Episode 001: How To Become A Racecar Driver’s Inaugural Podcast Episode With Matt Covert

coaching

Ok, here’s the deal with the Podcast.

I have been considering a podcast for several months, and I’m finally doing it.

If you’re ever spent any time with me, you know that I’m very opinionated and love talking about motorsports. This should be really fun for me!

I haven’t done any marketing for this podcast yet and I’m still waiting for a few technical things on my end..

…but the first episode is available for download right now at the top of this post!

In a few days (hopefully) the podcast should be available on iTunes, Zune, Podcast Addict, and any other major outlet for podcasting.

I should probably wait until all the technical stuff is ironed out…but I’m posting the first episode anyway!

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Who I am and how I got my start in paid performance driving
  • My views on motorsport education and career training
  • Why I started HowToBecomeARacecarDriver.com
  • How autocross is a legitimate career step
  • The grassroots autocross sponsorship program (financial sponsorship for autocross racers)

SHOW NOTES:

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Podcast1

Speaker 1: Welcome to howtobecomearacecardriver.com’s podcast where it’s not about being a racing driver but learning to become a racing driver. Here’s your host, Matt Covert.

Matt: Welcome to howtobecomearacecardriver.com’s inaugural podcast episode. I’m Matt Covert from howtobecomearacecardriver.com. I’ll tell you what, I have been thinking about doing this podcasting thing for quite a while. I love podcasting and I’ll come back to that in a little while.

But I was talking to an entrepreneur friend. We decided that this was going to be a really great thing for my brand. Here we go. This is the first one. I guess I should start off by introducing myself. I guess that makes a lot of sense.

Let me give you a brief overview quickly about what this episode is going to be. I want to introduce myself and tell you where I’m from, how I got here, and where I hope I end up in the racing world. I also want to tell you about my website howtobecomearacecardriver.com, what that’s all about.

Once you understand me and my brand then I think we can talk about the podcast a little more and what we want to do with that. I think that makes sense.

I stared my career in high performance driving probably six or seven years ago when I started getting work in film and television as a professional stunt driver and in live entertainment as well.

I’ll tell you what, of course, the next question that everyone else will ask me is, what movies have you been? Have I seen you in any other movies? The answer is probably, not. I am not a Hollywood A-lister. I’ve done a lot of independent projects, small films, industrials, commercials, stuff like that, and lots of non-union work. I never made it to the big times, unfortunately but that’s okay.

I was trained by several of the big dogs in the industry. I started my career at the Drivers East, High Performance Driving School in Wall, New Jersey. Getting trained by guys like Mike Burke and Roy Farfel. Those were guys who were doing Borne Ultimatum, Spiderman 3 and all of those really awesome movies, so that was really cool.

I also trained under Steve Buckley in Seattle. That’s so funny. I just realized that the same guy I was talking to about who convinced me I should do this podcast episode, I actually trained at both of those places. His name is Tom DeLong. That’s really cool.

Anyways, Steve Buckley was one of the original drivers for the Dukes of Hazard show so I learned a lot of cool stuff about driving from him. I did that for a little while.

I tell you, the market is pretty much flooded in non-Union stunt driving or stunts in general. I’m in the Northeast, the Boston area. The money started to go away. I wanted to make a change.

I was really excited about learning the online business aspect of things because there was never a website for me to learn high performance driving when I was first getting started. Trust me, I’ve looked for, ever since I started, six, seven, maybe even eight years, something like that.

My website, howtobecomearacecardriver.com fills that gap to teach performance driving on the internet. I’ll come back to that in a second.

One thing I always want to tell people when I’m talking about performance driving is that stunt driving and race driving are completely opposite. Now, I know that’s really intuitive.

When I first showed up several years ago to my first autocross, I had a really cool, British racing green 1997 Mazda Miata MX-5 M edition. It was a cool car. I loved it. Of course, having been a stunt driver at that point, I thought, “Oh, I’m just going to show up and clean the house.”

Little did I know, I had a lot to learn about performance driving. Stunt driving is very big, exciting, radical way transfers and all kinds of craziness. The directors loved it and so did the viewers of the movie. That’s why we do it. It’s a cool trade. It’s really cool.

But race car driving is certainly about being smooth, fluid, minimizing weight transfer and all that really interesting stuff which we’ll get in into all that, eventually in our probably future episodes.

