What do we actually do in off season?
As we are approaching off season for motorsport I often get asked this question;
‘What do racing drivers do in their off season?’
Because from the outside it may seem that our only job is to get in the car and drive - which is true. But driving/racing is only one aspect to a racing driver’s career. Off season is filled with training, meetings, interviews, finding sponsors/partners, securing drives, media activities, testing and so much more.
For professional drivers in categories like Formula One, off season is probably a little different to a driver like myself who is trying to progress through the motorsport ranks but as a whole it is definitely the time when we all train the hardest. During this time we need to push our limits both physically and mentally to make sure we are in peak condition for the upcoming season. We are always training throughout the year but this break allows most drivers to solely focus on improving certain aspects of their fitness to gain that extra 1%. Each driver is completely different so our training regimes would vary from person to person but you would definitely still see a lot of similarities between programs. For example, most drivers are either runners or cyclists, this is to purely focus on our fitness/endurance stamina to make sure we can easily drive for a 1 or 2 hour stint. Essentially, off season is filled with lots of training for us.
For myself, off season has always been quite a stressful time as I am almost always searching for partners and sponsors to help fund my next season, deciding which category is the next best step and making sure I am with the right team. For professional drivers, this is usually always decided by the end of the year but sometimes you don’t get that clarification until 2 weeks before your first race of the season and that’s just how motorsport is.
So whilst you are training and searching for sponsors you are also attending many meetings, getting as many interviews that you can and working on building your PR and social presence - which can be a full time job in itself. A lot of work for a racing driver is done behind the scenes, with a lot of hours spent behind the computer or on the phone.
The next best thing to racing, is testing. If you are lucky and have everything set for the upcoming season, majority of the time you will spend a few days doing pre-season testing adapting to the new car or new tracks on the calendar and trying to get as much mileage as you can to be as quick as possible out of the box at the first race. If you are in a professional situation then you are always trying to improve the car with development testing of new parts or ideas to gain that extra 1% over your competitors. That is what makes motorsport so interesting to me, the fact that you never stop learning. Even at the pinnacle of motorsport, everyone is always still learning and pushing boundaries to find that extra few tenths over their competitors.
Media plays a big role in any sportsperson’s career, it helps in building a bigger social presence in the community and is obviously a big attraction to many potential partnering companies. So a big chunk of a racing driver’s time is spent contacting television and news programs, magazine companies, websites etc. to help target a new audience of potential supporters or fans.
So whilst it may seem we aren’t doing a lot behind the scenes, I can guarantee you that most drivers from all around the world are putting in lots of hours to continue in this crazy world we call motorsport.