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The Misadventures of Mr. Swivelhead

The Misadventures of Mr. Swivelhead
Category: Comet Technical Karting Blog
Posted: 10-17-2014 12:56

In this Karting Tech Blog we discuss a very important driving habit that you have to break.

Despite what he probably thinks, I did listen to my dad a lot growing up and racing karts. The title of this blog was something he said to me while we were watching a race when I was a kid. One driver spent more time looking back at the karts on his rear bumper instead of looking forward and my dad jokingly referred to him as “Mr. Swivelhead.” I never forgot the joke or the lesson. I’ve written some pretty lengthy blogs in the past but I don’t think they always have to be very long to convey some important information.

Outside of karting I have other hobbies I spend my time doing, like golf. Although I’m not very good, I enjoy the game and it’s a change of pace for me from the busy, noisy kart track. One thing you learn very early on playing golf is to keep your head down. If you raise your head while you swing the club then the club head also raises up with you and you either hit the very top of the ball or maybe you don’t hit the ball at all! (Talk about embarassing.) You have to train yourself to keep your head down until after you make contact with the ball. Well karting has a similar phenomenon. Quit looking back!

This is definitely a problem for new karters. Instead of “when your head goes up your club goes up” this is “when you look back, you go back”. Everything that’s important and relevant to you during a race is in front of you, the track, the corners and the next kart to pass. You have to train yourself that it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind you. When you start looking back you start thinking about what’s behind you, not what’s in front of you. You lose concentration, get out of rhythm and start making mistakes. It’s amazing how often someone looks back and then immediately gets passed by the driver behind them. You're basically saying “yeah I know you are back there so go ahead and pass me.” Nothing motivates the driver behind you more than when you start looking back, they know you're rattled and they can smell it! You can also see the lap times become more inconsistent on the stopwatch.

I work with a lot of new drivers and especially young drivers so I see it constantly. I always tell them the same thing, “Quit looking back, they’re back there trust me and quit worrying about it. Just concentrate on driving the kart!”

Next time you’re at the track pay attention to the fastest drivers. You’ll see they almost never look back, a few might look back with a lap or two to go to make sure they have a gap or if they need to play a little defense on the last lap but they are by-and-large concentrating on what’s ahead of them. This one tip will go a long way in making you more consistent during a race and improve your results. If you're a parent keep telling your kid to quit looking back until they break the habit. 

Don’t be Mr. Swivelhead.

Mark Dismore Jr.
Comet Kart Sales

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