They are totally opposite. I worked really hard to transition from one to the other and I’m doing quite well. I currently have a 2013 Subaru BRZ, which I raced in C Street, which is soon going to D Street. That’s another whole podcast episode, some classing changes going on there for the BRZ.

I love C Street or the street class in general because there’s so few modifications allowed. The good drivers always just rise to the top. I loved that it’s all about the driving aspect.

I’m a huge proponent of driver knowledge over just throwing money at the car. It’s important to maximize your modifications to match the allowable rules in your class. If you can’t drive the car it’s not going to make a difference.

Just throwing money at the car is a temporary solution. If you take those parts back off the car, you’re still going to be a slow driver. In certainty, if you’re not a good driver then putting expensive parts is just going to make you a slightly faster poor driver. That’s not what we want. That’s not what we’re going for.

I use last year— I’m still relatively new to this racing thing. I’m so excited about it. I’ve learned a lot. Last year was a transition year for me into the racing world. I did get two or three wins at some local events, which is awesome.

I could currently leading, the point series in street performance at New Hampshire’s, the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire which is, they hold most of their events at New Hampshire Motor speedway, really cool venue there. That’s all really exciting. I’m definitely prioritizing there. I’m racing all over the place.

I’m starting to Podium at the regional level. I’ll tell you what. There is some serious talent here in the Northeast for driving. I’m really excited about that. There are just so many people to look up to and get advice from. It’s amazing environment in Northeast for amateur racing. I absolutely love it.

I take autocross very seriously. I truly do. I have a great racing program and I am just going to keep after this until I’m competitive on the national level and get some national championships. I don’t know how long that will be. It will probably be at least two or three years and that’s probably optimistic at best.

But of course, one of my end goals is to move into T4. I don’t really want to leave autocross behind. I love autocross. It’s super competitive. Incidentally, autocross is a legit form of motor sport.

Anyone who’s telling you that autocross isn’t a real racing, it’s totally ridiculous. That is another podcast episode on itself. I’ll just move on from that. I will come back to that later, I guess.

I wanted to get to T4, which is SCCA’s, one of the road racing class. It goes all the way up through the major series after the run offs. Then of course, it’s just a little jump from there into the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car A class, which is basically T4.

I’m really looking forward to getting in some real road racing. That’s what I love about the website project and now this podcast is that I get to meet so many cool people, all kinds of people that email me and say, “Hey, I’m doing this, or what am I missing about this, or what are you doing, blah, blah, blah.”

There’s a lot of community here. It will be super fun if this podcast would help connect some more people to me, and maybe I can connect some people to other people.

It will just be awesome to have some other drivers rise to the amateur ranks of motor sport at the same time. We have each other to feed off or brainstorm and that kind of thing. That just sounds awesome.

I need to backtrack for just a second. I just have to say this. Autocross is a legit form of racing, I said that but a lot of people don’t believe that it’s a legitimate career step in your motor sport world. I just believe that’s absolutely ridiculous. Autocross is a great place to start.

Let’s look at Randy Pobst for a second. All he did was autocross for ten years. Look where he is now. He’s been in the Pirelli World Challenge. He’s been— should I came over the name of a couple of the other world racing series? I know he’s done a lot of endurance racing.

He works for Car and Driver now. He writes for the magazine. He writes for, what’s SCCA’s grassroots magazine? Whatever that is, he writes for that, too. He’s doing very well for himself. He started in autocross.

Like I said, there’s another podcast episode there but I want to make my position very clear about that particular topic.

I think that autocross is probably the best place to learn. Here I am. I keep talking about it. I keep saying that I’ll move on but I keep going.

I still say one of the things, real quick. One guy I’ve met through the website, his name is Jimmy Stamey. He’s getting a start down the road in Atlanta area.

Someone gave him a Porsche, I think it was a 944. It was all prepped and ready to go. He’s had a really great turn of luck down there. But he said to me about autocross, “If you can’t go fast while going slow, you won’t go fast going fast,” and I totally agree.

You have to know what you’re doing at the lowest speeds to really do well at the fast speeds. That’s why I think autocross is legit.

Now, I promise I’m moving on from that.

Now, you know who I am and just a bit brief background about me, where I am now, what I’m doing and where I’m going as well too I guess. I should move on telling you about the website. I completely love the website, what I’m doing. I love teaching this stuff. It’s fun.

