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“Often in everyday life we cannot express ourselves, cannot fully let go and be on the edge. But track day driving is a discipline that allows this to happen, and it is very affordable.”

 

The Race Driver Coach:  Enzo Mucci

by Ziva Allen

 

mucci 2Although Enzo Mucci is quite the character, you cannot fault him for his unending enthusiasm and positivity.  Mucci is both a life coach and a driving coach.  He has combined his knowledge of performance driving with training in techniques that are based in sport psychology.  Track struggles come in all forms.  Some are skill-based and some are due to...well let’s face it...sometimes we simply get in our own way.  These struggles are mental.  And for those types of struggles, Coach Mucci may just be the right coach for you.  Mucci utilizes meditative and guided imagery and other mental control techniques to help drivers take it to the next level on the track.  You may be familiar with golf professionals who mentally visualize each shot before they take it.  By using imagery, drivers too, can increase the likelihood that they will put into practice what they know in their heads.  I know that as I sit in line waiting for a track session to begin, I try to breathe deeply, relax my body and run through laps in my mind.  Those practices have help me to drive as I intend to drive. 

“Racing was something that I never did as a kid but I loved it,” says Mucci.  “Whether it was quad racing, car racing or whatever, I was obsessed by following the sport and dreaming of being a driver.” This really kicked in when I was about 14.  At the age of 16 I entered a Formula Ford scholarship where I was too young to win but they let me compete anyway. I sucked but still loved it.  Then I would enter a few 'hire kart' events and won them easily which gave me confidence.  From there, at the age of 17, I did a week-long racing course at Donington Park race school and got my race license.  At the end of the week I did the school race and came in 5th.”

Because Mucci never had the budget necessary to compete at the highest levels, he had to resort to settling for two jobs and a bank loan.  Eventually, with that money in hand, he was in the position to purchase his first racing car, a Formula Ford.    “It wasn't very competitive,” he says.  “It was more like the first bobsleigh in the Cool Runnings film.  But it was mine and it allowed me to compete!  From there I worked flat out on holding the jobs down and gathering sponsorship.” 

Mucci’s racing career played out as follows:

1997 - Formula Ford 1600 Pre-94 - 10th position in championship

1998 - Formula Ford 1600 Pre-90 - Champion (8 wins)

1999 - ARP Formula 3 - Half a season, top 5 finisher

2000 - Alfa Romeo Italian Challenge - 2nd position in championship (2 wins)

2001 - Alfa Romeo Championship - Half season (4 wins)

2001 - Auto Italia Championship - Half season (also 4 wins)

2002 - Renault Clio Cup - Half season top 6 finish

2003 to 2005 British GT Championship outings

Mucci is not only skilled in motorsports driving and coaching, but also in applications of sport psychology and human performance science.mucci 12 400px  “Coaching was something I became interested in early on,” says Mucci.  “But in 1998 I attended a Silva Course, which is a science that teaches you how to use your brain more effectively and it was from that moment that I was addicted to the power of the mind and how we as individuals can perform better.  This in turn soon turned into coaching people in and out of motorsport.  My passion for helping others perform took over from driving myself and was my true calling.  I love to win and the work that it requires.  Teaching it actually gives me more purpose and more of a kick than actually driving.  I went on to learn sciences like neuro-linguistic programming, life coaching and some cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as anything else I could get my hands on.  Also in 1998 I began to coach at Silverstone race school.  This included coaching on track days and for corporate events.  I did this on and off until 2008 and at pretty much every race circuit in the UK.  In 2004 I became a driver performance coach for BMW, looking after their Formula BMW drivers.  Then in 2008 I was head coach and sporting manager of Gravity Sports Management and the Renault/Lotus F1 junior team.  I left that role in 2012.  2013 until now I have coached for a variety of race teams and drivers in every formula from karting to F1, from USF2000 to Indycar.” 

