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Inside the Rise of Remote Driver Coaching

Sportscar365 takes a look at what could be post-COVID-19 future of driver coaching…

Photo: Racers360

While sports car racing is often focused on advancements in technology, particularly on the track, the industry is oftentimes playing catch up to innovations seen in traditional stick-and-ball sports.

However, in the case of remote coaching, motorsports is taking a front-and-center approach, and given the current COVID-19 climate, could arguably be the wave of the future in the broader sporting world.

A startup called Racers360, co-founded by former Rolex 24 at Daytona and two-time Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring class winner Dion von Moltke, is betting on that virtual future.

Von Moltke, who helped launch the service in 2018, has connected hundreds of amateur and enthusiast racers to professional drivers worldwide through a number of online coaching options.

From Acura Team Penske driver Ricky Taylor to current Trans-Am T2 points leader Mike Skeen and former Rolex 24 class winner Cameron Lawrence to rising open-wheel driver Nelson Mason (pictured above), users are able to upload their on-board video and data to share with Racers360’s coaches to receive highly personalized feedback.

Among other pro drivers to have recently joined the program include Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor, sports car legend Johnny O’Connell, and two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden, who has also become an investor in the company.

“Throughout most of my professional career I would be hired by a driver for occasional coaching days — and the more of these I would do the more frustrated I became with the costs involved for the driver,” von Moltke told Sportscar365.

“From the daily coaching fees to flights, hotels and meals, it prevented many enthusiast racers from effectively working with a coach.

“Much of what I was able to accomplish in my racing career came from access to some of the world’s best coaches for my education. Most drivers, however, did not have the same opportunity.

“I knew that there had to be a way to change this poorly performing model, so I started brainstorming what the future of coaching could look like.”

Photo: Racers360

Von Moltke has focused on several core principles for Racers360.

He says the experience must be personalized for the individual, not just generic track videos, while also being easily accessible and affordable to both up-and-coming racers and gentlemen drivers starting out in the sport.

The reduction of travel and time on the road for the coaches was another key point, which allows von Moltke’s service to be open to a wider range of world-class drivers to serve as coaches, and scaling them efficiently for a much larger audience.

Replays of coaching sessions, which are often not available in face-to-face meetings, was also a key factor, along with the need to help athletes track their progress over time and build a positive relationship outside of a typical busy race weekend or track event.

“An issue that has become clear to us is that many drivers think they ‘are not ready’ for a coach or fear what the coach will say about their driving,” von Moltke said.

“They have this mental image of a coach yelling at them, not unusual in all coach and student interactions.

“It’s never too early to get a coach and we believe that when our customers work with a world-class coaches there isn’t any yelling; it’s always super positive and supportive.

“It’s almost like our coaches mentally embrace their students and constructively show the best path and priorities to improving their on track performance.”

How It Works

When drivers come for coaching they can upload a video from any camera system, at any track, in any car type to a Racers360 coach of their choice.

The coach reviews their video and then records a personalized “bite-sized” coaching video using screen recording, annotations and a webcam to coach the driver.

This video is accessible on the driver’s dashboard so they can watch it anytime and as many times as they want.

Included with every coaching session are written notes and goals from the coach, so drivers can track their progress over time.

The company has worked with more than 500 race car drivers of all different experience levels ranging from first-timers to 20-year veterans – in car racing, motorcycle racing as well as karting.

Von Moltke said that results have shown more than a one-second per lap time improvement on average for customers, and in some cases more than four seconds per lap.

“I attribute a lot of my success and growth as a driver over the last 18 months to Dion and his awesome team,” said NASA racer Mark Petronis.

“I’m a pulpit-pounding proselytizer for the Racers360 method of coaching.

“Last week I received a personal coaching video from none other than Ricky Taylor – one of the best and biggest names in sports car racing in the country.

“This week they launched their Champions Course by two-time IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden.

“Both bring perspectives to driving and racing that you’re not going to find anywhere else.

“Josef fired off pearls that I can’t even believe he was saying publicly – his insight and perspective into racecraft and mental preparation felt like they should be closely guarded secrets.

“The Champions Course alone is worth the cost of admission to the Racers Lounge. There’s a good chance you’ll learn more in this 45-minute course than you will in a whole season of turning laps on the track.”

Photo: IMSA

What’s It Like To Be a Coach

Von Moltke said one of the coolest things to come out of the platform is the connection it provides between racers and some of their biggest fans.

Recently Jordan Taylor hosted a live session where he coached an enthusiast racer who was driving a Corvette around Virginia International Raceway.

Taylor provided guidance on what the driver could do to improve, and opened up with how he has adapted his driving style to the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

“I have always loved driver coaching since it molded me as a driver starting in Skip Barber and all the way through until today,” said Jordan’s brother, Ricky Taylor.

“Driver coaching is something all drivers can use to gain a very challenging edge on their competitors.

“The main reasons all drivers don’t have a coach is convenience and budget. Those are two areas where Racers360 can absolutely not be matched.

“Whether you have a single lap analysis, a full race session, or even want a same day turnaround while you are at the racetrack, getting access to world class coaches at the click of a button has never been this streamlined.

“To connect with other drivers at all levels and review their videos on the platform, it has been motivating to connect to see the passion the desire to excel.

“In addition to the physical coaching sessions, one of my favorite things about it is the incredible database they are building, of webinars, track descriptions, and specific courses covering topics from rain driving to driving styles to oversteer.

“A team owner once told me the cheapest area of the race car to reduce lap time is the driver. Being a part of Racers360 has proven that statement time and time again.”

The Racers Lounge

Racers360 goes beyond personalized coaching for their Racers Lounge subscribers by offering what von Moltke claims to be the world’s most comprehensive library of video track guides, online courses covering detailed driving techniques, car set up and mental training, as well as the live coaching sessions.

A six chapter, 20-lesson course focused on learning how to become a championship-winning race car driver was recently released in the Racers Lounge by Newgarden, entitled the Champions Course.

The platform also features channels for the same level of coaching and content library for karting and motorcycle racing.

Von Moltke sad the business has seen significant growth in recent months, which has resulted in the formation of parent company Blayze, which will replicate motorsports-style remote coaching into other sports.

“We’re launching into surf sports, volleyball, soccer and other action sports,” he said.

“Leveraging the proven model, we have a promising future, but motorsports will continue to be the foundation of our company.

“It’s not often we see businesses being started and built within the motorsports community and Racers360 is truly breaking the mold.”

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.

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