Ian Lacy Training Drivers to Drive Faster

July 20, 2005 / Pickering, ON – In the ultra competitive sport of open wheel car racing many of the today’s Formula Ford Zetec driver’s in the Cooper Tires Championship Series have discovered the huge benefit in employing a driver coach. A quick tour through the paddock area is not always the easiest way to find these knowledgeable tutors but one walk down the false grid pre race and you can see these calm but forceful teachers reinforcing the many how’s and why’s of the lesson. These lessons’s usually take place in the comfort of the team’s air conditioned trailer by way of debriefing the driver on the good and the bad of their previous run on the track. Subjects such as braking, corner entrance and exit speed and shifting are but a few of the topics they will discuss.

The P1 Racing team has seen the benefit of a team driver coach in the form of Ian Lacy. P1 is managed by Geoff Fickling along with owner/driver John Lombardo. Ian raced with JDC Motorsport last year and proved himself to be among the top tier of the drivers and finished first at the Grand Prix of Phoenix this year. Phoenix is part of the west coast regional racing series and not the national Cooper Tire Championship Series.

In 2004, Lacy would consistently qualify on the front of the grid and would more often then not end up on the podium at the end of the race. His drive and determination would pay off and this fact did not escape the owners at P1 Racing. They have hired him for the 2005 season.

Born in Arcata, CA, Lacy got his start in racing by enrolling in the Russell Racing School in 1995. From 1995 through to 1999 he was in the mechanics training program. At the same time he was learning the proper wrench pulling techniques he was also racing the cars he worked on as a driver customer. In 1996 he won the Russell Championship and in 1997 he won the Russell Pro Series.

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Upon completion of his course he went on to be an assistant instructor at the school. Opportunity knocked in 2000 in the form of the Derek Daly Racing School to which he joined as an instructor.

When I asked him about why the full fledged jump into racing he said, “the racing influence was from my father. He created a passion in me for the cars mechanical systems and the technical facets of racing and going fast.”

2005 looks like it will continue to keep Lacy just as busy. Along with his position as driver coach to John Lombardo and Chris Hundley of the P1 racing team he is also a driver coach for Speed Secrets. And so as not to get stale he is also racing in the west coast Formula Ford Zetec Series. He won both races in Phoenix this year.

With Lacy being in such demand as a teacher I asked him to tell me about the P1 Racing team and the knowledge he has been able to impart to his two drivers. “John Lombardo was already a fairly accomplished driver when I arrived. He has had a long term involvement with racing,” states Lacy. “The reason John called me was to be taught by a coach who had raced the Formula Ford Zetec cars on the tracks that the national series runs on.” John Lombardo was in past a west coast series racer.

“When I arrived here at the P1 team I could sense the team chemistry immediately. John was committed to the process”, recalls Lacy. “The philosophy I use to train John and Chris is to teach them to teach themselves to go quicker. To increase speed through self analysis.” Lacy says the first details they looked at were the racing line, braking and strategy. By focusing on these factors and improving speed early on, Lombardo was able to improve to 11 th on the grid in Cleveland and to was able to hold the position to finish 11 th. In the second race in Cleveland Lombardo started 16 th and was able to finish in the top 10. Lacy had predicted that Lombardo would be able to finish in the top ten by using a few of the techniques he had been taught.

The second driver Ian Lacy coaches is Chris Hundley. Hundley is in his second year of racing and Lacy is focusing on teaching him the proper use of the brakes and the gearbox. Common to both drivers (Lomabardo and Hundley) Lacy is teaching Hundley the ability to self critique and improve awareness about how he is driving the car. “I have found as we go through this exercise Chris has become quicker and more consistent in his driving. It has improved his technical skills and ability to get the most out of the brakes and tires. He needs to get the most out of the car on every lap”, Lacy states. The first major gains were seen when Hundley was able to improve his braking technique paying attention to exit speeds on corners and better car control. The second gain was a better awareness of where he was on the track. Making sure he was on the proper racing line and corner entry and exit. “The fastest guy is the one who can use the brakes properly. It takes a few times before the proper braking habits set in”, says Lacy. Next steps for Hundley will be to work on race strategy. Lacy will teach him were the passing zones are and where not to make a pass. “The key is to get by the guy in front of you with the least loss in track time” Lacy tells Hundley.

Since joining the P1 Racing team Ian Lacy has been hired by Speed Secrets as a driver coach. Speed Secrets is a driver training school started by Ross Bentley, a former Champ Car driver for the purpose of providing the best coaching possible to drivers at every level of motorsport. Lacy says the motto at Speed Secrets is “whatever it takes.”

For more information on Ian Lacy surf over to www.ianlacyracing.com. For more information on Speed Secrets log on to www.Speed-Secrets.com. To find out information on the Formula Ford Zetec racing series log on to www.cooperseries.com.

Dave Johnson
Northstar Communications Group