I’m a Type B personality. I don’t over-plan my vacations, I don’t make lists, I let things happen. But I concede that there are advantages to the type A personality – not forgetting to pick up things at the grocery store, not scrambling to deal with a lack of available hotel rooms, etc., so I’ve come to adapt some of the Type A lifestyle just to make some things a little less troublesome and disorganized.

When it comes to iRacing, I am beginning to believe that the precision of the system and the constancy of the racing environment – not to mention the level of competition – make it a place more suited to Type A people who can take lots of notes and apply what is learned from one event and apply it to the next.

For example, in the past, after a race my tendency would be to say my goodbyes, exit out and move on to the next event without giving it a second thought. Over time I have thought about how I would approach a race if I showed up at a track in a real-life series. Would I just show up and do my race and leave? No, I would probably spend a lot more time in preparation and after the race I would collect as much information as possible to learn from what went wrong and what went right. No point in repeating mistakes.

Dream scenario: Simon Pagenaud debriefs in real-time with "riding mechanic" and iRacing vehicle dynamicist Eric Hudec.

Dream scenario: Simon Pagenaud debriefs in real-time with iRacing vehicle dynamicist Eric Hudec.

After replays became available I began to think it may be worth saving the replay of the race and learn from it. In the end I have come up with a post-race plan worthy of the most fastidious A-types.

Post Race Debrief
After leaving a session, you should take lots of notes on several aspects of the race:
•    quality of the setup; note parts of the track where handling was a problem
•    behavior of the competition
•    special aspects to remember about the track
•    things learned during battles
•    self-critique about your driving performance and your mental focus
•    break down your race strategy and how it evolved during the race and whether it was successful or not
•    areas to improve

Taking notes is a critical step to improving, but they are only useful if you act on the observations and learn from them. Keeping records and acting on them will help you learn faster and make fewer mistakes as you gain experience. Organizing your notes by track or series can help to refer back when you go back to the track at a later date.

Another important learning tool is to load up the replay and use it to learn:
•    what things you and others did during the race which worked well
•    what things you and others did during the race which failed
•    study battles all over the track with care and especially note successful passes and rewind further back to understand how the pass was set up  and completed
•    review the start of the race and analyze any incidents and who made it through successfully and observe how they did so
•    use the cockpit view in most cases to see what others see, and supplement with Blimp/Chopper or chase views to get perspective on car position
•    resist the urge to pretend to drive the car with steering and pedal inputs, since the true link between your brain and the sim is not present, and may inadvertently instill some bad habits.

Pen, paper and meticulous notes could be the key to success on iRacing.com.

Pen, paper and meticulous notes: keys to success on iRacing.com?

The Type B personality inside of me scoffs at this extra work, but I have to admit there’s a side of me that knows that the extra work is standard procedure for serious race teams, and if I was serious about improving that would require learning from the past.

But I will continue to avoid buying a filofax – I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

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I need to spend more time viewing my replays from races and practices and looking for what worked and didn’t.

Lincoln Miner
November 8th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Good stuff. I began taking notes this season where before I would just wing it. I found myself missing out on what the exact fuel load needed to be or even remembering what setup I had run last time I raced at that track. Right now I use notepad++ for notes because I can have files for different cars and notes open at the same time. What do you use for taking notes?

Ryan Ligon
November 9th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

This is a great article. I often ride along with other drivers during practice sessions to help me learn the course and driving technique, but races are the only place to get good info on overtaking and car-to-car interactions.

I think that hanging around a little bit to chat with people after the race is good for the spirit and the iRacing community. It builds bonds with us and helps everyone stay cool when mistakes happen. Not everyone has a mic, but even text at the end can be a nice human touch. If you do have a mic, be sure to use it to offer apologies when its your fault (and resist the urge to lash out at others when it isn’t). These comments aren’t really related to the article though. 🙂

Jerrod Hansen
November 11th, 2009 at 2:10 am

Good article! I always said to myself to take notes and study my races: maybe this is time to start doing it seriously.

I suggest to use One Note (Microsoft’s application for taking notes, included in Office 2007) or Evernote (which is available for various devices and saves your notes online!).

Fabrizio Cuttin
November 11th, 2009 at 2:21 am

In a digital world, you still can’t beat a piece of paper and a pen.

Chris Hall
November 18th, 2009 at 10:54 pm

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