Racers360: A new way of providing in-depth driver coaching
Dion von Moltke is a racer with victories in endurance racing crown jewels such as the Rolex 24 Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Now he's launching a company that makes driver coaching easier and more accessible for the next generation of racers.
Von Moltke has years of experience behind the wheel of a race car. Among his achievements is winning the 2013 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with Alex Job Racing, taking the GT class victory in an Audi R8.
He's also twice a winner of the Sebring 12 Hours and triumphed in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2016 with Flying Lizard Motorsports. But since then, the 28-year-old has launched a new endeavor: Racers360.com.
The premise? To create a more affordable and accessible driver coaching market for racers from all walks of life.
Because we’re interactive, it becomes something that you don’t need to take notes on. You’re not worried about forgetting, it’s always there and available to watch.
Dion von Moltke
How boxing inspired the idea
Speaking with Motorsport.com, Von Moltke explained that the inspiration behind the idea actually stemmed from an interview he saw in the pre-fight show before the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao boxing match.
"First, when I was working for Audi, I went to quite a few track days and this was back in 2016 and I saw there was a big gap in driver education from beginning instruction, the instructing the drivers get is great. They teach you all of the basics, and then once you advance beyond that group, you’re kind of on your own. Then I started to do a lot of research on grassroots motorsport and understanding what the landscape looks like. And the drive to actually start a business came from an interview I heard around the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing fight.
"I’m not a big boxing fan by any means, but it was a big fight and I was watching all the pre-fight stuff and they had a really interesting interview. They had a commentator that normally covers the UFC on and they were asking him, ‘what’s wrong with boxing? Why has it kind of fallen off and how do you fix the popularity of the sport?’ And the point that he made is something that I find very true to motorsports as well. He said, ‘Look I’m not in boxing, but we’re very related. We’re in Vegas and this used to be the peak of the boxing world. But where is the local boxing gym? Where can I send somebody just to learn how to box or do some workouts with boxing? I have no clue. I could not tell you where to send somebody.’ And I think his point was that if you wanted to grow the sport, you first grow its grassroots. You get people involved with it and that’s how you grow the pro sport. And I think that is so applicable to motorsports as well.
"So my thought is if we can help grassroots continue to evolve and grow and help it get more people involved and help the people who are involved driving at a better level or spending money on the right things, then we would help the entire sport grow. So that’s where the motivation truly came from. And there’s a big gap in driver education and after the very beginning instruction you get, there’s nothing there until you want to pay for a professional coach to come in and privately coach you at a day at the track. It just isn’t affordable for almost every driver in the sport because coaches can demand easily over $1,000 dollars per day plus travel. There’s very few people who can afford to pay someone to educate them. We were looking for ways to help and change the model so that pro coaching -- we don’t hurt their business. They still have the private coaching, but now we can open the coaches up to a whole new market and bring accessibility in an affordable way of high level education to a wide variety of drivers who don’t currently have it."
But how would it work? Von Moltke went into their streamlined process which truly is accessible for anyone with a computer.
"So the process is, you go to Racers360.com and you can do our cheapest option, which is a one-lap analysis," he explained. "If you purchase a one-lap analysis, all we do is we ask you to send us one lap of your video and you can send it to us through dropbox, a YouTube link, Google drive -- whatever is easiest for you in any video format and our pro coaches with our own software will take that video and watch it. We’ll figure out what we want to talk about and what we want to coach you on and we record over your video using a webcam, using annotations tools … we’re able to make your video go slow-motion, pause it, reverse it and we essentially have let’s say a 1 minute and 30 second lap and we turn it into a 15-minute in-depth coaching session and we send it back to the driver with notes and a core focus on what we want to focus in on. And typically, we focus in on one or two things so we don’t overload the driver, but then they can go back and re-watch the video a few times when you’re at the track or compare a new video to the coaching video. Because we’re interactive, it becomes something that you don’t need to take notes on. You’re not worried about forgetting, it’s always there and available to watch."
Who are the coaches?