Like I said, the website exists because up until the time that I started, which was only about six months ago, I can’t believe the things that have happened in just the past six months.

My YouTube channel has over 10,000 minutes of watch time, from 63 different countries have watched the videos from my tiny little website. What a cool accolade. I can’t wait to see where this stuff ends up. It’s just amazing.

Here’s why I started the website. Let me get down and dirty on it a little bit further. If you go to Google and you type in “how to become a race car driver” or pretty much anything of any other topic about race driving you’ll get dozens and dozens of websites that are all an inch deep and a mile wide.

They provide almost no value whatsoever, nothing that would really help you out when you crave knowledge about motor sport or what to do next, or how to move to the next level or how to learn this or how to learn that.

Pretty much, all they say is “Go to an expensive racing tool. Then, all you have to do is get a bunch of sponsors. And then, boom, you’re a pro race car driver.” That information is completely worthless. It’s crazy.

By comparison, I strive to make the content on my website an inch wide and a mile deep. I want my stuff to be incredible. Consequently, I’ve worked really hard on this. I’m very proud of this fact, my free stuff is better than most people’s paid stuff. I’m really excited about that. I will absolutely continue with that philosophy and I’m really excited about that.

The purpose of the website, my website, which is howtobecomearacecardriver.com, the purpose of the website is to teach drivers the intricacies involved in race driving. I often compare racing drivers with doctors. That’s completely illegitimate. I’m going to tell you why right now.

If you compare those two trades, first of all, there is no such thing as natural talent. No one is going to show up to a pro sprint car or the operating room and naturally will be able to do it. It takes a huge amount of time investment to develop the understanding from the theory or reading to implementing that knowledge in a safe way and all the way up to the point where your developing mastery. That’s when people are going to want your services as a driver or a doctor. It’s exactly the same thing.

There are tons of little things you have to know about either one of those trades. Doctors, they need to know stuff like, Biology or all the weird chemicals that go inside the body. I’m just making this on top of my head. I have no idea.

They have to know about the drugs and how medications affect the body, all those stuff. That takes time to learn. I’m sure it’s a pain.

Have you ever seen someone in medical school who’s not busy? It’s crazy. Medical school is medical school for a reason. It’s crazy, all that stuff you have to learn.

It’s exactly the same with race car driving. If you don’t understand all those little things, if you don’t know about yaw angles, if you don’t know the coefficient of friction, or if you don’t know why two drivers can drive to the same corner and have the same elapsed time in the corner but one of them comes up faster… I think I said it backwards.

Let me step back for just a second. Another thing about this podcast is that I don’t want to do any editing. I hate editing. It takes forever and there’s no need for it. If I mess up, I’m just going to keep going.

If you don’t know about yaw angles, coefficient of friction, if you don’t know how two drivers can go through a corner with the same average corner speed but one of them comes out faster at the end of the straight, if you don’t know why releasing the breaks slower can make you faster, those are the little things that takes to be an incredible racing driver.

Those are the things that rushed to a driver’s head at speed. If you don’t understand all those things, there’s no way you’re going to implement them because you don’t understand them. They are not going to be in your head.

Those are the little things that you have to learn. There is no place on the internet that I have found. I’ve been looking for years that will teach you all those things.

My website does them. I’m really proud of it. All that stuff is free. Up to a point, it will remain free. I guess I should backtrack down too. There is going to be a paid product of some kind coming out pretty soon. I’m not really ready to reveal more than that but I promise that 98% or 99% of the stuff on my site will always be free.

If you don’t want to buy anything on my site, don’t. There’s still huge amount of stuff you can learn. I guess, that’s all I wanted to say about that.

The biggest difference between doctors and racing drivers is that as a driver, an aspiring driver, you can learn all the stuff you need to know for free. You don’t have to go to a medical school. You don’t have to be a quarter million dollars in debt. I can’t even imagine being in that kind of debt, that’s crazy.

But what we do is we go to a certain place and to learn things. I love learning from books because they are naturally organized. They are often written by people who have spent their lifetime, their whole lifetime acquiring the knowledge that I already want to know. I don’t want to spend the same amount of time learning it because all I need to do is read their stuff.

That’s the kind of thing I want this website to be like, if you have a few places where you can go and learn this exact stuff. I’m really excited about that. My website is filling that gap very, very well.

There are a couple of really neat things about the site that I’ll just share with you, real quick that will help you out, maybe get you going. Let me see where did I leave it off here.

