Surviving Speed Week
Like anything in life, in racing, there are many difficulties. If someone were to ask me today what some of my biggest challenges in racing have been, I would most certainly answer, “Speedweeks.” Some may ask, “what is a speed week?” In short, it is several races consecutively spanning over the course of a week, typically at several different venues within proximity. However, though these events are a great challenge they are also very rewarding. With that said, I would like to share some of my experiences over the years from participating in various speed weeks.
What makes speed weeks so challenging? There are several factors. Time is one of the biggest factors because you do not have much of it. What I mean by that is typically you are racing every day. In order to give yourself a fair opportunity at success, you must be very prepared. Races often run late into the night or early hours of the morning, so it becomes a test to service and prepare the race car in a timely manner for the next day's race. In my experience, we would typically wash cars the same night immediately following the race, so everything is already clean and ready to service. Often, we do not get to bed until AM hours which takes its toll as you get towards the tail end of your week. We usually get up early the next morning so we can go through the car and prepare it for that evening. As other racers know and understand, maintenance takes hours.
Then there comes the next challenge. Traveling. Depending on where the next race is located, you may have to drive a couple of hours to the next venue so having a plan is important. Depending on distance, you may travel to the next location prior to servicing your car. If you choose to service the car first, you need to make sure you allow yourself time in transit to get to the next event on time and have all your work done prior to leaving. This is where a speed week can be most stressful in my opinion. You constantly hustle and you are exhausted from sleep deprivation with a lot of hard work. Typically, it is very hot as well since these speed weeks tend to take place during the summer months. Lastly, the competition. Probably the most challenging part of all. More than the average car count will turn up for a speed week because it is an opportunity to do a lot of racing in a short amount of time. In order to achieve great results, you must execute as a team flawlessly, and remain laser-focused the entire time you are there. Winning races, in general, is always a test, but when you expand car counts and heighten the level of competition, winning is no easy feat
With all the difficulties that come with a speed week, there is always a reward. The abundance of racing in a short period of time is one of the biggest rewards. One thing I appreciate so much about doing speed weeks is having the opportunity to race at new venues that you wouldn’t ever go to otherwise. I have been able to travel all over the country, and the world, and experience some of the most interesting places because of various speed weeks we have participated in. Experience is one major key to speed weeks because you gain an abundance of experience in a short period of time. Every time you set out to compete, there is an opportunity to learn and improve. We have been able to make great strides with our racing program and have improved tremendously due to the knowledge gained from those learning opportunities. Another thing that I appreciate about partaking in a speed week is the people. You tend to meet lots of new people, all of whom are friendly faces. You create new friendships that often result in life-long relationships. Making memories with those individuals who you may not have met otherwise are priceless.
Lastly, the glory. Winning seems a little more special when you capture a checkered flag at a speed week. Not everyone is fortunate to experience this, but those who are would rank these victories as some of the biggest in their career. With the extreme difficulty that comes with winning these events, it becomes much more memorable and certainly more rewarding when you find yourself in the winner’s circle.
In summary, if you were ever on the fence about attending a speed week in your future, my advice is to DO IT! You will test yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. You will gain valuable experience and learn a ton. You will make unforgettable memories and new friends. But most of all, win or lose, you will have FUN! That is the good, the bad, and the glorious surviving a speed week.