As far as his message for track drivers, Mucci is characteristically upbeat.  “Track day driving is a great chance to literally let rip and learn a new skill without worrying about police or endangering others.  When you take a car onto a track for the first time (even if you have been driving on the road for 40 years already) you feel like a complete novice.  You quickly understand that there is a lot to learn about driving quickly.  You feel what pushing a car to the limit really feels like.  Then, after this initial shock, you start to learn the driving skills that unlock a totally new level to driving.  Often in everyday life we cannot express ourselves, cannot fully let go and be on the edge. But track day driving is a discipline that allows this to happen, and it is very affordable.  You can apex the same curb that Vettel apexed just a few days earlier.  You can share the track with likeminded petrol heads who share your passion.  You can improve to make yourself a better driver.  You can pretty much live the dream on a track day.  I have driven and coached on many track days and never have I witnessed people having such intense fun.”  Mucci believes that track driving can enhance one’s life in general and serves as a tremendous release and a form of therapy. 

“Novice drivers are super easy, because there is so much to learn” says Mucci.  “We would start off with the basic principles of weight transference, how to judge speed, race lines, hand positioning, track day etiquette, braking techniques, etc.  It's endless, but depending on their natural ability, we would shift the lessons accordingly.  With more seasoned track day drivers, we get into race coaching, like where to look when driving, car control, speed without aggression, corner exiting, saving tyres, getting up to speed quicker, track learning, correcting their individual errors, etc.”

The value of coaching has much to do with the driver’s perspective and the observation by an objective professional with driving and people skills.  “Without sounding like a d**k I have helped many drivers with pretty much every problem over the years so it is hard to pinpoint but usually it is something with their driving that they cannot notice on their own.  They don't even realise they are doing it until it is pointed out and worked on” explains Mucci.  “Then there is the mental side, teaching them how to drive without stress or over-pushing, to remain resourceful, calm and fast.”

mucci 11400pxAs an example of helping a student on the “mental side” Mucci shared this story.  “Off the top of my head I remember having a driver who was able to explain a lap perfectly.  He logically knew exactly what to do beforehand, but when you put him in the driver's seat and he could see other drivers quicker than him, he would go to pieces and forget the basics.  When this happens, I like to stop them and go through how they are processing things.  What they are focusing on.  What they are thinking and saying to themselves.  What are they doing with their body?  And if we really want to go deep, then what their fears are.”  Uh-oh.  Mucci uses the “fear” word.  “After asking some questions based on these areas, we get to paint a picture of the 'dumbass' driver who was driving then and give that driver a name.  We need to get to know that driver and know when he is around and how much he is screwin’ it all up.  Then on the flip side I ask the same questions when the actual driver is driving well and compare.  And come up with triggers to keep the 'good' driver in control.  This really can be as easy as controlling where their vision goes, their grip on the wheel and breathing.  Smiling even.   Each person is different, but essentially my goal is to get them flowing with the car and the track and get them on a confidence role.”  The word rhythm comes to mind.  This is pretty different coaching jargon than we are used to.  It is not the usual “driving dynamics, looking ahead,” blah, blah, blah.  There may very well be a value in not over-concentrating on all the “safe” technical stuff and put more energy into maximizing our mental approach.  

“Driving fast is an art but should always be fun” ends Mucci.  “Whether you are a novice track day goer or a F1 champion there ismucci 10 400px always something you are trying to improve and perfect, but at the end of the day, you must love driving and being on the track.  If you do, then you will always improve quicker and make the most of your short time on the track.  I hope that this has given you more insight and food for thought.”

Mucci is based in England but he has a website you need to check out.  It is chock full of free podcasts on various driving topics and he has a couple of paid courses, one being “Driver Boot Camp.”  Mucci offers virtual, Skype-based coaching sessions at reasonable rates.  If you find yourself in Europe and want to learn some new tracks there, he is also available for in-person coaching.  One thing that comes across in his podcasts is that Mucci practices what he preaches.  He is incredibly upbeat and enthusiastic.  If you feel stuck in your driving or have reached a plateau, he may just be the one to get you past it. 

Click http://www.theracedrivercoach.com/ and http://enzomucci.co.uk/ to learn more.

mucci 9 400px 

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