I’m standing here in my office here with an iPad and my Evernote just messed up. Let me see where we’re at.

One section on the site is the Chalkboards Sessions, which is just a video series. I have a lot of cool tech. I really love what I’m doing here.

I have a really cool screening capture software and a really neat tablet, and all that kind of stuff. A really great audio equipment, too. I put all those together, and then you get to watch a video of me drawing on a screen while I’m talking to you and explaining things with diagrams.

It’s so much more interesting than just sitting and maybe watching a video, I find this much more interactive. I’ve got great reviews about how things were going with the Chalkboards Sessions. It’s really neat.

It’s so much better than, I guess the phrase, death by power point exists for a reason. That’s just no fun. We want to stay away from that.

The chalkboard sessions is a great place to go to learn about really great and a totally under discussed racing concepts like slip angles and varying vertical loads and all that stuff. Like the little stuff you need to know, like between the doctors and the race car drivers. All that little stuff. You can get that on the site and I love that.

There’s another really cool part of the site that just has a compilation of excellent articles that I have written over the past several months or even years depending on the topic. The reason that when I started the site it was going to be more of a written blog type thing. That went really well but I don’t think people just have time to sit down and read a 3,000 word blog post about something as ridiculous as tire temperatures. I love that stuff. I can read that all day but some people just don’t have the time.

There are a lot of articles on there. If you like reading, you can learn all about things like amateur motor sports sponsorships. I’m going to come to that in a minute too because howtobecomearacecardriver.com actually has a driver support program. I’m sponsoring two drivers right now. I’ll come back to that in just a second. I’ll make a note so I come back.

You can all read about all that kind of stuff and that’s great.

Now you understand who I am and how I feel about racing knowledge and motorsport knowledge and education, and stuff like. Now, I want to talk about what the podcast is going to be like. Now, that you understand my brand, I can explain a little better what the podcast is going to do for us.

By the way, the podcast is always going to be free as well. I don’t like charging for stuff like this. I think this is a great way for people to come and learn knowledge for any things. That being said, you can give me a number of different types of podcast episodes.

One of them is going to be instructional or informational or I’m going to pick something off the top of my head. I’m just going to say, we’ll have an episode about maybe weight transfer and how weight transfer or mitigating weight transfer and minimizing the way that weight moves around the vehicles is going to make you faster. We could talk about that all day. There is another episode on there at least. We’ll be doing stuff like that.

Maybe we can also talk about, I don’t know, I’m just going at the top off my head now. I got a lot of questions about sway bars and spring rates and all that kind of stuff like that. I love that text stuff. I’m also a driving stuff. Hopefully, we can focus on some of that, driving techniques stuff as well.

Another thing we’re going to be doing here on the podcast is I’m going to be having some guests on, which is going to be really great. Podcast is going to be pretty easy for me because I’m absurdly opinionated. I’m sure if you’re following out with me you know that I love to talk about these stuff. Maybe this will get me in front of a bunch of people who actually want to listen to me.

But that being said, I know I won’t get sick of listening to myself. We’re going to have other people on the show who are experts at what they do. I’m hoping to have a couple of competitive national guys on the show. They can share what’s working for them and maybe give us some advice about how we can move from where we are to where they are and that kind of thing.

Actually, you know what, I was actually thinking the other day, I might actually have a couple of amateurs on the show, too. Amateur racers because I want to connect with some people who are on point and their strategy on and off the racetrack are brilliant, to help get them from here over there.

I am a firm believer that we can go from amateur racers to pro racers. I want to do that together with you guys. As I move through, it would be really fun to help you guys do the same thing, or vice versa, whatever works.

Another thing that I want to be talking about is autocross as a sport. Autocross, it is just so ridiculously underrated. Nobody talks about it or gives enough credit.

But national level autocross is absolutely remarkable. It’s ridiculous. Nobody’s talking about it. 

For example, I want to talk about how Steve Berrodin, that was a month ago or maybe two months ago. Steve Berrodin goes and which is a big deal to me because he is driving the same car I am. In C Street, that car is not as competitive as the Scion FRS. For various reasons you’re allowed to change springs and all of that stuff, but you’re not allowed to do in the BRZ.

But this guy went out and smoked them anyway. That’s the big deal to me. People should be talking about that because it says a lot about him as a racing driver and that’s really important. Like I said earlier, autocross is a great spring board for professional racing. Randy Pobst did it.

