Top 5 Tips For New Competitors

by Harry Wagner

What You Need To Know To Be Competitive

Supercrawl hosts some of the biggest names in rockcrawling, but there are also a number of first time competitors entered for the 2016 Supercrawl.  That is one of the aspects of rockcrawling competition that is so unique.  You couldn’t go out and race at Talladega with Jimmie Johnson or line up in Pomona next to John Force, but you can run the same courses as the best rockcrawling competitors in the country.  And we will let you in on a little secret.  The person with the most capable vehicle, or even the most driving prowess, isn’t always the person standing on the top step at the end of the event.  You have to be smart to win, and these are five things every new competitor needs to know before arriving at Wild West Motorsports Park on Saturday, September 24th.

1)    Know How Much Time You Have- There is nothing worse that methodically working your way through a course only to hear “Time!” when you are half done.  A cooking timer can be purchased at most supermarkets and will allow you to easily keep track of how much time you have left to complete each course.  Remember to set the time when you start your course!

2)    Know Where You Are Going To Drive- Sounds easy, right?  But courses have different gates for different classes, as well as bonus gates.  You need to know which apply to you and your vehicle.  Don’t get too focused on the set of cones directly in front of you either, you want to have a big picture plan for the entire course.  That might include backing through a set of gates, or taking a strategic back up and losing a couple of points in order to miss a cone.

3)    Know What Your Competitors Are Doing- When not driving or repairing your vehicle, your time is best spent watching other competitors on the courses you have yet to run.  Are they all hitting the same cone?  Is everyone making the bonus line or did the guy who is ahead of you just roll?  These events will influence how hard you need to push yourself and your vehicle.

4)    Know The Rules- There are two distinct elements to this tip.  The first involves your vehicle.  The class you will compete in is dictated by factors such as tire size and compound, engine placement, and wheelbase.  You need to know which class your vehicle fits in, and ensure that it is legal prior to tech inspection.  The second aspect involves the competition itself.  Do all four of your tires have to pass the cones marking the gate or just the front two?  How many points do you earn for completing a bonus gate?  You need to know the answers to these questions in order to make the best decisions as you compete.

5)    Know How To Communicate- Yelling at your spotter just raises the stress level for both of you.  Clear, concise communication is paramount.  That starts with using a spotter who you trust, and preferably someone that you have spent a lot of time with on the trail.  Agreed upon hand signals are useful, but two-way radios are light years ahead of hand signals or yelling.  Don’t have headsets?  Summit Racing will be running a special during Tech and Contingency on Friday night.