAST but I had a lot of great people to bounce things off of and who gave me lots of support and knowledge, so I’m really looking forward to being able to give back a little bit and maybe help out some people who might be looking for answers.”
Joey Hand answers your questions!
What are the different driving characteristics between your ALMS car and your DTM car? How do you work up to and know you are at maximum speed through a high-speed and high-risk corner? How do you know there is not more speed left on the table? Risk/reward? Good luck out there, a lot of us are rooting for you in DTM. Thanks for your time.
The DTM car has a couple differences to its handling depending on the speed of the corner. In low-speed corners it’s very sharp on the front and feels very stiff. You have to really work the throttle to get the power to the ground because of decent torque along with low grip from the tire. In the high-speed corners it’s like a formula car. You can really be aggressive. As the cornering speed increases, it feels like the rear of the car just keeps on gaining grip. It takes a little bit to get used to it and take it to the limits. It’s not uncommon to have a car that is loose in low-speed corners but be really nicely hooked up in high-speed. The ALMS M3 was always a very consistent car when it came to handling throughout the corner types. Generally, if it was pushing in low-speed it pushed in high-speed. Maybe just a bit worse. Same for if it was loose.
Risk-and-reward is a calculation you are making every corner, every lap, all the time. I think the risk-and-reward calculation is much easier when you are comfortable with a situation and when you have a good feel for the situation. Comfort and feel normally come from time, but it also comes from your sensors (i.e. fingers, back, butt) in your body. I’ve always been a guy that loves to feel the car work through the tires, and if you can gain a great feel for the tire then your sensors will know when you’re over the limit or under the limit. It comes back to seat time and just another reason I think driving so many types of cars in my career has been beneficial to me. Thanks for the support, Joe.
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I’ve been doing a lot of prep for my first season of racing, including lots of racecraft and mental prep practice with the iRacing service. I find that I struggle with race starts and staying consistent during the long runs. I know that every driver is different when it comes to mental preparation, but I’m wondering: How do you get in the “zone” before a race, and how do you stay there while racing?
You’re right, it is different for everyone. I do my mental preparation well before the session by looking at data, writing down some notes and then visualizing what I will do. When it comes time to be out by the car and getting close to the race I just like to be relaxed, hanging out with my crew and engineers. I like to know about what my boys on the team do when not at the track — with family and other things. We will talk about things normally not to do with racing and just wait for go-time. I like mingling with fans and taking pictures. Sometimes I will give sponsors like the folks from Crowne Plaza a look and a talk about the car or how we think the race might go. I know a lot of guys like the opposite, just being by themselves. My way is what relaxes me and if I’m relaxed I’m comfy, and normally if I’m comfy I’m fast.
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Kelvin van der Linde
Hi Joey, I’ve been accepted to race in the 2013 Scirocco R-Cup Championship in Europe. The car has a DSG gearbox, so no clutch. Would you advise left-foot braking at all? All cars I have driven prior to this have had a clutch so I have had to right-foot brake. Is there a major advantage by left-foot braking or does it really just depend on driver preference? Thank you very much for the help and I hope to meet up with you at some point in the 2013 season.
I would recommend doing what you are most comfortable with, for sure. I am a left-foot braker since I came from karting. Luckily, when I moved to cars, I went directly into formula cars that had “dog” boxes and did not require using the clutch. It wasn’t until I moved to sports cars that I had to learn to use the clutch – and that was only in the Continental Challenge cars that had a stock synchro gearbox from a street car. The only time left-foot braking becomes critical is when the transfer from throttle to brake is really quick. So I’d say LMP cars, Indy cars, DTM and F1, for example. In the BMW M3s in ALMS last year, four of us shared the driving — two left-foot braked and two right-foot braked! It’s all about you and your style. One thing I learned is that right-foot braking can be better for fuel mileage so I had to adapt my left-foot style to ensure I burned a similar amount of fuel as the right-foot guys. I learned this early in my sports car days. So the moral of the story is, even though the car you will drive has no clutch I would stick to what you know. It will probably be better for your apex speed to right-foot brake because the crossover time from brake back to throttle allows the car to roll a bit. Good luck.
