16 Oct Performance Driving Australia
For the first time, this cycle we brought in a professional to teach us about driving — both in convoys and as a solar car. For three of the days the team was in Darwin, Michael Busby of Performance Driving Australia was at our disposal to help us all become better drivers, whether that meant refreshing our memory on basic drivers’ ed, going over Australian road rules, or coaching us on how professional race teams approach scrutineering and hot laps.
We reached out to Performance Driving Australia and asked them about training in Darwin before we realized they do not have a location here, and they generously flew an instructor out from Adelaide to join us. Having the training in the Northern Territory, where the instructor could see Arctan in action on the track, was extremely helpful. And our convoy drivers gained a lot from having the class after they had become familiar with the rigors of the Stuart Highway; the lessons had far more context this way.
We spent a significant portion of time working with Michael to make sure our convoy drivers are as safe and capable as possible during the long hours ahead in WSC. He had very useful suggestions for best practices when towing a trailer, gave us tips on how to share the road with wildlife and road trains, and explained how to drive in Australia, besides just being on the left side of the road. His advice made us all more comfortable with passing roadtrains or even using roundabouts!
Then, he joined us at the track and rode in the observer seat in chase while all of our drivers got track time. Michael’s background in rally driving means he’s comfortable on a track in a way we are not, and he helped us figure out the best way to take the corners and when to accelerate on straightaways — both in chase and in the solar car. All of the solar car drivers rode in chase when not in Arctan, so they got to hear his advice to every other driver, too.
Beyond all of that, Michael is just a really cool guy. He spent his birthday with us (happy birthday!!!) rather than on vacation, and joined us for go-karting in addition to all his help. His lessons and suggestions will be indispensable, and we look forward to seeing him in Adelaide at the finish line!