I love driving. Yes, I love it to an extent that I had enough courage to give up my stable desk job at 25 and turned this passion of mine into a lifelong career.
Six years have gone by since then, and looking back, it has been a roller coaster ride. I went from small local drift events at Adams Kart Track in Los Angeles to the FIA World Touring Car Championship, one of the biggest racing series on the planet. Of course, there were times I wish I could have done things differently but hindsight is always 20/20, and lessons learnt are lessons for life. In motorsports, experience makes up a large part of success; driving skills alone won’t make the cut. Knowledge in handling situations is far more important. For those of you who are thinking about getting into the business of racing, here are three things I’ve learnt, that I wish someone had told me back when I started…
You Can’t Always Win
You might picture yourself standing on the top of the podium, holding a trophy and showing off your gleaming white smile. But the reality is, most of the time you will just be sitting in the car with your head in your hands regretting a mistake you made. Being a professional race or drift driver, you simply have to learn to deal with losing. You have to accept the fact that there is only one winner in every race and that means most of us will be a loser at some point in our career. There were times I was too disappointed and frustrated from the race results, and refrained from seeing anyone including some potential sponsors, that in turn cost me some great opportunities. All I can say is that never dwell on your negative feelings as that will only stop you from going forward. No pain no gain. There is always next time!
Being Unprepared Can Really Hurt
Yes, you are young and hungry. You believe you’ve got all it takes to impress the world and you are so eager to make a name. So you take whatever opportunity that comes your way. You might feel like it’s the opportunity of your lifetime and it is too good to let go. But I can say that from my experience, chances are you might not make it and end up ruining your name. In fact, if not done right, that could also harm your sponsors too. And what’s worse is that the next time around, it will take double the time to make people believe in you again. I have made some wrong decisions by going into races with the thought of hoping to win something and ending up losing even more. So in the first place, never jump into any race without knowing the ability of your equipment/car and the competition. Get 100 per cent prepared before entering a competition; test the car until you are 100 per cent comfy in it and get sufficient support from a team that you have been working with for a while. That might take some time and lots of work, but believe me, in the end you will find your patience and dedication all worth it.
Think You’ve Got What It Takes? Don’t Wait!
My final piece of advice to any aspiring driver: get into the business early – don’t wait if you think you have got talent. Give it a shot while you are still young. Right now you still have the luxury of giving up part of your life for your passion with no great consequences. Things change as you grow older so go for it while you want it so bad. I waited till I was 25 to enter my first drifting competition. Thereafter, I have been spending a lot of time playing catch up to all the other guys. It has been an exhausting and frustrating journey and I was on the verge of giving up several times. But I am very lucky that I have some great support that keeps pushing me forward.
Simply put, preparation is everything! If you think you are all ready, just go for it. Good luck!
Photos by Larry Chen