SAFEisFAST.com Video: Braking
You obviously have a tremendous talent, but I’m sure it isn’t all “natural.” What do you do to keep your mind and body sharp for racing? Or maybe the better question is: What should an amateur club racer who doesn’t have access to special facilities do?
I’ve already answered the first part of your question, I think, but in regards to the second part, you don’t need any special facilities to do what you need to do. I’ve always said to parents of kids I coach, I can teach them the lines and how to pass and where to pass, but I can’t give them that fire in their belly to win. That’s the part you’re born with or not. I love to win; my stomach hurts when I don’t and I’ve always been like that. The best of the best don’t need to be motivated to get out there and figure things out or push others to help figure things out. I will say, though, that I have learned a lot from teammates I’ve been with about how you go about getting your car faster or yourself – in particular Bill Auberlen, who really is one of the best ever at getting what he needs out of the car. I learned how to use data, engineers, mechanics and myself to make progress with the car. So what I’m getting at is, stay motivated to make progress no matter where the progress comes from – your lines, your fitness, your car’s handling, all of it.
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Hugo Becerra Jr.
I am a 16-year-old Touring and open-wheel car driver in Mexico. I’m currently an official driver for Mini Mexico and I drive a Mini Challenge in endurance championships. Also, last year I had the opportunity of participating in British Formula Ford and ended up with good results. My goal is to reach Formula 1 and I am really focused on it but I don’t want to shut down other options. I’m currently looking for options in my career and this is why I’m asking you since you have a lot of experience. What can you advise me for my career?
Well, lots of people ask about what direction they should go and that is tough to pinpoint for sure. I think the key is dedication. I was dedicated to racing for a career and I also wanted to go to F1, but at the same time the roads that were available to me when I was young didn’t always head that way. I chose to race where opportunities arose instead of being bullheaded about going to F1. I’m happy with my decisions as it has allowed me to race for a good while already and with some of the greatest teams in the world. On my way to the point I am now I have driven all sorts of race cars. I’ve driven dirt late models, sprint cars and midgets. I’ve also driven Formula Mazda, Formula Palmer Audi, Formula Atlantic, Indy car. I’ve done stock cars on a road course and oval. And, obviously, I’ve driven all sorts of sports cars and DTM.
Each one of the cars I drove taught me something and made me better. So, since you’re asking me, I say drive whatever you can whenever you can as long as it is a decent ride. It won’t help your career to drive around in a junker at the back of the pack. If the opportunity arises to move toward F1 then maybe you take it, but the more you’re driving, and in front of people, the better chance you will have to drive for a living.
Hey Joey, thanks for taking the time to answer questions for fans of the SAFEisFAST program. Kimi Raikkonen has recently stated that he “can’t learn anything from (racing) simulators.” He has also advised his crew – more like yelled over the radio in the heat of battle – “Leave me alone, I know what I am doing!” What is your take on simulators, and could it be that Raikkonen is so advanced in his driving abilities that this could be true?
I think simulators can be useful to a certain point to a race driver and each driver will be different. As I’ve mentioned before, I used sims to learn tracks last year and in the past, and the sim I have at my house is very simple. I don’t know much about the very advanced sims that F1 is using because I’ve never been on one. Really, you need to be open-minded. Of course, if I sit at home on my sim which doesn’t have any yaw movement at all then I am missing a piece of sensory input that you would have on the racetrack. I know what the sim can do for me, and what it can’t, and I use it accordingly. I always work with the mentality that there is always something to learn.
I jumped on my iRacing sim just before I left for the Roar Before the 24 (pre-season GRAND-AM test at Daytona International Speedway) just for some refreshment after not driving over the winter break. So like I said, use them or don’t use them, it’s all personal preference. As far as the radio chatter goes, I’m a guy who likes to be talked to on the radio. I like the info my engineer or spotter can give; it’s comforting sometimes also. I’ve been lucky to have great people on the radio with me. Names like Kent Stacy, Tom Milner, James Stevens, Chris Yancher, Bobby Rahal, Tim Keene and this week at Daytona Mike Hull. When you have guys like this telling you something, it’s normally worth listening.