Racers360 currently has just seven coaches on their roster with the process behind selecting each a strict one. Von Moltke oversees it himself and said of the process, "they have to know what they're doing in the race car. They have to be able to compete with the best of the best, but there’s also more to coaching than just being able to be a great race car driver. They also have to be able to communicate very well with students and be able to relay high level, tough things in a way that is understandable and actionable for our drivers. So I am personally reaching out to coaches that I believe will be fantastic with this and know how to work well with our drivers and that’s our process right now. It’s very personal. We have had to turn away a few different coaches that were great coaches, but not quite the pedigree of what we wanted to work with.
"We are definitely a premium business of who our drivers get to work with on a coaching standpoint."
Among their current lineup is Pippa Mann, a six-time starter of the Indianapolis 500 and former Indy Lights race winner.
"The way we would work with sim racers is the exact same way we work with real life drivers as well," said Von Moltke. "Our model is remote visual coaching. The visual is such a key thing in racing. All of our coaches are the elite of the elite. They’ve all watched more than 10,000 hours of video so when we watch race car video, there’s very subtle things that we’re able to pick out that you can actually pretty much infer what the driver is doing at any given moment. We can pretty much almost draw what the datas going to look like. So video is the easiest thing to work with for drivers and us and we can be very visual in explaining a coaching topic which can be kind of complicated things in this sport. You can’t just really show someone easily, but now using video and software, we’re able to show somebody very easily what to do and what the difference is."
And although you can't choose your coach just yet, that option will become available in the near future. "Right now, we only work with seven coaches and they are the very best coaches in the industry right now. We’re extremely selective with each coach that we bring into Racers360 and the important thing is, if you send in a video and get a new coach, they will always review previous videos and notes that you’ve worked on. So it’s not like you’re starting from square one by any means. It’s a continual process, but in the very near future, we will have the option for drivers to pick their own coaches. The difficulty with that is that we won’t be able to guarantee a 48 hour turn around time because coaches may be unavailable."
Another feature coming soon to the site will keep driver scores, another tool to track one's improvement and development.
"We’re about to launch a dashboard that will host all of a driver’s previous videos. We’re also going to release our Racers360 driver scores. Myself and our coaches have come up with a really cool way to be able to rate drivers on the areas that we focused in on as coaches, and create goals off the previous videos to execute on in order to move forward. And we’ll have overall driver scores, but then individual driver scores for each track that driver goes to because we al have tracks that we’re stronger on or weaker on and may be working on certain things at certain tracks. So in the future, we’ll have all of this on your dashboard and we’ll build off of that. They’ll be able to look at it and ask if they improved here or not and why."
Working with sim racers
With the format behind Racers360's coaching program, it makes the education accessible not just for those on the track, but online as well. He described sim racing as a terrific tool to hone one's mental endurance and learn to maintain one's mental intensity in race conditions.
"It’s great for practicing techniques that we want to work on. It’s great for learning throttle application, steering input, trail-braking down to the apex," he said before later adding, "the area where I really believe in sim racing is as a mental tool. You can really use it to train yourself on mental endurance and then mental intensity. The mental state a driver needs for a qualifying lap versus race pace are quite a lot of different. The more you train your mental endurance, the more intensity you can keep up for a longer period of time. The more you can work on that, the faster your race pace will get while limiting mistakes, while staying consistent. And a tool like sim racing is really strong than that because they’re almost as mentally demanding as driving a race car in real life."
Perfecting race craft
Beyond one-lap analysis videos, the company also offers analysis of actual races in order to enhance race craft and dissect mistakes.
"The race analysis is something I’m personally really, really excited about. Our first product was the one-lap analysis, when we went out to more of the amateur racing fields throughout different series, we saw, to be blunt, too many crashes and incidents. That’s something we want to try and help get rid of. Obviously, you’ll never get rid of crashing altogether, but the vast majority of crashes we saw were do to drivers putting themselves in a bad position without realizing it. A lack of education on how to overtake, on how to work through traffic and things like that. So what we want to focus in on with our full race analysis is, our focus is more heavily on race craft, on how your overtaking, defending position, race starts. If we start to see a lot of mistakes, the mental side of things again. Understanding what the cause and effect is of where your mind is so our big focus is going to be on those things so you can learn to be a better racer while being safer on the track as well."
On their YouTube channel, they also provide free tips through videos like the one below.
Castroneves, di Grassi join 2019 Race of Champions
Top 50 racing drivers of 2018: 50-41