"After 40 years on the circuits, I have learnt to drive well, but I'm still trying to drive better. You can be a better track driver, once you know why you do what you're doing..."
Mark Hales' racing career has provided a great depth of diverse experience in all kinds of different cars as well as an opportunity to develop the complex mental tools which are essential to an understanding of the track driver’s art. The parallel career as a writer has given Mark the chance to develop effective communication techniques. The ability to express that understanding in an understandable and non-technical style.
There are a great many good drivers and there are a great many good writers, but there are few who combine both skill sets. There are fewer still who know the difference between instruction and coaching.
How many times have you sat next to an instructor who says "do this, do that..." or worse, "don't do this, don’t do that..." The student has little understanding of what he or she is being asked to do. Just that there is an instruction to do something - or not...
Mark does not provide instruction, he creates a learning partnership with the student. Once the student understands what they are trying to achieve, and more important, creates their own way to accomplish the task, they will own the knowledge. This is coaching. The student knows the route and the thinking that produced the result. They are then able to use the strategy somewhere else.
"I've known Mark for several years and he is way above the usual 'brake, turn in' variety. He really knows what it takes to drive a car at its maximum and can explain how this is done. Working with him has been an eye-opening experience and I highly recommend everyone to book some time with him."
After more than four decades trying always to be faster than the next man, it might seem strange to say you don't need to be a race driver to enjoy driving on track. When I started racing, the only way to drive Silverstone or Brands Hatch was to get a race car, join a club and enter a race. Nowadays, racetracks are more accessible than ever and last year there were around 400 track days at UK circuits, all of them designed to make it as easy as possible to take your road car on track.
My career as a motoring writer and author continues to offer opportunities to drive some of the world's most exclusive and most powerful cars. Recently I spent two days at Maranello driving the 970hp LaFerrari and talking to the Ferrari engineers and designers who created it. I have also been fortunate enough to drive the McLaren hybrids - the P1 and the 1000hp P1GTR race version - as well as a fair few miles in the latest McLaren 650S. Going back a year or two before that I have driven the Ferrari Enzo on road and track, as well as the F50 and F40 that came before it. There are a great many others, all of them more enjoyable because I knew more about how to access their performance safely. I wasn't always going for lap times...
So much of or modern lives is about meeting targets - or in other words having ourselves or our performance measured - and nowhere is this more shaprly focused by the stopwatch or transponder which records lap times. A number says whether you are good or bad, hero or also ran... Even if any of that really was the case, a number doesn't tell you how or why.
A good percentage of my coaching clients these days are owners of very fast or very valuable cars but who have no desire to compete. They would simply like to enjoy the performance of their car in greater safety and have recognised the oft-overlooked fact that driving on a track is a completely different skill. Other than a similar set of controls, it has little in common with driving on the road but with the obvious bonus that there's nothing coming the other way, no ditches, poles or junctions, and no speed cameras... The important thing is that we don't measure lap times as a matter of course. It's a decision we can take if we want. My coaching programme is much more about understanding the dynamics of the car and what the driver can do to influence them. Then if speed is the desired outcome, you will know how to get it.
So many times a student will ask at the beginning of the day "How will I know when I'm doing it right ?" Almost without exception the same subject will say, "I can tell when it's right, because it feels right..." That is understanding which leads to eventual mastery of a skill.
Contact Mark and begin the journey.