What is the best karting format for a beginner to start at 15 years of age – sprint karts or right into shifter karts? I live in the Tucson, Ariz., area and have tracks available to me in Tucson and Phoenix. Should I get into a Jim Hall or Bob Bondurant karting school first, or start with a basic kart and build up some track time first?
For sure I would recommend some sort of clutch kart (non-shifter) to start in. At your age you are already going to be in the adult classes. I’ve always recommended people to start in lower horsepower karts so they learn how to drive at a basic level. If you have tons of power then you can use it to get out of trouble and therefore build bad habits. The lower horsepower stuff will force you to learn how to keep the kart rolling through the corners. It wouldn’t hurt to start with a karting school also, just to make sure it’s what you think it is. If you to decide to get into karting then you should align yourself with a local kart shop. I would look at Buddy Rice Karting if he still has a shop in town.
Good luck this year; sounds like you are going to be very busy. I am going to do my first HPDE in February in my stock Z06 and have never been on a track before. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for a real beginner. Thanks.
Well, in some of the questions earlier I explained some techniques for learning a track once you are on it, but one of the biggest deals will be what you can learn before you get out there in your car. I’m not sure which track you are going to, but if it’s a pro track then try and get some simulator time. Whether it is or isn’t, you can also look up on-board video from other people driving the same track on YouTube. Lots of club racers and track day folks run Go Pros and post the videos for friends to see – I learned the Monteblanco circuit in Spain this way. If you can find a video, then print out a track map and check the video and the track map at the same, stopping the video at times to look at the map and try to gain an understanding of the corner. If there is no video and no sim, then just study the track map and figure out which corner goes which way at the bare minimum. If you know the track, it will make you more comfortable and allow you to focus more on your driving right away.
SAFEisFAST.com Video: Learning a New Track
I’m 52 years old! I have raced MX, DT, RR, Speedway on Motorcycles, 360 Sprints, and now Midgets! I have won in each of the types of racing and can still go FAST! Am I too old to hope for a ride again someday??
I think it really depends what you want to do. Let’s say you are good at the sprint and midget stuff, then I think you could go back to that and have a chance at getting a ride. I mean, Steve Kinser is in his 60s, right? You would have to be ultra-fast though. If you’re talking about starting with something new like sports cars, then without your own money it will be tough to find someone to put you in the car. If you had a sponsor or the money of your own you could easily go to a GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge team and drive and have a great time in that series.
Without making my question TOO vague, to become a racing driver while knowing you were born to drive, but having no resources, mentors or help, where is the best place to start that can help provide a pathway to a career in driving? Thank you.
With such a successful build-up through the ranks of open-wheel racing, what made you decide to switch over to sports cars? Did you ever have that one sort of big break that launched your career?
My switch to sports cars was just about opportunity. I won a test with BMW Team PTG from the Formula Mazda Championship in 1999. I tested with them in 2000 and it went well, but I was committed to the DSTP Atlantic program. I stayed in touch with Tom Milner from PTG and after three years in Atlantic he gave me the opportunity to come drive for him. Since then I’ve been with BMW every year they have raced in the States. It took some getting used to when I came to sports cars, but I learned to love it quite quickly.
As far as big breaks go, I think my career has been full of them. Starting with the chance to drive for Kent Stacy’s S3 Formula Mazda team which I learned a ton from and won a lot also. Then the Team USA Scholarship thanks to Jeremy Shaw. The next was Dede Rogers giving me a shot with her championship-winning DSTP Atlantic team. Next was the opportunity with BMW Team PTG which has led to a great time with BMW North America and a home with Bobby Rahal’s BMW Team RLL. Then the chance to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing at Daytona and winning in the first try with them which kicked off a massive 2011 for me. And finally the chance to test the DTM car for BMW Motorsport which turned into me being the first American to contest the full DTM championship. And there you go, break after break after break. I’m not sure who said it before but life is a lot about capitalizing on opportunity, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.