You know what? If you want to come up to me and say, “Autocross isn’t real racing, ” well, Randy Pobst is going to say, “You’re ridiculous,” because he’s a professional driver now. That’s just going to make you look a little bit silly.

If you walk up to Andy Hollis and say, “Autocross isn’t a real racing,” he’s probably going to smile and walk away. He’s a 14 time national autocross champion. He’s incredible driver. He’s absolutely fantastic.

It is a good springboard to the pro ranks. I know I keep saying that. Why do we keep going back to that? I don’t know.

One other thing I want to cover and I’m going to do it right here before the end. By the way, I don’t know, I am really committed yet. I’m not really sure how long these are going to end up being— I kind of thinking it’s somewhere between maybe 15 minutes or half an hour.

They might vary. We’ll let it play out. I’m at a 21 minutes right now. I’m just going to keep on going.

One of the things I want to touch on, man, this make my site explode last year. When I announced and released the driver support program. I am currently sponsoring two racing drivers. I am not talking about pro drivers. I am talking about local, regional, grassroots autocross. Nobody else in the industry is doing this. No companies are sponsoring.

When I say sponsoring, I’m paying them money to drive on my team. I have two guys. One, his name is Daniel Vang. He’s from Indianapolis region. He races a really cool tricked out Civic with Integra type R interior components, internal components, really cool stuff like that.

I also got Jason Luebcke from – it totally escaped me now I can’t picture where he is from Indianapolis, in St. Louis. He’s from St. Louis. He’s got a really beautiful new Camaro and it’s absolutely fantastic.

I am paying them money. I am paying, you know what? I don’t even have problem revealing this.

I am paying them each $300 per season to drive on a regional level. That program is going to be opening up again some time this summer. I’m not sure, maybe July first. I probably shouldn’t have said. But that one is shooting for subject to change.

Another thing I’m doing this year too is I got so many applications from dozens and dozens and dozens of people who wanted driver support. You know when you wave money in front of people’s faces for something they do as a hobby and stuff they love, of course, this is going to create all kinds of really neat buzz.

A lot of people are interested in having money to do what they love and help them get through the ranks, which I’m excited about. I wish I could support all of them. I only could support two this year. I don’t know how it is going to play out next year.

I do know that there will also be a contingency championship program this year. That’s open to everybody who has running the contingency stickers. I just haven’t decided what those are going to be at or how it’s going to go. It’s still on the process.

You can get more information about this at howtobecomearacecardriver.com/driversupport. Incidentally, anything that I mentioned here, any links or anything like that or anything in referencing or news or anything like that, you can find that in the show notes at howtobecomearacecardriver.com/podcastone. That’s going to be the link for this specific episode. Know that information will be right there for you to go and look at and browse to and click to and all that other cool stuff.

I think I’m going to back track again. That’s the third time that I’ve done that. I meant to mention earlier that if you’re interested in stunt driving and most people are, if you like performance driving, stunt driving is going to make your ears prick a little bit. If you’re interested in that, I was actually featured a couple of times last year, once as a guest writer on Indie film Hustle, that’s Alex Ferrari’s website and once on Scott MacMahon’s video cast on film Trooper. I’ll provide links to both of those and in the show notes again at howtobecomearacecardriver.com/podcastone.

Man, those were really valuable, the post, the video cast that I did. I tell people how I got in. How I networked with other people, how I got private practice space to practice stunt driving and a whole bunch of other stuff.

How I got some sponsors, how I got my first gig, all these other stuffs. If you’re interested in that, those links will be in the show notes as well.

I think, I think you guys. I think that pretty much wraps up everything that I was hoping to cover in this first episode. You know all about me. You know about my website howtobecomearacecardriver.com. You know that everything on the site, all that free stuff, is better than most people’s paid stuff. I’m just really excited about everything. This podcast is going to be fantastic, by the way.

Thank you Tom DeLong, my friend, who convinced me that this is the right thing to be doing now. I think that’s going to wrap it up for me. I crushed it. That’s cool.

Once again, I’m Matt Covert from howtobecomearacecardriving.com. If you’re racing this weekend, good luck to everybody. I’ll talk to you soon.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to howtobecomearacecardriving.com’s podcast. For more free information about improving driver technique, understanding vehicle dynamics and the winning motor sport lifestyle, visit howtobecomearacedriver.com

 

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