OK, so the 1st thing to say is that I’m not just a team manager in The Majors – I’m also a rookie in the organizing committee and a driver whose performances have shocked me – I seriously didn’t realize how fast I could be if I practiced for speed rather than consistency like I do for team events.
But, this is about how participating in the series has changed Kinetic and some of the things we’ve done that could help other teams change/grow/improve in the same way we have.
OK some background 1st – because the context of what we’re doing in the series is important.
Kinetic was formed when Black Adder Motorsport folded. The reasons for BAM folding are complex but probably most important was that it had become too big and too diverse. While it was happening – and the thing that sparked the beginning of the end – was that the hard core of the group that contested all the team endurance events decided we wanted to stay together so we left to form Kinetic.
Some of us had already entered The Majors while we were still BAM and the move to Kinetic meant another few people entered which gave us strong teams in Pacific and International plus a bit of a team in Europe plus a couple of spare drivers in Pacific and International.
The way the line-up ended up made me decide to participate in the draft, to fill up the junior teams in Pacific and International. After the draft ended with so many random teams formed in Atlantic I also took one of those teams under the Kinetic banner. So, in total we drafted 11 drivers and later we also adopted one more late entry in Europe. Of those 12, 7 have hardly responded to my mails, haven’t joined our forum, haven’t taken advantage of the setups we’ve produced etc and we’ve basically given up with them. One – Josh Noack – is a member of a team which is active in other series but he’s been 100% with us in The Majors so it’s working great. The other 4 drivers have fitted into the team so well that we’ve made them full Kinetic members now. So, the message here is that although the draft didn’t work out completely as we’d hoped, because Kinetic put the effort into it and so did some of the drivers we drafted, it’s been a big benefit to us.
A slight sideline here – Kinetic isn’t, and never will be, one of the top teams that cherry picks top drivers to improve the team. We recruit people that fit the team spirit and work to improve them and hope that improves the team. Christian was around 2000 iRating on both road and oval when he joined BAM...
A really weird thing about the team and the series is we formed Kinetic so that we could concentrate on team endurance racing, in Proto/GT cars. The Majors isn’t (just) either of those things but we’ve become more and more invested in it as a team – the Majors threads on our forum is probably half the traffic volume – but we’re super comfortable with that because 1) We’re all having a great time 2) We’re getting the team name out there and looking pretty good doing it and 3) The amount of team working involved is incredible – you just need to look at how many practice sessions involved multiple Kinetic guys (often in different time zones) to know how true that is (or look at how many guys spot during races in other regions -we often have as many spotters as drivers).
It’s also letting us get used to being a big, successful team and all that entails. Broadcasting is a good example – we’ve had great coverage in Pacific and International but we need to work more with the broadcasters to ensure they know us better – GSRC have been covering Majors events for a long time and so know a lot of the people in Pacific really well so we need to make sure we have the same “noticeability” that some of the Majors regulars have. I was a bit frustrated during the Nurb 2.4 – our drivers got very good individual coverage but at no point did how much we dominated the race as a team get noticed. We had 6 cars in the top 11 at the end – and that was the case all race. I wonder how many people realised that? This is 100% not a criticism of GSRC - they do an awesome job but it’s made me realise we need to do a better job as a team to help all the broadcasters. We started that process at Charlotte. We’ve created driver profiles which the broadcasters (and anyone’s who’s interested) for each event we compete in. (go to https://kinetic-racing.com and click on one of the events) and I know that in particular GSRC used, and liked, them. I also gave both v8sOnline and GSRC a bunch of strategy info / options / predictions for both the All-Star race and the 600’s. Finally, Elliot jumped onto the GSRC stream to give some comments (although maybe doing that immediately after getting wrecked wasn’t the best idea :-) ). I’d really encourage other teams to do something similar - the more info we give the broadcasters, the more they can talk about teams and drivers without having to repeat the same stuff over and over again - it’s a win/win - the broadcast is more interesting and your team/drivers get more coverage.
What’s become very clear to us as a team is that The Majors is run exactly the way we’d like the iRacing special events to be run - pre-registration, enforced practice, splits based on qualifying rather than iRating etc. Mike’s comments on the RutgersKev Podcast completely mirror our feelings and hopefully it will all happen in 2019 :-)
Having strong teams in 2 regions plus some presence in the other 2 gives us by far the largest number of drivers in the Majors and although it’s sometimes difficult to manage (herding cats is how I normally describe it!) it is a huge advantage to have the testing capabilities that we have and also having International races before the other so we can learn from strategy calls / mistakes - we made a complete hash of stops on refueling in the Silvercrowns in the International race but that helped us completely nail it in the other regions.
Another area where the testing effort helps is building setups. What most people don’t realize is that Christian can’t give us oval setups because of his NPAS commitments. He can help/advice and give us general directions we need to take with the setup but we need to produce the sets ourselves. Eddie Hawks does the majority of work on the oval sets and is doing a great job - in particular our Silvercrown setup at Phoenix was fantastic - Christian used Eddies set with a couple of tweaks (his alien abilities means he can run cars WAY looser than most of us!) in that amazing win he had there. But, producing that set meant a massive amount of testing - look at the number of laps Eddie and Jake (in particular) run that week :-)
Another really interesting aspect of The Majors and having a big team is the strategy involved, especially around using substitutes from the “Junior” teams but also the guest drive “Jokers”. We’ve saved most of our changes for the latter half of the season where there’s events we might not be so strong at but it is interesting how things are being played out.
Another thing that’s been as difficult as I expected was getting our heads around how different oval racing is to endurance road racing. I’ve run quite a lot on ovals but most of the team are total rookies and have had a hard time adjusting to how close and hard the racing is. Having said that, I have been a bit surprised and disappointed at how some of the drivers are taking risks, especially at Charlotte where we all had difficult cars to drive - to me, all the regions had unnecessary wrecks where people were just pushing beyond the point that they and their car were capable of and personally I’d like to see a slightly more cautious approach by everyone - it would make the racing far better.
As a team, we’re now very much committed to The Majors and want to help as much as we can. Obviously my involvement as an organizer is one aspect but we very much welcome the idea of The Majors Toolkit and will be giving support to other competitors during the Spa 2.4.
OK, time to start practicing for Indy - in International, we only have a week’s gap!