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I am 18 years old, been an avid fan of racing for my entire life and am from a “racing family.” However, I have never raced anything in my life, mostly because my parents wanted me to play school sports. Now that my parents finally seem to be softening up to the idea of me racing, I realize that it will be extremely difficult to make up for many years missed that other drivers had to develop race-craft and things like that. What would you recommend that I do to make up for these missed years, so that I can build a solid foundation?
As I’ve told many kids that I’ve worked with over the years, there is no substitute for driving and winning. In your case obviously it starts with driving. I would get to indoor karting, outdoor karting, karting schools and also get on some simulators that you can drive at home like iRacing which is what I use a bit at my house. Everything will help you get the experience you need. One thing is for sure, there is no reason to move on until you’re winning at the current level. As long as you can get driving and get some good people to learn from then there is no reason why you couldn’t catch up to the pack.
Jack Mitchell Jr.
Joey, thanks for taking the time to answer questions. What is the biggest difference between driving a sports car and an open-wheel car? Also, what is the difference in mentality that you bring to an endurance race?
An open-wheel car generally has more downforce and a stiffer platform than a sports car so the styles are definitely different. The sports cars slide around a bit more and roll a lot more. In endurance racing there is more compromise in your mentality. You have teammates that have to like the handling of the car as well as you. The same goes for seating and everything else. Nowadays endurance racing is different than it used to be in the way that you don’t save your car as much as before.
Really at the 24 hours of Daytona it will be a sprint race the whole time. Of course you will take care not to hit curbs the whole time or make contact with other cars but you don’t need to save the engine or the brakes or tires. If the brakes wear out they put new ones on in a pit stop.
First, congratulations on the new spot on SAFEisFAST and of course your first year in DTM. I am thrilled to see an American out there in the series. I am a licensed BMWCCA driving instructor and advanced HPDE student. At age 49 I know any career in racing has passed me by but I would very much like to become a BMW Performance School Driving Instructor. What can I do for that to happen?
Thanks Steve. I’m very proud to represent the USA in DTM and looking forward to this season. I’ve spent a good amount of time with the BMW Performance Center instructors and they have a great group there. A lot them have raced at some level whether it be amateur or professional.
What they all have is great car control and adaptability. They can do everything from drifting to racing. Sometimes BMW puts us all together to drive the vintage fleet. I think it’s all about if they need instructors and if you have the skills to not only drive but teach at a high level. Your best bet would be to call the Performance Center and talk to Mike Renner. He should be able to answer your questions.
Hey Joey, thanks for the time – you’re a huge inspiration to me and one of my sports car heroes. If you could share a few of the most important or relevant tips from your career on and off the track for a young aspiring driver heading to racing school after college in a couple years, it would be really appreciated. Also, a thought or two about sponsorship when moving up from racing school would be nice! Thanks again for the time Joey, it means a lot. Good luck at the 24, and go for it in the DTM! 🙂
Well, Sam, I think the most important things are winning and speed. First impression is a big deal also, but they go hand and hand (no pun intended). Most of my rides in my career came from a tryout/shootout situation where I was able to make a good impression early. If you can get up to speed very quickly that will catch the eyes of the right people. As far as finding sponsorship, I’m not the guy to ask, but if you’re standing in front of a potential sponsor, be yourself.
When you go around a corner too fast and your car gets out of control, how do you get it under control?
That’s kind of a trick question as it depends which end is out of control and what induced the control issue. Either way though it’s about the limitation of the tire. If the car goes into an understeer then you need to get out of the throttle and let the speed bleed off enough for the tire to gain traction. If you stand on the brakes at his point it could make the situation worse. If the car gets throttle-induced loose then it’s fairly easy – correct with the wheel into the slide and get out of the throttle. This can get tricky though – if you over-correct and let off the throttle abruptly then the rear tires will hook up quickly and could catch you in what I call a “button hook” in the direction you have the wheels turned. These are general examples. Now, if there is rain, snow, ice or anything else on the surface between the tire and the road, things can get a lot tougher and a lot crazier.
SAFEisFAST.com Video: Racing in the Rain
How is it driving the Nurburgring? Is it fun to drive on this track?
