The NTT IndyCar Series has been back in action for a few months now, and I’ve been fascinated to see how our sport has evolved to operate under social distancing guidelines. We all knew how important it was to follow the recommendations laid out for teams and drivers by the series because a COVID-19 outbreak could have landed us right back on our couches instead of the cockpit.
Outside of the most obvious changes like a huge reduction in on-track practice time and fewer fans at the tracks, there are a lot of ways we’ve reduced social contact. Even before COVID-19 my home base during a race weekend has always been my motorcoach. What used to be a quiet place to escape the busy garage area has now turned into my operational hub. Here’s a behind the scenes look at how I’ve organized myself to maximize efficiency and social distancing:
- Driver's meeting on my laptop: The driver’s meetings used to take place with all of us jam packed together to discuss important issues for a given race weekend. Now it’s on a Zoom call so we don’t gather all in one place but can still get the information we need.
- Pasta cooking on the stove: I have a strict routine when it comes to nutrition. I eat several times a day, between 4 and 5 times depending on my energy level. And lunch on a race weekend is ALWAYS pasta with chicken in a mild red sauce. I never want to get in the car after eating something different because I don’t take any chances with an upset stomach.
- Bike ready for warm-up: I use the bike to warm my muscles up before I get in the car. Indoor cycling is the perfect tool for me to do that, and it just happens to be great for social distancing too. I use my iPad to communicate with my trainer in France who joins me on my ride. I’ve been with my trainer since before I moved to the US years ago, and we make a great team.
- Tablet to talk with my teammates: I use my tablet to review my driving techniques vs. my teammates. We can play video of each other’s laps which is very useful. I also communicate here with my engineers via Microsoft teams. I think they might like seeing less of me face to face! :) the usual Hours of debriefing have turned into lets say a more time efficient Debrief now.
As you can see, I like to be prepared and organized. Preparation is a big part of success in my opinion, so I dedicate time the day before to organizing my workspace to be the most optimized possible.
Racing is all about the clock -- you’ve got to manage it well in and out of the race car.