Hi there, Jack. I hope your racing is going well. I’ve got to race at Nurburgring, but only on the F1 track which is where we have our DTM event. I have been around the Nordschleife as a passenger with my teammate Martin Tomczyk though. He took me around in his BMW M5, and I will say, it’s impressive. If you’ve played it on GT5 you know it’s tight and up and down but, as usual, simulators just don’t do it justice. I am not a good passenger at all (just ask my wife!) so I was completely white-knuckled and sweating. He probably needed new door handles when we were done as I was trying to rip them off. 🙂
Joey, I race both a Dirt Late Model and a TaG go-kart throughout the year. How do you prepare yourself when switching between different kinds of race cars? I’ve been racing the dirt car for numerous years now and just recently started karting again. I feel the intensity of the kart helps me perform better in the late model but vice versa I feel the late model experience shows some bad habits in the kart. Hope you can help. Thanks and good luck racing this year.
Wow, those are definitely two different beasts! I’m usually driving cars that are all on asphalt and always road courses so that part is similar. My approach might still work for you though. It’s all about limits, right? And it’s mainly about the limit of the tire to the road, so that’s what you have to get most comfy with first. I always go out in a new car – or different car – and really attack on the first lap to find those limits quickly. Even if the tires are cold I can get a feeling for the stopping power of the brakes and the acceleration that I can ask for. Also I can get a feel for how the car will react when you surpass the limit of adhesion in any direction.
For example, when I go out of the pits at Daytona this week in the Ganassi BMW, I like to get after the throttle leaving Turn Three and let the car get a bit sideways just to get that feeling of what the car will do in that situation. I’m not talking about smoking the rear tires; I just mean past the limit of the rear tire to feel the car get sideways and how quick or slow it comes back. I will do the same thing in a brake zone where there is run-off in case I get it wrong.
On the brake side it’s more about seeing what kind of braking power you have and what the tire will put up with. I don’t go super-deep when I’m feeling the brakes but I push pretty hard and feel the deceleration capability. So, like at Daytona, I’ll do this the first couple corners but mainly into the Bus Stop on the first lap. By the end of lap one I have a pretty good feeling and from there I can ask for more each lap as the tires come up to temperature. In DTM the tires are heated in blankets so they are ready for action on the first lap anyway.
I started Rotax Max karting last year, and have been involved at the track in one form or another as long as I can remember. Trouble is I was always too busy doing other things till now to get into racing. At 26 years old, I want to begin a career in racing but fear I’m too late. I have a minimal budget but I have a love and passion that runs deep. I can do many things well but nothing quite as well as drive and be coached. Some insight from the inside out would be appreciated.
Well, to be quite honest you are behind as far as age and experience, but it doesn’t mean you couldn’t pull it off. One thing is for sure, you’re going to have to be very impressive to make a career of it from here. I would say to get involved with a kart shop or kart track – especially if they have a driving school. You need to get yourself in front of people that can help you along and right now that’s in the karting world. At any point you’ve got to win and be impressive. Gather as much knowledge as possible from everyone you meet. Finding money is going to be tough (it’s tough for everyone right now) so I’d stick to making connections and mastering the craft.
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Your racing in DTM is fantastic to watch – great driving and very tough competition. I wanted to know this: What is your process to prepare yourself to race, both physically and mentally, and does it vary depending on immediate circumstances or from race to race? For instance, in the DTM you were learning to drive a new race car and on a new track. Is there anything different you did to get ready when so much was foreign to you? And finally, what advice would you give a BMW CCA club racer on how to prepare for a race to drive at their best? Thank you for your time. All the best and continued success.
For me in DTM last year everything was new – the cars, tracks, people, rules, even the places I went and the food I ate were new. So there was a lot to wrap my head around. One thing is for sure, the more comfortable you are in the car and with your surroundings the better you will go. With this in mind I spent a good bit of time getting familiar with the rules and the functions of the car to start with. I would sit in the car and check out all the buttons and knobs and just get comfy with the cockpit. It sounds like small potatoes, but when you are on track and you need to move the brake bias or turn the wiper on or anything else and you’ve got to hunt for it then you will lose time. In DTM there is no room for losing any time. I learned this early on!
As far as learning the tracks I would prepare before I arrived on some simulation game even if it was Gran Turismo. Just knowing which way the track goes really helps. Once I got to the track I would do as many laps as I could on a scooter to get some repetition. Throughout the weekend I would play laps in my head as much as possible. As far as physical prep, I go to the gym every day I’m home and a bit on the road if it’s not too close to the race. I like weight-lifting in super sets to get the heart rate up and use a lot of ballistic movements when I’m with my trainer.
Thanks for taking my question and congrats on your success! I love coaching; been at it since 2000. The hardest concept for me to teach is “feel.” It applies all around the track but, for advanced students, most importantly in the braking zone. You could probably write 60 pages, but what advice can you share about teaching advanced students the feel of correct braking… particularly to avoid braking too soon, to a speed too low, trail-braking, left-foot, combined brake and throttle, etc.? Thanks again and good luck with upcoming events!
All I can say about feel is it all derives from the tire contacting the road and that grip level. If I want to teach somebody to feel the tire work, the easiest way would be to add a ton of air pressure and let them drive it. Then take out a bunch of air pressure and let them drive. Lastly, put the tire at the correct air pressure and let them drive it.
I guarantee you they will have a better feel for how the tire works after all that. Same goes for braking. You could use the tire pressure game or you could stiffen the front bar a ton (if this is an option). Or you could put different grip level brake pads in. Now, considering that you really are teaching advanced students, let’s take the front bar trick for example. If you stiffen the front bar enough then when your student turns in with too much brake it will quickly lock the inside front. The only way to drive around this is to release brake earlier and roll more speed at the apex. They will learn from this.
What would be your most important piece of advice for a fast lap at Mid-Ohio (other than keeping off the grass driver’s right exiting the keyhole!)?
Well, you’re right, staying on the track is a great start! I think one of the biggest things that works in almost all the corners at Mid-Ohio is “Release and Roll.” By that I mean there is a lot of time to be had by trailing off the brakes a little earlier than you might think as you’re heading toward the apex of the corner. Now, how you do it is not as simple as it sounds, but it does sum it up. You can’t just pop off the brake and let the car roll as that will upset the balance of the car and normally induce understeer so it has to be a progressive roll-off. The key is just that you get it done earlier than you think you should. This will increase your apex speed which is especially noticeable in Turn One and at the end of Thunder Valley. Remember, it is still a limitation of the tires but most people tend to over-slow the entry.
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I’m rather curious about how being a pro driver affects how you drive — and what sort of vehicle you choose to drive — around town on normal roads and highways? Thanks Joey!
Lots of people ask me this and the first answer is I really am pretty calm on the streets. I don’t want to pay tickets for one and also I have two kids riding with me most of the time. Street driving is all about being aware of what’s going on around you and watching out for the people that don’t know how to drive or are distracted by something else.
I’m always on high alert. As far as what I drive is easy – I drive what BMW gives me and that is always some sort of M car. Right now I have an X5M, but soon I will be in an M5 which I’m excited about. My wife has a 2013 BMW 328 which we got just recently for commuting to work. It gets great gas mileage and she loves the agility of it (she was a kart racer also so she likes good-handling cars).
How does the skill level of drivers differ between the US series and Europe?
Really, the skill level is similar; it’s just that the skill level is very high all the way to the back of the DTM grid. Figure at Nurburgring last year I was racing ex-F1 driver David Coulthard for 15th spot! Even so, I’ve had some of my toughest races against some of the strongest competition I’ve ever raced against in the ALMS and Rolex series. Each series I race in through the year has differences that you need to get used to. For me in the U.S., I know all the tracks and rules and drivers and styles so it makes it a lot easier to just go out and rip off some good lap times. In DTM I had to learn all the tracks and rules and drivers – really I had to learn everything. Knowledge is an advantage! So I’m hoping it should be a little easier for me in Europe this year.
SAFEisFAST.com Video: Racing in Europe